Creating a Montage Or a Commercial

The first factor is having the proper equipment to video record a particular event. That is coupled with the elements of the environment and ability of the individual recording the video. Secondly software is required to exclude components of the video that are deemed "unnecessary". Thirdly reviewing what was omitted is important to oversee anything that might need removing from the video that was missed the first time around. Finally, piecing everything together is what gets the final production in order to be viewed.

Videos can be used in many different platforms some of them include television, vacation videos, wedding videos, birthday videos, family events, baptism videos, prom nights, graduation videos, bar mitzvah videos, communions, confirmation, baby shower videos, wedding shower videos and engagement parties to name a few.

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Introduction to Video Editing Software

For anyone who's ever physically cut film on the splicing block of a Moviola, digital video editing is one of the great technological leaps of our time.

Essentially, most video editing programs work in a similar fashion: once footage has been input into the computer and converted into a digital format, it can then be edited via the program. Effects and titles can be added easily, and many programs will even create complete DVDs.

The final result is, ideally, a video presentation as polished as anything appearing on TV, or a disc released by Hollywood. (Of course, how it looks is dependent on factors beyond editing, such as videography and lighting. But you knew that already.)

But there are many ways for an editing program to accomplish these tasks, and they do so with varying degrees of precision and complexity. So when choosing such a program, it helps to first take stock of your current skill level and needs. Are you looking to get started, or to replace an existing entry-level program with something more sophisticated? Are you looking to edit videos of your family on holiday, or crank out commercial videos of weddings, birthday parties and graduations to paying clients on a regular basis? Let's a take a few minutes to explore these issues--and a few other factors--in detail.
Make Sure Your Computer's Compatible

Most editing programs require a fair amount of processing power and memory. This seems obvious, but make sure your computer has the horsepower to handle the program you're considering--and upgrade if it doesn't.

If you have to install more RAM, while the case is open, consider installing a FireWire card if your computer lacks one--also typically an easy screwdriver installation. The vast majority of editing programs (or camcorders) support FireWire, making it a snap to import video from a FireWire-equipped camcorder, and also to control that camcorder's playback, fast-forward, and reverse functions via the FireWire card.
Check the Interface

Assuming your computer is up to snuff, it's on to the editing program itself. Perhaps its most important element is its interface. How comfortable you are interacting with it will determine how happy you'll be with the program as a whole. Some programs offer a degree of customizing, and it might be worth exploring how much you can tweak an interface to make it your own.

Check online for screen shots from various programs. A confusing interface to one person might be a sign of great functionality to another.
Get Under the GUI

Underneath the program's graphical interface, there are other considerations. For example, how well does the program support media other than video? Many video productions won't rely solely on video footage, but will also include a variety of still photos as a slideshow. If this will be an important feature for you, make sure your prospective editing program does a thorough job of supporting that.

Then there are video effects. There are a couple of issues here: the first is considering which effects you think you'll need for your productions, and determining if it's included in the editing software. The second consideration is, do you have any existing effects that you'll want to use with the new editing software? Does the program allow for importation of effects in the same format(s) as yours? Of course, you should consider that cuts should account for the vast majority of the transitions in your production, and that cycling through your software's transition palette tends to scream "Amateur!"

The same goes for audio effects. What sort do your productions need? Basic fade-ins/fade-outs? Reverb for narration? Or something more sophisticated? If you have an existing home recording program, you may be able to import some of its effects, if they're compatible with the editing program. Check that both accept DirectX (created by Microsoft and popularized by Cakewalk and other music software manufacturers) and VST plug-ins (short for Virtual Studio Technology, this audio plug-in standard developed by Steinberg Media Technologies). If the editing program accepts only one format, check to see if it's one that's compatible with your recording program.

Give some thought to what most of your productions will be mixed in: mono or two-channel stereo won't be a problem for most editing suites. But not all programs can handle surround sound: for example, Adobe's Premiere Pro is geared up for it, but its stripped-down (but otherwise fairly effective) baby brother, Premiere Elements can only handle stereo.

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Classic Camera Moves

Professional videographers usually follow this one rule of thumb: when it comes to camera movement, it must be motivated. Because it looks cool, is usually not a valid reason for using tricky camera moves. Instead, you can use camera moves to change the viewer's perspective making what you shoot look bigger, smaller, or even scarier. You should use camera movement to tell your story better and to enhance the viewer's experience.

We'll break it down movement by movement so you will know how to execute each shot and why you might use it. We've also divided the column into 3 easy to follow sections:

* Mounted camera creates the move.
* Camera and operator or devices move together.
* Only the camera lens moves.

Mounted Camera Creates the Move
1 - What: Pan

How: Move the camera horizontally left or right. Ideally, you should use a tripod for a smooth effect. To be a great "panner", practice the shot several times at several speeds before you feel comfortable with it.
Why: To follow a subject or show the distance between two objects. Pan shots also work great for panoramic views such as a shot from a mountaintop to the valley below.
Rule: Always start on a still shot, began the pan, and finish on a still shot. Practice first. Look at the scene as the pan reaches the middle portion between the beginning and end of the scene. If there is nothing worth seeing, then the pan isn't worth shooting.
2 - What: Tilt

How: Moving the camera up or down without raising its position.
Why: Like panning, to follow a subject or to show the top and bottom of a stationary object. With a tilt, you can also show how high something is. For example, a slow tilt up a Giant Sequoia tree shows its grandness and enormity.

Here's a good tip. In general, when you tilt up and shoot an object or a person they look larger and thicker. The subject looks smaller and thinner when you tilt down.
Rule: Always start on a still shot, begin the tilt, and finish on a still shot. Practice first. Look at the scene as the tilt reaches the middle portion between top and bottom of the tilt. If there is nothing worth seeing, then the tilt isn't worth shooting.
3 - What: Pedestal

How: Not tilting, but physically moving the height of the camera up or down, usually on a tripod.
Why: You pedestal the camera up or down to get the proper height you prefer. If you want to get "eye to eye" with a six-foot-six basketball player, you would pedestal up. While shooting a flower or a small child, you would pedestal down to their level.
Camera and Operator or Devices Move Together
4 - What: Dolly

How: The camera is set on tracks or wheels and moved towards or back from a subject. A dolly is also a noun, describing a train track contraption used for a dolly (verb) shot or a device attached to a tripod. A wheelchair, because it has large wheels, rolls smoothly, and has a seat for a videographer, works quite well as a dolly, but you can also use a rolling cart or even a skateboard.
Why: To follow an object smoothly to get a unique perspective. In some movies directors combine the dolly and a zoom shot for a real sense of doom. To do this, the camera lens zooms into the subject at the same time as the camera physically dollies out, and the person in the shot remains the same size, but the background appears to move. It's difficult to master smoothly, but done right, the shot conveys a real sense of tension and feeling of vertigo.

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Tutorial: 2.5d Animation

Producing The Polar Classic Animated Music Video

The Polar Classic, by Mark Wickman, was the 1st Place winner in Videomaker's 2005 Short Video contest, in which Mark made an animated video, using still photos. We've received many letters asking "how did he DO that?" So we asked him to create a tutorial on just how the process is done. We discovered that the end results actually depend on the beginning... in the planning stage.

The Polar Classic is an annual golf tournament held the last week of February in Beijing. The client had a simple request: produce an interesting music video portraying this fun but competitive event, including footage of all the participants. I shot still photographs, and the client would later provide more than twelve hours of DVCPRO footage from the event.

I confirmed the animated stills approach after spending several hours viewing the video footage, which was not very exciting. I selected the 100 best photos and brought them to life, using a two-step process:

1. Preprocessing each photo into layers in Photoshop
2. Creating a short animation using those layers in After Effects


As always, pre-production is key. One must "shoot to animate." Some keys thoughts on this approach:

1. Take good photos or hire someone to do so (after explaining to them your animation approach and workflow). You are not going to fix bad photos in post. You are also not going to add motion in post to photos that don't lend themselves to motion.
2. Think in layers. Understand the foreground and back- ground objects in each photo.
3. Understand motion. Look for shots with objects or behavior that are candidates for motion in the animated frame.
4. Shoot for a large depth of field and avoid blur in the photos. We can add this in After Effects.
5. Avoid legs. Full-body shots normally imply someone is going to walk by - difficult to animate. Shoot above the waist and simulate the walk cycle.
6. Variety is the spice of life. Almost every shot of every person in Polar Classic is at a different point on the golf course, something that was very much lacking in the video footage.
7. "Filling the hole." You are going to have to fill in the holes behind your subjects, using Photoshop before you animate in After Effects. If you have complex geometry behind a subject, take a second shot of the background only.
8. Don't forget the supporting shots: ball in a sand trap, flag in the hole, green grass, golf ball closeup. If you are shooting a wedding, shoot all the usual supporting shots: ring, ring on finger, hand and pen, guestbook, knife and cake, rice in hand.

Photos: Selection and Processing

I selected and processed 100 of approximately 300 stills shot at the event. That represents an ideal shooting ratio compared to the video alternative.

If you have some music in mind, understand its length and beats per minute in order to calculate the number of photos you need. If you are uncertain, tap it out. Polar has a fairly punchy progression: one hundred photos at three seconds for most of the animations. On some wedding videos, I have used a mix of video and longer animations to good effect.

I always shoot JPG format. With today's DSLRs, you have more than enough resolution for a beautiful PAL or NTSC image. I suggest pre-processing all of your images to the same size, orientation and file type, if they are not consistent. If you need adjustments to clean up your images, do this in Photoshop before the processing described at right.

When selecting photos, make brief notes on your layering approach and potential layer motions. A two-person approach for dividing the layering and animation work was very effective, enabling us to deliver this project quickly - three weeks from event to DVD.

Objects in your photos need to be isolated into Photoshop layers for animation in After Effects. The Photoshop work represented 35-40% of the total project hours. We used this simple process to create the PSD files for each of our photographs:

1. Open the selected still photo in Photoshop.
2. Convert the original JPG file to a layer called Original.
3. Duplicate the original layer and call it BG.
4. Duplicate the original layer again for each of the object layers which will be animated, i.e., FG (foreground).
5. Order the layers so the object layers are on top above the BG layer, with the Original layer on the bottom.
6. Process the FG and BG layers to isolate the object:
1. Select the FG layer and make sure only it is visible.
2. Use polygon lasso tool to cut out the object; zoom in on the layer to make this easier using a 1px feather and anti-alias.
3. When selection is complete, inverse the selection and erase the background. You now have an FG layer ready to be animated.
4. With the selection still in place, change to the BG layer and make it the only visible layer. Inverse the selection again to select the FG object, and erase it to create a hole in the BG layer
5. Use the clone stamp tool to fill the hole. There are various techniques to accomplish this: copying from the same photo, stealing from another pho- to, inserting new objects, using the second photo you shot of background only.
6. Save the PSD for After Effects. Turn visibility on for all your FG and BG layers and off for the Original layer.

The Polar Classic project contains subjects in front of their actual backgrounds - that is to say, we cut everything out (step 6c). If you have subjects who can pose, green screen is worth considering; you can then composite the keyed subject onto photographed backgrounds. If you haven't tried pulling a key on your DSLR, try it - it sure beats the shortcomings of DV!

Most of the PSD files for the Polar Classic animation consisted of 3 simple layers: Original, FG and BG. A notable exception was the title shot. This title animation consists of 70 or 80 layers, mainly golf balls, putted across a putting green to ultimately form the title of the video.

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