I've not posted on this forum for just under a year, so apologies for the absence, but after a raft of issues both personal and technical, I believe I'm back to filmmaking in some capacity or other! And I need a bit of technical advice.
My former editing PC, and I use that term loosely as it was never designed as such - it was a PC I used to use for producing music/audio on, but then stuck with when I moved into visuals, has been retired to spend the rest of its days as the much maligned home/internet machine after the demise of our previous one. That was another reason I haven't been doing much filming, no machine to edit on! My biggest issue with the old machine was that it couldn't edit more than a single track of hi-def (1280 x720) at a time in my editing software before the preview playback became so choppy as to be unusable. I put this down the PC specs, an aging dualcore running 32 bit Win 7 pro, only 2gb Ram and a bog-standard graphics card, without much ram at all. My camera can shoot in full HD, but if I could barely edit the standard below, I didn't bother seeing how bad it would be in Full HD! I do need to use more than a single track as I am planning to work with multiple camera footage.
I've now bought a slight newer machine - alas could buy a modern custom PC, but found a second hand quadcore in good nick for a very tasty price, figured it had to be better than what I had been using before.
So, I've got an Intel Core TM2 Quad Q8200 with 3 GB, running Windows 7 Home PRem 64bit, but unfortunately another basic graphics card without much Ram. I had been using Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum, and while I will be buying a more contemporary version of it - especially one that utilises 64 bit tech more, I have persisted it for the time being.
For my first experiment experiment I shot some 1280x720 test footage and began sticking the tracks into Sony Vegas. Again, a single track played backed perfect, and I found I was able to add a lot more extensive effects to it without the issues, an instant improvement on my old setup. I added a 2nd track of footage on track 2, below the first one - and it seemed that there was no issues at all, I was chuffed. Things got a bit jerky if I added effects, but otherwise it was good. However, adding a third track of footage, it all went 'blaaaaaaaaaaah,' and the playback became rubbish.
I was a little disappointed, I guess I hoped the extra Gb of Ram and two additional cores would have more impact, and I began pricing up upgrade costs. However, one factor I didn't consider was the speed of the hard drives I've been using. I believe 7200rpm is pretty much the minimum recommended speed for a hard drive to be used for live editing. Sure enough, the Hard drive in my new machine is only 5000rpm, and I can confirm that the drives in my old editing PC were of that same speed too. Might I have found my main problem here?
I know I could doo with more RAM, a better graphics card, etc, but at this stage its not like I need to have more than 5 simultaneous HD tracks playing at once, could simply using a faster drive make that possible?
I've decided to check - I do own a 3.5 inch internal drive that does run at 7200rpm, but its too big to go in the case of the PC (its a small form device) and I know using it with a USB enclosure is no good because of the slow transfer rates, but I've found that my PC has got an eSata port, so I've ordered a cheap eSata enclosure - apparently there isn't much difference between esata and actually having the drive in the machine, I'm really hoping this will make the difference - but wanted your opinions - has anyone else had HD editing woes that were simply down to the speed of their drive? How much difference did upgrading make, and how much more benefit would there be from say a 10,000rpm drive?