High definition digital video: Are you ready?
By Jay Dougherty Aug 7, 2006, 5:30 GMT
Washington - Go shopping for a digital video camera these days, and you'll have an important decision to make.
Should you go for the new new high-definition (HD) digital video camcorders? Or would you be better off paying a bit less and sticking with one of the many standard-definition units on the market?
HD camcorders cost more than standard definition units. But there's more to the decision than money alone.
Even if you spring for the high definition camcorder, there's a host of other issues to consider and understand if you're to be satisfied with the purchase you make.
--- Is your PC up to the task?
Make no mistake: working with HD video requires some hefty hardware. The files you'll retrieve from your HD camera will be at least twice as large as those you download from a standard definition camera, and working with the video will be more processor intensive.
Essentially, to be able to edit HD video without growing frustrated, you'll need lots of RAM - think 2 gigabytes - a powerful processor, a fast graphics card with at least 128 MB of RAM, and lots of hard drive space - 500 GB is not unreasonable.
You'll also want to make sure that your system is capable of accepting more hard drive space as your storage needs grow. If you get serious about editing HD video, you'll quickly find yourself needing terrabytes rather than gigabytes of storage space.
--- Do you have a proper playback device?
You won't want to view your HD video creations on your computer monitor forever, so it's important to consider whether you have an HD-ready television screen available. HD video won't look great on a standard definition television set. HDTVs are becoming more popular and less expensive, but they still add considerably to the bill if you're just starting out in HD.
Consider upgrading your television before you venture into HD digital video. After all, you won't be able to enjoy your HD camcorder fully until you can show what it's capable of to others who can sit comfortably and watch your creations.
Also consider that many who own HD camcorders use the camcorders themselves as the playback device. That is, if you're without HD DVD recording and playback equipment, your best way to view the HD footage is by connecting your camcorder directly to the HDTV. HD DVD players are just now appearing on the market - and at premium prices. And HD DVD recorders are even tougher to find. Many HD DVD owners end up downsampling their videos to standard definition in order to burn a DVD.
--- Do you have the proper software?
Your HD DVD camcorder may come with rudimentary software for downloading and editing your camcorder footage, but many prefer to use more powerful packages. These include Sony's Vegas, Adobe Premier, Ulead Video Studio, and Pinnacle Studio. Many of these packages run hundreds of dollars, but some mcome in less expensive 'lite' versions.
The good news is that you can usually download trial versions of the software to see which you like best. And most the programs will see you through the entire creation process - from downloading the HD footage to creating a DVD.
--- Are you willing to be an early adopter?
Sony has shaken up the market by being the first manufacturer to release a range of affordably HD DVD camcorders. But more are coming on the scene every day. Newer models are likely to be cheaper, work better in low light situations, and of course be accompanied by a wider range of affordable software and hardware for creating and burning HD DVDs.
If you're ready for HD and want to learn about which models are best for you, it's a good idea to sign up at one of the Internet's digital video forums - such as DVInfo.net (http://www.dvinfo.net) - to ask questions and learn from others.
There's no doubt that HD is the future. Watching a high-definition camcroder video makes you feel as though you've wiped five years' worth of dust off of your television set. But go into this new frontier with your eyes wide open. The HD camcorder is just one component of a toolchest that will allow you to produce the stunning HD DVDs that you desire.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur