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How to Set Up Your Computer to Edit Video With Adobe Premiere Pro

Read Time: 7 mins

Capturing high-quality video has never been easier, but in almost all cases the raw video needs to be altered, trimmed, adjusted, or edited. This is a stumbling block for many people.

This course, presented by David Bode, is designed to get you up and running with one of the most popular video editing applications, Adobe Premiere Pro. You will learn the basics of editing in Premiere: how to import and organize your files, how to set up a project, editing essentials, how to add cutaway shots and effects, how to adjust audio, how to add titles, and how to export your project. By the end of this course you will have the skills you need to be able to take raw video footage and turn it into something much more interesting.

Before any of that, though, you'll need to get your computer set up to run Premiere.

What You Will Need

Premiere is a powerful program, and it has some specific hardware requirements. To get it running you'll need a few things:

  • A subscription. Getting Premiere Pro will run you about $20 USD per month or, if you want more apps, you can get everything Adobe makes for $50 USD per month. The upside of Premiere Pro CC is that it's frequently updated with new features and bug fixes.
  • A computer to edit on. All of the new Adobe apps are 64-bit so you will need a 64-bit operating system to run them. On PC that means Windows 7 (with Service Pack 1 64-bit), 8, or 10. On Mac you need OS X.
  • For hardware you're going to need a little bit of extra horsepower. You need, at minimum, an Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD phenom 2 processor with 64-bit support on PC and a multi-core Intel processor with 64-bit support on the Mac
  • Four gigabytes of RAM is the minimum requirement, but eight gigabytes is recommended
  • You need at least four gigabytes of space on your hard disk for installation and a 7200 rpm or faster drive is recommended
  • A 1280 by 800 pixel resolution display is the bare minimum, but you're definitely going to want more space
  • On a Mac there isn't a sound card requirement, but on a PC you need a sound card with the SEO protocol or the Microsoft Windows driver model, but I think you should be fine with just about any sound card
  • On PC, you also need Quicktime 7.6.6 software (or later)
  • An internet connection is required for registration and for the software to make sure that you have paid your monthly fee
  • If you want to use any of the GPU accelerated features (and you definitely do) you're going to need an Adobe-certified GPU card with at least one gigabyte of virtual Ram

Those are the basic requirements to get you going, but you will probably want more power at your fingertips.

Smart Ways to Upgrade Your Computer to Run Premiere Pro for Less Money

There are a number of ways to add and tweak your setup for a better experience and workflow. How you spend your money depends on what kind of work you do, the types of files you edit, how fast you need to work, and numerous other factors. Let's dig into a few of the most important.

Get Better CPUs and More RAM

Get much speed and power as is economical. Better central-processors (CPUs) will help with the real-time playback of your files and exporting your projects, so more cores and faster processing is helpful, if you can afford it. For RAM, more is always better. This is especially true if you are using Premiere with After Effects, Encore, Prelude, Media Encoder, or Photoshop simultaneously. All of these apps share the same memory pool, so if you have too little RAM your performance will be crippled. If you want to use any of these apps at the same time you probably want 16 gigabytes of RAM at the minimum.

Mix-and-Match Your Hard Drives

For hard drives it's best to have at least two: one for your operating system and apps and the other to put your project files, media preview files, and exports on. As you add additional drives you can start moving things around to optimize your data flow. For example, if you had three drives you might want to put your OS and apps on the first, media and project files on the second, and preview files media cache and exports on the third. This way when you go to export your projects you will be pulling the assets from one drive, writing the rendered video files to another, which will speed things up. Solid-state drives are super fast and great to have but you might want to reserve those for areas where you need the most speed, like your main OS Drive and your media cache drive.

If you can afford to put your media assets on an SSD that would be even faster still, but video media is gigantic and it isn't always an option. For example, the media files for this course (about three hours of lesson video) are somewhere around 170 gigabytes. Once you get a few projects under your belt the storage of your media assets starts to become an important thing to manage.

If you edit video long enough you're going to have to start juggling projects from internal to external storage, but thankfully this can be as simple as using a hard drive dock and a bunch of drives. If you're part of a team it's worth consider getting a networked storage device with more capacity.

A Good Graphics Card Will Help

To take advantage of some of the recent speed improvements in Premiere you should also have a GPU that will work with Premiere's GPU accelerated features. They have a list of approved acceleration cards which covers a lot of popular models, but some cards that are not on the list will also work. For example, I have an Nvidia 970 GTX which isn't on the list and it works just fine.

Although it's certainly better to have a reasonably fast, RAM-equipped graphics card, for most video editing purposes you can save a little money here. Unless you'll need to render a lot of complex graphics, Premiere will work well with a middle-tier or a used graphics card.

More Screen Space Helpful Too

The basic monitor requirement is super low; you will probably want to have at least one 1920 by 1080 or higher monitor. Two or three monitors would be even better, so that you can spread out your panels and have more space to work.

You might also want to consider a monitor calibration tool: this is critical when you start doing color correction because you need to know that your monitor is showing you the proper colors, brightness, and contrast. A basic calibration device starts at around $100 USD. If you have multiple monitors and you want them to match, look for a unit that has that feature as well.

Presonus Eris 5 audio reference monitorsPresonus Eris 5 audio reference monitorsPresonus Eris 5 audio reference monitors
Audio reference monitors help create neutral, accurate sound

Audio Reference Monitors

Another important aspect of editing is audio. It isn't listed anywhere in the requirements but a decent pair of audio monitors and headphones to use when you're editing are very helpful. Making changes to the audio will require a higher level of speaker quality than you will get with your computer speakers.

The Presonus Eris 5 or the Yamaha HS5 are a good place to start with audio monitors. For headphones, check out the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, Sony MDR-7506, or a super-inexpensive option that we're very had great results with, the Monoprice 8323.

Keep It Simple

Now that you understand what you need to get started in Premiere Pro you are ready to learn about file organization, coming up next in this course, Introduction to Video Editing in Premiere Pro.

Whatever hardware you choose, we recommend budgeting for a little bit better gear than your current needs. As cameras improve (or as you start working on bigger-budget productions) you're  likely going to deal with higher resolution images and higher bitrate codecs, and these will put a lot more strain on your system. A little extra capacity now will go a long way to making your work easy.

Finally, if you're thinking of investing in a new computer to run Premiere, and don't need a Mac for some other reason, we suggest a PC. Our experience is that PCs tend to run Premiere just as smoothly as Apple's computers, but are a fraction of the cost. There are more parts available for PCs, and upgrading is generally less expensive,

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