In this blog, I am going to introduce you my general workflow and how to choose proper computer system for my creativity center, and yours of course.
First, so many friends ask me “are you a gamer”? Just because I create something they only can find in a virtual & mysterious world. I have never been a hardcore gamer! I usually play the strategy or sport games instead of those popular MMO or triple A games. However, around 10 years ago, I was aware that the creative content will become an eye candy to draw mass attention when I bid online for the peripherals or action figures about those games. The former social media was not as intuitive and multifunctional as the current Instagram/ Twitter/ Facebook, but I still did researches before bidding those peripherals through them. Yes, a creative content has been crucial for me. This is how I jump into this mysterious world as my career.
How & where can I get the inspiration to make a good & creative content? Well, there’s no standard answer: thinking or even fantasizing. I visit those creators’ blog/channel very often, picture library or discuss with our team to dig out as many spontaneous new ideas as possible; in the meantime, I will also make the handmade sketch on papers when a sudden whim pop up in my mind, then bring it alive creatively. You might laugh at these disorderly papers, but this is the way it goes.
Here is my general & basic workflow while creating: Thinking or even fantasizing, drawing a picture, retouching the image, animating, and make it alive no matter with a video, website or printing. However, nothing is worse than a choppy playback or movement of elements – it can be really frustrating and awful when our editing is a race against the clock. In this blog, I will introduce you how to choose a proper hardware for your creativity center.
THE GROUNDWORK OF MOST CREATIVITIES – PHOTOSHOP & ILLUSTRATOR
Drawing or retouching the image is the groundwork of everything. Nothing is worse than a choppy movement of those elements or layers (hundreds of elements are usually a plain vanilla) in the Illustrator or Photoshop which usually are the groundwork of those creative ideas that pop up in my mind. An artwork usually looks like a puzzle, E.G. a poster with 420 x 594 mm 300 dpi for event, there are 10 layers (or 10 groups), including lighting, perspective, angle, shadow or even brushes effects, in just one artwork is a table stake for a professional creator. These all count on the calculation of a CPU and RAM in Illustrator or Photoshop.
Photoshop and Illustrator are not terribly effective at leveraging higher core count CPUs. In other words, both are single-core heavy and very few operations use multiple cores (maximum at 8 cores), some of X-series CPUs are even 10% slower than Core i9-9900K which equipped in the MSI Prestige P100. An i9-9900K or at least i7-9700 CPU is good option for most of scenario in Photoshop and Illustrator. CPU and RAM are two key factors for a smooth workflow in the Photoshop and Illustrator. I recommend a minimum of 16GB of RAM for a 500MB document size, 32GB for a document smaller than 1GB. You can refer to the document size number in the bottom-left of these two apps when it is opened, there are two numbers, for example: 17.6M/497.1M, the right side number (the bigger one) which includes all the layers is the most relevant to how much RAM you should have for your computer.
The GPU acceleration has become a common feature in Adobe apps, but only a few select tasks in Photoshop and Illustrator are able to take advantage of the GPU to accelerate the performance, for example, render flame, oil painting, image resizing, etc.; if the image resizing is quite important for you, you do can enjoy a benefit from the GPU acceleration. However, since both Photoshop and Illustrator are not exactly a GPU powerhouse, I still recommend you to focus more on the CPU and RAM with a M.2 PCIe SSD to enjoy all the benefit of the computer system for your workflow.
ANIMATORS MAKE PUPPETS ALIVE – AFTER EFFECTS (AE)
It is fundamental to the playback experience in AE, especially when we have created a lot of elements with another programs just like drawing with Illustrator, and I have to set its starting and stop point by using the keyframe. A smooth playback relies on the amounts of RAM available even it also depends on the length, resolution, and complexity of the projects. An animator can create rigs for characters and move their body parts individually to make those puppets alive, but nothing is worse than a choppy playback. The drawing skills are not mandatory for this kind of creating, at least not the first priority, you might have a lot of trying and go back again and again. Therefore, a smooth playback is quite important for an animator, no matter 2D animation or motion graphics.
More RAM means you can have more frames cached in RAM preview (which means less frames that have to be re-rendered), generally I recommend at least 32GB of RAM if the projects are not very complex, but 64GB will be better since we usually use another apps to create the layers in AE, nobody wants to see the error message- Not enough memory- especially after one hour working. Way back to 5~6 years ago, AE was very efficient at using multiple CPU cores to improve performance, but today it is less about having a ton of CPU cores than having a CPU which has a fast individual cores. The exception to this is if you work with C4D, Cinema 4D renderer, which can bring a faster performance with a high core count CPU. Core i9-9900K or at least i7-9700K is good option for most of scenario in AE.
Furthermore, it is essential to have a good Graphics card with enough VRAM for your projects, 4GB of VRAM at least. Since the MSI Prestige P100 comes with at least 6GB of VRAM, it is breathtaking for everything in After Effects and will easily out-perform anything else you can currently find. In addition to the VRAM, the most recent version of AE has allowed third-parties to tap into the GPU accelerated pipeline provided by the Mercury Engine. I recommend to select “Mercury GPU Acceleration (CUDA)” which can be found in “Video Rendering and Effects” of Project Settings in AE, this will bring you less render time and faster playback experience.
NON-LINEAR VIDEO EDITING FOR FILMMAKER, VIDEOGRAPHER OR STUDENTS
I usually work/ edit with H.264 AVC (Advanced Video Coding), also referred to as MPEG-4 which is an industry standard for video compression that allows for the recording, compression, and distribution of digital video content. Sometimes I will import & export the H.265 HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) media which can compress the information more efficiently and with a better motion compensation and spatial prediction than AVC to reduce the file size, and as a result, a reduced bandwidth for a live video streaming.
No matter the Premiere Pro, Vegas Pro or Power Director, they support hardware acceleration of H.264 and H.265 (HEVC) media via Intel Quick Sync which delivers a fast conversion of video for portable media players, online sharing, and video editing and authoring, which make i9-9900 (K) or i7-9700 (K) series the best option for this type of media.
It is extremely important to have a great Graphics card that greatly benefits to a non-inear video editing, E.G. Premiere Pro. The more accelerated effects you use, the larger the performance a High end Graphics card should benefit, for example, Cross Dissolve or Lumetri Color, etc. I recommend at least to use a GTX 1660 Ti, and better with RTX 2060 or above Graphics card, its 6GB of VRAM should be plenty, but of course a higher end Graphics card with higher VRAM, like RTX 2080 Ti with 11GB of VRAM, is a superb idea when your workflow includes multiple software packages, for example DaVinci Resolve which heavily relies on the performance of the Graphics card.
EDITING & SHARING YOUR AMAZING LIFE TO YOUR CHANNEL VIA SMARTPHOTE
I often read & post some interesting content to my IG and FB when I am in a bus or metro. Sometimes I just film my shoes when I walk and edit with some easy lumetri color or add some interesting words on my smartphone. I have to introduce you a convenient tool, Premiere Rush. I don’t have to have expert-level skills as well as professional-quality movies. Premiere Rush leverages the power of Premiere Pro and After Effects to provide Adobe Stock’s built-in professionally designed dynamic graphical template access to help me edit with a very easy and intuitive way quickly. I can even adjust music and standardize sound with its Auto-duck, an auto-adjust volume function in Rush. All of my editing can be done on one device, no matter on my smartphone or computer system, and I can just publish it to my channel directly, that is so easy. There’s a free starter version of Rush, but I enjoy its 100GB of cloud storage & service of unlimited exports with Rush Single App version. There is a promotion program “Get Rush, Get Unleashed”, just try it, why not?
MONITOR MATTERS? ABSOLUTELY!
Even I can edit my content in my smartphone, but a new display, with ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio, can make all the difference to how you work and play on your computer. I used to have two 24” IPS monitors for working to have an efficient productivity. A good monitor does help the workflow while creating, especially when I have a good computer system. The bigger, the better – but sometimes it’s not just like that. Considering to the distance between the monitor and our eyes, the most comfortable screen size is 34” and with at least a pixel count of WQHD. In this case, I can have just one monitor instead of two 24” monitors to save the space on my desk.
There is always a long timeline with countless keyframes when I make a video, it is essential that I can intuitively and correctly move these keyframes or layers, no matter for a video or for an artwork in Photoshop/ Illustrator. The MSI Prestige PS341WU comes with a pixel count of 5120 x 2160 (WUHD), this really rocks my world. I can preview & playback the full timeline and all of my keyframes. Not just because of the panel size, its 5K2K resolution allows me to even work with a 4K full-size window and a buffer workspace for my folder to preview the content simultaneously. I cannot go back to my traditional monitor any more.
The coloring is also extremely critical for my work, I still used to do the color calibration with a hardware calibrator, especially I always have to filter the colors to bring the different effects which is quite complicated with a lot of color, lighting, perspective, shadow or even the vector element and brush effects. All of these effects count on a monitor which can bring me a color accuracy & wider color gamut. The PS341WU with a 100% of sRGB and 98% of Display P3 brings out the full color expression for my footage editing. It reproduces the color just like what I see on the preview camera & it provides the most accurate conditions when I film a footage outside of my studio, especially for the color green & red, shadow detail, saturation & brightness while editing in post-production.
The MSI Prestige P100
really accelerate my workflow while creating: drawing a picture, retouching the image, animating, and make it alive no matter with a video, website or printing.