My Personal Editing Setup – Part 1

This is part 1 of a 2 part series about my current editing setup. Part 1 covers the hardware and part 2 will cover the software I use for photo & video work.

I always enjoy learning about the creative tools others use and how they use them. Today I’ll give you a behind the scenes look at my personal set of video and photo editing related tools.

Since I’m a Mac user I probably spend more money than most PC users on computers but other than my computer, which is 3 years old, I have a fairly modest setup. I don’t have the fastest hard drives, the most expensive speakers or fanciest monitor.

If you’re looking for gear recommendations or are just curious about my setup this post is for you.

I’ll start with the computer I mentioned earlier.

My Computer

I currently use a 2015 15” MacBook Pro. It has a Quad-core 2.5ghz i7 processor with 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB SSD. This is the model that still has USB Type-A ports, Thunderbolt 2 ports, an HDMI port and an SD card reader.

Just before these 2015 versions of the MacBook Pros were announced, Apple had released the first 12″ Retina MacBook that only had USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 and a headphone jack. I had a feeling that was a sign of things to come so I actually felt lucky when the 2015 MacBook Pro was announced with the multitude of ports in tact. I jumped at the chance to upgrade from my 2011 MacBook Pro which I loved as well. I was beyond ready for the Retina screen, the faster Thunderbolt 2 and USB3 I/O and the SSD system drive.

It’s difficult to choose which one of those upgraded features was my favorite. The jump from a traditional spinning hard disk drive(HDD) to a solid state drive is the feature that I benefitted most on a daily basis. I am still in awe of how fast laptops start up now. Whether my next computer is a desktop or a laptop it must have an SSD drive. I really don’t think I could go back to a traditional HDD.

Even though my 2011 laptop had Thunderbolt technology, it was a long time before I any Thunderbolt hard drives. So I can’t say I really made the most of that port on the 2011 model but I sure have on my 2015. I have multiple Thunderbolt drives as well as some Blackmagic Design video devices that connect via Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt 2 was a great improvement over the first generation of Thunderbolt tech but the big jump in I/O speed for my daily use was going from USB2 to USB3. Transferring data to and from USB3 drives is a breeze.

Ok, enough about the computer. Let’s talk about the things that are connected to it or the things connected to the things that are connected to it.

External Hard Drives

I keep a few USB3 drives for miscellaneous file transfers and project. Those are a mixture of brand name drives.

For most of my photo and video work I use drives from G-Technology. I have Lacie drives and have had many Lacie drives in the past but I like my G-Tech drives.

One of them is a 4TB Thunderbolt RAID and the other is a 4TB USB3 drive, both from G-Technology.

They’re great drives but not the fastest by today’s standards. The USB3 drive is a great example of a budget drive that can deliver solid speed with an ample amount of space. If you’re building an edit system on a tight budget USB3 drives like this one are a solid choice.

Input Devices

I love the keyboard, trackpad and screen on my laptop but when I’m in my home office like I am right now I have it closed and connected to an external screen. Therefore, I rely on a separate keyboard and mouse.

The keyboard I use is the first generation wireless keyboard from Apple. I didn’t purchase it because of the wireless feature, I actually got it because it was small. It fit nicely on my tiny desk that I had at the time. My desk is larger now and I do intend to upgrade to a full-size keyboard eventually.

I switch between using the Magic Trackpad (1st gen) and an Apple mouse. I know many people loath the Apple mouse. I love it. I like the low profile. My hands sit comfortably on it and since the whole top is a button I can be relaxed about hand placement. Using this and the trackpad minimizes soreness in my wrist after a long day of editing.

Along side the keyboard, mouse and trackpad, I utilize a Wacom tablet. Mine is the Intuos Pro small. It’s a few years old now but it works great. I love the stylus input for Resolve and Apple Motion but the main purpose for my Wacom is for photo editing. Using the stylus to paint on adjustments to an image is such a great experience. It has become an essential tool for this.

External Display

The display that is connected to my laptop is from Samsung. The model is a bunch of numbers and letters(U24E590) but the key point is that it is a 24-inch UHD display. It’s not a full DCI-4K screen but since it’s only a 24-inch screen it looks fantastic. Whenever I do upgrade my computer I will most likely convert it into a broadcast monitor for editing and get another high resolution monitor for my computer display, assuming my new computer isn’t an iMac or iMac Pro.

External Audio

Besides hearing the audio of the video projects I am working on I also love to listen to music while at my desk. Good headphones and speakers are nearly as important as my computer, I listen to music that much. Besides music I’ll also pull up movies on my Samsung UHD monitor and having good sound while watching is crucial to me.

My speakers are Sterling MX3s from Guitar Center. Honestly, I can’t tell you too much about the details or specs of them. I bought them based on a recommendation from a friend. They were a good balance of price and quality. They also have a small footprint which was important to me since I know someday soon I will need to reclaim more of my desktop space for a second display. The speakers sound great and kick out a full sound with ample volume.

My headphones are Sony MDR-V6. What can I say about these that hasn’t already been said. These style of Sony headphones are widely used by people in the music and post-production community. I followed their lead and couldn’t be happier. They’re built extremely well and sound so good that I would put them up against almost any other non-noise cancelling headphones out there. (These are not noise cancelling. I don’t need that) These headphones stay in my home office and will not leave it. I have other headphones for travel or for video shooting. This set sits near my desk and get used when I want to really focus on a sound edit or get lost in an album or a film.

That’s the basic summary about the hardware I use for personal video & photo projects. I didn’t intend to make this a 2 part series but I also didn’t intend to write over 1000 words on hardware alone. That’s ok. I’m still feeling out this blog and figuring out my posting frequency and length. I’m going to ramble sometimes and other times I’ll write some short and succinct bits of information or opinions.

Thanks for reading, if you’re still here. Stay tuned for part 2 of this where I chat about software.

Thanks again!

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