Beginners Guide to PC Video Editing


If you're new to PC video editing then knowing where to start can be a bit daunting, so hopefully this guide will point you in the right direction.

To start with you will need a few items of equipment

Camcorders/Video Decks

Depending on your requirements or aims there are number of different solutions to discuss, so i will split these up into separate sections.

1. If you are starting from new then i recommend buying a new digital camcorder, this will give you superior video and sound quality as well as making getting started in video editing very simple, so ideal for the beginner. There are thousands to choose from catering for various types of budgets.

2. You may already have an old video deck or camcorder which uses the old analogue outputs such as composite or s-video (be sure to check first what outputs you have). For this kind of setup you would need a capture card/analogue to digital converter, this is discussed in more detail further on in the article.

A PC for Video Editing

It is now possible to easily capture footage from your Digital Camcorder directly to your PC and edit it. If you looking at buying a new PC or building a new one then the currents spec's are more then powerful enough, a typical spec PC these days is a P4, 512Mb Ram, 80Gb HDD, Windows XP or something along those lines. You could always use your existing PC if you have one, but i wouldn't recommend using anything below a PIII 600.

Additional Hardware

When transferring video from your camcorder to your PC there are a number of additional things to consider depending on the type of camcorder your using.

If you're using a digital camcorder then all your need is a firewire card (also known as an IEE1394 card), a lot of current PC's have these as standard now, otherwise you will need to purchase the card separately. Some of these will come bundled with editing software such as Adobe Premiere but this really depends on which card you buy and how much you spend, once your camcorder is connected to your firewire port windows will automatically recognise your Digital Camcorder.

If your using the old analogue camcorder then you will also need an analogue to digital converter, see the section on video editing cards below.

Speed?

Its worth considering your Pc's Processor speed, the speed will effect the rate your video will encode, encoding is where your DV video clips are converted into a more compressed format, for example DVD's are encoded to MPEG2. So the faster the better really. Also consider the amount of RAM in your PC, 256Mb would be the minimum.

Extra Hard Drive Storage

Its worth considering having an extra dedicated drive for your video footage, remember that five minutes of DV footage uses 1GB of hard drive space so consider a large capacity hard drive such as an 80Gb or 120Gb, also consider the disk drive RPM, at least 7200RPM would be recommended. If your PC supports it (most new ones do now), then a Serial ATA (SATA) drive will offer increased date transfer rates of up to 150MB/sec compared to 100 or 133 offered by the IDE drives, you may also consider a SCSI drive if you're PC has an SCSI adapter as standard.

DVD/CD Burners

If your planning on putting your film onto CD-ROM (VCD), or DVD then a CDRW or DVDRW is an essential piece of kit, most new pc's may have a CDRW or DVDRW as standard, to burn your DVD, you'll need DVD authoring software.

Video Editing Cards

If you have and older analogue video camera/deck then an analogue USB or PCI capture cards will suffice.

These dedicated analogue to digital converters take process of conversion away from the CPU and therefore speeds up transfer.

If worth getting a quality capture card as the cheaper cards can produce mixed results,

The Video Editing Software

This is where all your creative work starts and the creative work starts, you can capture video from your camera, edit the captured clips, arrange them into a sequence, add transitions, credits and a soundtrack, titles and when your ready export your movie back to the camera or a suitable encoded file format (DVD, VCD etc).

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