• Sean LaFollette

HOW TO BUILD AN EDITING MACHINE


How to build an editing machine

Admittedly, it’s been several years since I’ve made a film. When making ‘Daydreams of a Night Clerk’, I built a computer and made the decision to purchase the Adobe (CS6) software. Everything went as planned. The machine was fast, I could edit quickly and the export times were amazing. I thought I was set for life, but I forgot one thing. The quality of footage and file sizes are getting better, making my machine obsolete.


I utilized the same machine to work on ‘Pink Heat’ and it seemed to handle the RED 4k footage pretty well also. Sure, it took 29 hours to export the full movie once it was complete but what did I care? It was only processing time, right? I would hit export, come back the next day and give it a watch to make sure everything looked good.


Fast forward a few years and here I am attempting to make my second feature length film and I’m starting to see degradation in my machine. It’s 8 years old so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, but I thought I would be okay considering I’m shooting with an iphone. I couldn’t have been more wrong.


Downloading the footage from my first few days, I get everything saved and ready for edit. Dragging it over, I drop videos in my Premiere timeline and watch the magic happen...slowly. Very fucking slowly…After the footage settles in, I’m ready to work, kind of.


I watch the playback and the system chops it’s way through, showing me bits and pieces of a video file. Next, I decide to hit ‘render’ so I can get some decent playback. Little did I know the render was going to take 16 hours...I think it’s time for an upgrade, something I didn’t plan for as I started all this.


UNEXPECTED ISSUES

I honestly didn’t think about a day where the video files would be so good and so large that my computer wouldn’t be able to handle them. I just assumed I would have a computer ready to edit for the next 20 years or so. Aside from never thinking this all the way through, I NEVER thought the computer wouldn’t be able to hack iphone videos. Shows just how far technology has come.


The other issue I’m encountering, aside from the speed woes, is the fact that some of the video codecs are no longer supported by my machine. Simply put, my computer doesn’t recognize the file type when I record a shot in 4k 60fps. This is a file type that wasn’t around 8 years ago when I built this machine. So what’s the issue? Let me walk you through what happened.


With the slow motion footage loaded to my machine, I wasn’t able to watch them back. This was frustrating as I assumed something was wrong with the files and NOT my machine. Emailing support at Filmic Pro (these people were amazing by the way) they notified me that there is nothing wrong with the files. Next, they inform me that it’s the machine that has issues and they also provide a possible solution!

Seeming to be simple enough, I just have to go to the Microsoft store and purchase an extension, allowing my computer to recognize this new file format. Sounds easy enough, until Microsoft tells you that your version of Windows can’t support the extension allowing me to view the files.


So here I am...16 hour render times, 28 hour exports and video files that aren’t recognized. Frustrated, this leads me down the rabbit hole. Time to upgrade and try to do so with the future in mind.


One thing to note, you could just buy a Macbook Pro and be set for a few years. I prefer to build a computer as you have more control over the components you put in the machine. You can leave room for upgrades and really get something to the specs you need. It should last you a few years more than a store bought machine.


PICKING THE COMPONENTS

As I think about the problems I face, my first thought was I needed more RAM. To test this theory I click render and open the computer's task manager. Much to my surprise, the CPU is at capacity and the RAM is hardly being utilized. After a quick Google search, it’s confirmed that a CPU and GPU control the render and export, not the RAM.


Okay, let me clear up some of this nerd shit for you so I don’t lose you entirely. RAM stands for random access memory. The purpose is to increase the speed of multitasking on your computer. Next is the CPU or central processing unit. This is the brain, the main driver of the computer that gives it the speed and power. Lastly, the GPU or graphics processing unit. This is the graphics card and it can help to process/render high quality videos quickly.


With that out of the way we can now get back into the build. Starting with the CPU, I look to see what’s currently available on the market. I’ve made the decision to go with the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X. This should be enough power for me to make iphone movies for the next couple of years. Now I need components to support this beast.


The next thing I did was check if my motherboard could handle the power of this little chip. The motherboard is used to connect all of your components inside the computer and older boards just can’t handle the new power. As expected, my board would now be garbage and I need to select a new one.


Sean, how do you know what to select? How do you know if parts are compatible?


Great question! I use the system builder at PC Part Picker! Simply add in the CPU I selected and it will give you the supported components as you continue to pick your parts. AMAZING!


Finishing up the build, below are the additional components I selected.


Motherboard - MSI MAG X570 TOMAHAWK WIFI

Graphics Card - EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER KO GAMING Video Card

RAM - G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 32GB

Sound Card - EVGA NU Audio Pro 7.1

Operating System - Windows 10 Pro


Coming in at just over $2,200 this should get me by for a few years. How can I justify the cost? I plan to make at least 3 feature length films on this new build and tons of additional content for my YouTube channel.


CONCLUSION

Editing can sometimes be overlooked in the film process. Not the fact that you HAVE to edit but the cost of doing so. In this instance, I never thought I would need a new machine to make ‘What About Molly?’ and yet, here I am about to spend an unexpected $2,000. There are many lessons learned here.


Life always comes with a myriad of problems. Some small and some not so much. The key is to remain calm, take a breath and find a solution. There is always a solution and you WILL find it. You are strong enough to make it over these speed bumps and coming out better on the other side.


Remember, film is the same way. It’s moving forward, recording the scripted material, solving one problem after another.


Are you an editor? Do you have a solution or build you’d like to share? Leave a comment and share the knowledge!


- The Failed Filmmaker

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