Video Editing Equipment
November 10, 2004 5:30 PM   Subscribe

I am looking at buying a professional one-stop digital video editing workstation sometime early next year. My ceiling is $10K, and so far the best I've been able to come up with is a nice G5 setup. I can do web searches just fine, thank you, so what I'm really looking for is for you experienced pros out there to tell me what mistakes not to make and if there is really an economic (or not) alternative to the apple suite for one stop production. MI

I'm in the local public television scene and I'm being held back by my producers' equipment. I have access to their cameras and such, but want a workstation I can have access to 24/7 that can handle all aspects of post production -- editing, compositing, effects, dvd, etc. Platform and brand does not concern me as much as overall functionality and price (though piracy is always an option for me software wise).
posted by headless to Technology (4 answers total)
Have you looked at Leitch's Velocity solutions? You don't have to buy their turnkey systems, just the board.
posted by Gyan at 6:57 PM on November 10, 2004

NLE editing is what I do for a living. So, feel free to ask followups.

Figure your deck/storage costs first.

Are you going to work in DV only? If so, you'll need a way to handle analog sources such as betacam. Figure a converter is around $300-1.5k.

You're going to buy Adobe Photoshop no matter what.

Here's how I see them break down:

Apple - for $1400 (production bundle) you get:
Apple - Production Suite

Final Cut Pro (editing)
Livetype (motion text- can be done in other places too)
Compressor (encoding)
Soundtrack (create looped music)
Cinema Tools (film conform)
Motion (motion graphics)
DVDSP (dvd authoring
$4k for dual G5, $1k for monitors...

Apple is very motivated in the marketplace - "tools for the rest of us." Good upgrade costs - you'll have to rebuy the hardware in about two-three years (when FCP 7 or 8 needs super power).
Strong intergration; weak media management. Lots of books + training. Good compositing+fx, and lots of templates if you need help.

You can buy custom cards for SD, HD - but you get into the pointing fingers game of who supports what.

Avid; they own the industry and there are good reasons for it.
For around $7k you get in their Xpress Studio:
Avid Xpress Studio

Xpress Pro (editing)
Avid DVD (Sonic repackaged for avid, good integration)
Avid 3D (stripped Softimage XSI, lots of templates)
Pro tools (full audio editing, no looping)
Avid FX (boris FX repackaged for avid)

Good tools - great media management.
Every interface is different; learning curve is much harder.
There are dumb interface items, and things that are missing - why? Avid protects their high end tools by not including features; Better Color correction tools.

If your station uses avid, great integration.

You'll possibly want After Effects for this station.

Mojo (a component only, no SDI) SD input.
Digi 002 (flying faders) or Mbox (just I/O for audio)


Adobe's video production suite. around $1500
Adobe Video Collection

Premiere Pro (good, third party cards available) - but they limit their compositing power to After Effects.
After Effects. Compositing & motion graphics
Encore - DVD authoring
Photoshop - natch
Audition - Looping & music

Encore is about a year behind DVDSP. AE is super deep. Premiere pro is about a year behind everyone else (but respectable)
Phenomenal integration - layers travel everywhere.

Third party cards for Premiere (SD and HD).


Sony Video Vegas + DVD
Powerful, fast audio strong editing app.

This is a dark horse - in this respect - Sony (like Avid) will protect their high end (Sony Xpri).

You'll have to buy a bunch of other software to fill out the other needs.


Which would I choose? I can't answer on a public forum or I'll get in trouble. Just think of it as top down...but feel free to ask followups.
posted by filmgeek at 7:46 PM on November 10, 2004

As far as hardware goes, the Electronic Fieldtrip department at my job, just recently bought a G5 with a xserve raid and fiber channel card to plug the G5 directly into the raid so they can do real time HD video editing without any compression. They also have the Apple bundle (Final Cut, Motion, etc...) and this seems to be their best bet.
posted by thebwit at 4:57 AM on November 11, 2004

I also do a lot of video editing for my living, and I agree with what filmgeek has said.

I, on the other hand, will gladly say that I like the FCP/G5 solution over all of the others.

While I can work on any OS platform, I choose MacOSX as the cleanest, and most stable. I say this because I don't like the idea of blackbox solutions for video editing. They are usually very expensive, very proprietary and hard to upgrade. PC-based machines are the way to go (where "PC" equals Personal Computer, not Windows/Intel machine).

FCP as a generalist video tool is tough to beat, and it plus the legendary Apple ease-of-use and software/hardware expandability are gravy.

Firewire RAIDs are the way to go for storage. You can build your own 1TB array for less than a grand now. Although, if you plan on doing HDCAM you'll need to use the 800Mbit Firewire port and native 800Mbit firewire drives, and if you are doing uncompressed HD, thebwit has it nailed - go XServe Raid and Fibre Channel.
posted by tomierna at 9:47 AM on November 11, 2004

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