Digital Video Editing

Becoming the next Steven Spielberg is simple thanks to video editing on your PC.

Video editing software

Video editing applications allow video to be captured, edited and exported to DV tape, the web or a recordable CD or DVD, with price points for video editing programs ranging from free (on the web or on a PC World cover CD) up to several thousand dollars for professional hardware/software solutions.

Popular video editing applications are available from Pinnacle (, Ulead ( and Adobe ( Often, demo versions of the applications are available to try out for a limited period. This allows you to see if the application is worth using, before you lay down your hard-earned cash.

If you have a Windows XP machine, a video editing application called Movie Maker is already included in the operating system. If you have upgraded the OS to SP2, you will have the latest version installed. If you haven't updated to the latest version of Windows XP, you can download the latest release of Movie Maker from the Microsoft web site.

Most of the current inexpensive video editing packages offer 3D titles, special effects, impressive wipes and transitions to satisfy most movie making tasks. Easy to follow step-by-step wizards help to make the process less daunting, with some applications creating a finished movie for you from scratch.

Installing the software

Once the CD has been inserted, your application should automatically install in its own directory. While the default choices for installation should satisfy most users' requirements, we recommend you have your video captured to a separate hard drive if possible.

Once the program opens, a variety of settings will need to be determined to suit the type of movie you want to create. Templates are often available for either the local DV PAL or the American NTSC systems. Applications will usually have NTSC as the default format for video, so check before you make your first movie. You should also be able to choose between 4/3 or 16/9 (HDTV) support. Another popular preset function is DVD, where video is converted to MPEG-2 before it is burnt to a DVD disc.

The software should recognise the type of camcorder you are using, with Windows XP providing most of the relevant information.

Your video editing program will present you with a series of windows, timelines and palettes that allow you to manipulate your video, audio, titles and effects.

Capturing video

Capturing video from a DV camcorder or VCR is a simple process, usually involving little more than choosing File - Capture Movie from the application menu. Some applications offer a "wizard" approach, where you simply click on icons that look like a camcorder to start the video transfer process.

You will generally see a monitor view of incoming video, with settings and logging tabs to select if you don't want to capture the whole video tape. A batch feature may also be available, allowing you to put clips in any order, add comments or notes, delete clips, search for scenes and temporarily disable footage for capturing.

The most popular way to work with video is in a Single Track, or Storyboard, environment. This is where single icons showing a video scene and transitions placed between clips on one single track are displayed on the screen. New users should start out using a Single Track mode if possible.

A multi-track mode is where you need to keep track of multiple video and audio tracks, creating a movie by layering the various tracks in a sequence. For example, if you want a transition, you place it on the effects track between Video track 1 and Video track 2.

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