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  Category: Articles » Technology » Computer Software » Article

Taking Home Movies To The Next Level

By Wayne Rice

With the powerful, yet easy to use video editing software on the market today, it's easy to just shoot, drop it in the editor, and burn it to a disk. What's even easier is ending up with mediocre results. With just a little more attention you can turn average into spectacular. Most standard video editors, such as the one that comes bundled into Windows, Microsoft's Movie Maker, have many features that, if used with some restraint, can help polish the finished product. With a little planning and some time spent in planning before compiling, you can make some memorable videos, and enhance your memories and your video records.

Here are some general rules that I like to follow:

+ Keep it simple; a well-thought out five minute video is far more effective than a thirty-minute, no cuts, no-breaks-taken video. It's OK to think in terms of chapters and to make each one a separate file. You can always combine them into longer works.

+ Keep everything simple; pick just a few transitions and reuse them sparingly; avoid the temptation to apply all those radical filters. If you choose to use a special effect, use it once and make it count. If you are using still images, a simple fade transition works best.

+ Choose a reasonable scene length. If you shoot ten minutes of video without pause, experiment with breaking it up into much shorter clips. Avoid the 3-second rule currently in vogue in commercials, where each scene only lasts 3 seconds. Some software will allow the program itself to break up any video file into several scenes, either by a detection algorithm, or by a set time span. Most can do this automatically.

+ Edit edit edit. Good film making results in a fairly cluttered cutting room floor. Don't be afraid to edit out uncle Henry's silly dance. Consider editing out any really noticeable camera shakes. The idea is communicate the overall event or experience, not to record every single detail.

+ Visual presentations must sound right. If you underestimate the power of sound, try watching a movie without the sound. You probably won't last five minutes. Most of us live in a world filled with sound, and your videos should pay as much attention to the sound as any other feature. You should consider an audio editor program that will allow you to do several things; you should be able to strip out the original sound; you should be able to overdub, or add your voice to the recorded video sound track; you should be able to enhance your voiceovers or the original sound. Video recorders are not the best sound recorders.

+Titles, not family genealogies. Titles are a very effective tool; they can set the mood, position the presentation, and focus attention. They should be brief and this is one place where it's OK to get a little crazy/creative. Slide in, fly out, different colors, interesting typefaces, go for it. Just don't overdo it.

A final word; you don't have to spend a fortune to have a full-featured video editing studio. I got ShowBiz, an ArcSoft product bundled into some burner software; it is a fully capable video editor. Avnex makes audio and video editors and morphers that you can download and try for free at Their Voice Changer Software Diamond 4.0 is one of my favorites, as it does for audio what the video editors do for visuals. Microsoft's Movie Maker and Movie Maker II are also very capable video editors. And finally, don't be afraid to experiment and to try altering the combinations of elements as you develop your video. Most programs will let you save elements as 'projects', which allows you access to the individual elements over and over. By following these simple steps and thinking creatively you can raise your home videos to a new level.
About the Author
Wayne Rice is a freelance journalist, copywriter, photographer and artist. He currently resides in the United States.

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