The video I shoot is high definition. There’s no tape anymore — at least for me — and the video files are saved directly to SDHC cards. Using cameras such as the Panasonic AG-HMC40 and DMC-GH1, the video is compressed using AVCHD. It’s great in that file sizes are kept to a manageable size. It’s not so great in that your editing computer has to be extremely fast to work with.
Needing to upgrade my current system for this format, I decided to venture into the world of computer building. It’s a lot less expensive to piece everything together on your own — as long as you know what you’re doing. I already have the monitors and hard drives in my current computer, and needed everything else.
I’ve never done much in the way of computer hardware. Here and there, I’ve added RAM, swapped out hard drives, and put in a PCI card or two. But never anything as involved as working with the motherboard, CPU, power supply and the like. Then I found the wonderful site videoguys.com. They periodically post parts lists for DIY video editing computers, having done compatibility research and all kinds of other testing. For me, this was a Godsend — again, I really very little idea as to what I was doing.
I ordered the parts they recommended for their latest computer build, spread everything out on the floor, and buried myself in the manuals until I got it right. It went surprisingly smoothly — the only casualty being that I unknowingly sliced open a knuckle while digging around inside the case and bled all over the hard drives. It’s not really all that difficult once you know where everything goes and what needs to be plugged in where.
Now I have an insanely fast machine that will eat streams of 1080p video for breakfast and beg for more. Plus I have much more confidence in messing around inside the case of a computer. And it all came at a small fraction of the cost of any turnkey editing system out there. If you have the guts, I highly recommend going the DIY route!