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Thread: Son wants to make movies-what do I need!What should i get?

  1. #1

    Default Son wants to make movies-what do I need!What should i get?

    Hi everybody - my son (15) wants to make movies(video editing). He wants an mac. I have started looking into macs, and I am thinking about the emac.

    HOwever, what I'll need comes to like $1400 (I am in US). I want to research and see what I can get in a pc . I'm thinking he's not going to want a desktop, unless its something like an emac and I haven't seen anything like that in pc. So maybe laptop..?

    Anyway, I want SPEED, plenty of hardrive of course for video editing, I want the capability to burn dvd/cd (right? this makes sense?). I need to be able to input analog from old video camera until we get a new dv camera , and vhs probably.

    I have a copy of Adobe Premiere. Will this work ok, or is it too advanced too soon and save for later when he/we have more experience?

    I want good hardware and software that he can grow into, not bottom line basic, unless that is acceptable.

    Sorry if I sound like such a newbie, but this area of video editing is new to me and I want to do it right the first time.

    How much will all of this cost me, (closer to $1000 us is optimal) and from what I've read in some other posts, am I totally screwed for getting this for Xmas..???!!!

    Any information you can help me with is very appreciated, and i thank you all in advance! Any resources you can direct me to is also appreciated.

    I guess that about covers my questions. Thanx so much!

    Vid Kid's Mom

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2003


    i'd go for a nice pc in a funky looking case, to satisfy his desire for aesthetics over functionality, but the fact it'll be ibm-compatible means it'll actually be useful for stuff.

    don't get a mac if you can help it. it sounds like he's done no or little video work before, so over a grand is a lot of money to spend on a 15-year-old's passing fad. at least he'll be able to play games etc on the pc.

    get a nice barton (maybe even opteron) based system, plenty of ram, nice amounts of HD space, and you'll be sorted.

  3. #3


    You can definately get some funky PCs (although my self build features a rather functional and neat brushed aluminium case). Alienware have a solid reputation in the states for their innovative PC designs, but you're probably looking at the same price as a Mac - something I can imagine you want to avoid. However, PC manufacturers have picked up on the mac look and you'll see even the main dealers such as Dell creating slick designs.

    But the main crux of a PC is its insides as mrlipring suggests. To this end, you'll be wanting a high end P4 processor (such as a 2.8 with hyperthreading) to both keep down costs and give your rig a bit of ooomph. (Yep, I'm a Intel fan at the moment - sorry AMD, but the tests at Tom's Hardware have Intel slighlty in the lead at the mo). That advice can, and will change. Next week I'll be preaching the wonders of AMD.

    But I digress, you're main points of interest are going to be at least 512 of ram (1GB would be better). I won't go into any more detail about what type of ram, but will tell you that 1Gig would suit a teenager with no patience - any previews in your video editing application will render a lot faster.

    Next is the harddrive. Serial ATA (SATA) drives are starting to overtake IDE drives in terms of performance and won't increase the cost of your unit - so if there's a choice between two PCs (one with SATA drives, the other with IDE, i'd go for the SATA drives). Additinally, you can never have too much harddrive space!

    Buying something like Adobe Premiere will seriously eat into your budget, but with the latest (version 7 aka Preniere Pro) recently hitting the streets, the price of the earlier 6.5 version has tumbled. I think I saw it on Amazon for $200. To be honest, you're better off waiting to see if you get the bug. Your new PC will probably come with some kind of video editing application, so I'd use this first. If you get the bug, gp ahead and buy a decent video editing card with Premiere bundled for around $600.

    Before that, you can use the PC's standard firewire port for digital video capture.

    Hope this persuades you that spending a fortune doesn't have to be the only route into video editing. For more details, check out my guides at:
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  4. #4


    Thanks this is great info for me. I'm not a newbie but haven't had to buy a computer for several years so have not kept up with new stuff. What is an opteron or barton based system? Is this the chip?

    I really hesititate to get him a desktop, because, well, you know its so cool to be portable, dude (15 yr old speaking). But some kind of funky thing would be great. I know he is thinking a laptop, but would probably handle the emac thing as its not too cumbersome and is kinda cool.

    Would you recommend doing video editing on a laptop? Do they make any cool, funky laptops that can kick butt ( at a reasonable price)? I know I have to max out the ram, processor and hard drive - should he have an external hd too?
    Oh, and I know (from being over at macrumors forum) that they all save to get SuperDrive, not combo - is there something like that for laptops/pcs? Or does that just mean dvd burning capability?

    i have actually heard a few good things, or should i say, AMD keeps coming up in my exploration of this topic - is that like a super fast processor or something? Sorry if I ask dumb questions - I'm trying to think of everything while I am here for the moment.

    OH, also - I already have premiere, but will prob look for an entry level program, but not TOO entry level, because he'll have that figured out by the end of the week - no doubt.

    Thanks again for your suggestions! I so appreciate it! I'll check in again tomorrow!
    Vid Kid Mom

  5. #5


    Investing in an Athlon 64 based PC will make your PC "future proof" - although you won't get any advantages right NOW, you will be able to take advantage of sofware specifically written for 64bit CPUs. But then you'll STILL have to but this software anyway. All in all, if your son wants "bragging rights", he'll want an Athlon 64 based system.

    You really should dissuade him from the Mac option. I know professionals rave about their video editing performance, but what happens when he gets bored of video editing and wants to play games? On top of that, there's some excellent freeware/shareware available for the PC. I don't beleive the Mac community can compete with this. Upgrading a PC is also part of the fun - something you can't really do with a Mac!

    I'd advise against an external harddrive for anything other than storage - the typical external drive won't really be upto video editing. Make sure you get a couple of fast, high capacity Serial ATA drives (7,200RPM with an 8MB cache).

    If you want analogue inputs, opt for a PC with an ATI all in wonder card. These combine powerful graphics cards with both video in and outputs and a TV card (so you'll turn your PC into a very expensive TV).

    As for Premiere - if you have a copy already, let him loose on it straight away. No point in starting small in my opinion. He'll pick it up in no time using the help files (an maybe a quick start book).

    I'm from the UK, and if we go with the assumption that something costing a dollar in the states would cost a pound here (yep, they don't call us rip-of-britain for nothing - us Brits pay waaaaaaay much more than you for stuff) a $1000/1000 would buy you a mid range PC. You won't be getting an Athlon 64 for your bucks, but you can expect a system based around an AMD Barton (probably an XP 3200+) or a P4 3.2. You'll probably be limited to 512 RAM at this price point and you'll do well to get a DVD Burner (but I've seen sub 1000 systems bundled with DVD burners), but you'll certainly get a CD-burner.

    Shop around is my best advice. Make sure your armed with a bit of technical jargon so you can make a fair comparison between the two (e.g knowing which has the better processor, speed and type of RAM, harddrive etc.

    My final word would be to avoid a laptop at this price point - you won't get value for money.
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  6. #6


    Thanks for the advice! MAN, Marc, you suggested the Alienware and I showed him that site - WOW, those are some awesome machines! He flipped. So we put in a search for "high performance gaming computer" and then we went to Xsystems - he absolutely fell in love with those and wants one BAD. I mean, a high performance gaming system is obviously going to have enough oomph for video editing - I still have to get the capture card and softward, dvd/cd burner and...... well, that should do it right? Oh I have to/should have dvi right?

    I actually thought the unit I configured at Xystems was pretty reasonable considering the power etc. Does anyone know anything about this company/these systems? Are they worth it/ reputable/dependable?



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2003


    dvi if you're using a flat panel, yep, but i'd have reservations about using a flat panel for games/video work, unless it's a REALLY good one. other than that, it doesn't matter.

    a pc designed for gaming will be excellent for video work, as long as you have plenty of memory and hard drive space. i'd imagine that kinda pc will be coming with at least half a gig and at least 120gb, so that's plenty to be getting on with.

    dvd writers are cheap as hell so if you don't get one with it, you're only looking at $150 MAX for a good 4x drive that'll burn a dvd in 15 minutes.

    as for the capture card, you can spend several times your pc's cost on one, but i'd buy a cheapish one just now and buy a better (featured) one later if you want.

  8. #8

    Default Thanks

    Yes, good info. My husband is balking at the price ($2200+). I may have asked this before, but can I cram all of this into a laptop (at least 15") and what, is this probably going to cost more than the desktop gaming system?? Can a VAIO do this? Is it recommended?

    Do any of you know any cool design laptops that are good - I'm still thinking on the funky Alienware/Xsystems theme - those are so cool for a teenager, plus I could finally get his Sim Cities and architecture programs off my pc!

    I'm thinking if I can do this, I'm going to have to start fairly basic and we can build on it later... arrgh, times a wastin'!

    Thanks so much, by the way, I expect we will be popping in from time to time no doubt with questions if we start doing this - this seems like a great forum ! I thank you again for any help or direction you can lend me/send me.


  9. #9


    Going down the video editing laptop route is gonna be expensive if you want the same features found on a desktop.

    Laptop components tend to be all about sacrifices - for a start, the small laptop hardrives are often 5400RPM (this is slow and not really designed for video editing - for more check out Components are also designed with portability/battary life rather than performance - and you need maximum performance for video editing...

    So you'll pay a premium for a high end laptop, whereas the Desktop market is flooded with high end system designers. You'll pay an additional premium for a Sony , and you won't be able to upgrade easily!

    If you're spending >$2k, you'll want to look at getting a lot for your money. You'll be able to get a high end, well specified machine with a lot of upgrade potential...
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  10. #10


    Thanks Marc, again.

    Yeah, I think I knew that - I keep hoping that in pc's smaller means less money! Not happening yet...!

    I'm still looking - thanks for all the info, I know so much more now than I did a week ago, so that's saying something (I can't say that every week!)


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