I’ll quickly touch on Hardware as i have had various builds with quite different results. I have 3 different builds on 4 machines, 2 MacPros with 1TB hard drives and 2 x Quad-Core Intel Xeon 2.8 GHz, 10 GB of RAM. Another MacPro with a HD and a 1TB raided, this is an extremely efficient machine as the software is running on the system drive and the video projects running from from the raid. Then 4th and currently my edit suite is a 2.26 GHz, Dual Quad-Core Intel Xeon, 16 GB of RAM with a 500GB hard drive, faster access speed to the drive and I have never had any issues while editing, although the sometimes windows in the VMware runs a bit slow and the HD sounds like its going wild but that could be the configuration.
Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut pro? That is the question. I shall be honest, I was always a Final Cut person up until my latest role. The main reason we switched to Adobe was for better integration with the designer who already existed in the company. In the early stages there were problems, mainly with the quality of exports but that has greatly improved. If you could export to WMV on the Mac version that would be great! The workflow of Premiere is very efficient but I have not used Final Cut Pro for a while. You decide!
First things first, get Firefox web browser installed. I’ve not had too much experience with other browsers and video but firefox plugins seem to be a bit more readily available. Once installed and you’ve punched through your proxy (if you have one) install Video DownloadHelper. I’m often asked to download videos from various site such as YouTube for use in presentations and this plugin makes it real simple! If there’s something on the page that you can download the icon lights up and its a couple of clips to download.
Upgrade your QuickTime to QuickTime Pro, it’s essential and despite my opinion that it is not as good as it used to be, you won’t get away without it.
Get some codecs installed, Perian is my first choice and makes sure you can open many awkward video files. If your source files come from all over the place then get the MPEG-2 plugin for QuickTime installed, people still bring me mpg files and it’s not worth the time or effort sourcing another software (should come as standard) Get Flip4Mac on there, go all out and get the HD version you’re only going to upgrade it later otherwise. I’ve never had any playback issues in QuickTime and the output options are very flexible and unlike a few years ago WMVs are pretty good quality and a small file size.
I always have VLC installed, it allows us to view back .mts files shot on our camera kits without the need to bring them ink the edit, great for logging and an area QuickTime falls short. Get to grips with the export options, sometimes gets you out of a scrape when files don’t play on other players.
I use Handbrake for ripping DVDs into an editable format, despite trying to single handily educate the world of focus group facilities with the understanding that DVD recordings are output and they should get up to speed with recording techniques, I still get footage from all over the world as a DVD. We have however built our own viewing facility that can record direct to drive with VoIP access to the respondent area.
I also install DivX and DivX converter for playback and conversion, some recorders record in divx so it’s quite handy. Also allows you to open in QuickTime, do a quick save as and drag and drop the file into your edit.
I recently added the free Mpeg Streamclip when I had some files from Japan that I could not open in QuickTime this saved my bacon, there’s loads of nifty little programs like this and the recent addition of the Apple App store for your desktop makes it a lot easier to browse apps that the old website.
As I mentioned, I have had 2 edit suites hard drives die beyond recovery recently which resulted in a loss of work despite having Back up solution. Make sure you have a good backup solution in place, preferably with support.