Tom David Frey
How to choose an Editing Computer for Aerials
Updated: Jul 7, 2020
Dimmed, dusty offices, scattered monitors, countless buttons, controllers, cables and computers, numerous and high as New Yorks Skyline. The typical editing room belongs fortunately to the past.
The correct choice of an editing laptop gives the direction for further film projects and might save the trouble of working all night long and having way too many cups of coffee.
I speak from personal experience.
The demands rise with the technical possibilities.
4K will be the new standard – when talking about DJI drones one can say that 4K is the standard already.
VFX, color grading, multiple layers and formats overcharge a normal laptop easily.
Today we want to clarify some basics, dispel the myth of the needed super-computer and get to know the various different aspcets that affect the workflow.
Finally I want to show you different solutions at various pricings.
If you choose a smaller or wider screen, if the laptop supports 1.600 x 1.200, Full HD or 4K – all of that is a question of comfort rather than a decisive factor for buyers (even though one can say that a 4K laptop will probably have a proper video card built-in).
Ask yourself the following questions: What's the minimum display size that let's you edit comfortably?
What is the maximum size that you can put into your bag and that you want to carry around with you?
Next to that, if you're planning to work outdoors, you might think of purchasing a laptop with a dull screen, as working with a badly reflecting monitor can be very challenging. Personally, I like laptops with a screen size between 15'' – 17'' and Full HD resoultion, if working on a budget.
Too often neglected does a fast harddrive speed-up the workflow vastly.
When editing video footage, our computers move huge amounts of data from A to B, back and forth.
If you work with a slow harddrive and at the same time are trying to work with 4K, RAW or uncompressed footage, your computer feels like a lonely worker, trying to erect the Giza Pyramids.
While I recommend at least 1.000GB (1TB) of disk space, it is more important to look out for a laptop with a built-in SSD drive. Yes, those are a little more expensive, but they are fast as hell and a lot more resistant against external influences (saying shock proof, even though I wouldn't want to take it to the test myself). If you can't afford a laptop with an SSD, make sure the normal HDD runs with at least 7.200rpm.
Or – last option – you make sure to buy a laptop with an USB3.0 output so you can purchase an external SSD whenever you have the money.
I don't want to bore you with to many tech details.
Let's keep it simple and say that the RAM is something like our processors immediate storage.
And because we know that the processor is like the computers brain, we know that having some bits might sound clever.
The more RAM storage you have available, the faster the workflow. It's as simple as that.
Your new editing laptop needs minimum 8GB of RAM storage, with „minimum“ being the operative word. Personally, I work with 16GB, even though I'd love to work with 32GB or even 64GB for a faster playback and workflow.
A swift video card (graphic card) is another feature that will improve your editing experience.
Many important processes, for example rendering, strain our video card massively.
When purchasing a laptop, you are somewhat restricted when it comes to selecting a video card, as they're already built-in and and you can't always find a model with the one perfect video card you had in your mind.
The absolute minimum is 1GB of vRam, while 4GB already provide you with enough power for a smooth playback.
Next to that you should check whether the video card is prepared with different outputs, for example an HDMI or DVI port – or even both.
An editing laptops brain is just as important as our brain. It makes us understand my writing while otherwise we could only see the letters, but couldn't come combine them.
I absolutely recommend Intel processors.
A beginner (or low budget filmmaker) can get started with an i5 processor, while an i7 processor works a lot steadier and faster, if you can afford it.
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