Friday Roundup – Video Editing Software Update Season is Upon Us

Stressed over too many reviews to do.

OK, so it has come to my attention that we are officially at the beginning of the silly season.

Of course for me the silly season is that time of year when all the major video editing software companies roll out their updates in preparation for their own silly season… the Christmas New Year holiday period.

It is pure silliness for me because I have to find the time to download and test this years updates and get them all posted on to the site which unfortunately involves the practice of writing.

I particularly detest writing.

So far this year Magix have updated Video Pro X and just recently released the new version of Movie Edit Pro.

In keeping with their new “unmarked” model Video Pro X and Movie Edit Pro do not carry version numbers or even the year in their titles anymore.

This is all part of the new pricing system they are operating on which seems to involve an inital purchase that carries within it a year of updates.

After that it seems the software still runs but updates can only happen if you pay again for another year.

Their website says, “at a discounted price” but nowhere can I find what that price actually is.

I have reached out to them on this so we will see where all this goes.

CyberLink are due to be releasing updates for their “Director” series sometime around this month so I am guessing that will take us up to PowerDirector 15, PhotoDirector 8, Director Suite 5, AudioDirector 7 and ColorDirector 5.

And finally Corel have recently released the latest version of Pinnacle Studio taking us to version 20.

This one I don’t mind because I have already finished the review and you can read it here.

So because of all this activity this week’s Roundup may be looking a little thin!

Bear with me because hopefully it will all be over soon!

360° Editing – The New Marketing Darling!

What I have gathered is that for this year and moving into the next, the big bells and whistles feature is going to be (or already is in some cases) 360° editing.

Magix kicked this off earlier in the year by adding the ability to import 360° footage and work with it.

Unfortunately they didn’t really mention the fact that even though you could do that, all you could do with the footage was to then select one angle and add it to a normal 2D or 3D project.

With the new versions of Video Pro X and Movie Edit Pro they have addressed this little shortcoming and now you can fully edit these files and output to a 360° final file.

The new version of Pinnacle Studio 20 also offers this feature and is the reason why they enhanced their multi cam editing module to incorporate 6 videos at once.

360° degree footage requires the simultaneous shooting of six cams at the one time to achive the total surround effect.

I would expect that by the beginning of next year all the software makers at this level will have caught up on this and will be very loudly extolling the virtues of being able to edit 360° footage… even though the vast majority have to access to that footage or means to capture it!

Pinnacle Studio 20 Ultimate – Motion Tracking Tutorial

In light of the addition of Pinnacle Studio 20 to the DiyVideoEditor stable of acceptable software, I thought I might include this video for this week.

Pinnacle have added some great improvements to their motion tracking capabilities so what better than a video to let you see how it all goes down.

What Camera Should I Buy?

A while back I added a whole section to this site covering the subject of buying a camera or device for shooting video.

Because this part of life is absolutely saturated with marketing guff I thought some common sense advice might be in order!

It really is an area where the old saying of “blind them with science” applies or more accurately, blind them with technicalities they will never decipher!

Even though the series goes into every aspect of buying a camera in detail and in an understandable way I realized there was one basic point I missed.

That point is covered very well in the video below and it is, unless your cam is broken or you are absolutely certain you have exhausted it’s possibilities, the best cam is the one you have.

B-roll Tips

One of the most overlooked aspects of professional video making is the part the B-roll footage plays in the overall end look of the video.

For most amateur video enthusiasts watching professionally produced video can be a great way of learning just what those pro’s are up to.

Maybe you don’t know how they are doing what you see but you do see it and can then search for answers.

B-roll is a subject that does not come up much and there is a good reason for it.

You see well shot and well placed B-roll footage is not really noticeable.

It doesn’t come with a big sign that say this shot here is B-roll.

At an amateur level I guess you could describe B-roll as any footage that is not directly of the subject matter that you are showcasing.

Let us say you are shooting two people in conversation and one looks out the window.

You then cut to a shot of what the person sees out the window then cut back to the conversation.

That shot inserted there is technically B-roll footage and is considered B-roll because it does not necessarily have to be shot at the same time you are shooting the main footage of the conversation.

Now of course this is not a complete explanation of B-roll!

However understanding it and using it in your own projects can lift their level enormously and is a subject well worth reading up on.

More on Shooting Techniques

OK clearly at an amateur level we are certainly not going to be making too much use of extended panning shots using a Steadicam or even long shots using cranes!

However the reality is that by using at least some of the shooting techniques that are available to us we can certainly lift the level of our videos.

The first thing to learn about the various shots you can take is the effect they have on the audience.

It is quite amazing how powerful a shooting technique can be and how much it can serve to keep your audience interested in what you are showing them.

Probably the key to separating your projects from the rank amateur is the concept of shooting a particular way to evoke a specific response.

Posted in Blog

Pinnacle Studio 20 Review

Pinnacle Studio product range

Although the Pinnacle Studio video editing software suite has been around for quite some time version 20 is the first time I have reviewed it on this site and there are some important reasons why that is.

Pinnacle Studio was one of the first commercially available video editors that appeared at the dawn of the digital video age and is one of the oldest video editing products that is still around today.

It has had a chequered history for a number of reasons and it has only been until recently that some major overhauls by Corel have pulled it all together into the product it always promised to be but never quite was.

If you want to read the full story, I did a blog post on it a while back which covers all the whys and wherefores of the product’s history you can see it here.

Suffice to say the only reason I am finally adding on to the list of software I recommend is that Corel, since taking it over back in 2012, have done a mighty job in getting it back on track and running smoothly.

I probably could have safely done a Pinnacle Studio review last year but I wanted to leave it for a while just to see where Corel were going to take the product and if they were really serious about its continued development.

So here we are at Pinnacle Studio 20 and after having a copy on my computer for a few weeks I now feel confident in recommending it to anyone looking for video editing software at the more sophisticated end of the consumer or amateur market.

Why Pinnacle Studio?

If you hadn’t already gathered it, the basic purpose of all the reviews on this site is to only include software I have tested myself and to try to at least simplify the decision making process in choosing a video editor.

The difficulty in this field is that there are about 6 or 7 main contenders, all of them good at what they do and the differences between them are minute.

This apparent “sameness” makes choosing the right one for you very difficult because it is so hard to tell them apart.

So before I get into the Pinnacle Studio review proper let’s just cover what makes it different to the rest of the pack.

The answer to that question could be summed up in one word, control.

Pinnacle Studio does not pack any different features or capabilities than any of its competition so let’s be clear on that.

What it does offer is an abundance of those features all of which are presented in a way designed to allow the user to exert a level of control almost at the standard of fully professional software.

In fact Pinnacle Studio 20 is as close as you can get to a professional video editor while still staying within a “drag’n’drop” style interface without the complication and hefty price tag.

So as is my habit let’s first take a look at the obligatory cheesy promo video to get a bit of a feel for what the program can do and how it looks.

What’s New and Improved?

On page two of this Pinnacle Studio 20 review I will go over the individual features of the program but first let’s take a look at what’s new in this latest version.

Normally I would cover what’s new compared to the previous version but as this is my first review of Pinnacle Studio I think it’s important to cover what is new and improved since Corel took over the program back in 2012.

To be kind Pinnacle always had a pretty bad reputation for being, shall we say quirky?

Translated into straight talk that means it was buggy and had a tendency to freeze and crash generally at the point where you really didn’t want it to do that! (Not that there is ever a point where you want it to!)

Anyway Corel spent the first two years of owning and developing the program putting an enormous effort into getting the software right as it stood rather than trying to madly add new features.

What is unusual about the way Corel did this is that at that time they immediately engaged in consultation with the existing user base.

You would be surprised at the level of ignorance many well known software makers remain at as to what the users of that software are having problems with and what they really want to see as part of its development.

Not so with Corel who had already established a successful pattern for the development of their other video editor, VideoStudio Pro.

Corel understood that it didn’t matter what they or anyone at Corel thought the program needed or needed to be fixed.

What was important was that they fixed the program from the user’s perspective.

Although it took about two versions to get it done, they turned the program around and got it working as a stable platform upon which they could embark on future development.

So probably the biggest “what’s new” point here is that Pinnacle Studio 20 is now stable and that’s a big point.

I know this because I have spent the last two weeks mindlessly scrubbing through the timeline and rushing through actions all in an effort to get it to crash and it has taken it all with good grace.

The best I could get was a little lag every now and then while it caught up with my manic actions!

In addition to the existing features in Pinnacle Studio 20 they have added or improved the following:

Motion Tracking

The new motion tracking module has been tucked away in the effects library so access to it is simply a matter of dragging the effect on to the timeline and customizing it from there.

In keeping with the theme of greater control it actually consists of two separate effects.

One designed for face or object tracking and the other more for moving objects like text or graphics around the screen.

Stop Motion Animation

Allows you to control your camera through the software to capture frame by frame action for animation or fast motion effects.

Easy Track Transparency

Allows you to adjust the transparency or opacity of individual tracks so that they can be seen or “seen through” on an overlay track.

360° Video Editing

Allows you to import and edit the new 360° or VR videos add titles or set paths and convert to standard video.

You can then either export to a 360° video for YouTube or any other service that will play them or you can convert to 2D.

The video below probably explains it better!

NewBlue Creative Effects

In addition to the already bewildering array of special effects they have added NewBlue’s Video Essentials III pack which packs another 900 preset effects and 75 more plugin type effects.

It has to be noted here that the 900 figure applies to the number of preset effects and in fact nearly all of those effects can be manually adjusted to suit you rather than just using the preset.

Multi-Camera Editor

The existing multicam capability has been beefed up to now allow you to handle 6 cameras simultaneously with a couple of methods for syncing them prior to using the switching panel to edit.

So that’s about it for all the new stuff and a catch up on how we got here with Pinnacle Studio 20.

Click the link below to either read the rest of this review or go to the Pinnacle website to take a look at the software for yourself.

Click Here to See Pinnacle Studio 20

Click Here to Read Part Two of the Pinnacle Studio 20 Review

Posted in Software Reviews

Pinnacle Studio Review Part Two

Pinnacle Studio product range

So first of all we probably need to clarify something when it comes to writing any kind of review on Pinnacle Studio 20.

This is a big program, and by that I don’t mean that it is some ridiculously big download or occupies vast regions of your hard drive.

What I mean is that the features of this thing just go on and on and on and if I were to go through all of them in this review, well the review itself would similarly go on and on and on!

What I will do is try to cover the main points and then if you feel interested you can go to the Pinnacle site and download the free trial.

User Interface

So let’s start off with the user interface and there is no point pulling any punches here.

Check out this image… kind of busy huh?

Pinnacle Studio 20 user interface

As Corel themselves openly admit, using Pinnacle Studio will require that you go through a learning curve.

That’s true for just about all video editing software but in the case of Pinnacle even more so.

The reality is that Pinnacle is just jam packed with features so access to those features has to go somewhere!

On top of that the software has followed a design and development path that leads directly back to the darkened rooms of the original movie editors.

The result is an interface that will require some learning and some practice before you get up to speed with it.

On the plus side, if you do invest the time into learning it you will be able to exercise a level of control offered by no other software at this price point in the market.

To help with that learning curve the program ships with free 21 day access to Studio Backlot which has a comprehensive course specifically designed for new Pinnacle Studio users.

Across the top of the screen you can see that the software separates into three tabs which cover the general sequence of editing a project.

They are Organize, Edit and Author.

Organize

In this part of the software things look a lot different to your average consumer level video editing software.

Here you come across the first professional feature you will encounter which is the subject of Bins.

Bins are the equivalent of the library and are a way of importing video, audio and image assets into the program and organizing them for a specific project.

This system is derived directly from the days of movie film editing where the editor had to organize and keep track of thousands of feet of film.

He or she would have a series of actual bins where the sequences of film were kept throughout the editing process.

The bin system forces the user to get organized before the editing process gets underway.

To start a project you must first create a bin for that project and then import your assets.

You can then organize them into sub-bins so you are only dealing with the assets you are using in that project at any time.

It is easily a superior system but not used in your average amateur video editors because of its unfamiliarity.

It also integrates with the new Stop Motion module to automatically add footage.

Edit

As far as the editing tab goes there really is not a lot to say on this.

Pinnacle Studio cuts, slices and dices as you would expect any editor to do and it does it with ease.

You have frame accurate editing, key frame capability for any effects or changes, over 2000 (Yup! 2000) different types of filters, effects, transitions and audio effects at your disposal.

All of the above come in a preset form but the vast majority can then be manually adjusted to suit your needs once dragged onto the timeline.

Included in the Ultimate version are a full range of effects from NewBlue consisting of their Video Essentials 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, Light Bends, Film Effects and their excellent Stabilizer module.

There is a motion tracking module which comes in two forms to suit different tasks, end to end 360° editing, multicam editing, unlimited tracks and compatibility with all common file types including the professional ones like DVCPRO HD, XAVCS and all up to 4K resolution.

The video below highlights the new track transparency feature.

The suite also has stop motion capability, a bunch of automatic correction tools for adjusting color, red-eye and a host of other common errors most often found in footage.

It has a music generation module that fits a background music track to suit the length and mood of your project or you can simply add your own music or voice track.

There is a complete titling module and you have full control over titles or overlays offering the ability to not only fade in and out as you want but to easily adjust the opacity of the overlay on a key frame basis.

Pinnacle also handles green screen sequences at a very sophisticated level and can be very forgiving of chroma-key sequences that were not shot particularly well.

The program also offers an audio ducking feature that can automatically adjust background music volume up or down depending on the presence of a narration or voice track.

The module itself can be adjusted as to how far the volume is adjusted and how sensitive it is to other sounds present in other tracks.

The multi-cam editor is particularly useful these days with most of having access to footage of events from more than one source.

It can analyze these sources a few different ways to attempt syncing them all together or you can do it manually.

Once synced, the footage can be edited in the same way a live T.V. production occurs by simply “switching” between cameras to get what you want.

To be honest I can’t think of anything that isn’t covered here!.

Author

The Author tab opens up a fully loaded production module that incorporates the DVD or Blu-ray creation process as well as output to common uploading services.

It comes with about 100 preset templates all of which can be adjusted to suit every aspect of the disc authoring process.

You have complete control over menus, sub-menus, chapter points and the entire burning process allowing you to create plains discs or multimedia extravaganzas.

Pinnacle Studio 20 also connects to YouTube, FaceBook, Flickr and Vimeo from inside the program so you can directly upload to these services from within the interface.

There are a number of preset options you can use for uploading which are based on each service’s “best practices” at the moment or if you like you can step in and control the entire process yourself.

Regardless of your file rendering choice you can use a whole bunch preset parameters for your projects or take full control and set codecs, bitrates, frame rates and resolution to exactly how you want it.

Screen Recording

On top of the main editor the product also ships with a fully integrated screen recording module which can either be launched from within the program or as separate software.

Once you have finished the screen recording you can simply save to a video file for editing later or have that file saved and loaded immediately into Pinnacle Studio 20 for editing.

Summary

In reviewing Pinnacle Studio 20 there a few main point to consider if you think this may be suited to your editing needs.

The program comes at three levels and you can compare them HERE but!

Unless you are going to be using the full array of features only offered at the Pinnacle Studio 20 Ultimate level then going for the other lower levels seems pointless to me.

It would be like buying a V8 supercar and then swapping the engine out for a compact four cylinder engine!

On the downside there is a bit of a learning curve to go through both in terms of the user interface and how to go about things but on the upside, anyone willing to go through it will be richly rewarded.

The software has a very active and engaged user to user forum for anyone needing help and Corel themselves are also actively engaged in the development and support of the product.

All in all if you are looking for a video editing beast that offers an end to end solution you would be well served by Pinnacle Studio 20 Ultimate.

Click Here to See Pinnacle Studio 20

Click Here to Read Part One of the Pinnacle Studio 20 Review

Posted in Software Reviews

The Friday Roundup – Social GIFs, Blurred Faces and Global Shutters

GIFs on social media sites

Animating Those GIFs

One of the most interesting ways to attract attention on social media sites is with images and videos.

Statistically speaking posts that use either images or video win hands down when it comes to getting attention.

Probably the king of them all are GIFs because they contain the best of both worlds.

It’s an image and a video with the added bonus that the user can see it is a GIF so will not be reluctant to click on it for fear of going into a “wait” while the video loads up to stream.

Each of the major social networks have their own particular rules or methods for uploading or posting GIFs and if you get it wrong they can sometimes just display as a single image.

Check out the guide below for all the ins and outs of GIFs on social media sites.

How To DIY A White Background For $0

OK, so one of the most common shooting arrangements for video these days is to use a simple white background so what could be easier?

You just get a white background from somewhere and hey presto, you are done!

Well perhaps you may have to settle down a little there tiger because using a white background although simple, has a few things you may need to get right.

First of all most people shoot their videos using the automatic settings of the camera because it is easier and to be fair, these days auto features give pretty good results.

However in the case of a white background this all goes to hell in a basket pretty quickly!

The reason for this is that when your camera is adjusting how much light can enter the lens to be recorded it can’t actually “see” the way we do with our eyes.

All it can do is identify the amount of light (too much or too little) in total and adjust accordingly.

So when a cam in auto sees your head and body in front of a white background all it sees is a whole bunch of way too bright light so it shuts down to compensate for that.

The problem is that in doing so it will then make you so dark you will be just a black blob against a white background.

The upside is that the white background will look awesome!

You may have experienced this effect yourself when shooting on auto indoors.

You follow the action and everything looks fine until the subject moves in front of a window.

Suddenly the auto kicks in and adjusts to suit the extra light coming in from the window while your subject suddenly disappears into darkness.

There are a few other things you need to get organize but truthfully shooting against a white background is a simple technique as long as you know about just a few settings you have to adjust.

A Global Shutter for CMOS

There was an announcement this week by Canon that marked quite a significant point in the development of digital video cameras and I was a little surprised at the lack of coverage it received.

Canon announced that they had developed a Global Shutter for their CMOS sensors…. OK, I can hear you yawning already so let me explain why this is a big deal.

There are two types of sensors used in any video device.

The oldest is the CCD and the new kid on the block is the CMOS sensor.

I won’t go into all the technicalities here but there has always been one major difference between the two.

A CCD in a camera captures the image at the time in one go.

In other words all the data on the CCD at the time when the shutter fires is grabbed and then converted into digital information.

When it comes to the CMOS system the data is captured when the shutter fires from the top of the sensor, line by line, down to the bottom in a scanning type motion.

The result of this “scanning” capture is a problem called Rolling Shutter which appears when either the device is panning or moving quickly or even the subject is moving quickly.

The scanning from top to bottom system for CMOS means that sometimes if the camera or subject is moving rapidly its position has changed microscopically WITHIN that one frame.

When this repeats (as it does in video) over and over it results in distortion of some shapes or objects in the final video.

The degree to which this is a problem depends on the hardware and software of each camera so in some cases it is quite marked and in others barely noticeable.

However it is a problem and one which requires camera makers to find solutions to.

Previously, due to engineering restraints in the way CMOS sensors work a shutter system that can capture the image in the same way as for CCDs has proven elusive… up until now.

So why is this important?

Well CCD sensors are pretty much at the end of their development cycle.

They are bulky, use a lot of power and have not really been able to progress in any significant way for a while now.

On the other hand the CMOS is just a kid with its whole life ahead of it and now that Canon have developed a global shutter system for them, things are about to change bigtime.

Best Supporting Weirdo

Stumbled across this awesome mashup video this week and just had to include it in the Friday Roundup.

It’s just an assault of famously weird supporting characters from some great movies and is four minutes of pure indulgent fun.

Audio Sync Tutorial – CyberLink PowerDirector 14 Ultimate

This is good basics type tutorial video on syncing externally recorded audio to a video track.

Although it is shown using PowerDirector 14 the same principles apply to any video editing software.

The other scenario under which you may need this is that you have separated the audio track from a video track and have edited it so heavily that the start and finish point have now changed.

Simply adding it back to the timeline won’t do the trick now because the sync will have gone out.

Now obviously this is a situation you would try to avoid however there are times when you just have to do it so this video will give a good idea of how to get everything back in sync.

How to Blur Faces and Objects Right Within YouTube

Most video editing software these days comes with at least rudimentary object overlay features which allow you to place an object over a position on the underlying video.

Higher up in the food chain you can use this to add speech bubbles that track with the video or use a blur to hide things.

The very top editors even have modules which almost completely automatically track along with whatever you want.

What I didn’t know was that the YouTube editor also offers a slightly cut down version of this kind of feature.

Now the reason you may find yourself using it would be if your own video editing software can’t do it or if you have already uploaded a video then realize you need to.

Rather than downloading the video or re-rendering the video you can just add the editing right on YouTube.

It is a little limited and a tad fiddly but in a pinch it gets the job done.

Filmmaking with your Digital Camera

With the prices of cameras dropping into the realm of the amatuer video maker these days it is not unusual for the average person to have at their finger tips some pretty powerful equipment.

I don’t mean that cameras are getting cheaper and cheaper by the way, I mean that the features and capabilities of the cameras are getting more and more powerful as time goes by.

In other words you are getting much more bang for your buck these days.

The addition of that extra “bang” is very often lost on many people because although those features are used as selling points most people forget them once they own the camera and it’s a real shame.

If you are sitting at home in possession of a decent DSLR or even a good MILC chances are that you have the ability to shoot at a pro level but may not realize it.

Check out the video below from a professional videographer on using these cams for shooting video.

Now don’t let the “pro” designation put you off!

The video goes a long way to explaining just what you have and how you can use it and thankfully, defines its terms as it is going along.

GoPro Time Lapse Hack

For any of you that are using GoPros these days for your videos and want to add a little flexibility to the time lapse function then the link below is just what you need!

Although the GoPro is set up with the ability to record time lapse images to stitch together in a video unfortunately the fixed setting is for five second intervals.

That means it takes an image every five seconds.

Five seconds between shots is not necessarily an ideal setting, it’s just the most generally used or generic setting that will apply in many cases.

However there may be times you need to shoot at smaller or (most likely) greater intervals and that’s where this handy dandy hack comes into play.

Posted in Blog

The Friday Roundup – Magix Shotmatch, Codecs and Containers

magix-shotmatch

One of the strengths of Magix Movie Edit Pro and their pro editing software Video ProX has always been the color module.

Video ProX always had an enormously powerful professional level color correction and grading tool contained within it and Movie Edit Pro has to some degree, had a simplified version of that module as well.

With the recent attention on color grading and correction Magix have come up with an exceptional new feature in this year’s version that I think a lot of people may not have noticed.

The new feature is a tool that comes from Video ProX which allows the user to automatically color match shots.

So imagine you are putting together a video of an event like a wedding (God forbid!) or a birthday or whatever.

You have access to footage from a number of different cams and phones that were at the event.

Because they are all different in some way, every time you cut from one device to another you get a jarring change in the overall color tones of the image.

The only way to fix this usually is to manually color correct every shot so that they all have the same white balance and the same color settings.

To say this is a long and tedious task is to underestimate it completely!

So now in Magix Movie Edit Pro you can take a base shot and then just have the software automatically color match every other shot you are using regardless of where it came from to that base file.

You have now automatically matched all shots from all devices so that the whole thing looks like it was shot on one cam.

Now I am not saying the an automated solution like this in a consumer grade video editor is going to give you perfect results every time!

However even if you still have to go back into the color settings on a clip and just tweak it a little you are still a million miles ahead of where you were before!

How To Legally Download YouTube Videos

The video below is a bit of an attempt to go into the murky world of copyright on YouTube and the question of downloads.

Very often you will see quite successful YouTube videos that contain content that you just know was downloaded from YouTube in the first place.

On top of that it is also obvious that the content itself is totally copyright protected!

Yet if you look at the Terms of Service of YouTube’s user agreement you will see that it is quite clear that downloading content off YouTube is forbidden.

So what’s the deal here?

Well as per usual in the world of copyright it is like the old question of, “How long is a piece of string?”

There are variables in the mix and there are legal defenses but to get an idea check out the video below for the basics.

More on Codecs and Containers

OK, codecs, containers, files types and on and on, this subject never goes away! Why? Because it is an endless source of confusion to most people as it was for me for a long time.

So in the interests of demystifying the whole shebang here is yet another article on the whole mess that puts it all pretty simply.

Now for most people a barely rudimentary understanding is just about all you will ever need to create video files that do what you want them to do.

BUT! Notice, that was a big but!

If at anytime you hit a snag in your editing or in producing a new file the very first thing anyone helping you will ask with be what type of files, what are the parameters, what codec and on and on.

If all you can say is, “Well it says .avi.”

You will then be in a world of back and forth whilst the kindly person trying to help you begins to slowly run out of patience!

At least get your basics right and this article does that.

So What is a Colorist?

So obviously all the cool kids on the block these days have access not just to color correction tools in their video editing software but many have color grading tools as well.

How cool are we!

Well, actually not really all that cool because the sad reality is that many people buy video editing software based on the awesome features on offer but have little to no idea what those features actually do and how to make them do it!

So check out the article linked below to get an idea about what a colorist actually does and how they do it because you know you can do it too if you learn how!

It is also interesting to note that I just realized another development pattern is emerging.

A few years ago you had video editors and screen recorders and never the twain shall meet.

These days screen recorders like Camtasia and ScreenFlow have morphed into full blown video editors whilst video editing software like Magix, PowerDirector and VideoStudio have all added screen recorders as part of their standard kit.

So the new area of morphing?

Color tools.

We now have editing software again like PowerDirector, VideoStudio and Magix adding coloring capabilities and at the other end of the scale we have DaVinci resolve developing itself into a fully blown video editor… interesting.

Lost Time

A long, long time ago in a galaxy for, far away I lived an alternate existence compared to the one I live today.

You see I was once a corporate monkey dressed everyday in my little corporate monkey suit doing my little corporate monkey business.

Actually I was the CEO of a startup telco in Australia at the time when the telecommunications industry was deregulated resulting in a sort of “wild, wild west” of phone and internet services.

As part of the stuff I got as a CEO I had retained on my behalf a legal adviser whose job it was to both guide me through the legalities of corporate life as well as basically stop me from doing stupid stuff.

His name was John and he was an almost retired lawyer who had definitely seen it all.

John hated technology but his biggest hatred was reserved for one piece of computer technology that you may find surprising.

To him the devil was incarnate in the word processor.

Now at the time I was surprised by that because I would have thought that the introduction of the word processor into a legal firm would have been a godsend but John hated them and here’s why.

In the old days when he was required to draft contracts this process was a long and drawn out action.

John mainly worked in the area of mining companies and joint mining agreements so the contracts he was formulating were vastly complex.

Because there were no word processors he would have to handwrite the entire contract into draft form or dictate the contents to a secretary.

Once the initial draft was produced he then spent time going over it making changes again, by hand.

This would run into days or even weeks and as he put it, “Most lawyers do their best work in the shower.”

In other words the enforced added time caused him to also have time to think over the contract, to imagine scenarios and pretty much cover all the possibilities.

A final draft would then be retyped in full with changes and additions and sent to the concerned parties.

They would provide feedback and slowly over time the contract would emerge completed.

The word processor cut the time taken enormously and as such cut the “thinking time” down until we have today the tendency rush it all through resulting in disputes, disagreements and dissatisfaction because certain things were not envisioned at the time of the contract’s writing.

This adding of time into a process is sadly becoming a thing of the past and it is not necessarily a good thing.

The interview linked below highlights this point in the world of filmmaking and Tim Robbins covers it quite well.

One point I think he misses and I think this applies to the creation of any content is that there is nothing like a 24 hour cooling off period to really get a perspective on your own work.

There is a misconception that people have when they enter the world of video or the creation of content of any kind.

We are taught at school to “produce on the fly.”

That means we create, edit, polish and output to a final product pretty much all in one go.

However in the professional world this never happens.

Creation is done as a separate and distinct act and generally is simply the act of creation.

After time passes, what was created is then reviewed, edited, re-done, polished or whatever into a final draft.

More time passes.

The final draft is inspected again and often reviewed by another outside source until the final product is agreed upon and then produced.

This goes for a novel, a film or even a a little YouTube video done by a successful YouTuber.

Posted in Blog

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.

———————————————————–

 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

my-brain-hurts-VIDEO

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

logo-pinnacle

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

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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