Video editing on a laptop, is it feasible, and what should I look for?

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by Crow, Jun 5, 2004.

  1. Crow

    Crow Guest

    Video editing on a laptop, is it feasible, and what should I look for?

    I need to buy a computer to edit a video documentary and it would be
    easier if I could use a laptop. This will be my first documentary and
    I'm still not sure what software or hardware that I'll use?
    I've been reading about real-time pci editing cards such as the Matrox
    RT.X10(0) and wondering how useful such a card would be? If they make
    the editing process much quicker and intuitive, then I'll forgo the
    convenience of a laptop and build myself a desktop.

    If I do go for a laptop then I'm considering a Pentium M or Athlon 64
    based unit. Any ideas on which of these would be more suitable for
    video editing? I don't want a P4 based machine as I'd like a lower
    power CPU for the usual reasons.
    I'd basically like a laptop that can run cool, quiet & long from the
    battery, but can still kick ass when running at full speed from the
    mains. An Athlon XP-M is another option to as they are fairly low

    In many reviews that I've read of laptops, it's not clear whether the
    benchmarks are done from battery power, with the associated loss of
    performance. I'm only interested in the video editing performance
    when utilising the full system performance from the mains.

    Any help appreciated.


    Crow, Jun 5, 2004
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  2. Crow

    Joe Guest

    I would consider getting a mac laptop with final cut pro. The main
    consideration is hard drive space- laptops don't have the huge drives that
    desktops do, so whatever you choose you will need an external drive. Make
    sure the laptop has a 6 pin firewire port rather than the small square
    shaped 4 pin port - that way the notebook will power the external drive -
    instead of needing AC.
    Joe, Jun 5, 2004
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  3. Crow

    Mike Kujbida Guest

    I know several folks are running Vegas on laptops and having no problems
    whatsoever, even when using 4200 rpm drives. Do a keyword search of
    "laptop" on the Sony Vegas forum at forum at or
    the DMN forums at or the COW forum at for several user opinions.

    Mike Kujbida, Jun 6, 2004
  4. Crow

    Cari Guest

    Cari, Jun 6, 2004
  5. Crow

    Crow Guest

    Thanks All,

    Thanks for the heads up on the difference between 4 and 6 pin firewire
    cables Joe as I'm new to Firewire. I'm going to pass on Macs as I
    have enough to learn with video editing, without learning a new OS.
    OS-X is tempting though.

    Cari, what advantage does Windows XP Media Center edition offer for
    video editing? They are a bit thin on the ground and probably
    expensive if the desktop versions are indicative.


    Crow, Jun 6, 2004
  6. Crow

    leo Guest

    Zero reason for Media Center.

    Do get Sony Vegas 5. I can master it in minutes. I couldn't figure out how
    to use Final Cut Pro which is pretty close to Premiere Pro.
    leo, Jun 7, 2004
  7. Crow

    Crow Guest

    Thanks Leo,

    I have been reading reviews of Premiere Pro, which make it sound
    daunting to a beginner. I'll look into Vegas.


    Crow, Jun 7, 2004
  8. Crow

    David Chien Guest

    Not in any order.

    Apple G4 notebook + Final Cut Pro

    Tried & true. Works, Cold Mountain was recently done with Apples.

    Killer price for the notebook and software easily equals a system
    that will exceed the $3000-4000 price range immediately.

    eMachines M6809 + Your choice of video editor. (here, my choice goes to
    Vegas Video -- solid as a rock, many happy wedding videos come out fine,
    and super-easy to learn. There's a good reason Sony bought Vegas Video
    from Sonic Foundry vs. the, IMO, lesser Avid/Premiere/etc. products.
    After all, it's not like Sony doesn't have enough money to buy all of
    Avid or Adobe & their products if they wanted to....)

    One of the fastest and most powerful laptops on this planet, it
    kills almost anything that isn't running an Athlon 64-bit processor, and
    definitely everything else out there at this price or lower.,1759,1537028,00.asp
    March 2004 review says "We expect others to follow suit, but for
    now the M6807 can boast the ==best performance scores of any notebook==
    we've tested to date."

    Yes, you can find faster, but not at the ~$1600 price this baby
    sells for at
    For under $2000, you can have a system that will nuke an Apple G4
    notebook off the planet, and run rings around other lesser notebooks
    while laughing to the bank with your savings. (or put the difference
    into a nice 3CCD camcorder)

    One of the better rated notebooks on by users:


    1Beyond DV Pro 3417, Sager 17" 8790 series, Dell XPS

    Okay, who else has a 3.4Ghz P4 CPU in a 17" widescreen notebook with
    dual HDs or a single HD + TV tuner option, or a brand-name? These
    notebook makers have always had unique options, and they seriously pack
    a lot of computing into a notebook (more like luggable PC given their
    10lbs weight)

    However, given their heavy weight, high price (usually $2400-3000+),
    and hot processor, do they really run faster than the eMachines killer?

    Nope: eg. Dell XPS 3.4Ghz
    Winstone 2004: 17.1
    Multimedia : 25.8
    3DMark 2003 : 2489

    eg. eMachines M6807 Athlon 64 3000+ (the latest M6809 has an
    even faster 3200+ processor)
    Winstone 2004: 19.7
    Multimedia : 23.7
    3dMark 2003 : 2451 (M6805 model)
    3dMark 2001 : 9067

    That said, the Athlon 64 processor is an excellent CPU and the
    eMachines notebook at $1600 is a super bargain vs. the $2400+
    alternatives which don't run significantly faster, if at all.

    * Sony A series (17" LCD monsters w/TV tuner), GRT series (15/16" w/TV
    tuner), TR Series (10", 3.1lbs)

    Here, you've got some of the juiciest screens found on a notebook
    (those XBrite screen models are stunning!), built-in TV tuners on the A
    & GRT series, crazy things like some of the first models out with a 2Ghz
    Pentium M processor (A series, $600 option), standard Sony
    video/photo/music editing software & DV compatibility (almost for sure
    these notebooks will work fine with their Vegas Video video editing
    software), and the pure coolness of having something to talk about when
    visitors come.

    TR series along with the Fujitsu P5000 series
    are among the lightest all-in-one ~3lbs 1Ghz P-M notebooks you can buy
    today, and certain light and easy on any lap for hours of video editing.

    Models with built-in DVD burners make them the lightest DVD burning
    notebooks on the planet. Let's you say, "here, why don't I whip out my
    3lbs baby and show you my latest 2 hour movie. want a copy, here, let
    me burn a DVD now." But at half the speed of the above, definitely a
    slower choice.


    As for cool & quite & long, forget it! No such thing unless you
    want a slow notebook. Sadly, none of these super-fast notebooks will
    give you these features, so you'll have to consider a balanced tradeoff
    between long battery life (usually heavy and/or slow), quiet (usually
    light and/or slow), and cool (say what?!? you don't even want to put an
    Apple on a fluffy fleece bedspread nowadays!).

    Here's what I'd say, unless you're gonna keep the baby on your lap
    for long periods at a time, it's gonna be on a desk. So don't worry
    about the cool part. Battery? Tough trade-off between fast performance
    and slower processor, so you decide. Quite - they've almost all got
    fans in them nowadays, so don't bother.

    Finally, unless you've got the BudgetFromGod, you can't beat the
    eMachines M6809 for performance, specs, and useability for the task at
    $1600. You can easily spend the difference for a nice 3CCD DV
    Camcorder, a trip to Europe for a week, etc. and match the output from
    the other notebooks easily with less money spent.

    My pick? eMachines M6809 + Vegas Video (esp. at the $249.99 buy
    it now price they've got it on for a new, unopened package
    David Chien, Jun 8, 2004
  9. Crow

    Prof Marvel Guest

    One word:


    Prof Marvel, Jun 8, 2004
  10. Crow

    Prof Marvel Guest

    One thing about video editing: it's boring as hell -- and monstrously
    time-consuming. Screenwriting is a lot more interesting. If you have a
    creative mind, you'll be wishing you were doing something else. And
    stick with a windows machine, there's no longer any significant
    trade-off between it and a mac. Also, a laptop is a better investment --
    you're mobile with a laptop. One thing about a laptop, though -- you'll
    rarely use it on battery.

    I bought a laptop two years ago, run my business from it, and now wonder
    why anyone would buy a desk model. There has been nothing -- absolutely
    nothing -- that I haven't been able to do with it. And yes, you'll need
    an external drive -- so what? They're dirt cheap these days and plug
    right in.

    Finally, don't go bouncing around from editing system to editing system,
    the way I did. Pick one and stay with it. Basically, they're all the same.

    My plan for make a great indie is this: I'll shoot it and let some slob
    who doesn't have a social life edit it.

    Prof Marvel, Jun 8, 2004
  11. I'm going to buy a combo FireWire & USB 2.0 PCMCIA card
    (single PCMCIA card with *BOTH* USB 2.0 & Firewire ports)
    for my 2.4 Celeron notebook. I want to use this card for
    editing video.

    The plan:

    Plug an external 7200 RPM hard drive into the PCMCIA card's
    USB 2.0 port and designate this *external* hard drive as the
    video capture drive in Premiere Pro. Simultaneously plug in
    my digital camcorder into the same PCMCIA card's 1394 FireWire
    port and tell the capture program to start capturing video.

    Would this exceed the maximum PCMCIA bandwidth by requiring
    the card to simultaneously take in 3.6 Mb per second through
    it's Firewire port while outputing the 3.6 Mb per second
    through the USB 2.0 port to the capture drive?
    Causing dropped frames?

    Anybody try this before? Any advice appreciated.
    Monkey Monkey, Jun 8, 2004
  12. not true. Editing and compositing (more) can be extremely interesting
    and creative, unless you're talking about your wedding videos.

    I can upgrade my desk model with new drives, memory and other goodies
    which you can't with your laptop. With most laptops.. what you get is
    what you get... no room for upgrades. As for dirt cheap.. most PC
    parts are dirt cheap these days. It's cheaper to make a frankenstien
    PC than it is to buy a laptop. I'd recommend it.

    Not true... some lose functionality while others gain with each new
    release. Some are no longer supported or being developed so you
    naturally have to bounce to another (ie. Edit*).
    Without the "slob" your fat ungreatful ass would never have a
    completed film and you'd be peddling your script to customers at your
    job in McDonalds while the editor is working on another film. Carry
    on, misguided moron... carry on. I'll have a combo #3 with fries,
    monkey nuts.
    Jack Slopehead, Jun 8, 2004
  13. Crow

    Crow Guest

    Stop it Marvel, you're scaring me with the stuff on editing :

    I figure the editing though, is a completely integral part of my
    project, and I really don't see how anyone else could do that for me?
    For me the documentary will only take shape in the editing. If I
    don't do it, then it ceases to be my film. On other projects the
    mileage may vary of course.

    Well the only reason I'm considering NOT buying a laptop, is
    coincidentally because of the editing. I've been hearing good things
    about the Matrox RT.X10/0 as being very useful in speeding up the
    editing process, due to real-time full quality previewing. They are
    PCI cards and I don't know if there's an equivalent type of device
    available for laptops?

    Your advice on sticking with one editing system makes a lot of sense.
    I guess I could download demos of the major software available and see
    which one seems the friendliest. The only problem is sometimes you
    need to work with something quite a while to find it's hidden depths
    and flaws. Vegas 5 sounds an interesting option.


    Crow, Jun 8, 2004
  14. Crow

    Crow Guest

    Thanks David,

    I neglected to specify that I live in Holland, so at least some of
    your options are not available to me. You've given me some food for
    thought though.


    Crow, Jun 8, 2004
  15. Crow

    Prof Marvel Guest

    I don't know who you are or what you'r issues are, but if you have a
    beef with me, start a new thread and we'll discuss it.

    Very inconsiderate of you to throw your temper tantrum here in a thread
    everyone seems to be enjoying.

    Prof Marvel, Jun 8, 2004
  16. Crow

    Prof Marvel Guest

    I can only speak for myself. When I finally learned to edit I was
    disappointed. It wasn't half as much fun as I thought it would be. I
    could not help thinking I could be doing something else -- shooting,
    writing script. It also seemed to me that my creative talent only came
    into play about 10% of the time, that I could have handed over the
    editing grunt-work to some worker bee type, come in after him and put my
    stamp on the thing.

    I really didn't like editing. Very boring.

    I'll tell you another secret: get a stand-up desk. You better, because
    if you don't you'll be sitting down for hours and your health will take
    a hit.

    But as to laptops vs desk -- where does the quest for bigger and faster
    end? If you're just starting out why on earth do you need the biggest
    and fastest configuration out there?

    Sounds like overkill to me.

    Incidentally, what kind of system do you have right now? I bet it's
    probably all the system you need. I say this because when the video bug
    bites everyone has a need to go out and spend crazy money to get the
    ideal system. A lot of these people move on to a new hobby in a couple
    of months -- never picking up their vidcam or fooling with their editing
    system again.

    It could happen to you. Don't sell the farm until you know you're really
    going to stick with this -- and you won't know this until you've done it
    for a while.

    Better yet, download one of the editing demos, spend a month editing
    with it, then decide whether you really want to spend all that money.

    That's what I wish I had done.

    I heard great things about Vegas, and it's cheap too. Buy it and don't
    look back. When you're ready to move up to the next level, you'll know
    it. But don't spin your wheels jumping around from system to system, you
    waste a lot of time like that. And the desire to learn a new system can
    be irresistible. They're like pretty girls. One comes along and you want
    to ditch the girl you're with and try her.

    Prof Marvel, Jun 8, 2004
  17. Crow

    Bill Fright Guest

    Hey Marvel How'd you ever become such a dumb a*s?

    Just because you don't enjoy editing doesn't make it "boring as hell".
    I've been doing it for over 20 years and still love to edit. The major
    difference between now and when I started is that I produce now as well.
    All the better.

    I guess you are as good a screen writer as you were an editor as I see
    your name on so many movie credits. Thanks for the sending a credibility
    flare for us all to see and appreciate!

    Bill Fright, Jun 8, 2004
  18. Crow

    Steve Guidry Guest

    Has anyone here actually used the emachines laptop for editing ?

    I bought a number of their early desktops for the office, and the quality
    was really poor. Power supplies and modems were absolutely the bottom of
    the barrel. Maybe their commitment to quality has improved, but in the
    absence of a real "video end-user" recommendation, I think I'll stay away
    from emachines.

    Steve Guidry, Jun 8, 2004
  19. Crow

    Crow Guest

    I don't have a computer right now. I've just moved to a new country
    and decided to work on a documentary. PC hardware is cheap for
    desktops and I don't intend buying cutting edge CPUs. I build my own
    systems which works out cheaper. The cost of a camera is more of an
    issue for me.
    As you say until I try I just don't know. I'll use a mid-range
    computer anyway so no problems if the film doesn't pan out. The hot
    I'd take on a camera is more of an issue. I don't want to buy a
    cheaper camera and 2 months down the line say, 'oh shit, I need to
    reshoot all the stuff I've done because I see this project is really
    going somewhere and the technical quality is below par.
    I plan to.


    Crow, Jun 8, 2004
  20. Crow

    David Chien Guest

    Has anyone here actually used the emachines laptop for editing ?
    Ran the older M5310 for awhile and it worked fine. Their level of
    support and build for the notebooks are significantly higher than their
    desktops, and you really get a solid, useable system at a low price.
    The wide-screen LCD was useful in laying out pallets outside the main
    video displayed at full resolution, and the whole thing just ran fine
    w/o fault.

    They're still on sale at for about $900, and even
    lower on A good buy for a wide-screen notebook.

    (although, you can get a standard 15" LCD notebook even cheaper. eg. recently had the Toshiba A45-S120 for about $649 after
    rebates. has clearance low-end 2.8Ghz Celeron notebooks
    for as low as $610. (dont' forget to apply for their VISA card and get
    another $100 off in rebates) And they also have sales on most of their
    notebooks this month.)


    Thinking about it, even if you did buy the Toshiba A45 notebook on
    sale recently and dropped in a $20 Firewire PCMCIA card, you can easily
    and happily edit videos w/o a problem on a <$700 total package price
    notebook. Honestly, there wouldn't be any problems short of the usual
    limited HD space (40GB on this model), and you certainly wouldn't be
    troubled by too slow of a laptop (2.8Ghz after all).

    sometimes, we forget how fast computers come out and they're always
    faster and better than last year's models....they've really gotten to
    the point where even the cheapest new notebook can easily be put to use
    editing videos...
    David Chien, Jun 8, 2004
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