When it comes to computer setup, it all comes down to what you plan on
doing. The more photos you have, the more space you need.
Want to do video editing -- upgrade everything. And don’t forget
to have a backup plan. After 4 years of cruising we have over
16,000 digital photographs, have created four one-hour movie DVD's
(edited from over 100 hours worth of raw video footage), and support a
growing website. The information below covers our photo/video
setup only; we have multiple computers on board, and one is
dedicated solely to photograph, video, and web work. The
information below covers that computer only (hereto referred to as the
Processor If you are going to do any video editing we recommend
at least 1GB of RAM. You can get away with less if you are only doing
photograph work. Our imaging computer is setup with an Intel
Pentium 4 CPU 2.80 GHZ and 1GB RAM. After three years of video
editing we now wish we had gone with at least 2 GB of RAM, however 1
GB is usable.
Space We have over 900 GB mainly dedicated to photographs,
videos, and our website. We initially bought our imaging laptop
with only 60GB of disk space and have since had to supplement that with
an external hard drive (of 320GB), and in Singapore we added
another 500 GB.
For photographs file size of individual pictures
will vary depending on your camera and quality/resolution you shoot at.
See your camera manual for this information. We recommend always
shooting at the highest quality & resolution which will take more disk
space, but disk space is relatively cheap these days, and higher
resolution photographs provide more editing & printing options.
Our 16000+ photos take up about 35 GB of space. Our website
currently occupies about 1.5GB of space.
The real hog comes to
video editing. One hour of digital videotape takes up 10GB (yes
that’s GB) of hard disk space. At some point you can edit and
compress this down, but you need the space to initially do that editing.
System We finally upgraded to Windows XP, but just this past
season in Australia. Many of the later versions of photograph and video
editing software programs are no longer supported on the Windows
Ports (USB &
Firewire) Our imaging computer has 3 USB 2.0 ports and 1 IEEE
1394 Firewire port. Typically your digital camera will link to the
computer through USB and your digital video camera will link via
Firewire. Between the various cameras, mouse connections, and
external hard drives we have more than once used every port at the same
time. Of course you can always get a hub if you find yourself
running short of ports.
Backup Ability Backups are a huge issue, especially when you start having to back up
hundreds of gigs worth of data. We recommend using an external hard
drive and/or DVDs for backups. The biggest issue for us seems to be
what to do with the RAW video footage (at 10 GB per hour it’s a bit much
to backup especially when we know we don’t want to keep all that footage
long term). What we would recommend is keeping the mini-DV tapes
(or whatever media you are recording onto)
even after capturing the video to your hard drive. Once you have
edited and compressed the footage on your hard drive (thereby hopefully
condensing the size to something more reasonable and more practical to
back up), back it up and then feel free to erase or overwrite the
But not before -- we almost lost 5 hours worth of footage when our hard
drive crashed and we had already overwritten the original tapes w/out
having first backed up the footage on the hard drive! If you have
a HD camcorder then we would keep the footage on the camcorder's HD and
on another external hard drive until you have a chance to edit it
and back it up. Ideally, what you want is to always have your
data stored in two places.
Photo Printing You probably aren't going to need to print big, fancy
photographs to hang on your wall. You may however want to
print a 4x6 or two to give out to locals (they love getting a real
photograph). Photographs are also good for some people's
log/guest books. We own (and like) the Canon CP220 (
later version is the CP720). It only prints 4x6 sheets,
but it is small, lightweight, and really easy to use. On the
boat we don't really have a need for photo quality prints larger
then 4x6. The paper comes as an
ink-paper kit. We like this for two reasons; 1) you know
exactly how many photos you can print, no guess work about when the
ink is going to run out, and no fading prints towards the end of a
cartridge, and 2) because each cartridge comes with a set number of
paper sheets, you are less likely to dry out the printer cartridge.
If you are looking to get just one printer that will print photos
and regular sheets check out the universal printer
we discuss on
Photo Organization & Editing
Photoshop Elements (includes Adobe Photoshop Album) We love
this program! It is easy & affordable. We’ve advertised it
to so many other cruisers that people joke that Adobe should be paying
us a commission! We are currently at version 5.0.
program consists of two parts: organization & editing. The
organization is wonderful. It utilizes a tag-based system so that
your photographs are easily filtered and searched. No longer do
you need to worry about filenames or folder locations. The editing
is a simplified version of Adobe Photoshop; and is much easier to use then
the full version of Photoshop. It is further broken into two
parts; Standard Editing and Quick Editing. The quick editing does
well and really any level of user can run it. The Standard Editing
takes a bit more knowledge (though still quite easy), but has quite a
bit more capability.
Visit their website
Adobe Photoshop We are running
Photoshop 7.0 (which
has since been replaced by Photoshop CS). This program is probably overkill for
a large percentage of cruisers, and isn’t cheap. But it is an extremely
powerful editing tool. If you aren’t sure, we recommend trying
Elements first – most likely it’ll do everything you need.
Panoramic Stitching: Adobe Elements (described
stitching capabilities, and our Canon video camera came with a stitch
program, Canon Utilities PhotoStitch. This type of program
allows you to take multiple panning photos and later “stitch” them
together into one wide/panoramic shot … it works amazingly well, and is
quite useful with all the beautiful scenery we see.
Video Organization & Editing
Just to reiterate;
you will need a lot of disk space for video editing. At the end of
every year we take all our ‘raw’ footage and create a movie, usually
reducing 10 hours or so of raw footage into an edited 1 hour DVD movie.
We keep some raw footage, probably about 20% or so. To capture the
10 hours worth of video onto our computer we need at least 100GB.
Then we need space for the edited version to be saved and space for
the finally product to be rendered to. When finished we delete any
unwanted footage and backup about 20GB worth of raw footage that we do
want to save (and was used in the making of the 1 hour video). The
1 hour video, in its compressed state, takes up about 4GB.
Sony Vegas &
DVD Architect We currently use
DVD Architect 1.0 (Vegas is the video creator/editor and
Architect does the DVD authorizing).
These now come packaged together as
8, however you can still buy
Architect as a stand alone product (for those happy with their
video editing software and just looking for a DVD authoring
There are a number of other Video editing / DVD authoring programs out
there, many of them quite a bit cheaper. Most video editing
programs allow you to
download a trial version. If you have time before you head off, we
recommend downloading some trial versions and testing them. The
less expensive editing programs tend to be easier to use; mostly because
they have fewer capabilities … but less capability might be a good
thing, depending on what you are looking to do. Adobe also makes a
video editing program,
Premiere. Originally we chose Vegas
over Premiere because Premiere did not support Windows 2000.
Having never used Premiere we can't give it a review or compare
it to Vegas. We are quite pleased with Vegas, although it
did take a good deal of time to learn how to use effectively.
purchased our imaging laptop with a DVD and CD-ROM reader/writer.
After two years, the writer seemed to be having difficulties so we
upgraded by purchasing a faster external (via USB)
We believe it is worth the extra cost to have DVD write abilities
onboard (whether internal or external)
used two programs for writing CDs/DVDs:
Roxio Easy CD & DVD
Nero Express. While Roxio seemed to be
working fine on our imaging computer we were getting a number of bad
disks and some other major problems on our other computers, which is why
we tried out Nero Express. Nero seems fine, except when we go to
burn our home-DVD movies; we’ve had a number of problems with those DVDs
not working in a variety of different DVD players, and therefore
reverted back to Roxio for our home movie DVD burning (note that Vegas
DVD Architect will also burn the home DVDs, but the format is such that
the DVD will not play in all computer media players – however does work
fine in almost all non-computer DVD players we tested). Many times
a computer or external CD/DVD writer will include CD/DVD writing
software, so you may not have to buy something separate.
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