Produce your own semi-professional videos - Part 2
Task Four: Editing and effects
To edit my movie I used Windows XP's built-in Windows Movie Maker (you may need to download the newer version of it included with Windows XP SP2). Sure it has its glitches and problems, but it is A) free, B) available, and C) quick and dirty. If you don't have the latest version, it can be downloaded from Microsoft's website. The current version is 2.1. The interface is fairly simple and intuitive. You import or capture video from your hard drive or video camera, and edit away. Windows Movie Maker will walk you through adding effects, time lines, adding custom audio, transitions, credits, titles, annotations, etc. Since the specifics of using Windows Movie Maker are a bit nitty-gritty to detail in this post, here are some great tips and tricks to help you hot-rod the best performance out of WMM you can get.
- Windows Movie Maker has great clip splitting and joining tools.
- Be sure to have nothing else open when editing video on your PC. Required much memory is, young Skywalker. Sure, you want to have this article open to follow along, so that is okay, but you get the idea.
- Windows Movie Maker has an untimely fetish for crashing and making you want to chuck it, so save early, save often, and if it suddenly tanks, don't panic, if you save frequently, you won't have too much trouble. I had this problem with WMM, but I was only running 512MB of RAM at the time, so that could have been the issue. I have now upgraded, shame on me.
- When adding titles and other annotations, sometimes the title is too high on the screen, or won't behave and move down where you want it. To fix this little problem, simply hit enter, then space to create an invisible placeholder for the title to shift down. If WMM thinks you have something on each line, though a space doesn't display anything, it will move the text down to accommodate you. Take that you dopey title.
- The small preview window does help a lot, but sometimes gives a bad impression that your video isn't looking good, i.e. it will cut out and go black here and there for some reason during playback, but generally this is a glitch in the playback, not actual footage in your project, so don't mind it too much. Just be sure you watch your video before importing it to be sure you have good tape.
- As with many other video and audio programs, you can save WMM video project files in mid-edit, so make use of that, however, once you have imported video, you shouldn't move the original clip from its location since WMM will look for it and mess up your editing when it doesn't find that clip in the same spot on its next program startup. File location very important to WhaMMy here.
- Despite all the seemingly bad and unusable things I have mentioned about WMM, it really is a decent piece of software as far as features and capabilities go. A slightly better piece of hardware on my part, and better coding on Microsoft's part, and we could have a winner.
Task Five: Adding sound loops (optional)
Ever wonder where those sexy techno dance music loops come from that you hear in commercials and videos? Well, a techno DJ with skillz and a CD-player who are in a committed relationship ahem, get together, and nine months later, the loop is born...no really, you can find them on the web. My favorite site for this being Flashkit (registration is free but not required) offers several hundred sound loops, most user-submitted, that are free for non-commercial use. Most loops are in mp3 format, one that WhaMMy accepts, and can be downloaded from Flashkit. Sound loops are all grouped by genre or style, and are easily found, played online in Flash, and downloaded. Warning, you back-end may begin dancing without your permission due to the catchiness of some of the loops (also a hit with toddlers). Once you have added the music or sound loop to your video, and you are happy with transitions, titles, and credits, then it is time to render.
Task Six: Rendering
This task is simple, but takes time, so don't plan any LAN parties for a while. You'll need all the processing muscle you can get. I would usually use the highest quality setting available to render my videos, and then use a better, non-WMM third-party conversion or compression utility to make a smaller version if needed. The best converters are listed above at the end of Task Three. You may need to adjust and try out different settings for your video, but everything is fairly easy here. Oh, and save your work frequently. Once the video is rendered, try playing it in your favorite external viewer of choice to ensure quality and Visceral Video Experience Index Quotient or VVEIQ, (said like a German-sounding "week"), in short make sure it looks good and appeals to the audience. Then you are ready to polish and ship it off!
Task Seven: Finishing Touches
Another great idea to help put a glowing touch on your finished video product is to burn it to CD-ROM. Why not DVD-ROM? Because as savvy and with it as you are, many customers may not have the DVD-ROM drives yet, especially if they are a little behind in the IT spending dROMstment. CD-ROMs are universally available, so this is a good idea. Pick a format you think will be suitable for your target audience, and be sure the video plays well in the standard player they will use, like Windows Media Player or Real, or QuickTime. When you have the video ready, download a little gem of an app called AutoRun Pro. This allows the fastest and simplest autorun creation for a CD-ROM I have seen so far, and will automatically play whatever file you specify when the CD is inserted. This adds a nice touch to your video presentation. Instructions for using AutoRun Pro are on the website.
Labeling a CD with a nice gradient or bright graphic on the label always help the customer or other audience feel compelled to pop in your CD-ROM to "see what is on it." The truth is that a great label can convince them that what they have already seen in the cool graphic and snappy title, complete with date, producer and copyright info on the label is something they like and want to know more about. The label can be made by ordering a CD-labeling kit from your local office supply store. They don't cost much, and usually include labels, templates, and software to help you build a kicking package for your CD's. Note that this finished video can serve as your business card in the customer's eyes, so display your logo prominently on the disc and jacket as well. You want them to remember who they are dealing with.
So, that is about it for how to edit and produce yourself a tightly-shot indie video for just about anything, perhaps your own version of "The Office" or "Office Space" if you like.