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Friday, January 20, 2017

Video Editing

Sony Vegas Movie Studio. I've used this one. It's one of
the best, also one of the more advanced (complicated)
as to features.

I thought long and hard before tackling this topic. The reason being that it's about the most difficult form of creative endeavor commonly seen today. Painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, everything except possibly moviemaking pales in comparison in terms of their technical complexity, effectiveness as communicative media, and in their creative potential. In the past, this complexity, not to mention the cost of the equipment involved, put this art form far beyond the reach of virtually every independent artist without a million-dollar bank account. Today, with home computers, and a plethora of editing software at the amateur video artists fingertips, one would think that many of the inherent difficulties of creative video production would be a thing of the past. Not true.
A sampling of editing interfaces. Some are better than others. Filmora I have and use, but I'm not about to recommend any of them, they're too diverse.
Certainly, the cost of the hardware and software involved is a very small fraction of what it has been in the past (some software is even touted as being "free"). But that doesn't make video editing much easier. In fact, the sheer number of software programs available erects a formidable wall the amateur artist must first surmount before even getting started. From that point on, come the basics--how to draw (shoot), paint (choose), and refine (improve) images using electronic media tools. And finally, the video artist comes face to face with a broadside selection of "decorative" items which, in one sense, add fun and games to the creative endeavor, but also lay out yet another layer of technical complexity not to mention a whole minefield of pitfalls. In some ways, video editing is related to the much older art of storytelling with film, yet with a virtual encyclopedia of subtle differences. Thus in tackling this topic, my primary purpose is not to expound upon it, but to simplify, which as always, may be the most difficult art and science known to man.

Typical editing interface features. The preview window
is controlled from the timeline much like a VCR.
As you may have noticed in looking over the various editing interfaces, they all have certain features in common (above). Each has a library window (where raw content clips are stored). There's also a selection window (showing a larger key image chosen for use), a preview window for viewing your production in progress, and a timeline window (at the bottom) upon which the various video segments, captions, visual effects, and audio tracks are assembled and manipulated in their order of appearance). These features will vary in size and arrangement with various software. For instance, the library window and selection window are sometimes combined.

Each raw video segment, as it is inserted into the timeline, is
represented by a "key" (or first) frame to simplify visual continuity in editing. Overlapping with other segments the first few seconds at the beginning and end of a segment creates a "dissolve" transition.
In painterly terms, the library window is the video editor's palette. The timeline corresponds to the painter's canvas in conjunction with the preview window. Keep in mind that the video editor deals with the standard two dimensions of the painter plus a third dimensional element of time as well as the element of synchronized sound. The typical timeline on most video editor may have as many as three video tracks (the main image track, a caption trace, and a third track for transitions and special effects). Often there are four separate audio tracks, one for audio synchronized with the video, a second for added music, a third for added sound effects, and a fourth for a narration (usually added last). Thus the final video production is built up from the raw video and audio tracks much like the multiple layers of a painting.

A video editor in transition menu mode.
Very often the Selection Window may also be used to display a menu of transitions and other special effects which can be inserted in the timeline (often through "click and drag") for artistic effects, though one must be careful such elements do not attract undue attention from the content of the video. Likewise, captions should only be used when no other means is available to aid continuity or impart needed information. In general, captions are valuable as titles at the beginning and credits at the end of the video much as in movie editing. Many of the same basic storytelling techniques applicable to moviemaking apply to video as well, such as beginning each new segment with a general view, followed by a more detailed, medium shot, and finally close-ups as needed. Then, once the editing artist is satisfied with his or her video masterpiece, the "composition" is turned over to the software for "rendering" into a chosen format (avi, mov, MP3, or MP4, etc.) to be played back on any number of computer video players, or archived either on a hard drive, a "thumb" drive, a social media site, or "burned" onto a DVD for replay on TV.

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One of my own editing projects:


  1. You just educated someone today. Btw, Binfer is a handy tool to send videos without worrying about uploading. More video sharing.

  2. Lee--
    Normally I delete immediately any comment containing a link to some other commercial site, but in this case, Binter looks interesting and quite helpful, so I'll let it stand. Thank for reading and writing.