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Video editing for beginners Part 1 - 5th December 2005 - View the entire paragliding news archive

The basic anatomy of video editing

There are many different video editing programs available. I am going to describe features that are common to many. This is not intended to be a step by step tutorial for any specific application.

Capturing the video to your PC
Assuming you have purchased a mini DV camcorder (there are other solutions)...

The first thing you will need to do before editing anything is transfer your footage to your PC. You will need to connect your 4 pin firewire connector to your camcorder and your 6 pin connector to your PC (If you do not have a firewire connection on your PC it is possible to get it added). Capturing options are usually accessible by selecting file and capture from the menu. You will be presented with options about the name and location of the files you will create as well as the quality of data you wish to capture. Choose the options that best suit your needs it is pretty self explanatory. Check the option to create clips automatically if presented with it. Make sure you save your file to your huge shiny new external hard drive (if you have one). Try to avoid capturing an entire tape since this will soon fill your hard drive with junk footage. The first stage of editing comes as you select which parts of your footage to transfer to your PC. Some more advanced software will allow you to add notes to your clips as you capture your footage. If you are using something that allows this write as much as you can it will all help later on. As you capture your footage the timecode (expained below...ish) of each clip is displayed within it. This is great to reference any written notes you may have on paper later on.

Timecode is simply a time stamp that runs from 0 at the start of the tape until 60 at the end.
(Unless you are my brother, in which case it starts at 0 ends at 2 starts again at 0 ends at 1 minute 35 seconds starts again at 0.) Timecode always picks up from where it left off. If you start taping from a blank portion in the middle of the tape the timecode would start from there, but of course we never review our tapes until we are finished so we never `break our time code`.

Daron Brinsdon:
`Regarding timecoding and a tip you might have missed on your filming technique page is for people to put a timecode onto their blank tapes BEFORE using them for the first time. It`s even more important if they are the type of people who can`t resist reviewing clips before the tape is finished.
The easiest way is to put your DV in a quite dark place and just press the record button until the tape is finished. Once that is done rewind and you are ready to go.`

The timeline
The timeline is the standard method for indicating which clips are present in the project, in which order they appear and what their duration is. You can move clips on the time line; reduce their duration or remove them completely. Audio clips are linked to their corresponding video clips and move around accordingly, although you can separate the two.

Inserting clips on the time line
This usually involves dragging and dropping the clips. Some programs allow you to have multiple tracks running parallel. Simple programs (like Windows Movie Maker) do not support this, but they are easier to learn.

Simple cuts and fades are all that are used in most professionally edited videos. Anything else has a distinctly cheesey look. There are times when these transitions can be used but for now I will ignore them.

Video effects
These range from making film look old to speeding it up with a whole lot of other effects to choose from. Some are good, most are unnecessary. It depends what you are aiming at. I tend to limit the use of effects and try to let my footage tell the story but they do have their uses.

Usually titles can be added before on or after a clip. Try to avoid flashy animated titles anditles that promise more than your film is going to deliver. A simple clean font on a black background often looks far more professional than something that flies in buzzes around and explodes! That`s just my taste though.

Next time I`ll be looking at some editing tricks including ways to rescue bad footage.

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