In an ever increasing one-person filmmaker environment, editing is an important thing. It's often not enough, at least in my case, to be able to shoot and pass the footage to an editor and most importantly, editing is enjoyable! Well, it can be.
Recently I have been thinking about upgrading my editing system, increasingly because I want to shoot and edit 4k effectively. Hardly any of my clients ask for it but you need to future proof and 4k is not, in my opinion, far off being the standard delivery specification. It has many benefits within your edit too; punching in on footage to re-frame (ideally you will compose perfectly on a shoot - but we all know that this doesn't always happen on run-and-gun corporate work where you have no time to go to sip a cup of coffee, let alone set up perfect shots). It also looks fantastic! Common sense prevails; 3840 x 2160 pixels is better than 1920 x 1080 pixels, compare footage of the same thing and try and tell me otherwise!
Few people own a 4k TV, and no-one owns a 4k viewable phone right now (this will be undoubtedly the biggest game changer for 4k filmmaking) - the iPhone 7 plus is only 1920x1080 pixels, so editing in 4k is frankly a tiny bit pointless and seriously data-heavy right now. However, as I say, future proof! I'm not in a position to re-buy a complete edit 'suite' just yet, but I thought it would be fun to come up with my dream editing set-up as a build from scratch computer. The only rules are that it needs to be vaguely achievable financially, ie. not £100,000 of computer - there's no point in that! It also needs to be able to edit 4k video with ease and I want it to be able to edit 8k video at some point. So future-future proofing.
A couple of disclaimers; I'm not sponsored by any of these brands, the items listed are just what I like the look of / feel works best within my hypothetical criteria! I currently edit on 2x macs, but I think that apple has completely lost the plot. They hiked up the price of their already over-priced products and are far from a decent bang-for-buck company. I was allured by the little apple logo once, but no more! PC is where it's at people. I will also do my best to give brief explanations of what each component does and why it's important for video-editing. I don't know a great deal, the basics perhaps, and I am learning as I go and I hope this blog post will develop my understanding as well as yours. Ultimately, I really want to build a computer from scratch, I think it's a much cheaper way to create a seriously good system! So, here goes...
CENTRAL PROCESSING UNIT:
Your computer's Central Processing Unit is the electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program by performing the basic arithmetic, logical, control and input/output operations specified by the instructions. It's pretty key and generally speaking the most expensive component of a computer (other than potentially the graphics card). Most importantly, the processor determines the speed at which you can edit. No-one likes a slow computer. The CPU does the computational work like running programs. But the cores of a CPU can only perform one task at a time per core. Here is where hyper-threading and multi-core CPUs come into play. Now, you can add multiple CPU's to your computer via the motherboard (if there is more than one CPU socket, however, this level of power is reserved for supercomputers, servers, etc - where serious computational power is needed. Essentially 'cores' are CPU's, so, for example, a quad-core processor has 4x CPU's. The more cores, generally speaking, the more powerful the computer. But the clever thing is that as multiple cores are within one 'CPU' then there is only need for 1x socket, which by and large is the number we are looking at when it comes to motherboards and therefore there is less latency (the delay before a transfer of data begins following an instruction for its transfer) because the cores are on the same chip, so they communicate faster. This is good, this equals processing speed!
Now onto threading, or hyper-threading technology. Intel chips use hyper-threading to speed up your system. A single Intel chip with hyper-threading reads as 2x CPUs to an operating system. It's actually confusing the system, the chip only has a single set of execution instructions per CPU, however by essentially confusing your operating system and making the CPU think it has more cores than it really does, you speed up program execution. Excellent! Side note: this is not technically as effective as having 'real' multiple CPU's. Intel CPU's all use hyper-threading, so, for example, a quad-core processor with hyper-threading will appear as 8x cores to your operating system and an octa-core processor with hyper-threading will appear as 16x cores! Wow.
So, as the operating system needs a seriously decent CPU and really it's probably the single most important element, I'm going big and fast, let's worry about the cost later! Therefore the natural place to look is Intel and at their best processor: