Thursday, 8 May 2014

DIY Build Editing & Colour Grading Suite

In November 2013 I began working on a series for Maori Television that has yet to be released. I am the sole editor / colorist for this 12 episode documentary series. I have completed 8 eps to date.

I'm cutting on Media Composer 7 and grading on Davinci Resolve 10 Lite. 

Hardware.  I started this series using my factory Dell XPS 8300 which performed well despite it's modest specs but strangely Dell computers aren't supported by Black Magic products. So even though Resolve worked ok on my Dell I wasn't able to connect a reference monitor via a Black Magic PCI card or USB hub.  This is a problem since monitoring is essential for colour-grading.  So I bit the bullet and upgraded my PC. I decided to do a DIY build. Why?  Because I thought it would be fun and it was. 

Black Magic have a list of certified motherboards so that was my starting point. I also found the videoguys guides very helpful.  These are the components I went for:

Asus Z87 Expert   
Intel i5 4573  (update: upgraded to i7 4773 K)
EVGA Geforce GTX760
2 X 8GB G.SKILL Ripjaws SDRAM  (update: added 2 X 8GB)
Kingston 250GB SSD
Western Digital 4TB HD
Corsair HX750 PSU
Cooler Master case

Windows 7 Home Premium OEM (update: replaced with Windows 7 Pro OEM)

The Asus Z87 has on-board thunderbolt which will be useful to my future storage solutions.
I went for the i5 at first to cut cost and upgraded when I could afford to.  My attempt to over-clock the cpu was pretty sad so I reverted to the default settings for stability. There are so many video cards on the market it was a nightmare choosing one but GTX760 has been working nicely so far.

When I wanted to upgrade the RAM I found out the hard way that Win 7 Home Premium only supports up to 16GB of RAM. What's more OEM versions can't be re-sold as they will not work on any other PC's. So I had to buy Windows Pro and let the Home Premium gather dust on the shelf.

I purchased an ex-demo Sony PVMA250 25" OLED from protel and yes the pictures are glorious!

To connect my monitor I purchased a Black Magic DeckLink Mini Monitor PCIe ($202 + GST).

The card is great BUT the audio is embedded in the video which means either playback the audio via the monitor or get an audio extractor to extract the audio from the HDMI signal. There are a variety of these on Ebay but I went for this unit from Jaycar Electronics ($99.90 + GST). Black Magic also sell products that are more expensive.

I have noticed a slight hum coming though but have yet to isolate it's source so will say no more. Sadly Media Composer and Resolve aren't so good at sharing so I have to close one of them to monitor the other which is a small pain. Otherwise my system is running sweet!

I will discuss the various workflow issues in my next post.

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