Digital Video Editing

Becoming the next Steven Spielberg is simple thanks to video editing on your PC.

Potential to reality - Software, the missing link

Quality Digital Video (DV) became a possibility with the arrival of the Sony DCR-VX1000 in 1995, a landmark DV camcorder, years ahead of its rivals. It provided a video signal quality equal to most camcorders available today, was the first consumer camcorder with a Firewire connection, possessed easy-to-use controls, and the lens was professional quality.

The Sony DCR-VX1000 should have been what the Canon 300D was for digital SLRs and the iPod was for digital music on the go. However, it was doomed never to spark the DV revolution. Why? Simple; the software available at the time was horrible to use, expensive to buy and impossible to install.

Digital video for the masses could only begin when the accompanying software was easy enough to use without requiring a Degree in rocket science. This fusion of software, affordable DV camcorders and fast PCs with large hard drive capacities happened around 2002.

On the PC side, Windows XP offered Firewire support and the plug-and-play connectivity promised with Windows 98. While Windows was ironing out bugs, Apple stole the limelight with the arrival of iMovie, a simple to use program that allowed anybody with an iMac and DV camcorder to make movies within hours. The PC industry quickly followed suit with variations of professional video editing programs. These offered lots of features but generally had clunky interfaces when compared to the slick simplicity of iMovie. Mature programs developed specifically for the video enthusiast, eventually arrived over the next couple of years offering the features needed to easily create home movies.

The current crop of video editing packages has matured remarkably, with many programs now into their 7th and 8th revisions. That means a lot of mistakes were made and a lot of lessons learnt. Users entering the world of video editing can now enjoy using applications that are not only more stable, but also more intuitive than ever before.

What you will need for hassle free video editing

Once you have recorded your video footage, the next step is getting it onto your PC and transforming the raw video into a polished movie. Most newer PCs will have enough power and memory capacity to handle DV editing tasks but as a good standard rule always remember, the more RAM the better. Hard drive capacity is also important as video files can take up large amounts of space.

The following figures are not the minimum requirements for working with DV, rather a recommendation on the appropriate system to make life easier.

  • Pentium 4 processor
  • Windows XP (SP2)
  • 512 MB RAM
  • AGP video card with 128MB RAM
  • 19-inch monitor, with a second 15-inch monitor if possible, LCD screen not necessary.
  • 16-bit Sound card
  • Dual format DVD recorder
  • 120GB drive for capture/editing application
  • Second 120GB Hard Drive running at 7200 revolutions per minute (rpm). (DV footage takes up 4GB for each 20 minutes stored on the hard drive).

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