Editing video is all the rage these days. The hardware is getting cheaper, the software more easy to use, and the Internet has made it a snap to share your latest masterpiece with the world. As any regular reader should know, I’ve jumped on the train and am sole-proprietor of a (very) modest video editing business, Cut! Productions which had me relatively busy the last few months. The only bummer part about that is that the kind of jobs I get paid to do are not always the most fun. There’s only so much fun you can have with someone’s wedding or promotional video. The stuff I really enjoy are videos of our vacations, or time with friends and family, or silly stuff like re-cut movie trailers or yardwork at 300 times speed. I can do whatever crazy, goofy things I want with those.
If you havn’t tried your hand at being the Steven Speilberg of your family, you really should. It’s loads of fun and not hard to learn once you jump in and do it. Here’s a few tips that might help.
1. Get yourself some decent editing software.
A good editing package for the PC can be had for about $100 and a fair one for $50 or $60. Personally, I recommend Ulead’s Video Studio. It’s what I started with and it’s easy to learn and has a lot of cool features. If you’re using a Mac, you’ll have to ask one of those Mac people. I’m clueless when it comes to Mac’s.
2. Your video will only be as good as the footage you shoot.
If your source material is crummy, it’s awfully hard to make a compelling video. When you’re shooting here are a couple things to do, or not do, to get as much usable footage as possible.
(a) No firehosing. Don’t pan wildly in all directions. In fact keep panning to a minimum period. If you’re shooting over there and you want to change to over here, either stop recording or be sure to edit out the space in between. If not you’ll end up with a lot of blurry, nausea inducing footage.
(b) Zoom as little as possible. Similar to the above rule. If you want a closer look at something, stop recording, zoom in, start recording. This one is little more flexible though. Zooming can be used effectively, but 9 times out of 10 it should be done slowly.
(c) Hold a shot longer than you think you should. I don’t know how many times I’ve thought I had a good shot of something only to find I didn’t hold it long enough to make an effective clip out of it.
(d) Think out of the box. Try shooting things from different angles and perspectives. Having everything in the smack-dab middle of the frame gets pretty boring after a while.
3. Keep your clips short.
As in seconds. The point of editing a vacation video is to get rid of all the dull shots of Grandpa waxing eloquent for 10 minutes on the percipitation patterns of the eastern rim of the Grand Canyon. If you can find 30 seconds of his soliliquy, that’s still probably too much. Sure, there are times when you are going to want to hear or see longer clips, but make sure you have a good balance. Next time you watch TV, watch closely and you’ll notice that few shots last for more than a few second before there is a scene or camera angle change.
4. Use lots of music.
Music makes the movie. An otherwise dry scene can change dramatically, or comedically, with the right music.
Those are just four little pointers that may come in handy when you start your new film career. For those that know me and live in close proximity, which is probably everyone who reads my blog, give me a call anytime if you need a hand getting started. I love to do it and would be more than happy to help.
Here’s a video of Jen and my trip to Palm Springs early this year. It’s probably a little long, about 20 minutes, but it might give you an idea of what you’re capable of if you give it a try. Check it out and see how many of my own rules I broke.