Hardware & Software

The process of turning raw video files into a product that is consumable is often underestimated.  The truth is, capturing video on a camera is only half the battle.  Actually, it is the easiest part of the whole process.  The most important part of dealing with video is making sure that your CPU or laptop has the power to process these materials successfully.  Having equipment with enough processing power is vital to setting up a sustainable workflow (and minimizing frustration!). Video files are large and require much more power than programs like Microsoft Word or Powerpoint.


In order to successfully create a workflow for organizing, inventorying, and storing video, it is necessary to do a full assessment of the computer that is processing these materials. The CPU, or Central Processing Unit, determines how much data a computer can handle at one time and how quickly it can handle that data. The good news is, no matter what computer you own, it can probably be upgraded to accommodate more powerful software. The following are important features to consider when purchasing or upgrading a computer/CPU:

  • Integrated Graphics Processing Units, also referred to as video card.
  • Chip and Frequency: Also referred to as processor speed (i.e. Intel i7 2.6ghz)
  • RAM (Random Access Memory): This is often referred to as “memory.”  Most computers come equipped with 2gb of RAM or more.  Many of the video programs mentioned in this report require a minimum of 4gb of RAM.  The more RAM your computer has, the faster it will process data on your computer.
  • Speed of external hard drive ports: USB2, USB3, Firewire 400, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt, eSata (in speed order from slow to fast).

There is a company called Crucial that can help you find compatible upgrades to your computer. We highly recommend contacting them as their prices tend to be the most affordable and the quality is excellent. Many of the upgrades can be done on your own or with the help of an IT professional.


There are many options for video editing software for both PC and Mac. There are programs that are very simple and user friendly such as Premiere Elements (PC/Mac compatible), iMovie (Mac compatible), and Windows Movie Maker (PC). However, these programs cater to the average consumer. These programs might work as a solution for many folklorists but the limitations of these programs can be frustrating, particularly when dealing with high-quality video formats such as AVCHD. Due to the complexity of this file format, many programs have trouble decoding the files.

We recommended subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud, an industry standard that works on both Mac and PC computers.  Within this set of interoperable software is a powerful video editing program called Adobe Premiere Pro.  Adobe Premiere Pro is equivalent to Apple’s Final Cut Pro.  There are also important encoding programs called Adobe Prelude and Adobe Media Encoder that transcode AVCHD files from SD cards into editing and internet friendly formats.