Digital Video Editing

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


Keep it simple!

Before you get too involved in the video editing process, it is important to understand the concept of telling the story in a simple manner. The audience will be moved by the video content, rather than the stunning transition effects or swirling title sequence. Most of the time, the best effect you will be applying will be a simple cut between one scene and another. Sometimes a fade might also be recommended to signify a drastic change in time or storyline.

If you want to work with any of the more impressive looking transitions (eg page curls or wipes), make sure you use them to enhance your project, not take over it.

Telling a story

All video editing applications have the basic collection of tools, effects and transitions to help you turn your raw video footage into an enjoyable movie.

Editing software

The simplest transition is none at all, or a "cut", where the first frame of the second video immediately follows the last frame of the first. Other simple transitions include fades, where the first video fades out to either white or black while the next fades in. All the applications have these basic transitions, although if you want to go all out with barrel wipes, explosion effects and 3D titles, some applications offer more than others.

Titling

Most video editing programs have a titling package that provides the tools and fonts to place into your movie timeline. Titles can be changed or removed at any time right up until the moment when you render the edited footage. Title applications provide a variety of choices -- including animation, colour and a choice of fonts and font sizes.

A good titling sequence can help establish the appropriate mood and prepare the audience for the genre of movie being shown. Hollywood movie titles provide a perfect example of the importance of a title to establish a mood.

Dramatic movies usually employ a subdued, simple titling sequence, while blockbuster movies may use animated titles that zoom in and out of screen to prepare the audience for the upcoming action. So take a tip from the professionals and make sure your titles give the message you want.

Most video camcorders these days provide a titling feature in the camera itself; however avoid using this feature unless you cannot edit the footage on a PC, as in-camera-effects always look cheap and tacky.

Audio

If you want to take your editing seriously, you should also consider getting an audio editing program to complement your video editing package. Video editing programs in general are good for simple audio cuts and fades. However, when you work with video, a frame is generally the smallest editing measure, whereas in audio a full frame is often too much time to accurately cut out a sung word or match up a sound.

Dedicated audio editing programs allow you to match up your audio more accurately than in a normal video editing package. Always make sure you have a backup of any original footage before you start working with your audio, particularly if you take the sound off your video track.

If you are working with only one camcorder, you may not have much control over the quality of the audio, particularly if you aren't using an external microphone. This is where you may want to consider a background soundtrack to set the mood, allowing original audio content back into the video only when it is relevant to the story.

Finally, remember copyright issues when choosing audio content to use in your next video. Just because you have bought the CD doesn't mean that you can use the music in any project you see fit.

Getting video to the Web

Because your video is in digital form, your software can easily transform your movie into a Web friendly file. Virtually all video editing programs allow you to capture, edit and output to many Web formats, straight from the timeline.

Web video output options usually include QuickTime Streaming, QuickTime Progressive Download, Windows Media (audio and video) and variations of the increasingly popular MPEG-4 format. You should also be able to customise your video's quality to suit different Internet connection speeds. Although with the popularity of broadband, you may want to keep your video at the highest quality possible if you are sharing with family and friends.

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