I am a beginner in video editing. I was going to learn using Premier Pro or Rush but it turns out that in order to be able to work with 4K videos smoothly, my equipment should have at least 32GB RAM which is not the case with my laptop. I checked prices and it looks like the cost starts from $1,800 for a desktop, let alone laptops. While being an amateur, I consider such an expense unreasonable at this point. Does it mean that using Premier Pro is for rich people?
No, it means that Premiere Pro is pretty much intended for people who are using it at least semi-professionally, where the cost of the equipment is counted as part of the greater cost of doing business.
Yes, most computers 'strong' enough to work with Premiere are going to be above $1500. My new desktop was about $5700 not counting the eight drives I transferred over from my old rig. This one has 24 cores, 128Gb of RAM, and a 2080Ti. The old rig had 6 cores, 32Gb of RAM, and a 1060 GPU.
My laptop ran me about $2300 if I recall correctly ... now almost two years old.
I work a lot with pro colorists. Their gear blows this out. I thought long & hard about the pieces for that desktop, which had them thinking what the hay. But then, their computers end up being typically $10,000 minimalist, often 12G or above. With things like 256Gb of RAM, 2-3 high end GPUs, multiple things like BlackMagic or AJA cards/connections for external devices, 10Gb-e connections to local RAIDS of many T-bytes, a couple $600 UI monitors and a grade 1 reference monitor (yea, that is an actual category) above $5,000.
And if they're actually working with HDR for deliverables (most aren't yet) they've got at least another $17,000 in an HDR reference monitor ... although most of the ones I know with HDR setups have the monitors that are around $32,000USD.
Oh ... the colorists often have more money spent in calibration tools and software for their monitors than I spent on that new desktop.
So ... yea, this can be a spendy profession. Comparatively, a rig that can work with Premiere Pro especially if you are wise and use proxies and smart-rendering ... can be under/around $2,000USD. Relatively, cheap. This isn't going to be "hot", but will work. It does take asking around for what you need to have on that computer to know which ones to get, and which to avoid.
There are several reasons why:
Sadly, this situation will only get worse for the foreseeable future.
Have you tried to use Premiere Pro on your existing laptop? It may work OK. And if it does not you don't have to work with 4K material to 'learn'. You could convert any material you have to HD through Media Encoder. And don't forget there is a trial period for Adobe products that you can use to test if your laptop is up to the task.
I have tried, yes, and it's not working properly which brought me on this forum. But you're right. Probably I should just learn with <4K.
Premiere Pro needs to be tweaked out. If you are editing a standard versions of H.264 a Quad Core or Six Core Intel CPU will work if you enable Quick Sync. The dual core, quad core, six core and eight CPUs all have the same Quick Sync module. Keep in mind the M1 Apple chip and A Bionic chips from Apple have something like Intel's Quick Sync but better. They can playback 8bit and 10bit H.264/ H.265 with several different chroma subsampling methods 4:1:1, 4:2:2, 4:20, 4:4:4: etc. The new Intel chips should do the same thing. Depending on what you are editing a $1,100 Intel system might out perform a $4,200 AMD system. Keep in mind a $699.99 M1 Mac Mini can outperfom a $12,000 Mac Pro for certain h.264/265 video files. A medicore six core CPU and a mediocre RTX 2060 might work just fine for your needs. You do need your CPU and GPU to be matched. The video below might be worth watching.
I only have full HD monitors and work only in rec 709. I can put 4k into timeline but have to proxy it to full HD ( downscale the proxy and editing ). Basically this means the edit program should be caching the full HD and showing you full HD in your timeline so you can edit OK with weaker computer and your color space.
But keep your projects short ( like a few minutes ) cause even full HD gets huge for storage, cache and so on... and 4k is insanely GIANT. in byte count and stress on hardware.
Even if you have a pretty strong computer, there will be combinations of say high-K media, high frame-rates, and effects that can bring it to a stuttering morass. So at any level, there's always the potential for needing to know how to work around this problem.
The entire history of "non-linear editors", programs like Premiere Pro ... there has been a need to work material and processes that were above what your hardware could handle. So the standard process for doing that is called using proxy media. This is transcoded clips made from the original media, that use a format/codec that is "lighter" in demands on your computer than the original media.
Typically, it's wise to choose an "intraframe" format/codec. "Intraframe" means every frame is complete, just compressed somewhat. This would be say the ProRes, Cineform, or DNxHD/R options.
"Interframe" or long-GOP format/codecs such as the H.264 options record only a complete "i-frame" every 9-30 frames or even more. In-between, there are only matrixes of data of the pixels that will change before the next i-frame, have changed since the last i-frame, or both. It's very demanding on the hardware to decode each and every frame. And is made by nearly all DSLRs, phones, GoPro & other devices, and screen-capture programs. This stuff is darn hard on a lower capablity machine.
"Whaddya mean, the file sizes are small. ProRes makes HUGE files, those have to be harder to play!"
Wrong. The intraframe codecs are larger on disc but vastly easier for the computer to process and apply the effects and such to.
So ... if working with a high-K count clip like 4k and up, or working with long-GOP interframe clips like so much mov/mp4/AVCHD media ... it's at times necessary to make proxies. You can do so in Premiere by right-clicking/create proxies. Choose a small-framesize preset that's probably from the Cineform and ProRes options.
Then you can toggle over to using them while editing. And get vastly better playback. Premiere will export from the original clips.
And you can work any media on nearly any machine.