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What’s the Best Computer for Video Editing?

Choosing the best computer for video editing is a bit like buying a high-end sports car. Sleek, flashy aesthetics are all well and good, but it’s what’s under the hood that counts.

Speed and performance are essential to maintaining a professional video editing workflow. It takes a lot of horsepower to process 4K and HDR video, multicam projects, and complex effects on multiple tracks of video and audio, never mind 8K and 12K media.

Buying a new computer is always a balancing act between what you’d like to have and how much money you have to spend. That said, there are some universal specs to keep in mind regardless of whether you’re shopping for a supercharged desktop workstation or a mobile laptop for editing on the go.

1. Processing Power

First up is the Central Processing Unit, or CPU. Think of it as the main “brain” of the computer—it does all the thinking and processing. A fast brain that can multitask is essential for editing, particularly when it comes to processor-intensive activities like video encoding.

Early CPUs contained a single core that ran one program at a time. Today’s CPUs have multiple cores and what’s known as threading, which allows computers to run multiple programs and tasks at the same time. For you, this means greater speed and processing power.

Lean on a multicore CPU for video editing. A six-core processor is suitable for most video work, and one running at 3.0 GHz or faster will likely match the performance you need.

2. Random Access Memory

Another key component is Random Access Memory, or RAM. Think of this as the computer’s short-term memory—where it temporarily stores data from the applications it’s actively using.

In video editing, consider footage resolution and bit depth when you decide how much RAM to buy. The main use of RAM in video editing is caching preview files for use during playback. The larger the frame size of the media, the more space that’s required to store those files while working with them.

Aim for a minimum of 32 GB of RAM for a video editing workflow involving 1080p to 4K footage. More intensive workflows, such as those using 8K footage in 10-bit, may require 64 GB of RAM or more to get smooth performance.

The amount of RAM your computer offers is only half the equation, however; the other half is access speed. Look for computers with DDR4 memory, the highest-performing RAM available as of the time this article is being published.

3. Graphics Processing

Next up is the Graphics Processing Unit, or GPU. It’s the creative part of the computer—responsible for producing the graphics, textures, and images you see on your screen. While the CPU and RAM do most of the heavy lifting, some tasks are offloaded onto the GPU.

A midrange AMD or Nvidia unit with at least 4 GB of VRAM (Video Random Access Memory) will be enough for most video editing. (Caveat: make sure it is dedicated memory and not shared, which borrows from the CPU.) However, editors who work with a lot of complex effects, color grading, and 3D rendering should get the fastest GPU they can afford. Faster GPUs don’t provide higher quality, only faster render times. If you’re working with large amounts of high-resolution files—particularly 4K or 360-degree video—a high-end GPU will expedite the process and transcode the files at a reasonable speed.

4. Internal Storage

Finally, there’s internal storage. Think of this as the computer’s long-term memory—where applications and files are stored until needed.

Video editors will always need to rely on external drives to store footage. Media files are massive, and keeping them on a separate drive from the operating system works double duty to enhance the system’s speed and offer a layer of protection in case of computer failure. That said, ensure there’s enough space on the internal drive to store current project assets and run applications smoothly. A solid state drive (SSD) with at least 1 TB to 2 TB of space is ideal.

Ultimately, the best computer for video editing depends on how it will be used, how tight the deadlines are, and your budget. Any modern computer can edit video—the key difference is how quickly and efficiently it does so. Time is money in the post-production world, so buy the best you can afford.

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How Millennials Get News: Insight for Broadcasters on Retaining This Demographic

If 2020 has taught any lesson, it’s to expect the unexpected. One of the more surprising changes broadcasters witnessed this spring was a shift in how millennials get news: this demographic, born between 1981 and 1996, is known for eschewing traditional news outlets in favor of online streaming and social media. But a funny thing happened on the way to COVID-19 self-quarantine—millennials started watching local TV news in droves.

A study from broadcaster TVB reported a huge jump in TV viewership among American adults aged 18-34 in March, April, May, and June, most notably during the evening news. In March, for example, the millennial audience for evening news was up 156 percent over the same month last year. By June, viewers were falling off, but those numbers were still up 89 percent over last year.

The surge in viewership has been a welcome development for broadcasters. However, millennials may return to their regular habits as COVID-19 restrictions lift and their workplaces and social hangouts are fully open again. Broadcasters will have to adopt new strategies to attract and keep the millennial audience—and this starts with understanding how, when, and where millennials want to receive information.

Millennials Are Mobile

It’s no secret that millennials have turned their mobile devices into the modern Swiss Army knife. They use them for almost every aspect of life—communication, entertainment, shopping, dating. And two-thirds also list smartphones as the main way they access news, according to a 2019 Reuters Institute study.

The popularity of smartphones isn’t new: in fact, news organizations on the whole have made sure to take advantage of it. Most news outlets have developed apps that can send news alerts through push notifications to reach millennial audiences wherever and whenever they are. But engaging millennials means listening as well. BBC News, for example, uses the phone messaging service WhatsApp to solicit story ideas, get eyewitness accounts, and collect user-generated photos and video. We’ve seen similar engagement tactics from South Africa’s 24-hour broadcaster Newzroom Afrika.

Mobile devices are well-suited to video, which works in a broadcaster’s favor. But stories that display well on a big-screen TV don’t necessarily work on a smaller smartphone. Details might be hard to make out, for instance. Reporters can increase engagement by making small-screen content easier on the eyes, such as prioritizing close-ups in digital stories and encouraging editors to use larger font sizes for graphics. Some broadcasters, like Germany’s ARD, feature vertical videos on their news app to fit how most people hold their smartphones while they view content.

Millennials Are Social

Mobile tech is woven into the very fabric of millennial life, and that means news is as well. While they scroll, the news is just as likely to find them as they are to seek it out.

According to a 2015 study by the American Press Institute, 88 percent of millennials say they get news regularly from Facebook, followed by YouTube (83 percent) and Instagram (50 percent). However, they tend to “encounter” news stories on social media sites rather than actively look for them. Young people also rely on news aggregators like Apple News and Flipboard to curate the news they want and get quick updates on what’s happening. While they do access news sites directly, they don’t have as much allegiance to a single brand as older generations. Instead, they prefer to pick and mix from multiple outlets.

Engaging this audience requires a multiplatform approach and a keen understanding of what kind of content works best on each platform. EzyInsights reports that BuzzFeed, one of the top publishers on Instagram, focuses on giving its young audience lighthearted, human interest stories covering pop culture and U.S. politics, which fits the overall environment of the app.

Part of the appeal of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is the ability to follow individual journalists. This helps create the “personalized” connection many millennials gravitate toward. On-air personalities can leverage this by posting questions or polls about current topics or sharing behind-the-scenes stories and visuals to engage viewers directly.

Millennials Are Visual

Numerous studies point to the importance of visual storytelling. Part of this is purely a functional part of how millennials get news—often, it’s easier to watch a quick video on a smartphone than it is to read a long text article. Strong visuals also capture viewers’ attention (even with shrinking attention spans) in a saturated digital world. Visuals also make content highly shareable, a central activity on social media platforms.

The ability to create strong graphics is crucial to getting millennial viewers and keeping them. Childhoods spent alongside CGI-enhanced movies and video games have created a hunger for 3-D imagery and virtual and augmented reality.

Again, success involves tailoring content to the platform. Instagram is as much about developing a unique and consistent aesthetic as it is about dropping awe-inspiring photos. BuzzFeed has developed strong branding for itself with distinctive split-screen images topped by a three-line headline. Vox has won over the millennial audience with explainer videos that pair sophisticated animation with real-world video. Then, that hybrid is served up on YouTube, a platform millennials frequent for longer-form videos.

Millennials need and want reliable information, and they see local TV news as a trusted source. But keeping their confidence will require engaging on their terms. Embrace the strategies that simply work: a willingness to experiment, a way to measure results to see what sticks, and a robust media platform that can monetize and deliver content seamlessly to multiple destinations.

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The Evolving Role of the Broadcast Journalist

The average broadcast journalist’s to-do list has grown longer as they face more complex workflows. On any given day, they’re juggling multiple technologies, platforms, and deadlines to deliver content faster and farther afield than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic has added the challenge of working remotely with little to no physical access to the newsroom.

Keeping up in this environment means embracing a broadcast workflow that’s starkly different from even 10 years ago, let alone the pioneering days of TV news.

Moving to Mobile and Always “On”

Once upon a time, most broadcast journalists worked on a single delivery platform—TV—and with a single deadline—the upcoming newscast. The advent of the 24-hour news cycle brought more opportunities to cover news live, but more pressure came with that. Reporting speed was often measured by how quickly a TV crew could drive a satellite or microwave truck to the location and set up.

Fast-forward to today’s digital-first environment, where a broadcast journalist is always “on.” News breaks online, almost instantaneously, across Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Being first with breaking news means monitoring social media feeds for potential stories, interview subjects, and user-generated photos and videos. And that’s on top of traditional newsgathering methods.

One thing hasn’t changed for broadcasters: the importance of delivering content as quickly as possible. The need for speed, combined with advances in digital technology, is fueling the rise of mobile journalism. A field reporter armed with a smartphone or tablet can capture photos or video, perform simple edits, and—with quick newsroom approval—publish directly to social media with just a few taps. They can go live using a mobile device within minutes, as long as they have access to a network.

Camera operators are trading SNG trucks for portable transmitters that can fit in a backpack and offer greater speed and mobility, whether journalists need to livestream or upload footage from the field. With modern asset management systems, every member of the editorial team can view and access raw video as it’s ingesting and transcoding, making for faster turnarounds.

Streamlining the Digital-First Workflow

A digital-first broadcast should engage audiences where they are—and increasingly, that’s mobile and social. In addition to creating content for legacy linear TV newscasts, broadcast journalists are now feeding multiple online platforms. To do it right, they’ll need to stay versatile and be willing to learn new tools.

While some news organizations have teams dedicated to digital, others expect every employee to contribute. Either way, anyone working on the content will have to keep distinctions straight between various social media channels. Twitter limits posts to 280 characters, while Instagram limits video clips to 60 seconds and prefers a 1:1 (or square) aspect ratio. TikTok’s audience skews younger—it primarily attracts millennials and Gen Z. Creating a newsroom social media manual will help establish standards and keep everyone consistent and up-to-date on best practices for each platform.

Ease this digital-first workflow with tools that simplify delivering video content to multiple social media channels simultaneously. Ideally, editors can build templates ahead of time with the appropriate technical specs for each destination. Then, it’s just a matter of dragging and dropping video clips, graphics, station branding, and ads into each one and clicking a button to publish. All the transcoding happens automatically.

Establishing Remote Collaboration

Even before COVID-19 hit, mobile and digital-first newsgathering was already pushing broadcasters toward a remote, cloud-based workflow. The pandemic has accelerated that process, and now many more broadcast employees are working from home.

Editorial teams hold daily story meetings virtually on software platforms such as Google Meet, Skype, or Zoom. Journalists use instant messaging platforms like Google Chat, Microsoft Teams, or Slack to communicate and collaborate in real time.

A robust cloud-based media platform is essential to keep remote broadcast workflows running smoothly. After signing in over a virtual private network (VPN), team members can access the same user interface and tools they’d use in the newsroom. Writers can create scripts directly in the lineup, and editors can access media libraries and graphics. Reporters can upload video and even edit entire packages from the field—all they need is a laptop or other device and a solid internet connection.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced broadcast journalists to innovate on a dime. From set-decorating the living room for a live hit to building blanket forts to record voice-overs, journalists have shown a remarkable ability to improvise and adapt to working from home. The fruits of this hard work and creativity have proven that remote, cloud-based collaboration works. The question now is: what part of this broadcast workflow is temporary, and what will stick around in the form of a “hybrid” newsroom when lockdown restrictions are lifted?

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Tools for Mobile Journalism: Breaking Broadcast News from the Scene

Broadcast news journalist films footage from the scene

Being first with breaking news or buzzworthy video in today’s ultracompetitive broadcast news environment means—first and foremost—being mobile.

The days of scrambling the satellite truck are now few and far between. More reporters work remotely, often by themselves, to track down and deliver news as it happens. Luckily, one of the best tools for journalists to break the story first is something they already carry: a smartphone.

Smartphones

There’s no faster or more cost-effective way to broadcast live from a breaking news scene than with a phone. Journalists can “go live” on mobile within minutes, as long as they have access to a network.

Smartphones fit a shocking number of features into a compact and lightweight package. Not only can they record a video, they can actually do it well—and still have the capability to edit and share that high-quality footage, or store up to 512 GB of photos and video (even 1 TB with a MicroSD card).

Some phones have multiple cameras (ultrawide, wide, and telephoto) that create the option to change the framing of a shot without moving. Some newer cameras also have larger image sensors and use AI to capture both photos and surprisingly noise-free video in dimly lit locations and at night.

The latest generations of phones are also water- and dust-resistant (sadly, not drop-proof . . . yet), meaning they can stand up to harsh environmental conditions on location.

While many smartphones now have built-in optical image stabilization systems to help prevent shaky video, a tripod and an accessory mount or grip are still essential for those times your hands need a hand. Look for grips that are spring-loaded so they fit all phone sizes. The grip should also have a 1/4 in-20 UNC threaded screw to attach to a tripod and at least one cold shoe to connect accessories like a small light.

Microphones

The built-in microphones on smartphones are improving, but they’re not always up to par. An external microphone can quickly become one of the best tools for journalists who need to capture true broadcast-quality sound.

A lavaliere mic, also known as a lav mic, clip, or lapel mic, can be clipped onto a lapel or collar. It’s the ideal location to capture interviews and standups, especially in noisy environments.

Most smartphone lav mics plug into the headphone jack or lightning connector, meaning Bluetooth earbuds or an adaptor cable for headphones make the perfect pairing to monitor audio while recording.

Lighting

As far as image sensor technology used in phones has progressed, the sensors themselves are still small. Considering how low-light conditions create a challenge for even broadcast news cameras, it pays to be prepared.

A wide variety of small battery-operated lights were designed specifically for phones. Look for a light that allows manual brightness adjustment. Some also come with snap-on filters to diffuse light and adjust color temperature.

Avoid lights that attach by way of the phone’s headphone jack or lightning connector, since chances are there will be an external mic already plugged into that. Opt for shoe-mount lights instead.

Editing and Sharing

While the newsroom has to access footage before distribution to apply advertising or watermarks, reporters can make some edits from the scene so it’s as close to publish-ready as possible.

The built-in camera app on many devices lets journalists trim the in-and-out points of a clip and make simple adjustments to exposure and color balance. Cropping the video to different aspect ratios, such as 1:1 or 16:9, to suit various social platforms may not even require moving to a different app.

To edit together multiple video clips, adjust audio levels, or add text, mobile journalists typically rely on a video editing app. There are many available—both free and paid—depending on the make of the phone. Look for apps that allow for control over video export settings, including file size and resolution, and the ability to save videos directly to cloud-based folders for sharing. These apps are great for a quick fix, especially if you’re going for a raw look. But if you’re shooting for an in-depth package, you’ll likely need greater editing ability to get it newsroom-ready.

Collaborating in the Cloud

Mobile journalists with a laptop and a solid internet connection can access collaborative media platforms like Avid’s MediaCentral to upload raw video directly from the field.

These platforms address some of the main challenges of a mobile workflow. Media asset management on a smartphone can present its own obstacles, with limited ways to create and organize folders. The same goes for sending large video files back to the station. These videos need to be ingested into the newsroom editing system and transcoded before the eyes of the world turn to them.

Signing in to a cloud-based collaborative media platform gives journalists immediate access to the newsroom system. They can upload raw video directly so it can be accessed and edited by every member of the team in real-time without ever leaving the scene of the story.

With ever-increasing mobile internet speeds and 5G around the corner, mobile journalism is the new workflow for breaking the story first. Are you ready?

Image by Marco Verch, used under a Creative Commons license

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