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  1. #1

    Best computer specs for editing HD video smoothly from a Canon XH-A1?

    i am saving up to get a Canon XH-A1 camera so i can record and edit with HD footage. but i just want to make sure i will be able to edit a long project(about an hour to an hour and a half) smoothly with no dropped frames, errors, system crashes, etc. basically i need a machine that can keep up. i ask because i have edited smaller projects and i get slow down and shut downs from time to time. i dont want to start a long project only to have it crash and loose all my info.

    i am guessing the pros never have problems editing since they can afford supercomputers that can handle HD video with ease. can anyone recommend the type of power (RAM, Hard Drive space and RPMs, processor, CPU GHz speed, graphics card, etc) i would need to edit video smoothly and without problems? i prefer to edit on a PC.

    right now i have a Dell XPS 400 PC running on windows XP with a 200GB hard drive, pentium D intel viiv processor, CPU of 2.80GHz, nvidia geforce 7300 LE and 2GB ram. that sure wont cut it, right? should i get a new PC or just upgrade this one? what do i need to fix?

    also i just want to say that i do everything on this one computer from downloading movies and music to surfing the web and burning DVDs. i have many big files in several folders. does that afffect the overall performance of the PC? should i just delete everything and keep only the editing software and only use it to edit? will that even help? thanks for any help!
    Last edited by orangeflava; 18th Feb 2009 at 07:29. Reason: extra info

  2. #2
    Hi OrangeFlava

    You will need at least a QuadCore Machine (my DuoCore 2,2GHZ just doesn't cut it!!) as fast as you can afford, plus at least 4GB ram and a video card with at least 512mb video ram..more is actually better.

    You need to look at at LEAST 2 drives but with HD it's worth having a dedicated machine for video only with one drive for the OS and editing and one for your raw files. Everything must be SATA at least to get a decent data rate.

    You will naturally need a BluRay burner as well and suitable HD edit software.

    The biggest mistake that people are making is buying a "so-called" HD domestic camcorder or even a prosumer model then finding out that to edit the footage and produce a disk they need to spend twice the price of the camera to do so!!!

    You need to save at least double the cost of the camera just to begin and that's assuming that you already have a BluRay player and HD TV at home to play your creations.

    Before you spend a fortune also watch the progess of far it's been dismal and many experts have tipped it to go the same way as BetaMax video in favour of SD type media and players which are gaining popularity and coming down in price!!


  3. #3
    thanks for the reply!

    i just want my picture to look better. it doesnt have to be HD but if i record 24 frame(film like) mode does it have to be HD?

    if SD is better(i.e. easier to edit) i can use that. i heard that the 24f mode on the xh-a1 is ideal for a better picture. if i can record with the 24 frame option in SD then i will do that. would i still need a quadcore using SD?

  4. #4
    I'm not too sure whether the XH-A1 can shoot in SD or does it shoot HD only??? It might be able to shoot HD also and down convert to SD???

    In all cases SD will be handled really well on your current computer for editing (I used to edit SD on a P4 1.7Ghz machine!!!)

    I shoot weddings using Panasonic Proline cams which are simple 3 chip SD cameras and often when I have run a sample DVD for clients on their own big screen TV they have said to me "Wow!! the picture is so clear!!!"

    Good lighting and good shooting makes a HUGE difference and spending big money on an HD cam doesn't mean that your footage will be way's you behind the camera what matters and an inexperienced person behind a $40,000 camera can easily turn out garbage footage whilst a dedicated cameraman can make a HandyCam look good!!!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    New York
    I highly recommend the Matrox RTX2 if your computer can handle it.
    If you have a dual core, or better yet, a quad core, with at least 2 gigs of ram and an open PCIe slot you're in business.

    You'll be able to edit at least four (4) layers of video with an additional 2 layers of effects in real time, no rendering required! The more powerful the computer and GPU the more layers you can do in real time.

    I use both an RTX100 (home) and RTX2 (office). They increase productivity and offer a feature list that will surely impress.

    You can get the RTX2 with CS4 at a price that pretty much is the same as if you bought CS4 alone. You can't go wrong. I feel that as long as your current computer can take the card, you're better off getting it than upgrading your computer. Then, if you upgrade the computer later, the card is that much more powerful.


  6. #6
    I will keep my views in line with Chris for his initial comments.

    SD can handle 24p. Formats and framerates are two different matters, and difference in framerates does not make better footage.

    You might not need quadcores for SD, but the fact is- you're intending to edit a really long clip. My 5 cents' worth: edit them in segments (20 - 30 min depending on how many video/audio layers you are doing), bring them together when you are ready to export.
    There's no bad camera, just a bad user
    Loong . Singapore

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    New York
    Orangeflava, your computer, as is, will not be able to handle HD. You're best solution would be to get the Matrox RTX2 I suggested above, but please, read on.

    I would not suggest you use your computer as an all-in-one solution (internet, gaming, music, editing, etc.) even if you are going to be working in standard definition. At the least, dual boot your machine to a separate hard drive set up for only video editing. If you want to edit video with good results you do not want to have programs and processes running that are unnecessary (virus protection, network processes, etc.) Dual booting to a lean, clean operating system is best if you're going to use the computer for other things.

    It is highly recommended that you have at least one drive dedicated for video capture. Another would be good to use for audio, scratch disk, and to hold your project files. Actually, having one for each use would be best but at the least have one for the above. I have a raid for my video capture and separate dedicated drives for audio, project files and my scratch disks. Don't expect good results using a hard drive full of fragmented music, dvd images and garbage downloaded from the internet.

    Canon makes terrific equipment. I just picked up a XL2 to compliment my GL1. The XL-H1 is certainly on my list of future camera's. I'm curious though, it seems like this will be your entry into videography, is that correct? I think it would be more advantageous for you to start with a good 3ccd standard definition camera and use difference in money good wireless audio, a sturdy tripod and editing system (or card, such as RTX2). You can always upgrade the camera later. You might buy the XL-H1 and decide you are not cut out for video or you might be overwhelmed by the camera and only get 10% use out of it.

    As Chris said (I find I quote him a lot ) it's not the camera but the cameraman that makes the video. It's also not the editing computer that tells the story, it's the editor. I've seen people make some pretty good stuff using Microsoft Movie Maker.

    Besides this awesome site, if you want to learn a bit about what makes a good computer set up for video, a good site to read over would be It's chock full of good information.

    Good luck and let us know how you do.

  8. #8


    thanks for the tips. i will most definitely take your advice. approximately how much would that new pc hardware run me? also would a second hard drive work well if it is external and connected via usb? or do i need an internal hard drive?

  9. #9
    Check prices with your local computer store and they will be able to also assemble it for you for a small fee.

    I use external drives for captured video as it comes out cheaper than making backup disks!! Here a 1tb drive is less than $200 and when it's full I buy a new one rather than trying to get all that data onto dual layer DVD's!!


  10. #10
    Quote: MetaBol
    View Post
    Orangeflava, your computer, as is, will not be able to handle HD. You're best solution would be to get the Matrox RTX2 I suggested above, but please, read on.
    In theory, my 80286 can handle HD. I wouldn't suggest it, but saying that a specific computer "will not be able to handle HD" is misleading, at best.
    Eric Adler (tonsofpcs) Chat at:
    Follow me on twitter: @videosupport @eric_adler

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