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System Requirements... Help!

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Jim Bell
System Requirements... Help!
on Jan 20, 2010 at 1:12:49 am

I am preparing to start video blogging, uploading to youtube etc, and am almost ready buy a Macbook Pro 17", because I need the portability, but I want to be sure with the limited expandability I am not limiting myself too much.

I will be editing mainly SD from a pair of Panasonic DVX100Bs. I will be looking to create some flashy lead in credits too.

I am considering the latest Macbook Pro with:

Core duo 2
4GB Ram
500 GB drive
Express card/34 slot
NVIDIA GeForce 9400M + 9600M GT with 512MB

My questions are:
Will this configuration by relatively zippy? Or at least pretty good? I cannot afford to have a dog that has me waiting half of every day.

Will graphics/titling software like motion and after effects perform acceptably on the machine above? If not will upgrading to 8Mb solve it? So then, Is 4 Mb ram enough? I'd like to save the UG money unless it will really make life better.

What is the difference between an SD card and a Express card/34 slot?

For SD use is there a big difference between 256 and 512 video ram?

In looking at my budget it may be tempting to go to the 15" Macpro Is there much noticeable diff in speed between 2.5 and 2.8Mhz?

Also, how much does a step up to HD change the requirements. I am sure I will be faced with this sooner rather than later... By orders of magnitude?

A lot of questions I know, but I am very appreciative of any advice you might have based on your experience.



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Jeff Mueller
Re: System Requirements... Help!
on Jan 20, 2010 at 2:12:37 am

Hi Jim:

I'm a relative newbie, but let me jump in and I know the experts will correct me if I'm wrong.

First, the standard response: buy the fastest processor you can afford, get lots of memory and be aware of expandability. An 8 core Mac Pro is ideal, but that doesn't mean you have to have it, in fact, I think the rig you're looking at would be pretty sweet (better than what I am working on).

You absolutely want the 17" Macbook if you can possibly afford it. Not because of the processor (although that's nice), but because it is the ONLY current Macbook with the express card slot. You need that because it will allow you to add either an eSata Hard Drive (and use the one and only FW800 port for your DV camera connection) OR alternatively add an external video capture card like KONA and use the FW port for your external hard drive. You must have a fast external hard drive for your video capture if you're serious about this. You can't be writing to the same source as your application software (which needs to be read). It will cause problems.

For straight editing of SD material I think the only bottle neck you might experience with this setup would be compressing out to H264 or whatever you're using for the web. Basic graphics, color correction and effects may need to render but they should be quick. Multi Camera stuff and 3D graphics might be a different story, I have little experience there. Remember that processor speed is key to render times. That's why the quad core iMac 27s are so sweet, but they do present connect-ability issues. For basic editing you don't NEED the good graphics card, but it can't hurt. For work in Color or 3D fx it will be important.

When you say step up to HD, are you talking about Uncompresed HD or some other codec? The codec will matter and affect storage requirements, but again, for basic editing this system can work. (I'm editing compressed HD, color correcting and exporting to H264 and MPEG2 with a 2.16 ghz iMac, 128 mb dedicated ATI vid card, 3 megs of Ram and scratch disks daisychained over FW400, using FCS3 and Snow Leopard. It works. It's slow for some things, but it works.)

Hope this helps.

Jeff Mueller
Santa Barbara, CA

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Rafael Amador
Re: System Requirements... Help!
on Jan 20, 2010 at 2:39:08 am

I agree with Jeff.
Don't make the mistake of buying the 15".
The 17' with an eSATA HD or RAID and you are done.

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Jim Bell
Re: System Requirements... Help!
on Jan 20, 2010 at 2:45:53 am

Thanks a bunch Jeff. You made some good points I was not aware of. Anything else anyone can think of is appreciated!

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Zane Barker
Re: System Requirements... Help!
on Jan 20, 2010 at 5:48:31 am

What has already been said had been great, I just wanted to add a few other things that you may find useful.

For compressing to h.264 I would recommend getting the Turbo.264 HD

It will dramatically increase h.264 encoding times, and even has youTube integration. New yes compressor also has youTube integration but the hardware encoder of the Turbo.264 HD will speed up the encoding. It is great for encoding for youTube or another h264 web based encoding.

[Jim Bell] "I will be looking to create some flashy lead in credits too."

If you do not have any motion graphics experience or do not want to spend the time to create them, you can actually buy After Affects projects that you can then simply change txt or graphic elements and bingo banggo you have a flashy lead in, credits, segment header, lower 3rds etc.

Here is an example from

That particular one is only like $75, and so it may be much more cost effective to buy something like that then spend hours and hours making one.

There are no "technical solutions" to your "artistic problems".
Don't let technology get in the way of your creativity!

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