Time to get a new PC

I have had my current Dell XPS for about 4 years and I'm on my third video card through failures and it appears to be acting up again, but now my warranty has run out.  Plus my PC is just not powerful enough for proper editing of video.  It stutters aong when trying to render or scrub.  So the search is on for a powerful PC to edit video and hopefully everything else will be looked after if I go for that.  I use Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects and the big thing in CS5 was the introduction of the Mercury Playback Engine which uses the Cuda architecture of the Nvidia cards to give smooth real time playback and rendering even with complex effects applied to many video tracks.  I've selected Dell machines for many years but I got advice to look at the HP workstations, in particular the Z series.  After looking at some sites that provide turnkey solutions it also appeared that the HP workstations, the Z400 in particular, form the key component of the system usually with the Nvidia FX3800.  When it comes to the graphic card though I am inclined to go for the newer and more highly specified Nvidia Quadro 4000 which is only a little more expensive. I am told it is really more for 3D work so I think I will get the rendering and smooth playback I'm looking for but also better productivity with After Effects.  Finally I need to decide on the harddrive.  With a good workstation with Xeon processors and enough RAM and a good graphics card the speed of the harddrive can become the bottleneck.  Most turnkey solutions appear to favour a Raid 0 set up, but I've been warned that this could be problematic. So I've now narrowed it down to either: SAS drives, an SSD drive or a 10,000 rpm SATA drive.  There's not much in price between the SAS and the SSD solution (once you take into account you have to buy a SAS controller as well), although I can probably get more space with SAS.  At the moment I'm inclined towards SSD, but I need to do a bit more research.  So hopefully very soon I'll have my new workstation. 

Panasonic TM700 update

I've had the TM700 for about 6 months now and I must say it's a great machine.  It's renewed my interest in video.  The quality of the video is truly amazing, very detailed and sharp and I'm not even using it on it's higest setting as that's too difficult to edit, but more on that.   The TM700 is such a portable and easy to use device, very easy to carry around with you, in fact you can get it in a decent size coat pocket.  We've been away a good bit since and I've taken it with me and enjoyed using it.  The only problem is now finding the time to edit the movies but I've decided that's an activity for cold winter days which we are getting close now so nearly time to start editing.

My fear when buying a HD camcorder was would I need to start upgrading all the rest of my system.  Get a higher specced PC, a BluRay writer drive, a BluRay player, more hard disc, a new version of Adobe Premiere and so on which all sounded like a big spend.  But no in the end I've managed.  I updated my ram to 8GB and my operating system to Windows 7 64bit and I'm still using Premier CS4 and it is managing fine.  I don't record at the highest level or in Progressive mode as I know Premiere won't handle this format.  I also know if I get too sophisticated with too many multiple tracks in Premiere it would struggle, but I'm getting away with it. So I've put off the decision what PC to upgrade to, but I know a Core i7 would be great.  The biggest issue was deciding what format and media to write the movies too, I thought I would need a BluRay disc writer, but I got around this as well.  What I did was to buy an LG BluRay player that has Wifi and also a USB port that means I can add a portable hard drive to the player and watch my movies on the TV in this was.  This works very well and also means I don't need to spend hours authoring and writing to BluRay discs.  Now I edit my moves and write them straight from Premiere ot the different formats I want.  Highest quality and size to the portable hard drive from watching on the TV and smaller more compressed formats for the web.   There are some great web sites where you can upload your HD movies like YouTube and Vimeo and you will find a link on the right panel to see my videos so far.

I've even tried doing a bit of editing on the iMac with the new iLife version 11 and it was great fun creating a trailer movie using it's new feature for this and it only took 10-15 mins, you can see it here.  But I sense the Mac with only 2 gb of memory would struggle with the editing of HD content but I might try it for the craic.  Any way the TM700 is a great video, very portable, very versatile and easy and enjoyable to use.

Howth Summit

At this point I was hoping to have a video from our trip to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, but the volcanic ash put a stop to that and now we will have to wait until September.  So in the mean time I took out my camcorder and here is some video I took while on a walk from Howth Summit to the Harbour and back.  As you see the weather got steadilly worse as I went along, but a nice walk all the same.

Howth Summit from Shay Farrelly on Vimeo.

Panasonic TM700

I got my Panasonic TM700 a couple of weeks ago, thank you Sheldon. I haven't taken any serious video with it yet, I was hoping to get to use it on the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento this week, but our plans fell through when our flight was cancelled due to volcanic ash. I took a few minutes with it last Sunday on my way home along Sandymount Strand and by the Liffey. The weather was poor but what I really wanted to do was see the quality of the HD video and then try editing it with Premiere Pro CS4.

The highest quality setting on the TM700 is 1920 x 1080, 50p fps. However this takes up a lot of space and gives only over an hour of video. It's also very intensive on editing and my current TV can't show it. So I settled for a lower VBR of around 13mb per second and this allows about 5 and a half plus hours which would be fine for a couple of weeks on holiday.

My next problem was to be able to edit it on Premiere Pro. So I tried a few tracks of video with titles and tricky transitions to see how it managed. Happily I was able to preview the results particularly when I result to automatic quality. So I was able to edit it now would it render correctly, create small enough files and play back sharply, smoothly and without artifacts. This is when my trouble started. The playback was juddery and not smooth and some renditions create huge files. After many hours of experimentations and permutations I finally found settings that met all my requirements: small files, sharp clear video with clean transitions, no artifacts and smooth video.

Now all I need to go is create some masterpieces!