BOOT CAMP 468 (20/03/07)

Video Tape to PC to DVD part 5


It’s time to get creative and turn the video recording you have transferred to your PC into a polished movie, ready to copy to a DVD.


This week we are looking at the rudiments of video editing using Windows Movie Maker, included with XP. Despite being a ‘free’ program it is capable of excellent results and your movies could actually look better than ones produced using commercial editing, but more about that in a moment. However, the beauty of editing video on a PC is that it costs nothing but your time and your original footage is preserved so you can go back and re-edit your movie or start over as many times as you like.


Step one with Movie Maker is to ‘Import’ your video file into the program. You have the option to let the program split it up into ‘clips’. Basically it looks for the breaks between scenes and this can be quite handy on a short movie but on one lasting more than 30 minutes, say, you could end up with an unmanageable number of clips, many of which will be too short to be of any use. It’s usually easier to create your own clips manually but if you are feeling really lazy then you should known that Movie Maker also has a feature called ‘AutoMovie’ (see this week’s Top Tip). 


Select your video icon in the Collection box then click Play on the Preview window. When you get to the point where you judge your first scene should end let it run on for a second or two then click the Pause button. Click the Split icon and a new numbered thumbnail appears in the Collection box. This represents the remainder of your movie whilst the original icon is now your first clip. To create your second clip, click on the second icon, press Play and repeat the process.


Once you’ve created half a dozen or so clips it’s a good idea to Save your Project and try and get into the habit of re-saving it every ten minutes or so, just in case…


After you have all of your clips in the Collection box you can set about putting it back together again and this where you can chop out more wonky bits by ‘trimming’ each clip. Click on your first clip and drag it onto the ‘Timeline’ at the bottom of the screen. Click on the Timeline thumbnail and the clip appears in the Preview window. Place your mouse pointer on the left side of the clip and it turns into a red double-headed arrow. Click and hold the left mouse button and drag the arrow right or left to precisely select the first frame. Now move to the end of the clip and adjust the edit out point in the same way. Repeat the exercise with each clip and every so often move the Playback Bar on the top of the Timeline back to the beginning and check your edited clips. Don’t forget to save your work at regular intervals.


Nothing is fixed in stone, or lost in the trimming process so you can go back and lengthen or shorten clips, create new ones, move clips, insert, delete, copy and paste clips on the Timeline as you would blocks of text in a document.


Now the fun begins, adding transitions, effects and titles, but this is also the point where most home–made movies go horribly wrong. The best advice I can give is to keep it simple!


Click Show Storyboard above the Timeline and your clips are displayed in sequence. Between each clip is where the transition goes and the simple rule of thumb is lave it alone, if the subject of two adjoining clips are connected, in time and space. Only use transitions to emphasise a change of location or the passage of time, and again simple is best. A basic fade or wipe is all you need, lots of fancy swirls and whirls can get very, very annoying!


Adding a transition is easy. On the Movie Tasks list select ‘View Video Transitions. To see what they look like select one then click the Play button on the Preview window. When you have found one that you like just drag it into the box between the two clips. Try not to use more than one or two different types of transition in a movie. 


Effects are just as simple, (click Show Video Effects on the Movie Tasks list) but use them sparingly. This time the effect is dragged from the selection window onto the star icon on each clip.


Finally you can add a fade in and out effect to the first and last clip, then insert a Title at the beginning and some End Credits. Here you can indulge yourself with the many title effects options, and don’t forget you can also play around with fonts and colours.


After one last run through, to check everything is where it should be, the last job is to save your movie (Save Movie File on File menu). When asked to do so select My Computer as the place to save it, give it a name and specify the file location. For your first movie I suggest sticking with the defaults on the Movie Setting menu, and see how it looks. If you want to go back tweak the quality this is the place to do so by selecting ‘Other Settings’ and try DVI (PAL) or High Quality PAL from the drop-down menu.


Next Week – Video Tape to PC to DVD part 6


Part 1 2 3 4 6





Two of the most common types of scene transition



Visual representation of a movie showing the order of scenes and the position of effects and transitions



Linear representation of a movie showing the length of each video and audio clip





AutoMovie works by analysing your movie, splitting it into clips then taking the best bits from each one and joining them together with some simple effects and transitions. It also adds a title at the beginning and end. There’s a choice of styles and you can also add your own background music, which AutoMovie will match to the pace of the scene cuts. The really good thing about AutoMovie is that it is open ended. If you are happy with the finished result, fine, burn it to a DVD, if not you go back and change anything you like, form the opening title to the length of a clip.


© R. Maybury 2006, 1403

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