The Friday Roundup – Corel Breathes New Life into Pinnacle Studio

Corel proves the zombie apocalypse may not be as bad as we first thought.

zombie-test

This week I am devoting the Friday Roundup to the release of Pinnacle Studio 20 from the nice people at Corel.

Some of you may be a little surprised at this because let’s face it, I have never included Pinnacle Studio as one of my recommended editing suites.

Well times have changed and the truth is that I have been watching Pinnacle Studio for quite a while now waiting to see what was going to happen to it.

So before I get into the main thrust of the post I think a little history is in order and a little catch up on where we are now with Pinnacle Studio as Corel release version 20 into the wild!

First up here’s the new promo video for Pinnacle Studio 20 to give you a taste of where the software is right now and further down the page a bit more on how we got here!

Pinnacle Studio History

Pinnacle Studio was released way back at the dawn of the digital video era.

Pinnacle Systems was one of the very first companies to offer any kind of video editing software that could handle those new fangled digital files.

They were I think, the only ones at that time to even entertain the idea that video editing software would be a consumer level product.

Given the limited access people had to capturing digital video, the need for a pretty hefty computer to do the work and the woefully underperforming operating systems at hand, it is easy see why all the others headed off in the “pro” direction.

However it wasn’t long before Pinnacle’s choice proved to be sound and quite soon they had not only secured a pretty hefty market share but the other software makers were exploring ways to simplify their own programs for the consumer market.

At that time Pinnacle Studio was let’s face it, a pretty clunky piece of kit. In fairness though, just about everything on the market was a pretty clunky piece of kit!

As time rolled by Pinnacle maintained its strong presence but unfortunately the inherent bugginess of the program also maintained its strong presence!

My guess was that Pinnacle just lacked the resources to keep up with how fast digital video formats were changing as well as the changes and advances in computers and operating systems.

They always seemed to be trying to play catch-up but never really catching up.

Eventually one of the big professional players in the market, Avid, decided that they wanted to get into the consumer market so instead of developing their own editor outside of their existing offerings, they just bought Pinnacle.

At the time I thought it was a rather dumb move on Avid’s part because they were a company that had no history in the consumer market and what Pinnacle needed to be successful for anyone was going to take two things.

First, an understanding of video editing at the amateur or consumer level and secondly the time and wherewithal to confront and handle the inherent problems the software had.

I think Avid Probably set out with all good intentions but after a few versions, Pinnacle Studio hadn’t really progressed anywhere and was still as buggy as all get out.

Corel History

Meanwhile back at the ranch….

Corel entered the consumer video editing market also a few years back by buying what was originally Ulead’s Video Studio.

Video Studio was actually the very first editor I purchased and I still have a copy I use on my computer.

Corel too had a little bit of a reputation back in the day for taking good software and turning it into not very good software or at least not really taking it anywhere.

All that changed somewhere around 2009.

At that time the majority shareholder of Corel structured a buyout of all outstanding shares in the company and took control of the whole shebang.

This was a major turning point in Corel’s history and the changes were not only very swift but were also very, very effective.

Suddenly Corel staffers were all over the user to user forums engaging with users and finding out what they wanted.

They set up a dialogue with some of the senior members of that forum and began including them in beta testing new features and releases.

To put it bluntly, instead of swanning about like a bunch of “knows best” princesses they got down into the trenches with the real users of the software and really took the time to find out what was going on.

They didn’t just concern themselves with what was wrong that needed to be fixed; they actively sought advice and guidance as to what those users wanted to see in future development.

The result was that VideoStudio in very short order began to display exceptional levels of stability and the development path was steered in the direction of what people actually wanted.

Corel Buys Pinnacle Studio

So back around 2012 Corel announced it was acquiring Pinnacle Studio which I thought was rather a genius move at the time.

Sure they were buying a slightly clunky piece of software but despite Pinnacle’s problems over the years it still boasted a massive market share.

I suspected Corel were going to slowly through the back door, simply swap out chunks of Pinnacle Studio and replace them with bits of VideoStudio until ultimately they were the same software with different branding.

I was wrong on that point and have watched with interest as Corel have set their little code monkeys onto the Pinnacle product and slowly but surely tamed its little “quirks” and moved it forward.

So that brings us to the present where I think it’s time to acknowledge that there really is life after death and Corel have managed to pull Pinnacle Studio out of its zombie like state!

Right now I have a copy of the software in my computer and it is behaving itself very well!

So What’s Corel’s Take on All This?

I will be posting a full review of Pinnacle Studio next week but in the meantime I wanted to get some direct answers from Corel on the program, its past and its future in the Corel stable.

Michel Yavercovski, Senior Director of Product Management for Corel’s video products was kind enough to answer my nosy questions:

DIYVideoEditor: Although Pinnacle Studio was a pioneer in the field of consumer level video editing it has over the years, established a reputation for crashing and being generally buggy.

Since Corel acquired the software back in 2012 from Avid what steps have you taken to get it under control so that the average person can feel confident trying it out?

Michel Yavercovski: First, it’s important to note that Pinnacle Studio is very different from where it was when we acquired it. Versions 16 to 20 are based on the product previously known as Avid Studio and took a huge leap ahead in terms of features and editing power.

We acknowledge that in the past, users had concerns regarding product quality.

The entire team felt it and we invested in fixing this by working directly with the community to not only hear their concerns, but fix them.

Product development went through a huge philosophical change, moving to a release cycle with frequent updates so we could address any issues as quickly as possible.

We also turned to the community and engaged them in improving the product.

We added a voluntary User Experience Improvement Program that enabled us to characterize the source of many problems.

And on top of regular fix updates, we also started to add new features through the life-cycle.

We also strengthened our customer support significantly.

We have since seen the differences this had made to our users, and see the comments in our forums, online comments and in reviews.

We’re very proud of what we’ve done with this program, continue to invest in development and support, and are always open to suggestions.

DIYVideoEditor: Given that Corel already have a consumer level or amateur level video editor in VideoStudio Pro what do you see as being the main points of separation between the two.

Why would a person choose Pinnacle over VideoStudio or vice versa?

Michel Yavercovski: VideoStudio and Pinnacle Studio, although both video editors, target very different users.

VideoStudio’s focus has always been creativity and being easy to use.

The experience is very intuitive, and users can easily and quickly create videos from templates, easy drag and drop, and an intuitive user face.

VideoStudio is popular for the casual video hobbyist and first time editors – but it also surprises users with its power and ability to do more as the user becomes more experienced.

Pinnacle Studio is without question a more powerful, precise and sophisticated editor.

It enables users to get closer to pro results.

We are the first to acknowledge that its capabilities make it more challenging to learn.

It gives you more opportunities to customize and has more power under the hood.

With options to customize and achieve precise editing, Pinnacle Studio attracts the experienced video editors who are looking for power, precision and specific editing capabilities.

Interestingly, with VideoStudio, we sell more of our simpler and less expensive version, VideoStudio Pro – users are looking to get their foot in the door, and don’t necessarily care about the added bells and whistles in Ultimate.

But for Pinnacle Studio, we sell primarily the Ultimate version.

Actually, we sell more Ultimate versions than Standard and Plus combined.

I think this is telling about the differences between our typical VideoStudio and Pinnacle Studio users and what they care about.

DIYVideoEditor: Simple economics would suggest that at some point Corel would be well advised to simply combine the two existing software suites into one and consolidate their own market.

What do Corel intend to do with the development Pinnacle moving into the future?

Michel Yavercovski: Actually economics tell us otherwise.

We’re committed to both product lines and have no plans to make them into a single video editing product.

VideoStudio and Pinnacle Studio are both exceptional and loved by their users.

Each has characteristics that appeal to a certain kind of video editor.

Plus, they’re each a market leader in different markets around the world.

Yes, you may see some shared development between the products, for example with the multi-camera editor, but they will remain separate product lines that will stay true to the needs of their particular audiences.

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 So there you have it and judging by my preliminary testing of the program over the past few days it seems Corel have managed a remarkable turnaround for Pinnacle Studio and managed to teach the old dog a few new tricks on the process.

Click Here to take a look at what’s new in Pinnacle Studio 20

Posted in Blog

The Friday Roundup – Having a Plan, Histograms and Pro Editing Tips

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Brainstorming, Shooting, and Posting Videos

There is one factor that generally sets apart many of the successful users on YouTube when it comes to viewing numbers and subscriptions.

That factor is that for the most part they look like they just up and had an idea for a video, or just appeared suddenly to do a video and then proceeded to naturally deliver that video in an entirely informal and friendly manner.

It’s almost as if they just popped around for a cup of coffee and a chat and happened to provide some interesting conversation in the process!

Well of course the truth is that they work nothing like that!

They plan down to the last detail every aspect of the video both before and after the shoot and they know well in advance as to what they are going to do and how.

For a great “behind the scenes” type video on this check out the one below from Tim Schmoyer.

He goes into great detail about the entire process from start to finish and if you think that’s a lot of stuff remember he doesn’t even cover the uploading and optimization part of the process.

It takes good solid planning to remain that relevant and appear that natural.

Histogram Help: Two Minute Tips with David Bergman

In the video shooting tips world I wanted to include the video below because it has a very simple and applicable explanation of using a histogram for shooting video.

These days a lot of people are using MILCs or DSLRs for their video projects especially at the amateur enthusiast level.

This means that not only do we have the possibility of capturing higher quality images we also have the ability to exercise a great deal more control over the process at the time of shooting.

One feature that just about any decent camera for video will have is a histogram.

Understanding what it is and how to use it in the wild can take the quality of your shots over the top if you know what you are doing.

Keep in mind that if you shoot a scene that has dark shadows and strong light the camera set on automatic will give you an “average” of that scene.

In post production you can adjust sections of the image and get “OK” results.

If you do exactly the same thing but instead use the histogram to get the best possible “average” then again, you can fix it in post only this time with noticeably better results.

Check out the video, get out your cam, find the histogram and go out to use it. You will be surprised at the lift in quality you can get.

Tips for more Professional Editing

This is another of the assets I found this week covering little editing tricks and tips probably covered elsewhere.

The beauty of this video is that as the presenter is going through each of the tips he is giving very clear examples in the video itself as to what effect is achieved each time you do it one way or another.

GoPro: Introducing Omni

OK, nothing really to learn here except for a little wow factor.

This is a new product from GoPro that captures 360 degree video that you can use in projects or create virtual reality videos with.

It is essentially 6 GoPro’s mounted into an aluminium sphere but the real awesomeness of it comes at the processing stage.

It has a small onboard processing unit that not only records all six cams at once to achieve the 360 effect but also stitches them together on the fly so when you are finished, you can just load it on to a computer and watch it.

The resulting files you get are also pretty cool because you get an overall file that is the result of all six video being combined but also each individual file from each cam is also loaded.

This opens up a whole world of editing opportunities with crazy cuts that can be done of exactly the same action but from different perspectives.

On top of all of that thing thing can record in 8K video which although is probably overkill at the moment is still a rather impressive feat.

The downside?

Well at the consumer level the big editing companies like CyberLink and Magix have enabled their software to accept this kind of footage and you can use single camera angles to put into your projects but the ability to editing purely in 360 is still a ways off.

Using Closeups

There are two resources on this site you can access easily that cover the subject of editing videos in a little more detail.

The first of these simply covers some basics and can be found here at the Video Editing Basics page.

That article is about two pages long and is a good beginning to the subject once you have played around with your editing software for a while.

The second resource is located here at the Free Video Editing Report and that report is a pretty comprehensive look at the subject in far more detail.

Bear in mind that nothing on this site is aimed at the pro level of things because:

a. I am not a pro myself (I just know some!) and

b.) there are lots of sites on the internet that cover the subject from a far more advanced perspective.

The reason I am saying all of this is that just because you have perhaps read and applied everything I have to offer on the subject doesn’t mean you have it all covered!

That’s why from week to week I keep looking for anything I can find that you can use to further your understanding of the process or learn some new tricks.

In light of that I have a couple of good articles and videos this week from established users who don’t really introduce anything not covered before.

But because they do so from their own personal perspectives they are well worth watching.

The first one below is a discourse on the subject of using close up shots interspersed with your footage to achieve certain effects.

The article also has quite a few video embedded in it that give great examples of the sort of thing they are talking about.

Posted in Blog

The Friday Roundup – Animated GIFs, Organizing Your Assets and Effects Tips

editing-stress-YOP

Hold the Bus!

This is a vital yet incredibly boring factor of editing you must get under control if you want to edit smoothly and not go nuts in the process.

There many things a professional video editor is going to be doing in his or her editing process that simply do not translate to the world of amatuer or simple video editing.

On the other hand there are things that they do, and steps they follow that have evolved over time which are applicable to all editing situations.

Probably the one that fits this description the best is that of getting organized.

It only takes a few attempts at your first editing project to soon descend into the madness of trying to locate the assets you are going to use in that project.

In no time at all you find yourself loading and viewing little clips and opening and closing images and generally going around and around in circles trying to find the stuff you want or worse, finding stuff you meant to include after you have almost finished!

Imagine how it is for a pro editor trying to edit together your average Hollywood blockbuster!

You would think for them it is a nightmare but it’s not, because they are organized BEFORE they even start.

There is a link below that gives a pretty good outline as to how you can get all your assets sorted but prior to this you need to complete a few steps that have nothing to do with actual editing.

First, you need to learn inside and out how the library section of whatever software you are using works.

How to create folders how to show all folders or files of a particular type and how to create a folder hierarchy.

The second thing you need to do after that is not just import your video, audio and image files into the correctly marked folders but to re-name them as well.

Most files regardless of video, audio or image will have absolutely meaningless names when you first pull them on to your computer.

By renaming them in a meaningful way you will be able to quickly identify the file you need by their names showing in the library.

Remember that the thumbnail for any video is going to be generated based on the first few frames of any video file.

This may or in most cases, may not actually give you any idea as to the contents of that video file.

Images are a little easier but audio definitely will not have any visual reference other than the file name that you can go by.

Once you have all of that under control you can then start creating the right folders for the project and import those files.

How to Create Animated Gifs for your YouTube Videos

Great video I wanted to include this week from Derral Eves who is one of the people I follow for all the skinny on YouTube.

This week he is possibly stepping a little outside the “strictly for YouTube” genre and covers how to create a GIF.

Although Derral approaches the subject from the point of view of creating Gifs for the promotion of YouTube videos as is his speciality, the video can be applied elsewhere.

 A few of the major video editing software brands now include the ability to export to gif but you are looking for a super quick way to create one then some of the online services really can’t be beaten.

This especially applies if there is a property on YouTube you want to use.

Instead of trying to download the video off YouTube the online services simple get you to enter the URL of the video and they automatically pull it in.

From there it is just a matter of selecting the segment you want to use for the GIF and you are pretty well done.

Anyway, take a look at the video and see how simple it really is plus he offer three alternative sites you can go to.

PowerDirector Effect Room Tutorial

On the plus side, the better video editing programs at the consumer or amateur level these days are amazingly powerful and feature packed.

On the downside, you have to provide access to all those features somewhere on the user interface.

This is a downside because if you actually showed everything on the interface it would just be a mess of buttons and icons to click with no space left for the library or the video!

So the way most of the designers of video editing software approach this is to provide access to separate modules or to separate groups of effects or features.

Once you hit those buttons an entirely new set of possibilities opens up.

This of course has to be the trade off if the public are going to be demanding more and more features to consider the software to be attractive.

I can remember quite some time ago working on a project and for no reason at all decided to click on an icon I hadn’t clicked on before.

I was shocked to find that what appeared to be a completely new program opened up with knobs and dials and switches and heaven knows what else sitting in front of me!

I had no idea what it was for and obviously no idea how to use it!

So one of the things that would encourage everyone to do is to open and use your editor (whatever it is) regularly to create projects or to just have a play with the basics of importing, editing and the setups for rendering.

Once you have done that go to whatever the site is that you bought it from and check some tutorials (they all have them now).

Find something that catches your eye, check it out then at home open that feature up and give it a spin, you never know what you may find!

The video below is a little intro into the word of the Effects Room in PowerDirector but all software has something like this tucked away somewhere!

Audio Tips

In the past few weeks I have received a number of audio related questions and the general line they have taken is that of “how to fix my audio.”

In just about every case the person asking the question was trying to correct something in post production that should never have occurred in the first place.

Now of course just saying “you should have done it right in the first place” doesn’t really help much but the reality is that at the consumer level there always only going to be so much you can do in software to correct these mistakes.

The real handling for this situation is to learn what you can fix in post production for sure but in the meantime it is vital that anyone wanting to create video projects has to get up to pace on audio.

There are not really that many things you need to learn if you compare it to video or photography and the application of just a few simple things can ensure you don’t get into hot water to begin with.

YouTube for Vlogging Tips

I received an email this week from a site called Vloggingpro.com.

They were pointing out they have an updated list of tips for vlogging on YouTube.

Now it’s not unusual for me to get a lot of emails like this because factually they are usually thinly veiled attempts to get me to refer (with a link) to a site that basically has crap content or no content at all and is in fact generally worthless.

Much to my surprise the not only was the email polite in tone but also was actually directing my attention to an excellent article with heaps of information.

The world of vlogging on YouTube or even just getting videos online on YouTube requires constant attention to details.

Things like profile optimization, channel optimization and video optimization provide what seems to be an endless list of “things to do” in order to garner any attention on that service.

On top of the sheer number of things you have to do you then have to factor in that these points are in a constant state of flux.

Something vital to do last week is this week just “nice to have.”

Or something not really necessary this week is next week’s vital point that you simply must do.

Anyhoo the link below goes to their article which is a pretty current list of 71 points to consider when you are using YouTube and want to have more people than your family and friends to see your videos.

The site itself is aimed at the subject of vlogging but the tips they provide apply across the board.

Free Image Resources

I don’t know about anyone else but I am constantly on the lookout for free images to use in my projects.

Although you can just do a Google search for images, the problem is that if those images haven’t specifically been cleared for use then you may run into copyright problems.

Obviously you can filter any images found by “Usage Rights” to be sure but generally doing this tends to eliminate almost all of the good images.

This isn’t because you can’t use them, it because the images have not been given any usage attribution at all.

The way around this is to go to dedicated image sites where you know clearly what you can and cannot do with the images there and of course you want the free ones right!

There are many, many of these sites around but unfortunately many of them are not really based on any kind of sustainable business model.

This results in them popping up and then disappearing quite quickly or being hosted on servers so slow you just give up anyway.

This week I came across an excellent blog post over on Buffer that lists out about 50 image sites where you can get assets to safely use in your projects.

Most require a sign up of some description but really that’s a small price to pay for the knowledge that the images you are using are perfectly OK to use.

Posted in Blog

The Friday Roundup – Corel VideoStudio Updates, Pinnacle News and More

VideoStudio-pro-X9.5-update

News from Corel this week that they have just released a mid-version update for their end-to-end video editing software suite, VideoStudio.

Most editing software makers release a major version each year and supplement that version with intermittant hotfixes and patches throughout the year until the next version is released.

For a couple of years now Corel has been doing things a little differently.

Just so we are all on the same page, a hotfix is generally a small update to the existing version that is issued when a specific bug has been isolated and reproduced enough times to qualify as a bug.

Very often hotfixes are released because despite everyone’s best efforts someone managed to do something or have a computer setup that wasn’t forseen.

On top of hotfixes we also have patches.

Patches or Service Packs are generally issued after the program has been released into the wild for a while and various little niggles have arisen.

They are often the result of outside factors changing such as file protocols, operating system updates and other hardware and software glitches.

The fixes for these are gathered into one update and issued as a patch or a Servise Pack.

Corel used to do this just like everyone else but over the past few years have added a little mid-year bonus to the arrangement.

So the announcement this week was that VideoStudio Pro has been updated from version X9 to X9.5.

They have added 40 more templates to the MyDVD module to enhance the creation of professional looking DVD menus and screens.

The Motion Tracking module has had the underlying engine enhanced to improve its performance as well as the usual fixws for other bugs and glitches that may have come to light.

Additionally they have made significant improvements to the Multi-Cam editing module (not that it really needed it) with smoother zooming performance, better syncrhronization of clips and a new source manager to make using it easier.

The important thing to note here is that none of these enhancements have been introduced because the existing module or function wasn’t working.

Corel could have just sat on them until the new version release much later in the year… but they didn’t.

This goes a long way in understanding why I like this software and why it has been one of my top choices for a few years now.

Pinnacle Studio Back from the Dead

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One of the things that a lot of people have commented on regarding this site is that I haven’t included a number of well know video editing software brands in the Video Editing Software Reviews section of the site.

Probably the biggest elephant in the room is Pinnacle Studio.

Given the sheer size of the Pinnacle Studio market share one would think that it would be a no brainer for me to include it here.

So here’s the deal.

When video editing became accessible to the masses with the advent of digital video files there were a few early software makers that jumped on the bandwagon and started development.

Most of these developers saw the market as being strictly for the pro’s given that at the time you needed access to expensive equipment to record the files and a computer with a decent amount of grunt to then edit them.

As a result the major players tended to aim their products at the pro end of the market and this gave rise to products like Avid , Creative Software’s editor that later became Sony Creative Vegas, Adobe’s Premiere Pro and others.

There were a few developers that attempted to approach the subject from the consumer point of view and easily the most successful in that market was Pinnacle Studio.

Now just because everyone bought that early software doeasn’t necessarily mean it was any good.

In fact it was awful!

The great difficulty for Pinnacle was that it was in a new and very rapidly developing digital area.

The Windows operating systems of the time were barely able to deal with a whole range of required processes and really, it was a case of everyone stumbling around trying to make it all work.

As the years passed more competitors entered the market, Windows improved significantly and very soon Pinnacle found itself falling behind.

Why?

The answer to that mainly lies in the fact that Pinnacle was based on concepts derived from the world of professional film editing which was a far cry from the market they were targeting.

It was an attempt to kind of “dumb down” existing methods rather than approach the subject from the perspective of the target market.

Sony did the same thing when they tried to develop a simpler version of Vegas for the consumer market and it wasn’t until they separated Sony Move Editor into it’s own development stream that they made any real progress.

Pinnacle also suffered from a lack of resources to aggressively redevelop the underlying code of the software to match the ever changing environments in which it was operating.

The result of all of this was that Pinnacle became known as being buggy, crashy and notoriously unreliable.

In the past I have revisted the software a few times to check what the stae of it was and found that nothing had really changed all that much with it.

So that’s why it has never made it on to this site.

A few years back Pinnacle was bought by Avid and I am guessing that Avid could see the potential in the consumer end of the market and figured Pinnacle would be a good foot in the door for them.

In hindsight this was a pretty dumb move because in order to get Pinnacle up and running it was always going to take two major factors.

First of these was that the software needed to be fully stipped down and rebuilt.

This takes time and money and I don’t think Avid were either in a positoin to do it or had the desire to do it.

The second factor was that the abovementioned stripping and rebuilding would have to be done with a sharp insight into the consumer market as opposed to the pro market.

Avid clearly did not have this and just buying an existing piece of software is not going to get that expertise for you.

Simply put it was a deal that was doomed from the outset.

Cut to a few years later when Avid had realized the error of their ways in buying Pinnacle and along came Corel ready to snap it up, which they did.

The aquisition of Pinnacle from Avid by Corel happened back in 2012 so it has been with some interest that I have been following their progress with the software.

Initially Corel looked to be engaging in putting out brushfires with their various new releases and patches for the software most likely in an effort to get it stable.

Whay they were also doing at the same time was swapping out parts of the software and relacing it with whole sections of their already stable VideoStudio product.

To this day Pinnacle still shares a some of its functionality with VideoStudio.

It was probably around the time of their last new version that something became quite clear about how Corel were going to be moving forward with it.

Some major rewrites occurred and most importantly the style of the software was contiuing to remain the same.

This showed the Corel saw Pinnacle as a product unto itself and were not going to be eventually merging it and it’s user base into their existing VideoStudio user base.

Because of that and because of the substantial development in the software has undergone I have decided to take a fresh look at Pinnacle Studio to see where we are.

Right now they are lining up for a major new release so when that happens I’ll be taking a look at it with fresh eyes and we shall see just we we are with Pinnacle.

Stay tuned!

6 Elements of Boosting Engagement in your Online Community

 There was a time way back in the dark ages of the interwebs that all you had to do to get a gazillion views and followers on YouTube was to actually make a video and upload it.

Sadly those days are long, long gone!

These days YouTube has grown into an absolute behemoth as far as the number of uploaded videos goes and the rate at which new video is being uploaded doesn’t look like slowing down any time in the foreseeable future.

YouTube is just not what it was back in the day!

This certainly doesn’t mean that the rewards available from that service are completely out of reach but it does mean you have to be bringing your A game to the party to get anywhere.

There is a finite list of things you simply must attend to in order to lift yourself in the ranks of “everybody else!”

To get above that level, which is where you need to be you have to cover that exact same list with the difference being that you do it better.

This applies to the content you create, the way you present it, your video and channel optimization and your promotion.

You not only have to do it, you have to do it better.

One aspect of this that is becoming more and more important as time passes and the volume of videos increases is engagement.

If you have a million (not an exaggeration) possible videos that YouTube can serve up to a user based on a search then YouTube has to find a way of sorting them all out into some kind of importance.

It used to be that your optimization steps would do the trick but now that probably only eliminates about 500,000 of those results!

So now we still have 500,000 to sort so YouTube has placed particular attention on how much interaction your videos and your channel are getting to work out who goes on top.

One of the best sources of information I know of for learning the ins and outs of YouTube is Tim Schmoyer of Video Creators and this week’s video is no exception.

Learning Camera Basics for Video

To a very great extent most of us in the world of the amateur video shooter and editor are trapped in point and shoot mode.

This is mainly through necessity rather than a lack of desire to do otherwise.

The average person shooting video these days does not have the luxury of time to set up a shot, adjust the manual settings of the camera and still get the footage they want.

You can do this possibly to a small degree for some shots at family events or similar but let’s face it, most of the time we are just banging away in point and shoot mode in a desperate attempt to get enough footage to be able to later piece something together.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should give up on the idea altogether though! In fact if you can manage to grab some manually setup footage and incorporate it into your auto stuff you can really get a lift in the appearance of any project you are engaged in.

The key to being able to do this is that you have to know at least a few basic settings and setups and you need to know how to arrive at them fast.

If you can pull someone aside at an event or gathering and do a fast accurate take of a conversation, or a simple shot or someone answering a question you are well on the way.

Of course as I said earlier, the key to it is being fast and in order to get fast you need to be able to manually set things up and execute with seed.

There are two steps to doing this.

The first step is knowing cold what the basic manual settings are of the camera you are using and what effect each one achieves.

And the second is practicing over and over how to get to those settings, lock them in and set up your shot.

Below is a link to a video cheat sheet from Tom Antos covering some of these things.

You don’t have to learn all of them before you start.

Just take one setting.

Understand what it does and then go out and practice shifting from Auto mode to manual, getting the setting right and then getting the shot.

Once you get one under your belt, move on to another and another.

Pretty soon you will have a little box of tricks that can take your videos from mundane point and shoot projects up to a higher level.

Posted in Blog

The Friday Roundup – Animated Fonts, Audio Tips and Free Autocue

audio-argument-top

Sounds OK to Me!

Like most things these days audio for video is a subject that is covered extensively all over the place on the internet.

Actually, that’s the problem!

The information is all over the place.

This wild confusion of information and “stuff” we call the internet certainly has everything we need to know, it’s the finding it part that’s really hard.

So, this week I was pleased to come across a full page resource on the subject of recording good audio over on the Techsmith blog.

As many a newbie has discovered the hard way, you just can’t underestimate the importance of audi in any of your video projects no matter the style or purpose.

Techsmith are the makers of Camtasia for screen recording but even if you are not a Camtasia reader their blog often has very informative and very well put together tutorials on a range of video editing and shooting subjects.

PIP Designer Tutorial

One of the most difficult tasks faced by video editing software designers at the moment is finding a balance between presenting a clean and understandable user interface while at the same time providing access to the myriad features the software offers.

The result of this is a modern design philosophy of not overwhelming the user (especially the new one) with an interface that looks like the control panel of the space shuttle!

Interfaces that look like that are more than enough to scare any potential user away!

So the trick these days is that everything is hidden away from sight and it is only when you go digging that you really begin to understand just how sophisticated this software has become at the consumer level.

I have included the video below for two reasons.

The first being that it gives a great overview and run through of what you can do with the PiP designer in PowerDirector and how to do it.

Bear in mind that something similar exists in just about every fully loaded consumer level video editor although it will look a little different.

The second reason I included it was to provide an excellent example of how the real power of the modern video editor is actually tucked away inside modules you need to click on to access.

If you follow the video you see it starts with just a few assets on the timeline then by clicking on one button it is almost as if an entirely new world of features and choices opens up in an instant.

Animated Fonts

Easily one of the best ways to add a little zing to your projects is to add some animated fonts to any regular or explanatory titles you are adding to a project.

Most video editors come with quite extensive tools for both adding and custom animating fonts for you projects.

The only real hassle is that you have to learn how to do it in the first place and then spend the time fiddling about getting the font to do what you want.

An even worse case scenario is that you have absolutely no design skills or ideas!

Fear not!

In this case I find that the best thing to do is to steal someone else’s animated font. Easy!

OK, maybe it’s best not to actually steal stuff and in fact you don’t really have to.

Just do a search on Google or your search engine of choice for “free animated fonts” and you will get a gazillion (yes! That’s a number!) results offering free fonts for your editing pleasure.

Both static and animated fonts come in a standardized form so you can usually import them directly into your video editing software of choice and edit away.

Here’s a page with a list of a few to get you started:

Autocue on Cue!

So we all pretty well know the term Autocue and what it means.

Just in case some of you don’t it’s that system of playing text in front of an onscreen speaker so that he or she can read it to the camera and look totally natural while doing it.

At its professional level the text is displayed on a transparent screen that sits in front of the camera so the speaker looks like they are looking directly at the audience and not to one side reading.

Interestingly even though we all use the term autocue to describe this, autocue is actually a brand name and the name of the company that first developed the system.

There are lots of tutorials on YouTube for how to set up your own autocue system to use in your video projects but you still need software to enter and then scroll back the text you want to read.

This week Autocue announced that their basic level software system would be made free to download for anyone using a Windows operating system.

Bear in mind that the autocue system is not just the software although the software is a vital part of it.

It also requires a setup with a camera and a means by which to present the text on a screen at the right eye level and direction to give that “naturally speaking to the audience” feel.

Background Music

I came across this interesting site this week offering tailor made music tracks for video projects.

Most of the better video editing software programs come with at the very least a library of music tracks to can choose from to add to your projects and that in itself is fine.

Some others like Corel VideoStudio and CyberLink PowerDirector offer integration with SmartSound Quicktracks on top of the basic stock tracks although the Corel product allows you access to a lot more tracks than PowerDirector.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, SmartSound is a library of generic music tracks covering an incredibly wide range of styles and moods for music to add to projects.

What sets it apart is that the music itself is not just a straight music track.

The music sits “in” the software addon so you can select the track, make a number of adjustments to how it should play and then also tell the software where you want it to start and finish.

The software then not only tailors the track to your preferences regarding style and feel but also renders the track to the exact length you want.

This doesn’t mean it just cuts the music when the required amount of time has passed, it actually “winds up” the track so that the music sounds as though it was written to end at the point.

So, back to the original subject of the site I found!

Its called Jukedeck and is an online interface that offers to create various types of background music depending on your choice of style and a preselected duration.

You can use the service for free as long as you give them some kind of credit in your project or you can pay them $0.99c for each track.

Posted in Blog

The Friday Roundup – Video Stabilization, Frame Rates and Black Bars

Camera shake stabilizers in editing software

Video Editing Software Stabilization Modules

Video stabilization is on feature of video editing software that has been around for a while yet over the past few years has seen an increasing demand from people buying that software.

That increased demand can easily be put down to the fact that people are shooting more and more shaky video as time goes by but the question is why.

Why is it that all of a sudden our videos have become so inherently shaky that this feature has become so elevated in the minds of the buyer?

The answer to that comes down to two main factors.

The first is that we are mostly shooting in high definition these days and the problem with HD is that although we have sharper, more faithfully reproduced images, we also have sharper more faithfully reproduced errors!

A slightly out of focus standard definition shot still looked ok when played back on a DVD or online.

A slightly out of focus HD clip looks awful no matter how you look at it.

The same goes for camera shake.

A little shake in SD doesn’t really distract the audience too much but the same amount of shake in high definition can be bad enough to have the audience puking in the aisles if the screen is big enough!

So that’s the first reason video stabilizers have become such and in demand feature.

The second reason is a little more subtle and has to do with the way we are shooting our videos.

If you go back to the dark old days of standard definition again you will find that just about all video that was eventually seen by an audience of any kind was shot on a camcorder or dedicated video camera.

No-one really used phones or even still cameras to shoot video because quite simply the quality was so bad and the resolution so small that it was virtually useless.

The only way to get any decent quality was at the very least to use a consumer level camcorder and because of that you pretty well had to use the viewfinder on that camcorder.

Flip out screens came later but even then people still tended to use the viewfinder because that’s what they were used to.

Now the viewfinder itself was no sure path to steady video but what it did force was a shooting technique far more suited to getting steady footage.

You had to hold the camera to your face in position otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see what you were shooting.

This in turn meant that you had to keep your elbows tucked in to your body to keep the camera positioned correctly with the final result being much steadier footage.

These days most people do nothing like that.

The most common shooting devices are either phones or still cameras and invariably they have a large screen facing the shooter with which to frame what is being shot.

That means you have the device positioned away from your body, arms outstretched in front of you.

This results in both the arm movement caused by that position and any body movement getting added together in a sort of compounding way to make camera shake almost inevitable.

The end product of all of this is that the average person, instead of trying to correct the situation at the shooting stage, figures they can correct it at the post production stage.

Unfortunately even though stabilization modules have made great advances, you can’t fix everything and usually anything you do fix comes at a price.

That price is most commonly degradation in the quality of the image due to the enormous recalculations that have to go on to achieve the stabilizing effect.

We all get lured into ways of thinking about what is possible and what is not possible in many fields by the marketing that goes along with whatever it is we are doing.

Software is probably one of the worst offenders when it comes to this.

When the market research department for a video editing software maker sees there is a demand for video stabilization a call goes to the R&D guys to get onto it.

The R&D guys come up with something but are restricted by both budget and available technology.

In other words there is only so much they can do!

The marketing department then goes hog wild extolling the virtues of their new product but the reality is it can only do what it can do!

The consumer sees this marketing and figures it is the answer to his dreams and to some degree it is, but that same consumer is still only fixing a problem that didn’t really need to have occurred in the first place.

When the marketing says you can fix your errors in the software “just like the pro’s” it is a lie!

The “pro’s” never intentionally get themselves into the position where they need to correct basic shooting errors in the first place.

That’s why they are “pro’s!”

So the answer to all of this is quite simple.

When you are shooting footage be aware that you are shooting footage and keep you device as still as possible.

When you can, use a tripod, if that’s not on then use a monopod, if that’s not possible use a handheld stabilizer.

Failing that, be the Meryl Streep of video shooting and BE the tripod!

Tuck your elbows into your sides so that any time you are following the action you follow with your whole body, not with your arms flapping around and your body following!

If possible stabilize yourself against something like a wall or a lamppost or a car or anything available.

How to get rid of Black Bars

One problem that arises quite often for some people is that of mismatched frame sizes within a video project.

By this I mean you want to create a video project at a particular resolution but need to include footage that has been recorded at a different resolution than that of the project.

This is especially true when trying to mix standard 4:3 aspect ratio footage in a wide screen project or when adding game play footage recorded at an uncommon resolution or aspect ratio.

Now the easy fix in cases such as this is if the added footage is actually larger than the project.

In this case it is simple a matter of downsizing that footage to the project size or just cropping it to fit.

The reverse situation where the added footage is at a different aspect ration or a lower resolution is not so simple.

The most down and dirty way of doing it is to simply stretch the footage to fit the new size but this always ends with the footage being either distorted or suffering from a loss of quality or both.

In the video below the user gives a quite simple solution to the problem by adding a layer behind the smaller footage that blends in without distracting and to me is quite a good low tech trade off to deal with this situation.

More on Video Parameters – Frame Rates

This is the second in a series of article written over on the Premiumbeat blog loosely covering the subject of video parameters.

This week they tackle frame rates giving an interesting insight into the background stories that led us to the frame rates we have today.

They also go into the differing effects frame rates can have on audience perception both in the shooting of the footage and the playback.

The article itself leans a little more towards the movie frame rate aspect of things rather than what we would call the video side of things but it is an interesting read all the same.

Posted in Blog

The Friday Roundup – Bitrates, Mono to Stereo and Magix FAQ’s

cbr-or-vbr

What Bitrates Should I be Using?

One of the never ending subjects that come up in the course of creating any video projects is that of the parameters at which one is supposed to be outputting their video files.

The recommended frame rates, video file types, codecs, resolution and bitrates always seem to be changing and the reason for that is that both the parameters at which the videos are being captured are changing and the parameters at which they are being distributed is also changing.

If you look at the current recommended settings at which a video should be uploaded to YouTube and compare it to a few years back you begin to get an idea.

Whilst most video editing software comes with a decent set of pre-set parameters to cover most situations, that really doesn’t beat having a good understanding of some of the settings and what they mean.

A good one to start off with is the question of bit rates.

Bitrate simply describes how many bits (pieces of digital information) is being used to display one second of video.

The higher the bitrate the higher the image quality but also the larger the file.

So this presents the first decision point, how to get the best quality at a file size that suits the distribution method.

It is generally on this point of bitrates including whether you need a variable or constant bitrate that the real fun begins.

This especially applies to producing DVDs where a user buys a commercial DVD with a full length movie on it, complicated menu system, a bunch of alternate language tracks, a blooper reel and a “how the movie was made” feature and can’t understand why they can’t fit the kids party onto one disc!

Check out the article below for an introduction to the subject of bitrates.

5 Tips for Shaping Light

I find the guys at Film Riot to be annoying.

However they also happen to create some pretty informative content on the subject of making videos even if it does lean a little towards more commercial applications.

The video below covers the subject of light and doesn’t go into it from a what you need point of view.

In other words you are not going to sit through a bunch of stuff you cannot apply because you are not going to go out and buy a bunch of professional lights.

This is just a good grounding in how you can use available light with minimal equipment to create better images in your video projects.

Mono to Stereo Tutorial

Oftentimes you may find yourself working with an audio track which for some reason has only been recorded in mono.

Even though when videos are recorded using normal devices, they are in stereo it is not really “true” stereo sound.

It is simply the same sound recorded to two tracks.

Stereo sound has been recorded in such a way that it to some degree recreates the way you would hear normally with different sounds assigned to the left and right channels.

So even though your audio may have a left and right channel it is still not real stereo.

Having said that, mono sound recorded to two channels is still a step up from mono just coming out of one set of speakers!

So, if you do have a mono track there is a very simple way you can clone whatever channel you have across to the other (empty) channel to at least give you a balanced sound.

Check the video below for a step through of the process but remember that even though it is being done in the simple audio editor that comes with CyberLink PowerDirector, the exact same steps can be done with any rudimentary audio editing software.

For a free audio editor checkout Audacity.

Update from Magix on Their Sony Creative Purchases

A few weeks back I reported on the joint announcement from Magix and Sony Creative that Magix had acquired the majority of the Sony Creative product line including all iterations of Sony Vegas and Sony Movie Studio.

The deal included most of the other software Sony had been developing as well.

As can be imagined this to some degree set the cat amongst the pigeons in the Vegas, Movie Studio universe with all sorts of “end of the world as we know it” predictions.

The reality has turned out to be far more mundane as I would have thought.

Sheer commonsense would tell you Magix are not going to buy an entire product line then promptly alienate the user base of those products!

So in answer to many of the common questions that have arisen here is link to an FAQ put out by Magix laying out the timeline for changeover and what existing users can expect to happen.

How’s This for a Busy Timeline!

One of the questions that seem to come up when someone relatively new starts looking for video editing software is, “How many editing tracks does the software have?”

Now on the surface this seems to be a fairly sensible thing to ask up to a point but when you consider that most of the top contenders have up to 99 tracks available you then have to look at why you would need that number.

The reality at the consumer level of video editing is that realistically you probably need a track for video and another for overlays or picture-in-picture stuff and maybe one more for something I haven’t thought of yet.

Another for images, one more for music backgrounds and another for any voice over’s you want to record and add.

So far we are up to five so let’s just double that for fun and safety to get a total of ten.

Without checking every software recommendation on this site I think that puts us still well under the one with the least number of tracks available.

So if you are trying to work out which video editing software you need there is one clear point that you can pretty much ignore: The number of editing tracks the software offers!

You can shut your eyes and play pin the tail on the software and on this point still come up smelling like roses.

This brings me to the more operational aspect of having that almost limitless number of tracks available.

The average full budget Hollywood movie type production is going have a bewildering number of tracks being used at any point in the movie’s editing process.

But you see that’s the domain of the professional editor, the guy that really knows what he is doing in order to produce the kind of thing you go to the movies to see.

For the amateur editor, once you start going beyond what I outlined earlier in this piece it will only be a very short hop from a simple and watchable video to a confusing awful mess once you start adding more and more assets to more and more tracks.

The key here is to keep it simple!

So you can get an idea of just how intricate the editing in a Hollywood timeline gets take a look at the link below. Once there click on the image and then click again to see it full screen. That’s a seriously busy timeline!

Posted in Blog

The Friday Roundup – Faster Editing, Slow Motion Tips and the End of Bolex

End of life for the digital bolex cinema camera.

The End of the Digital Bolex

Sad news this week on the camera front with Bolex announcing the end of their production of the Digital Bolex camera they released a while back.

The original Bolex cameras were 16mm film cameras that were much loved by those who used them.

The reason for that was that they represented a logical step up for would be filmmakers that afforded almost cinema quality images on film stock that didn’t instantaneously empty your pockets.

There are many big time Hollywood directors who cut their teeth on a Bolex.

Eventually those film versions were discontinued and everyone figured that was the end for the Bolex.

However a few years back it was resurrected through a crowdfunding campaign aimed at producing a digital version of the original cameras.

That resulted very quickly in the production of the Digital Bolex and again the camera found a small and enthusiastic group of users.

Unfortunately for a number of technical and economic reasons that little experiment has come to a close and it highlights just how hard it is in the tech field to come up with a new and interesting concept.

I never used a Bolex and I probably never would have but to me the sad part of this is that the Bolex is another project that came from an almost total dedication to quality and to provide the things that filmmakers really wanted in a camera.

It wasn’t the product of a technical team working with a marketing team inside the strict economic confines of a publicly traded company.

It was a pure love story and it’s always sad to see something like that come to an end.

How to Edit Faster

In both the Free Guide to Video Editing you can get on this site and in the Editing Tips section I mention one particular trick to get you editing lifted out of the sometime painfully tedious task it often is.

That tip is to learn to use the keyboard shortcuts all video editors have rather than constantly pointing and clicking using your mouse.

One of the first things you are going to notice about your editing is that although you are sitting there making all sorts of fabulous creative decisions, what you are really doing is repeating the same steps over and over.

By “steps” I mean the same actions using the mouse and the interface.

Pretty soon you will notice that there are a set of very basic steps you repeat far more often than others.

It is these actions that are best handled by a keyboard shortcut and in fact if you check out your own video editor you may find they are already set up.

The main difficulty with using the keyboard is that before it gets better, it gets worse!

When you first start editing it doesn’t take very long before you begin to commit many actions to memory and they become sort of second nature regardless of whether they are efficient or not.

Any attempt to change those patterns can get a little frustrating because for a time you will automatically go for the old way, have to stop yourself and go to the new way.

It really is worth the time to get these shortcuts set because in the long run you will save so much time by using them.

Up until now I have generally advised people to learn the existing shortcuts your program has by default and add any as you go along.

However in the video below the Frugal Filmmaker outlines what I think to be a very smart way of setting up shortcuts based on one position for the left hand and using the right hand for the mouse as most of us already do.

Check it out and see if it makes sense to you.

Just bear in mind that any change to you set up will always feel totally uncomfortable and totally counter-intuitive at the beginning but of you stick with it I think it will work for you.

Selling Your Stock Footage

With the introduction of a wide range of video devices that can capture quite remarkable high definition footage there is perhaps one little “hobby” you may be interested in.

Just about everyone these days has access to some kind of video recording device that captures in high definition.

That pretty much puts everyone into the position of being able to sell their footage online.

There has always been a market for stock footage even going back to the early days of cinema.

In those days the studios had teams going out all the time taking stock footage of various things to be later used in either newsreel footage or the b-grade serials and fluff pieces played before the main feature at the cinema.

Then with the introduction of TV this expanded until finally today we have numerous ways in which video is being produced, distributed and watched.

All the while the market for stock footage has increased.

So in light of that, why aren’t you selling stock footage!

Check out the link below to see if this might be an interesting second income stream you may be interested in.

Slow Motion Shooting Tips

One of the confusions many people have with shooting slow motion video is that in order to get a good result you really have to shoot faster and not slower!

If you take a video clip shot at normal speed you at say 25 frames per second this will look perfectly fine at normal speed.

However if you want to display that footage in slow motion you run into big problems because now you are somehow trying to get those 25 frames per second to last longer than a second.

The resulting “stretching out” of the existing video information generally results in significant degradation of the image.

The real way to shoot slow motion is to shoot at very high frames rates so that when the footage is slowed down there is an abundance of video information available to both the editing and playback software.

That’s how cameras like the GoPro can manage to capture amazing slow motion footage in high definition.

They simply use extremely high frames rates for shooting.

Once you have wrapped your head around that concept the next step is to understand what inherent problems there are in shooting at those high frame rates.

Considerations regarding lighting and other more “photographic” things come into play.

So to get yourself up to speed on shooting for slow motion check out the video below for some great starting tips.

Product Videos

I am including a link to the article below this week even though It is kind of out of the realms of beginning video shooting.

The title itself is pretty accurate however the information contained within it it can be read a little differently.

Basically it is a tutorial on shooting video for products but in truth it is actually a tutorial on how to shoot video of objects.

I know that early on in my path to shooting and editing video there came a time when I needed some footage of an object (a camcorder actually) and it took me forever to work out how to make that thing look good.

I wasn’t trying to promote the product or anything like that but what I soon discovered was that just placing it on a table and shooting it didn’t get particularly good results.

In fact the thing looked terrible!

It wasn’t until I got the lighting sorted out that I managed to get footage that was usable.

Posted in Blog

The Friday Roundup – YouTube Tips, Looking Good on Video and Recording Audio

The importance of presenting appropriately on video.

Keeping Up Appearances

One thing I see a lot of in many online videos are video projects that are pretty good in what they are presenting but they fall down on some very simple points that are easy to fix.

Given that video is a visual experience you would think that people would be aware of the need to appear a certain way.

Just as much as the video itself has to be clear and looking good, anyone that appears in that video should also be prepped to continue in that vein.

If you are looking at a guy demonstrating a cooking technique and although his work area looks fine and his shooting is all fine yet he himself looks like he lives on the streets then the viewer is not going to be focussing on the cooking!

Things like some simple lighting improvements, the clothes you wear, the camera setup and what is in the background can all affect the overall “feel” the viewer gets when watching your video.

Setting and Controlling Audio Levels

A new video this week from the Basic Filmmaker over on his YouTube covering some simple information on recording sound.

I know I probably harp on about this subject to the point of becoming boring but it really does bear reinforcing.

One of the first things that will stop you in your tracks when starting out with video will be that moment when you have shot your first footage, pulled it back into a computer for editing and there it will be.

That sense of shock at the a poor quality of the sound and just how much it makes the video unwatchable.

The reality is that as soon as bad sound hits the viewer’s ears, his eyes and other sense seem to just shut down and all of his attention will be on that sound.

You don’t have to go way upmarket and buy a bunch of audio equipment to deal with it but you do have to develop a sense of the audio being “a thing” that needs to be attended to and not just left alone in the hopes that it will be OK.

Translate Titles and Descriptions on YouTube

One of the ways that you can help YouTube understand better the contents of your videos on that site is by the use of effective titles, tags and descriptions.

In fact YouTube relies quite heavily on those factors much more than other more traditional search engines seeking to index and sort the internet in general.

The reason for this is that YouTube has no way of actually “seeing” what you video is about so they tend to rely on the titles. tags and descriptions to at least go with the concept that they “think” that’s what the video may be about.

Of course they use a whole range of other factors including the amount of watch time, shares, likes and all the rest of it to try to make a judgement as to whether they should serve that video in a search result or as a recommendation at the end of another video.

The video below goes into a little detail on that subject but also offers a great tip on optimizing your videos for foreign language users.

Most people tend to think that if their video is in English then only English speakers will be the target audience.

However the reality is that there are literally millions of YouTube users who are located in parts of the world where English is not the native language BUT, it is certainly a widely used and well understood second language.

To take full advantage of this international market you could get you videos translated for a fee.

But if paying is out of the question, one way to get yourself in front of that international language is to translate your titles, tags and descriptions only.

Yes, you may find there are people that just don’t speak the language, but what you may also find is that a surprisingly large number of those people are perfectly fine to listen to a video in English.

Time Lapse for Video

One of the oft touted features of many top end consumer video editing software programs is that if the ability to handle time lapse videos.

I put this one in the same category as green screen.

Both are great features to have in any video editing suite but the problem is that the ability of the software to handle the tasks needed is not really the “meat and potatoes” of the process.

The truth is that creating both green screen and time lapse is completely dependant on knowing what you are doing at the shooting stage of the process and only a little to do with the editing stage.

If you shoot footage against a green screen that is poorly or unevenly lit you are not going to get the results you were hoping for regardless of which software you are using.

The exact same proposition goes for time lapse.

The key to time lapse is in the way you shoot the original images, how they are framed, lit, stabilized and most importantly, at what intervals you are capturing each shot.

After that, adding those images into an editor is not really all that complex.

Check out the article linked below of a better understanding of time lapse intervals and how they affect the final video project.

Magic Movie Wizard Tutorial

I am so glad I found this video!

OK, so the deal is that within CyberLink PowerDirector there are basically three choices you can make when the program opens.

These choices cover how you are going to approach a project and they are; by using the full editor, by using the easy mode or by using the Magic Movie Wizard.

To be honest I have never really investigated anything other than the full editor myself very much although I have given the easy mode a run through.

My thoughts on this are that if I wanted and easy video editor or and automatic video editing solution I would not be using CyberLink PowerDirector!

Anyhoo, on the one or two times I have ventured into the Magic Movie Wizard I have to admit I found it all rather confusing which seemed to me to be rather counter-intuitive to the idea of it being there in the first place!

So finally this week I found a video that steps you through the process of using this feature if that is your want.

Instagram Videos

Elsewhere in this week’s Roundup I have written a bit of a blurb about the changes being made on the Vine video platform but another of these wildly popular sites that has introduced video is Instagram.

What is notable about Instagram is that of all the social media sites around these days Instagram boasts the highest user engagement of all of them.

The importance of this should not be underestimated.

There may be bigger social networks around (and there are) but the degree to which the people on those networks engage with each other and the content being uploaded or shared is a vital factor in that network’s value.

YouTube for example is a behemoth when it comes to both numbers of subscribers and the sheer amount of content being uploaded on an hourly basis.

However as anyone who has ever tried to get some attention on that platform would know, getting actual engagement with an audience is very difficult.

Subscribing, sharing and liking were never really built in to the platform’s DNA and most likely because they came as later developments, are not natural actions for users to take.

On the other hand Instagram has been that way from the get go so high levels of engagement and interaction are the norm.

It is because of this that if you are starting out with video or are really having trouble gaining traction on YouTube you may want to take a look at some of these other, more social, video platforms as a way of garnering an audience.

Vine Videos

Over on the Vine blog this week they made an announcement that I think is a pretty interesting development in the history of that site.

For anyone unfamiliar with Vine it is essentially a video sharing site but in this case with a real difference.

A “Vine” is a video that has a maximum running time of six seconds.

Now if you are thinking to yourself that sounds crazy I would advise you to head over there and take a look at what you can achieve in six seconds of video!

Vine has been very successful and I think that comes down to two main points.

The first is that it satisfies the modern user’s habit of consuming content quickly and in an abbreviated form.

Instagram does the same thing only with still images.

You can just scroll through and stop to check something out only when you are interested.

Vine offers the same experience only with videos.

The second reason I think it has worked is because of the kind of “pressure cooker” effect that six second limit has on video creators.

In order to get something made you need to have a very clear concept of what you will be making and that concept has to be very precisely realized in both the shooting and editing.

Over time this effect has resulted in huge numbers of Vine creators honing their skills to a very high level all the while driving the creative aspect of those users.

As I mentioned at the start of this, this week they announced something new.

That change is that moving forward users will also be able to create an upload videos of up to 140 seconds and in some cases even up to ten minutes.

However they have done it in a really smart way so that Vine doesn’t just become a kind of “short form” YouTube.

Whilst users can certainly create and upload the longer format videos, those videos will not appear in the end users timeline stream.

In order for someone to see you longer version you still have to produce a six second or less video and that video will point to the longer one.

So when the short video appears in your timeline you can watch it and if you feel interested click the new Watch More button and you are taken to the longer video.

Pretty smart I think.

Posted in Blog

The Friday Roundup – Histograms, Rolling Shutter Effects and Jump Cuts

How to use a histogram.

How To Use A Histogram

One of the downsides of the new breed of accessible high definition video capturing devices is that the high definition captures everything… and I mean everything!

Now on the surface this looks all very well until you start to get that technology into the real world.

Take focussing for example.

In the “old days” of standard definition of course out of focus footage looked awful but to some degree you could get away with “ever so slightly” out of focus shots and editing software could even save some of it in post production.

However when it comes to high definition there is just no forgiveness in sight!

If anything is even slightly out of focus then it looks exactly like that, slightly out of focus.

In other words, high definition takes that saying “warts and all” to a whole new level.

Obviously camera makers have responded to that problem and these days letting the autofocus on your device do its job usually gets good results.

But it’s not just the subject of focus that comes into… well… focus!

There is also white balance and exposure to consider because after all you are just taking a consecutive series of still images to get video anyway.

This leaves the average person pretty much at the mercy of the camera because unless you have the time to learn all the settings and are in a situation where you can “set up” shots, all you can do really is point and shoot.

The upside to all of this is that although auto settings in many cams are pretty good, what has improved over time has been the capability of video editing software to help you to correct some of those less than awesome shots.

Many have some great automatic correction tools but it isn’t until you get into the manual tools that you can really understand just how powerful some of these programs have become.

Of course to get the full advantage there is a learning curve (isn’t there always?) so in light of that check out the video below.

One of the main ways you can correct poor footage in through those correction tools and one of the basic skills to learn is how to read and balance a histogram.

Video Mistakes You Need To Avoid

OK, this is a video that I think not only should everyone watch but they should bookmark it and watch it again (and again) probably every month until they have completely cured themselves of any habit mentioned.

The truth is that yes, there is always something more to learn to make you videos better, yes there is always something else to learn about your editing software, your equipment or your whatever.

But the bottom line is that until you actually go out and DO that stuff you will really have learned nothing.

The missing factor I find these days is always experience and there is only one way to gather experience and that’s by experiencing whatever it is.

Sorting Out Rolling Shutter

Last week I published a full series of articles on how to tackle the process of choosing a suitable video camera to fit your needs.  You can read those posts HERE.

The basic reason I wrote the series was because the field of video cameras is much like the field of video editing software in that they are both subject to enormous amounts of available information.

The sheer size of that body of information makes the task of choosing which one seem almost impossible not to mention the fact that almost none of it is can be of any value to the average person with little or no technical knowledge already.

So if you are looking around for a video camera or camcorder or some kind of video capturing device those articles should get you safely started.

While I am on that subject I also wanted to point out one of the ways that people get turned on to things in that field or even turned off.

When you start into the world of video cameras one of the first barriers you are going to hit is the terminology and this is one of the key areas that the marketers of those products really get to manipulate your emotion to get you onboard with the sale.

They wildly extol the virtue of blue widgets over red widgets in a way that makes it seem that you wouldn’t want to be caught dead with a red widget so you go with the product that (theirs) that has the blue widget.

All the while with you having absolutely no idea what a widget is in the first place!

One such “the sky is falling” feature on newer video cameras or devices is the “problem” of rolling shutter.

Good grief we don’t want that rolling shutter now do we?

Unfortunately the only way through these types of “blind ’em with science” strategies is to find out what the real deal is and in fact the article linked below explains it quite well.

To really understand it you need to understand only two basic things.

There are two types of sensors used in modern video cameras.

One is called a CCD, charge coupled device. The other is called CMOS, complementary metal-oxide semiconductor.

OK, big words meaning nothing to anyone except and electronics engineer.

Both are simply sensors that convert light into a digital signal to be used to capture video.

Simple as that.

There is one major difference.

A CCD captures all the information at tiny intervals much like a mechanical shutter on a camera works.

The CMOS sensor captures the data in a scanning motion from the top of the sensor to the bottom then goes back to the top.

It is because of this we get an effect called rolling shutter.

Rolling shutter MAY cause straight lines in the video to become distorted BUT… this is a known problem and different manufacturers have ways of dealing with it and in many cases it is not even noticeable, so it’s not all bad news!

Anyway, to get a good grip on it check the link below.

Video Editing Techniques: Jump Cut Editing

So back in the day there was a huge rule that existed which any editor worth his or her salt would not be caught breaking.

That rule was you should never have a Jump Cut.

Now a jump cut is a cut in the action where the angle of the camera does not change by at least 45 degrees.

Every time a cut occurs there must be at least a 45 degree camera angle change or a complete change of shot or scene.

Of course like all good rules eventually someone came along and broke it in a creative manner and the previously unbreakable rule shifted down into a guiding principle.

These days the jump cut is quite common and can be used with particular effectiveness on talking head videos like the one below.

In fact it is the “go to” cutting effect all the cool kids are using on YouTube!

Rather than endlessly go on about the virtues of using a jump cut I have found a video this week that not only shows some great reasons why you should use them and when but also steps you through the process.

Bear in mind that the video itself demonstrates the technique in Camtasia Studio.

If you don’t happen to be running that software don’t worry, the important part is the technique, not the actual way you do it in any particular editing program.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (2016)

There is an old saying that goes, “we can fix it in post.”

What that means is the idea that you can get away with not doing a great job shooting your footage and that ultimately someone can fix it all later in post production.

Of course the reality is covered by another old editing adage, “Garbage in, garbage out!”

For most of us he second one is the true nature of making videos but I thought one of the new trailers for the Teenage Mutant Ninja movie takes the concept of fixing it in post to a whole new level!

Tips for Choosing Music

I was reading the article linked below the other day and suddenly realized that although it is aimed at the “corporate video” market the advice actually applies to just about any kind of video.

It gives a three step process for selecting background music for a video and what it is exactly you are trying to achieve with that music.

There has been a lot written about the subject of selecting music for videos but I have to admit this is the first one I have seen that gets it down to the essentials very efficiently.

The process itself is just to identify the mood of the video and sue music that suits, select the right genre of music that fits the video then decide whether the music should or should not have vocals or be just instrumental again, based on the contents of the video.

Worth a quick read for sure.

Posted in Blog