Digital Video Camcorders: Editing Using Computer

By: Christine Peppler

When camcorders went from analog to digital a few years ago, the ability to capture and edit home movies leapt forward light years. With a digital video camcorder and computer, scenes can now be deleted or rearranged and graphics, special effects, and even sound tracks added. The ability to produce near professional quality film is now within the grasp of the average consumer. However, the proper equipment is necessary to perform these miraculous feats and an up-to-date computer is as critical to the process as the camcorder itself.

The Right Stuff

The ability of a computer to successfully work with the digital video from a camcorder depends primarily upon things such as having enough memory, processing power, and the right connections. Inadequate memory can limit the editing function and insufficient processing speed can slow the editing process to a crawl while limited disk space will be gobbled up at the rate of 215MB per minute of film.

How Much Is Enough?

When working with digital video from a camcorder, it's important to realize that more is better! The suggestions offered here are certainly not maximums, but they are also not absolute minimums. They are merely general recommendations to assure that the task of video editing camcorder film is a creative, rather than painful, experience.

- 512MB of RAM is recommended. It's possible to work with about half this amount of memory but editing such as adding special effects, titles, and graphics becomes difficult with less memory. The video card should also have at least 32MB RAM.

- 60GB hard drive is recommended but 100GB is better. Again, it is possible to work with digital video with as little as 30GB but disk space will disappear very quickly. Certainly, budget constraints can influence selection.

- 1GHz or higher processor to help assure that editing can be done without unreasonable delays.

- FireWire or USB 2.0 port for the fastest transfer from camcorder to computer.

Other Elements of Success

- Windows XP and Mac OS X are the applications of choice.

- Video editing software. Numerous products are on the market making it easy to select a program that is compatible for any computer model. It is important to investigate the minimum system requirements as stated in the literature of any software purchased.

- Higher resolution monitors can make editing easier and most editing software will dictate the minimum resolution.

- A DVD burner is not required for digital video editing but does allow the user to burn movies to disk and view them on a DVD player.

Although the list of requirements for a computer to handle digital video from a camcorder is somewhat lengthy, most up-to-date computers are certainly up to the task. Once all of the requirements are met, creating home movies that will win the "critical acclaim" of family and friends is just a few mouse clicks away.

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