1. GET SOME EQUIPMENT

Ok, you can't make a video without equipment and here is where the major cash expense comes in for creating videos. You basically have a few things that you must pay attention to: video capture card, hard drive, RAM, and CPU speed.

  VIDEO CAPTURE CARD

First you need to decided if you actually need a video captrue card. If you are going to use all DVD footage (never use downloaded footage), a video capture card is really not necessary. But if you are using an anime that isn't out on DVD yet, you will either have to use a video capture card to get the analog surce or just not use that anime.

A good video capture card will have some sort of hardware assistance for capture and not solely depend on your CPU. The ATI Rage All-in-Wonder cards use your CPU to do the capture, so you have to have a fast cpu/hard drive combo to make captures smooth. The Pinnacle DC10plus, Matrox Rainbow Runner, and the Matrox G400-TV are considered good video capture cards, but they are kinda old so video drivers for Windows 2000 and up may be hard to come by. These cards range from about $80 - $250, depending on the card and where you get it. Ebay is a good starting place for these older cards. If you have to, www.pricewatch.com will be able to help you with new purchases.

Midrange cards start at about $450 and go up in price quickly. Personally, I use a Pinnale DV500 card for video capture, though it really isn't necessary anymore with so many DVD titles to choose from. The Matrox RT2500 is another popular choice. These cards, in addition to being good capture cards, offer real-time rendering of effects. This real-time rendering saves lots of time when working with and competing your video because you don't waste time waiting for effects to render. Check the video card review section of the site for more information.

Something else you may want to consider when purchasing a video card is the bundled software. Some video cards come with Premiere or other professional editing software bundeled with the card, so check out what comes with what.

  HARD DRIVES

Hard drives are key to good video capture. If you have slow hard drive, you will drop frames during capture (that's bad). ATA/66 drives on a ATA/66 controller are a good minimum for most video capture cards. ATA/100 with a dedicated controller card is nice for PCs. If you can afford SCSI, go for it but you will be paying a ton for the drives. Most any modern hard drive will be pleanty fast for video captures. Of course if you are just pulling source from DVD, hard drive speed is not as critical, though it does make editing and rendering a bunch nicer.

Another key thing with hard drives is keeping them defragmented. You'll want to keep large contiguous chunks of free space for happy capturing. If your drive has to jump around looking for places to put the video that you are capturing, you're probably going to drop some frames. A good tool for defragmenting is Norton Utilities, which you can pick up [current version]-1 for about $10 to $15. It's well worth the investment. After a day of capturing and editing, you can set your machine to defragment over night, just be sure to turn on "confirm writes".

  RAM

Another big thing that affects video production is RAM. At current prices, there is no excuse for having less than 128 M or even 256 M of RAM. Heck, a stick of 512 M PC133 can be found for about $100 noadays. Video editing takes large files and manipulates them. The more RAM you have, the less disk swapping your editing program will have to do and the more efficient your computer will be at creating the video. Get as much RAM as you can afford; you won't be sorry.

  CPU

The last big thing is raw CPU power. The general rule is the bigger the better, but you'll probably want to go with the most bang-for-buck CPU you can get. Generally, an Intel PIII or Athlon Thunderbird will do nicely, though you can still get by with older chips (you'll just be spending more time waiting on your computer to do things for you). The choice is up to you.

For my next video project, I will probably just use my laptop (Dell Inspiron 8100, 1G PIII, 320M RAM) and get my footage from my DVD collection. If I have to use analog source, I can run it through the firewire (IEEE 1394) port via my camcorder.

On to Step 2: --> Getting Started

 
 
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