Equipment needed for freelance editor

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by filmkid, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. filmkid macrumors newbie

    Jan 18, 2009
    Hi all, I'm a freelance editor and will be moving to NYC to do a lot more contract work. I need a reliable home set-up and need help with equipment to make this happen. I'm on a bit of a budget but am highly aware this stuff is an investment as it contributes to my livelihood. I'm thinking around $5k and am open to selling what I already have to put towards the stuff that makes more sense for my needs. Ok, details:

    What I have

    • iMac 21.5'' 1TB, 2010 (not with it right now, can't give more info)
    • Apple Cinema Display HD 23''
    • G-Drive 1TB + a few other less than stellar portable drives
    • Canon T3i + a stupid little Canon DV camera
    • Adobe Production Premium CS5.5
    • FCP6 + Studio, will soon be getting FCPX

    What I do

    • If I'm shooting myself, it's always on the T3i
    • Mostly videos for web or DVD, sometimes shorts and docs for festivals
    • Footage comes from HDV tapes, DSLR cards, P2 cards, clients' portable drives
    • Interviews/profiles, low-budget music videos and shorts, light motion graphics, sizzle reels
    • While I have offlined a short shot on RED (and hope to do more), I generally stay at 1920x1080 and below, anything requiring heavier duty work (higher res online, color, mixing, etc.) I'd likely go to a professional post house.
    What I need

    • Decent speakers - I still don't have any! Nothing fancy, just something that will give me a better idea than the computer speakers.
    • I don't do serious audio anything, just basics... do I still need a mixer?
    • MAYBE a tape deck. I know those things are expensive and from my experience wouldn't get used too much. What camera might you suggest for digitizing HDV?
    • Thinking of trading in my iMac for a Mac Pro. What kind?
    • What about that G-Speed es 4TB system? These technical things with cards and connections are where I get super lost because I don't know what is sufficient for me. I don't want to overdo it.

    Bottom line is: I want to be capable to do bigger projects and not be limited by my equipment, but not so high end that I need a team of people to complete the project. If someone has a low-budget feature film, I want to be able to edit it. If someone has a multi-cam live event shoot, I want to be able to edit it (quickly and smoothly). If someone needs digitizing or a series of webisodes packaged to DVD, I want to be able to do that. I feel like my current equipment list might soon limit my efficiency and capability. $5k is not a lot, I know, but for what I do, some of the stuff doesn't have to be top of the line. It just needs to get the job done.

    Serious responses only please. If I've overlooked something or am being incredibly naive about something, feel free to call it out, but I came here for help. I appreciate it and thank you in advance!

    - Gaby
  2. Zwhaler, Mar 7, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2012

    Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    I use a set of Altec Lansing FX6021 (2.1 with 6.5 inch subwoofer) and they sound really great. I'm not sure if they even make them anymore but if you can find them for a good price I highly recommend them for quality.

    That being said, for audio production in videos, you won't need a mixer for "basics", you can use your speakers or a set of balanced headphones (I use Ultimate Ears TripleFi10's that I got for $179) for equalizing your sound and putting other effects on it.

    As for a tape deck I wouldn't really know what to suggest, I haven't had to use one when I'm working on my own and if a client wants footage from tapes they usually can also provide the camera. Then a simple connect and import is all that is needed to transfer the data.

    If you are considering purchasing a Mac Pro (strongly recommended for the faster GPU and CPUs for rendering plus better storage management and memory, superdrives, expandability etc.) all I can say is always buy the fastest CPU model that you can afford. If Apple plans on releasing new models, it should happen soon. I would advise waiting to see what they do, but if we're talking current gen, like I said get the fastest model you can afford (hold off buying memory and storage upgrades from Apple as these are easily upgraded later), all the way up to the top 12-core model. In whatever model I would get the HD5870. If you can only afford a 3.33GHz 6-core, do that. I wouldn't go for the 2.4GHz 8-core because it is less effective for the price than the 12-core models and is slower than the 6-core in some benchmarks. I can assure you that the 2x6 2.66GHz or 2.93GHz models are well worth the extra cost as they do significantly boost performance. Look no further than this page to see a breakdown of these benchmarks.

    The G-Speed es is good but a little pricey, if you 100% need a RAID system then go for it, however the Mac Pro can run RAID internally and for video editing it isn't needed, I have gotten by fine with the following setup 2TB + 2TB + 3TB 7,200rpm 64MB Cache internally for video editing without frame drops, etc. The only time I get frame drops is if I'm running my Final Cut Project + Event files both from an external USB drive. Internally runs without a hitch. I'm not going to tell you what to do, but if you're looking to invest in a Mac Pro I would divert funds from the G-Speed into the Mac Pro (makes a world of difference over an iMac or MacBook Pro for this type of work, plus you already have a monitor so you only need the tower). So the bottom line is the G-Speed is more important if you're running an iMac, on a Mac Pro any storage config that the G-Speed would accomplish is self contained. There are my 2 cents.
  3. filmkid thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 18, 2009
    Thanks so much for the input! Very handy.

    I'll definitely check out the equipment recs. The Mac Pro/G-Speed thoughts were the most valuable here, so I appreciate you clarifying what's needed and what really isn't.

  4. Babybandit macrumors regular

    Oct 29, 2008
    I'm Curious, What interfaces does your External Hard Drives have? I would strongly advice Firewire 800 at minimum as a Scratch Disk. In fact, if you have a 5k budget, I would suggest waiting a few months and get a Thunderbolt SSD as a Scratch Disk (Intel should be releasing a new Chipset for it soon) - assuming of course, your iMac is up to date.

    In terms of audio, it really is about getting balanced systems. When I edit audio, I like to have a decent speaker, a cheap speaker and a pair of decent earphones. Sometimes a certain speaker will actually pop up something funny - which is horrible. So I have that as good practice.

    Frankly, I would upgrade the iMac to a 27". I don't think the Mac Pro is really needed until you can justify it with more jobs needing RED editing.

    If you do do Grading, I suggest getting a Color Calibrater from Spyder. It's not essentially, and Vectorscopes are often a better indication - but it isn't a bad idea at all to have one handy.
  5. WRP macrumors 6502a

    Jul 20, 2011
    Here's a snapshot of a barebones system I designed for a friend. I would suggest an esata card and an esata raid as well. The speakers on this system suck as well.

    But here's a good place to start. You don't need 32GBs of RAM, he was doing lots of motion graphics. You don't need a 6-core for straight up editing. You don't need the trackball or tablet. I think by removing some things and adding some of the stuff I mentioned above you could get in your budget and have a pretty decent system

    If you are never using decks, just rent them as needed and bill it to the job.

    My personal freelance system had to have a capture card, good audio monitors and mixer but from the sounds of it, you don't need that. Just make sure any deck you will need in the future isn't in need of SDI interface to connect to the computer.

    Also think about the possibility that sometimes you may need to do onsite work. I had a client that made me work in their office so I had to use a macbook pro which is the only reason I still own one.

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