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Foundations Computer FAQ
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Foundations Computer FAQ

All incoming Cinema Art + Science students are required to take the Foundations of Film & Video. It is recommended that students enroll in the Foundations courses within their first year. These students are required to be able to edit off-site as well as to perform other internet-based learning activities.

Hardware and Software Specifications

While we recommend a laptop or notebook computer, it is not required.  Students and parents should consider the educational goals over the next few years.  Students interested in editing, special effects, sound for cinema and cinematography will require a more robust system.  Animation students have very specific needs which are listed below.  Students interested in directing, screenwriting, producing or cinema studies will do fine with any computer released in the last couple of years as long as it has some built-in editing software such as iMovie for Mac or Movie Maker for Windows.

Our recommended buy is for a system that will cover most needs includes either a 13" or a 15” MacBook Pro with the following minimum specifications (new as of April 1, 2013):

  • 13"/15” 2.9/ 2.7GHz Intel Core i7 processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 500GB Hard Drive
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000

We have also tested the MacBook Air.  This system is small and light and less expensive than the MacBook Pro.  However, it will require external storage.

Additionally, we recommend that students acquire Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Creative Suite 6.  (7 may be released before Fall 2013).  Adobe is testing cloud-based solutions for educational pricing.  We will know more as the year progresses.

Additionally, you should acquire office productivity software (free from Google) and an external 500GB Firewire800 or Thunderbolt drive.

If you have an existing system of any kind that can edit video with whatever software you know, you are not required to purchase a new system.  We’ll work with you.

Hardware and Software Specifications for Animation Students

Animation students only need to buy one laptop. Students can choose either the Cinema Art + Science recommended Apple (13"/15” MacBook Pro) or a PC Based Laptop (Dell, Hewlett Packard, Acer, etc.) such as the Dell Laptop XPS 15 or 17.

Note: Students who buy the suggested Apple Laptop (13"/15” MacBook Pro) will be able to configure software such Boot Camp, which is included, to create the virtual PC environment necessary to run PC-only software, such as Vegas Movie Studio Platinum, on Apple’s native hardware platform.

In either case, we suggest:  

  • Dell XPS 15
  • 2nd generation Intel® Core i7-2760QM processor (2.40 GHz, with Turbo Boost 2.0 up to 3.50 GHz)
  • Genuine Windows® 7 Professional, 64bit, English
  • 8 GB Dual Channel DDR3 1333MHz
  • ITB 5400 RPM SATA Hard Drive
  • NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 540M 2GB (PC) graphics with Optimus
  • 9 Cell (90WHr) Battery

The cost of PC & Mac platforms with these specifications can be found at 



The cost of Vegas Movie Studio Platinum can be found at: 

http://www.journeyed.com/item/Sony+Creative+Software/Vegas+Movie+Studio/100969498 <http://www.journeyed.com/item/Sony+Creative+Software/Vegas+Movie+Studio/100969498>


Q. Why did you choose this configuration?
After extensive research this configuration was chosen due to its power and durability with respect to the activities most filmmakers must perform. This computer should last throughout your stay with us. Additionally, given our numbers, we had to choose similar platforms for which our staff can provide support.

Q. Have you seen how much these things cost?
Yes. This is a robust and sturdy computer which you can use throughout your time at Columbia and beyond. The filmmaking process combines creative ideation with technical proficiency and skill. This configuration gives you the best chance of being able to keep up with requirements of advanced classes.

Q. What is the bottom-line cost?
The educational price for our recommended system is between $949 and $1,699 for Cinema Art + Science students and $1524.99 for Animation students. The cost for the drive is between $175 to $250. The educational price for Final Cut Studio and Adobe CS6 is between $300 and $400. The bottom-line cost is roughly between 1,600 and $2,300. For Animation students the cost for Vegas Movie Studio Platinum is $39.95. The bottom line is $1,814.94.

Students should explore individual funding options if they cannot fund this purchase themselves. A counselor at Student Financial Services can assist you with questions about how student aid can be applied to this purchase.

Q. Where can I buy this stuff?
We strongly recommend that you buy the configuration through the Columbia College Computer Store on the ground floor of the 33 E. Congress Building. This will insure that you get maximum savings for the entire package.   We also strongly recommend that you buy this equipment and materials as late as possible.  July would be good.

Please visit: Columbia AppleStore -- colum.edu/applestore

There are a variety of third party outlets which in some cases can be competitive, for instance, there is a robust market for used and refurbished units. However, we believe the best pricing and support is through the Columbia College Computer Store.