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Old Feb 26, 2011, 11:39 PM   #1
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How much RAM is needed to do pro level video editing?

I'd say I am advanced hobbyist when it comes to video-editing, but plan on doing more advanced things to the point of an independent pro, how much RAM do you think is good? I want enough RAM so that Mac Pro won't use virtual RAM. I am thinking with 12GB of RAM, 2GB would be used by OS. That would leave 10GB, so if the video files I am editing are never over 10GB, I am all set with 12GB? How big are the video files the pro's deal with? Is that they correct way to think about this problem?

I figure I would have Final Cut Pro open, along with Motion, Safari, and sometimes Soundtrack Pro.
2009 Mac Pro 4,1 2.66 Quad 24GB 1333 RAM & Radeon HD 4870
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Old Feb 26, 2011, 11:50 PM   #2
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Out of the three big editing applications out there (Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere), only Premiere is 64-bit, thus able to take advantage of more than 2GB of RAM. Avid MC and FCP are 32-bit (FCP might see a new release before Summer), thus only able to take advantage of a maximum of 2GB of RAM.

Btw, RAM is not used to store video, that is what the HDD is for, and if you use the proper codec for your footage (AIC or ProRes), you won't see any slow downs with a single or dual track sequence. The HDD is the bottleneck there.

And 12GB is nothing for a professional video editing project.
I once edited a 20 minute image film with DV SD material (12GB/hour) and had roughly 200GB of video.
In 2009 I worked on a multi camera SD project (candid camera) and we used 10TB of HDD space, one fifth of it being with compressed footage (Digi Beta captured at 10:1), which had to be batched again when it was used in one of the 12 shows (approx. 22min per episode).

As you most likely use a consumer camera, you will have MPEG-4 (H264) encoded video, which should be transcoded to ProRes using the Log & Transfer window in FCP (take a look at the manual of FCP) or MPEG Streamclip before you begin editing. This will result in much bigger files, up to 100GB per hour for 1080i/p footage. But your CPU will be much less taxed and you should be having no problems editing your video.
Btw, H264 is a distribution codec, not an editing codec like AIC or ProRes, thus the smaller file size, though higher CPU usage during playback (as it has to be decoded properly).
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