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Editing 101
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A quick course for those new to the

video post production process





The end result that you want to achieve is actually the best place to start when planning a video.  Ask yourself, "What do I want the video to accomplish?"  "Who will the viewers be?"  "What do you want the viewers to do when it's over?"  Then review all of the production elements you have to work with and ask yourself if those elements will be enough to create a video that will accomplish your goals. (While keeping in mind that creative editing at DV Post will be able to help.)







The End

The Editing


While this is one Internet page course about post production, I'd like to make a few comments about the production.  The production (and pre-production) is everything that happens before the post production begins.  A lot of well planned videos are already edited before shooting begins.


The more you plan ahead, the better.  Even though the final video will have gone through many changes, it is always best to have a definite plan of what it should look like from the beginning.  A script is a map.  Please write one so that everything proceeds in the right direction towards a final destination.


A camera person will be a better camera person if he has ever been an editor.  Then he will know that he must always get cutaways, close ups,  and reaction shots.  He will also be aware of screen direction, so that the viewers will not be confused.  He will also know that the camera needs to get up to speed before any of the video can be used.  (i.e. some cameras need to run for about 5 seconds before the action starts so that the editing system has enough good pre roll.)  These are just some of the basics that are just as important as good lighting and composition.


Video tape is cheap.  Shoot more than you think you need, and let your shots run long.  If there is an alternate angle, or a possible alternate in the copy, shoot it again.  It's always more expensive to re-shoot.  If you make written comments with time code references while shooting, it can save many hours of reviewing footage.  Basically, plan ahead.  You'll be glad you did.


You can save a lot of time (and money) by being well organized.  This means knowing exactly what scenes you want to use and in what order you want them to be from each tape you have, before you come to the edit session.


If you have a lot of material to work with, and if you don't have detailed, accurate logs of the footage, it is a good idea to first make a VHS "window burn."  This is a copy of the raw footage with the time code superimposed over the video.  All professional video formats have time code.  To make a window burn of a consumer format, it is first copied to a DVCAM tape.  Then that tape is copied to VHS with the time code numbers visible on the bottom.  You then watch that tape on any VHS player and make a list of the exact in and out points of the good stuff.  The time code numbers will be used by the editing system to quickly locate the selected scenes.  This sounds like a lot of work, but it can save a lot of time at the edit session.


If the video is really simple, then there is no need for this process.  But please review your tapes, and at least make a list of what subject matter is on each of your original tapes.


Another time saver is to print out the titles (after running a spell check) of any text you will need on the screen.


At DV Post you will tell us about your idea (a script or outline is best), and show us the materials you have to work with.  Next, your selected video material is digitized into the computer, as well as music, narration, and graphics.  All of these elements can then be placed on a timeline.


Sometimes it is better to edit the sound first and make the picture fit.  This is usually true when you need to have certain actions happen when certain words are heard, as in a how-to video, or in the case of a montage sequence cut to music.  If every action must be seen in its entirety, then it makes more sense to edit the picture first.


DV Post uses the Final Cut Pro editing software which has unlimited layers in the video timeline and 8 real-time audio tracks.  The video and audio elements are represented graphically in what looks like a spreadsheet that scrolls sideways.  The interface also includes a bin where the video and audio clips are located, a viewer of the picture in the timeline, and another window for composing titles and manipulating the video with filters and transitions.  Once in the timeline any of the elements can be edited and rearranged much like a word-processor.  The video clips can be put into any order, repeated any number of times, made to go in fast or slow motion, forward or reverse, etc.  A still picture can be made from any frame of video and remain on the screen as long as you wish.


After the video clips are in the right order and finely trimmed, the program is polished.  The video clips can be cropped, resized and color corrected.  Titles are inserted or superimposed.  Transitions (over 60 types) can be used between clips.  The camera audio, voice-over, and music are equalized and mixed.  Special effects and visual filters can be applied, from a simple sepia tone to the bazaar effects used in a music video.  Final Cut Pro has some really helpful filters too, that can help salvage poor quality video.


When the timeline is finished, the transitions, titles and filtered clips must be rendered before being output to tape or a DVD file.  Most effects and titles play back in real time right away, but the project must be rendered before it's really done.  With the speed of today's computers, the rendering time is minimal. When the rendering is completed, the program is played back from the computer onto a master digital video tape, or converted to an MPEG-2 file for use on a DVD.


The master video tape, which is a perfect digital copy of your original tape is then used to make copies.  The DVCAM master can be used to make dubs in VHS, S-VHS, BetaCam, U-Matic, or any other format.


The video program can also be converted into an MPEG-2 file that is used to make a DVD.  DVD authoring is a separate process.  The DVD can be as simple as making a video play continuously without any menu, to a very complicated menu driven DVD similar to commercial movie DVDs.  DVDs can be made to do nearly everything a PowerPoint presentation can do, but with the added advantage of full screen high quality video playback, and being able to be played back on any DVD player or computer with or without PowerPoint.  DV Post offers this service as well.


In addition, the finished video program can be compressed into special files that will playback on a computer for use in a PowerPoint presentation, or from a self-running interactive CD, or for use on the Internet.


















Often overlooked, it is a very good practice to develop some ways to evaluate the completed video, to see if it's objectives were achieved.  There is not much value in producing something that doesn't communicate anything to the viewer.  Be sure to listen to the viewers and incorporate their feedback into your next production plan.


A good professional producer has the ability to judge what will communicate and what will not.  While some people just seem to be born a great story teller, like Walt Disney was, it is a skill that can be learned through experience.


Speaking of experience, you are welcome to read my thoughts about how I view the importance of an hiring an experienced independent editor on my commentary page.


















Copyright 2002 by John Primm.

This text on this page may be reproduced as long as it contains the copyright notice.




































Post Production Preparation