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Video Creation The AMD Way
Author : Wayne Date : 23rd December 2002


Introduction :

This article is something I've had churning away in the dark recesses of my mind for some time now and I should really start by thanking Rabah over at AMD, Evesham Technology, Jeff Hyland at JVC, Steve Wise at Pinnacle and Judd Hughes at Bennets Electical (Bangor) without who this would never have happened. Let me state right from the outset that if you're here hoping to find masses of information on advanced videography you're going to be sorely disappointed, I'm approaching this whole article from the only standpoint I reasonably can, that of a total novice. Okay so I'm not quite a complete video virgin, as a qualified photographer I did also dabble in video for a short while and tried my hand at editing with a pretty rudimentary twin SVHS VCR setup accompanied by a cheap genlock and an even cheaper audio mixer.

So what's a video novice doing writing a review on video creation and editing? Well the way I see it there are a lot more people in my situation than there are pro or semipro videographers and the ones most likely to benefit from my discoveries and my mistakes are those who, like me, are at the start of what seems like a very daunting learning curve. Because of my privileged position as the owner of a hardware review site I get to loan rather than buy the equipment needed to put together this article and this of course means my mistakes cost me nothing. By sharing these mistakes I hope I can also serve to make you aware of the pitfalls and save you some money in the process.

The primary platform for the editing side of this article will be the humble PC. Lots of people own camcorders and they almost mindlessly transfer hours of footage to tape without even thinking about how much better the final results could look with a little time and thought. For many of these people the word "editing" conjures up an image of some guy sat behind a desk bedecked with hundreds of sliders and dials lit by little more than the half dozen monitors flickering away in front of him. Even those like myself who've dabbled a bit tend to still envisage the disapproving look on the faces of the family as you commandeer most of the living room with your bulky equipment and rat's nest of cables, extension leads and scribbled notes, not to mention the fact that they're missing Coronation Street while all this is going on. Modern computers have revolutionised home video editing but for some reason it's still a bit of an elitist practice and while it's true that a powerful computer will certainly ease the process the fact is that just about anybody with a 200MHz or faster PC has a world of possibilities at their fingertips. Hopefully during the course of this article I can debunk some of the myths that video creation and editing is some kind of dark, mysterious art best left to the wealthy and the broadcast companies and inspire you to give it a go for yourself.



The Background :

It all started about six months ago when I was talking to Paul Dutton of DVDoctor fame (now one of the main men over at The Overclocking Store). I mentioned how I figured it was time I took a fresh look at the world of video and how it had evolved in my absence. Being the guy he is he immediately became enthusiastic about the idea and began suggesting ways of going about it. A couple of weeks later I was talking to our good friend Rabah over at AMD about my plans and he also seemed very keen on getting this project off the ground. Before long the groundwork was laid and we had Steve Wise from Pinnacle, Evesham Technology and JVC onboard to help get things moving. In terms of the PC used we all decided it was probably best to run with an "off-the-peg" system rather than some unattainable custom built rig simply so that anybody wanting to go out and buy our test platform could do so. I'd had experience in the past with Evesham so it seemed logical I should use one of their systems and Rabah kindly took on the role of coordinator to get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet. The biggest decision we made was to use a dual processor Athlon MP system and while this may seem initially to go against our aim of keeping things mainstream I think we also need to work on the myth that multiprocessor platforms are only for powerful servers or the hardware extremist. AMD processors have led the way in terms of price and functionality for some time now and while I won't pretend you need to follow my route down the dual CPU road in order own a perfectly capable editing system if you can afford to do it you'll not regret it. If your intentions are to do nothing more than add a bit of music to the Christmas and holiday footage then a dual processor system is probably overkill but if you're equipping yourself with even half a mind towards making this a more serious hobby or even earning a living from it then the time savings gained from running dual processors will certainly start to make sense over time. The other thing a dual processor system affords me is flexibility. This way I can simply whip out one of the two CPUs and compare the benefits of one against the other.


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