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How to Optimize Your PC Computer for Easy, Stress Free Video Editing


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Editing video, regardless of the format, places extreme demands on a computer, so you should tweak your system to be more efficient.

Programs that are set to run as soon as the computer boots up hog valuable system resources. If you have lots of little icons in the bottom right of your screen, then you are a prime candidate for a ‘clear out.’

The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to prevent these ‘blockages’ that play havoc with video editing.

Note: If you are not fully competent with the way computers work, do not attempt the following procedures yourself. Ask a local computer tech guy to help you out. It’s important!
You can find these problematic ‘gremlins’ in three places:

1. From the ‘Start’ menu, click on ‘All Programs’, then view the ‘Startup’ folder. Any non-essential programs in that folder should be deleted so as not to run at ‘startup’. Do not attempt this unless you are sure of what you are doing.

2. From the ‘Run’ command, type ‘msconfig’ in the box to bring up the System Configuration Utility. Again, this is only for advanced computer uses. The ‘Startup’ tab allows you to identify and uncheck any items that you do not want running automatically in the background when the computer starts. Most computers have many items that can be unchecked to free up resources.

3. Some programs are set to run automatically at certain times of the day. For example, some anti-virus or anti-spyware software does this. Go into each program individually and either ensure that such updates are set to update manually, or set them to update at a time that won’t affect your editing, such as in the middle of the night (your computer still needs to be on).

There are some other steps to take too:

1.Disable the desktop wallpaper (select a plain color background rather than an image or photo).

2.Disable the clock in the bottom right corner of your screen.

3.Disable screen-savers.

4.Disable power-management features that could turn off hard disks etc.

What else can you do?

Defrag Regularly

Regularly defragmenting ALL your hard drives is essential. Preferably, this should be done once a week, or after capturing. You would be astonished at how many times a sluggish editing project is due to the video files being fragmented. This is because video files are often very large, and when they are captured, the disk is working so hard to keep up with the data rate that it puts the information in the first available place on the drive. This often means it is spread across different parts of the drive—that’s why they are referred to as being fragmented.

Although Windows has a defrag utility built-in, there are other faster, superior utilities out there that you should consider.

Multiple Drives

You need to use at least three hard drives in an editing system: one drive for your operating system, another to capture video (but preferably a RAID setup), and finally a drive to export your finished projects for storage. It’s asking too much for a system to run the editing software AND capture to the same drive. You might get away with it with some DV systems, but you won’t with HDV.

Games are Evil

Games are the evil enemy of editing computers. Never load games on your editing system, as they WILL hog an enormous amount of resources and they WILL play havoc with various behind-the-scenes settings to really screw your machine up when you come to edit. If you’re into games, get another computer just for that! You’ve been warned!

Viruses and Spyware

If games are the evil enemy of editing computers then viruses and spyware are in a league of their own at causing havoc and leaving a path of vicious destruction. Sadly, these days it is unbelievably easy to be a victim of spyware and viruses. Some of the geekiest computer nerds that I know have been victims of serious viruses that destroyed the data on their computers. One survey showed that it was not uncommon for a computer that was connected to the Internet to be infected within two minutes of an operating system being installed!

What can you do about this major issue? Firstly, don’t use email on your editing computer. It’s just not worth it. No single anti-virus software is 100% effective, so why take the chance that one day you might lose a project that you had spent days, even weeks working on? Use a separate computer for all tasks other than editing, whether it is games, e-mail, word processing, accounts, or whatever. Don’t think that you will be one of the ‘lucky ones’. If you take no precautions at some point you WILL get a virus and regret it.

Secondly, install anti-spyware and anti-virus software and run it regularly. An excellent anti-virus software that many pros use is ‘AVG’ from www.grisoft.com. Microsoft offer a utility to detect and destroy spyware, called Windows Anti-Spyware. It can be downloaded from www.microsoft.com/downloads. Other options are also available.

Spend the Time and Reap the Rewards

All of these tweaks and adjustments might sound like a lot of hassle, but you will find that they make a big difference to the responsiveness of your system. The good news is that most of these changes can be made once and then left alone, so it’s not as complicated or time-consuming as you might think.

About the Author:

Andrew Lock is a video producer, consultant and trainer with more than 12 years experience. He has fulfilled video marketing projects for high profile corporate clients such as Sony, Disney, BritishAirways, Merrill Lynch, Royal Caribbean Cruises & others.

Lock is a noted advisor within the video production and film industry, and his articles and books are highly regarded as some of the most insightful and practical.

As a Brit who now resides in the U.S., he’s been dubbed by his peers as the ‘Simon Cowell’ of the video industry – his frank, honest and direct approach is a breath of fresh air to those that seek honest answers.

Lock’s new book, ‘How to Shoot, Edit & Distribute HDV’ is available at a special price direct from the publisher at: http://www.hdvbook.com

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  • Posted On October 7, 2006
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