Editing Your Camcorder Video
Editing Your Camcorder Video
Tim Smith (Camcorder Training Specialist) gives expert video advice on: Why would I want to edit video I've shot?; What kind of computer do I need to run a video editing system?; What software do I need for video editing? and more...
What is video editing?
So what is editing and what's it all about? Well, in the early days of film, you used to shoot film and then take it somewhere and cut it, physically cut it, and then tape it back together in the order that you wanted to tell the story. So maybe you shot a scene in the morning and a scene at night, and did it in reverse, you would just cut it and put those together so that the story flowed. Then we moved to the days of what's called non-linear editing--that's where video kind of stepped in. We had electronic recordings, but we had no way of really cutting it, because it was electronic--you couldn't cut a tape. So we would hook decks together, and then we would just record the parts of the information in the order that we wanted. We would literally push play on one deck, record on another, and then start recording the scenes in the order that we needed them to tell the story. Well, things have come so much further now, because we have digital editing, we have computer-based editing now, or what's called non-linear editing. Really, if I shoot on my digital camcorder, I can then bring everything to a computer, put them into what's called bins or file scenes, and then I just drag those scenes down to a timeline, or down to a little bar on my editing program, and put them in the order I need for the story to come across well. And at that point now I have the ability to do fades, to do wipes, everything that makes video come to life and tell that story inside a very simple system. And editing systems these days are PC based, they're Mac based, they go from thirty to forty dollars on up to very expensive systems, but they all do the same thing. They take information, and they put in an order which tells a story.
Why would I want to edit video I've shot?
Video is so easy to shoot that we tend to shoot way too much of it, and it needs editing. Video that has not been edited tends to be as boring as it gets. You really need to take out the scenes that weren't important, and just leave the stuff that really catches your attention and tells the story. Maybe you're shooting a basketball game - you don't need all the information of everything that happened at half-time. We need to know that there were star players, we need to know what the score was, we need to know how it began and how it finished. We don't need to watch the whole thing, so it needs editing. We need somebody as a film maker or video maker to condense that into a way that we can sit down and take it all in. That's really what editing does: It gets rid of the stuff that we don't need to know; puts the stuff that we do need to know in a logical fashion; and puts it front of us so that we can see it, understand it, and enjoy it.
What equipment do I need for video editing?
You need some sort of playback device. A lot of us use our camcorder, but you could also buy a deck as well to play back the appropriate tapes or whatever format you recorded it in. Then you'll need some equipment to get it from that deck or that playback device into a computer. That's typically known as firewire cable, also known as IEEE1394, and sometimes even called an iLink depending on which manufacturer is labelling it. That's then going to go into a computer system, either a Mac or a PC, through the appropriate connection, like a firewire card or an IEEE card. It will then be stored on the computer's hard drive as raw files. That's when you start editing and using your editing equipment. The files are then going to go into bins on your editing platform no matter which one you're using, and you're going to then start trimming those bins, and putting them in the order that best tells the story. You're going to take a clip that was five minutes and you need two minutes of it so you're going to trim it down. Then you're going to put it on a timeline in the right order so the story is told. Once the whole edit is done, you've got your titles put in and you've got whatever effects put in, you're going to have to them put that on to something. A lot of us will just put that back to the original format. Maybe record it back to the deck. But, if we have a DVD burner we might want to burn it to DVD. If we want to deliver it in hi-def, all of that kind of stays the same, except now you need to store it as a high definition file. The Windows Media players of today in PCs will play it. iMovie HD or Final Cut HD on the Mac side will play it. You'll just record it to a DVD as a high definition file. Now, you need to determine how much information you can put on there. It's all done by the computer - might be one disc, might be two discs, but there's always a way to store it. So you're looking to go to a disk, or you're going to go back to tape probably. That is all the equipment needed for video editing.
What equipment do I need to transfer video into my computer?
I'm gonna need a deck or some way to play that tape. A lot of us use the camcorder. A deck's an option. To get that information, digital information, whether it's mini DV or HDV, from that playback source, whether the deck or the tape, I'm gonna have to go over what's called FireWire. It's also known as IEEE 1394, or sometimes called iLink as well. All of that has to go into a FireWire connection. Macintoshes already have this built in. But on a PC, you may need to go out and buy a FireWire card. They're not that expensive, and they're easy to install, but you'll look for a FireWire card specifically. Once that's in there, all that information can be easily moved from your playback source to your hard drive, and you're ready to edit.
What kind of computer do I need to run a video editing system?
Video can be pretty intense. Probably the biggest, strongest computer you can buy, and which you can afford. You might be able to update an existing computer. Or, if it's time to buy a new one, video might be the reason to do that. Look for hard drive space. Video takes up fairly large files so you want fairly large hard drives. And, like any computer application, the more memory--the more ram you have, the better.
What software do I need for video editing?
Now, editing always requires editing software. You find Macintosh typically that means iMovie or iMovie HD vision in hi-depth and Macintosh typically uses a player or program called Final Cut which is more high-end a terrific program. In the PC world lots of choices, many of the manufacturers ranging from thirty dollar a piece a software up to hundreds of dollars worth a piece of software depending on processing speeds, things along those lines. So really need to look at these classifications of the that the software corporations puts on see if they're line up with your particular PC. But again though if Macintosh, iMovie, Final Cut will work just great.
What equipment do I need to put my videos on DVD?
Well there's a couple of choices. The simplest and easiest way, to buy a DVD burner, a home burner, and really then all you have to do is hook your camcorder directly to that burner and you'll make a complete copy of whatever that tape format was or whatever that original disc was and you'll have a copy on DVD. Now this means that everythings coming over, warts and all. The good scenes, the bad scenes, everything gets copied and maybe that's not the best way to do it. Maybe you'd be better off if you just took that information that was on your camcorder, whether you recorded DVD or recorded mini DVD and get it into an editing platform. Start editing it, tell the story the way you want to tell it. Now I can output to a DVD burner on my computer and burn a copy to DVD, and burn as many copies as I need to DVD. Ultimately, ending up on DVD really gives you some great, a great ability to kind of pass this video around because we're all recording on formats that most people can't play back, but everybody's got a DVD at this point. So that's really a great way to go.
What DVD format is best for video?
So you want to take your video and you want to get it onto a DVD. There's a lot of choices. The most common is called a DVD-R, so you essentially want to go to the store and ask for a blank DVD which is a "minus R" format. Real quickly, some of the other choices you are going to see; -R, -RW, +R, +RW. All of these are different formats for different players. The most common player though and the one you most likely have in your house or the person you are giving the DVD has in their house would be one that was capable of playing a DVD-R. The advantage to DVD-R is just that, almost everybody can play it. The disadvantage is -R records just one time. So the second most popular format you might want to use is the -RW. An RW can record over again just like a video tape, so you can record multiple times on the same disc if you want. But really to play it safe you should be using DVD-R's.