Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.
Chapter 30. Technology
I have really shown you a lot about working with audio and video on a computer. In practice, however, it is not always easy to get the audio and video devices to function. Both the computer and Windows can and, in fact, have to be adapted and optimized for these demanding jobs.
Some of the work is about removing remote error sources, which can cause program beak downs and other horrible things. You can, however, make things better with the help of a couple of tricks. This is the subject for the last section, which is concluded with a short glossary.
Let’s start by looking at the more general requirements for a computer with audio and video. I have earlier in the booklet talked about both audio and video grabber cards, but what about the rest of the computer?
CPU and RAM
It’s always an advantage having a fast CPU and a lot of RAM. You ought not to, in my opinion, have less than 512 MB RAM in your computer, and especially not if you use Windows 2000 or XP (which you absolutely ought to do).
The CPU has to be fast, too. If you want to, for example, produce MPEG files or SVCD from analog VHS recordings, then you need at least a Pentium 4, which works with 2400 MHz, to get a good result. Many will say this is excessive but I don’t agree at all. A lot of power is required!
Available PCI sockets
You also need a computer with a lot of room for expansion. This means that there has to be room for insertion cards (adapters). They are fitted in the so-called PCI sockets, so there really ought to be some of these. The best motherboards can, for example, have six available PCI sockets, where other models perhaps only have two; which is no good.
Sound cards can often fill up two sockets; several of Creative’s cards do this. Video grabber cards also take up room, and if you for example, get the chance to borrow cards for testing, then you can easily feel the need for extra sockets.
Figure 218.This computer has room for seven cards. So it is completely filled up at the moment!
Hard disks are a good thing
Both audio and video require space on the hard disk. All the newer disks are reasonably fast, but it is also necessary with plenty of space. You mustn’t have less than 80 GB disk space if you want to have Windows, programs and data. The absolutely best solution is to have several hard disks, with 2 x 80 GB or even more. A motherboard with a built-in a RAID-controller would be an advantage here. This gives the optimal platform for several hard disks. Read more about this in the booklet ”PC-architecture”.
The smaller the hard disk, the more there will be packed on to it and the larger your problems will be, especially in connection with capturing videos. It is, incidentally, always a good idea to carry out a defragmentation, before you start ”capturing video”. When the hard disk is without fragmentation, then the files can be stored consecutively, which is clearly the best way. Read more about defragmentation in my booklet ”Windows XP – teach yourself”.
If you are going to install a new computer with Windows 2000 or XP, then you should think about formatting the disks with the file system NTFS, which is more effective than FAT32, which is used by most users. I myself prefer one hard disk with FAT32 (which can be used for Windows) and one with NTFS. Then I can daily make backup from the NTFS-disk to the FAT32 disk.
If you work seriously with audio on a computer, then you ought to simplify your computer as much as possible. You can experience extremely annoying noise problems, which can be difficult to get rid of. Sometimes it can help if you remove as many devices from the PCI bus as possible. The point is, that the sound card should be as isolated as possible so that other devices cannot disturb it. If the worst comes to the worst, then it can be necessary to employ a FireWire based hard disk so you can take it out of the cabinet and deactivate the motherboard’s hard disk controller. Read a more thorough description of PCI devices in the booklet ”PC-architecture in theory and practice”.