The Friday Roundup – Autofocus for Video and 360 Degree Stitching

ice-cream-autofocus

The Importance of Autofocus

One of the downsides to shooting in HD that never seems to get mentioned much is the fact that any error in the footage being taken is recorded in all its high definition glory.

We all hear the marketing blurb about crystal clear images etc but the reality of this is that if your focus is correct and your color settings and white balance are correct then absolutely, you will have awesome footage.

However if any of these are just a little out, then your cam will faithfully record that too!

In the case of white balance and color balancing the problem is not as bad.

The reason for this is that you have so much data recorded to reproduce what you shot onscreen that any half decent video editing software will offer you many ways to correct it.

In the case of focus things are not so simple.

In the old days of Standard Definition a very slightly out of focus shot didn’t really matter quite as much.

Now obviously out of focus is out of focus so you couldn’t just shoot that way all the time and get away with it!

However when it comes to HD the whole game changes.

This leaves the average point and shooter in a bit of a bind when it comes to the subject.

Either you have to leave the cam in some kind of “landscape” setting so that the focus is always set to infinite, resulting in no depth of field to the shot.

Or, you are limited to only those shots you can “set up” and manually focus which doesn’t offer much hope to the average person shooting a kids party!

Or, finally you are at the mercy of the auto-focus.

For most people the story ends with them at the mercy of the auto-focus which (finally) brings me to the point I was going to make!

When you are choosing a camera these days with the view to using it as a video camera there are always a million things you probably think you need to keep in mind.

In fact a whole section of this website is devoted to it. You can see those articles here.

One of the absolute key features you must be looking for is the quality of the auto-focus on any cam you are looking at.

I simply can’t stress this enough.

If you are going to be shooting anything other than a completely motionless rock you really need a well performing autofocus.

The article linked below is a review of a particular brand of cam with attention to the autofocus function.

I am not including it this week because of the cam itself.

I am including it as a great example of the things you need to be looking at when you are evaluating the autofocus of any cam you are considering.

Come Together – directed by Wes Anderson

No reason for adding this video for any kind of educational purpose, I just like Wes Anderson’s style.

360 Video Tutorial – CyberLink PowerDirector 15 Ultimate

As we lurch forward to the time when VR videos will be available to all of us as an editing and production choice like most things we are finding that the devil is in the details.

Now I know that the “feature du jour” right now is 360 degree video and everyone is getting all “hot’n’sweaty” about it but let’s just cool down a little for a moment and take stock.

Yes, we now have the ability to record 369 degree video effectively and it won’t be too long before the prices of devices to do that will come down into an acceptable range.

Yes, most of the better video editing software programs at the consumer level can now input and output 360 degree video.

Admittedly we are probably a few iterations away from a fully completed feature set in all of them but we are certainly on the right track.

Yes, we can now upload full 360 degree video to YouTube and in conjunction with their new app and an appropriate headset we can achieve VR… which was the whole point in the first place right?

So, that leaves the details because the broad strokes are seemingly under control.

Let’s talk about stitching!

Strangely enough this is an action that hasn’t really been mentioned all that much so far so we had better get it covered.

360 degree footage at the moment is footage that has been recorded of a scene or situation by (best solution) six cameras at the same time.

This covers top, bottom, left, right, forward, backward as shooting angles.

At a stretch it can also be four cams with the top and bottom ones omitted but ideally six is what you need.

So in reality we have not shot a 360 degree video.

We have shot six videos of the same scene covering 360 degrees of view.

In order to create this as a 360 degree experience these six individual videos have to be combined into a single video stream and that ladies and gentlemen is what we call Stitching!

Check the video below for a more visual rundown on the subject and using that video in PowerDirector.

Most other software programs are going look and act similarly.

7 Ways To Improve Your Content on YouTube

Contrary to popular belief, mostly amongst those who don’t actually do it, just slappin’ up a video on YouTube is not all you have to do to be successful there.

In fact if you were looking for a place to make money that really required a solid knowledge of what you are doing and a whole bunch of plain old hard work, YouTube would fit the bill!

Having said that there are a number of basic things you can do to vastly increase your chances of success and all of those things are quite easy to accomplish.

Over on my YouTube channel, which I use for other purposes than uploading videos, I have curated a whole bunch of videos that I have gathered together over the years that cover these points and more.

You can see the whole collection here: Online Video Tips.

The latest addition for this week is one from a couple of guys I follow regularly and this time the video has two for the price (free) of one (also free!).

These are by no means all the steps you need to take or all the points you need to get in place for YouTube success but they represent some things you absolutely need to have under control.

Posted in Blog

The Friday Roundup – Assets, Color Grading and Light

organised-for-editing

Keeping Your Footage Organized

It doesn’t take very long for anyone to realize that these days the rate at which we all gather digital assets can be rather alarming.

Gone are the days when you had to shoot carefully because film (still or moving) was hellishly expensive to both buy and process.

In fact gone are the days when you had to be slightly less careful shooting because storage space on cards or hard drives was expensive!

These days you can just shoot like a maniac with not a care in the world.

However the potential for disappearing under a sea of video and images is very real.

In fact before you know it, you have no idea what you have, when it was taken and where it is now!

This is one of the reasons why I always consider the library function of any video editing software to be of extreme importance.

Clearly it is not the sexiest of features but it is vital nonetheless.

There does however come a point when even your nicely organized library starts to groan under the strain.

Then before too long you once again find yourself meandering through thousands of clips, images and audio files trying to find what you were looking for.

It is at this point you really need to get organized outside of any other software.

What you really need is an archiving solution that allows you to empty your editing software library and allow you to quickly find what you want.

So in light of that I present the Casey Neistat system for archiving assets. Simple and effective.

Laws of Light: Sphere

Below my usual blurb here there are two videos I have embedded for this week from the one source and on the one topic.

The topic is lighting and although there are many, many lighting tutorials to be found I wanted to include these two for a very specific reason.

These days most people tend to engage in activities at a kind of “tips and tricks” level.

There is an idea that regardless of the activity, all you have to do is check out a couple of “how to” videos on YouTube and you should be good to go.

Of course if you were to discover that your pilot on an international flight had adopted this approach you might then rethink the whole thing but in general that’s where we are.

The outcomes of this superficial understanding is always that the results are never as good as they were imagined and the reason why seems to be something that is getting lost in many parts of life.

In order to really execute an action or display a technical ability there has to be at least some understanding of the basics of what you are doing.

That, unfortunately is an unavoidable fact.

So, rant over.

The subject I am referring to here is lighting and in the first video below, the truth of it is laid out pretty clearly.

The camera, or in your case the video camera is NOT the tool you are using.

It is simply the device you are using to record the result of having used the tool.

The tool you ARE using is light.

No light, no picture… simple.

So, in light of that (sorry!) check out the first video then follow the link to the page it comes from.

The creator of the tutorial expands even further on the subject and gives lots of great examples of the theory in application.

Once you have that one under control watch the second video and then again, go to the relevant page and finish up.

I am absolutely sure that if you just sit down and go through these resources diligently you will walk away with a far greater understanding of what you are doing when you are recording light.

Read the full article here: Laws of Light: Sphere

Laws of Light: Cube

Read the full article here: Laws of Light: Cube

Pinnacle Studio 20 Ultimate – 360 Video Tutorial

So quite obviously the whole 360 degree virtual reality footage and editing thing is the big “thing” of the moment.

As I have said before, the whole subject depends on three different types of technology developing to a point where they are all accessible and then it will really take off.

The first is in the capture of the footage and right now this one is well on the way but still a little expensive.

To really get the whole 360 degree effect you still need six cams recording at once, top, bottom, left, right, front view, rear view.

The second step is in the editing.

This one I would say is just about a done deal.

Most of the consumer level editors can handle it to some degree so by the next round of updates they should all be pretty much on the front foot with it.

The final step is in the distribution and viewing of the material produced.

This one still has a ways to go.

YouTube are offering a 360 view type of experience which is OK but not really what is expected.

Let’s face it what is really expected is a VR experience and this one although not quite there, is pretty damn close.

YouTube have already announced the release of their VR App which can be used in conjunction with the Daydream Viewer so… are we there yet?

Not quite but pretty close!

Color Grading Tips

Color grading is a subject that until recently was rooted in the world of professional video editing only.

The kind of control needed to execute grading as opposed to just simple color corrections was for a long time beyond the reach of the average editing program at the consumer level.

However a few things have occurred over the past two years that have pulled color grading front and center as a tool available to everyone regardless of what editing program they are using.

Magix kind of kicked off the race a few years back when they ported parts of their professional editor, Video ProX over to their consumer product Movie Edit Pro.

Although not a complete replication of the pro level grader it was still much more than anyone else was offering and did a pretty good job.

CyberLink fired back and introduced Color Director which was a standalone yet fully integrated program devoted exclusively to color correction and grading.

Finally came the announcement that DaVinci Resolve was going to offer a totally free fully featured version of their pro post production software and that was about the end of the game as far as all the rest trying to match each other!

Now the problem with having any of these color grading solutions is twofold.

First you have to know what you are supposed to be doing when you are color grading and then you have to know how to do it in the software you have!

Unfortunately although there are resources around on the subject, they are rarely aimed at the beginner.

So, if this is a subject that you are interested in then my recommendation is to download the free version of DaVinci Resolve and endure the pain of learning yet another video software!

Sorry.

How to Make Money on YouTube with Affiliate Marketing

With the proliferation of YouTube as a video distribution service it would be true to say that a host of opportunities have arisen for making money through it.

It would also be true to say that with the rise of of YouTube there has also been a rise in the number of get rich quick/make a million dollars on YouTube type programs… or scams if we are going to be honest!

Now I can’t individually go through every course or product like that which is on offer at the moment because there thousands of them.

But what I do know is that certain laws of the universe remain true regardless of the internet platform you are dealing with.

The very first of which is that if it sounds too good to be true… it IS too good to be true!

So rather than focus on how not to monetize you videos or video channel on YouTube it is a far more rewarding exercise to focus on what you really should be doing.

No, it is not easy and yes, you have work hard at it just like any other activity in which you hope to make some money.

I have previously referred to Tim Schmoyer as a resource to follow in all things Youtube and I am again referring to him on this subject specifically.

There are a number of way to make money with a YouTube presence and Tim covers most of them not just in a factual way but as they can be done in the real world rather than some imaginary universe where you really can get rich quick with the click of the mouse!

This week he covers the subject of affiliate marketing and how it can be done on YouTube.

Posted in Blog

The Friday Roundup – YouTube VR, Blending Modes and Action Cams

vr-headset-girl

VR Takes Another Step Closer

Over the past few years there have been a number of technology promises made that haven’t in my opinion, really delivered.

I think the biggest offender has been 3D both in a TV watching scenario as well as on the big screen at the movies.

To me the closest it has ever looked was that I thought it looked “3D-ish” but not really 3D.

Now 360 degree video is beginning to stand up and demand the same kind of attention that 3D was once demanding.

For the most part I have kind of sat back and not really bothered with it too much because of one main barrier.

Whilst it is awesome that 360 degree footage can now be handled by a lot of video editing software the major stumbling block to me would always be shooting the footage in the first place and delivering the final product.

So over the past year or so on the video shooting side of things there has been noticeable progress and give it another year or so, good quality 360 degree shooting will be commonplace and affordably available.

The content delivery side of things has also finally begun to move and on this one too I think we are not very far away from wide availability.

YouTube have touted the ability to play back 360 degree footage for a while but really the end result of it has always been virtual reality distribution.

Yes you can tweak your way around inside a 360 degree clip but there is really not too much wow factor there.

On the other hand true VR has more than enough wow to get anyone’s attention.

So this week YouTube announced the release of their YouTube VR App for Daydream View.

Combined with a mobile device running the app and the right headset VR is just about upon us.

How To Look and Sound Better On-Camera Course Ad

If you are a regular reader of this blog then you will have noticed I often link to or pull videos in from a YouTube Channel called Basic Filmmaker.

The guy that runs the Channel regularly posts some great tips and tutorials on… well, basic film making!

Kind of makes sense really.

Anyway below is a video introducing his latest course on looking and sounding better in front of the camera but that’s not completely why I have added it.

I have also added a link to the course on his website but I also think it is well worth your time to take a look around there.

He has some great free intro courses as well as more advanced paid stuff if you want to really get good at things.

Lizards and Snakes and stuff

So in the event that you have been living under a rock for the past week or so… or just don’t go online there are a couple of video that have gone stupid viral.

They are from the BBC and were released in anticipation of their new nature series Planet Earth II.

I would urge anyone to take a look at them to see how within a two to three minute clip you can achieve n astounding level of impact.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that they had almost unlimited resources for shooting, an army of fully professional editors and special effects guys including CGI, David Attenborough to do the narrating and legendary Hollywood musician Hans Zimmer to write the score.

But apart from that is looks pretty simple!

Blending Modes – CyberLink PowerDirector

Probably one of the features that can be found in a number of consumer or amateur level video editors these days is blends.

Sometimes they are referred to as Blend Modes or just Blends but it probably doesn’t matter because most people really don’t know what they are!

In fact at the time of purchase I can just see a bunch of people reading or hearing that the software on offer has the awesomely fantastic Blend Mode while they are watching some spinning swirly stuff happening on a screen which looks totally amazing and they are SOLD!!!

Of course after that the subject never comes up again!

So, blends.

A blend is when an effect or another clip is overlayed on top of an original clip or image for that matter.

When you see a cross fade transition occurring between two clips you are actually looking at a preset, pre-constructed progressive blend.

Someone just took the mechanics of blending and wrote it into a little preset arrangement that you can drop between two clips and that what we call a transition.

So when you see people screaming that they don’t have enough transitions when they have software that can achieve blends it seems a bit silly really!

They could make their own.

Anyhoo apart from that example, blends can be used to achieve a huge number of effects within any editing software that has them.

A lot of the preset filters that come with most editors are actually preset blends packaged as filters or special effects.

So if you are interested in stepping away from the “out of the box” solutions… take a look at blends.

How to Bulk Copy & Add End-screen Elements to all Your YouTube Video

One of the downsides to doing pretty much anything on the internet is the fact that almost regardless of what you are doing… by tomorrow, it will be done differently.

Take YouTube for example which despite its behemoth size has been changing and evolving at quite a rate especially over the past five years.

Pressure from other services, pressure to generate income, pressure from changing systems and platforms as well as pressure from users and consumer have driven this need to change.

Whilst most changes in the long run are not too much of a problem one recent one has presented some headaches to people who already have a good deal of content already on their YouTube channel.

With the swing over to mobile devices in full flight YouTube had to come up with a solution to the annotations problem.

They can’t really show annotations on a video being played on a mobile device because the user experience is just wrecked by that.

However this left the content creator with no way to add a call to action at the end of his or her video.

To deal with that YouTube introduced End Screens which have very effectively dealt with the problem and made everyone happy.

Well almost everyone!

Adding an End Screen to a new video is no problem but some Channels can have hundreds if not thousands of videos already uploaded.

Up until now the only real solution to that problem was to individually go through your already uploaded videos and add End Screens which is really tedious and very time consuming.

So if you are in that position fear not!

Check the video below on how to use TubeBuddy to deal with that backlog.

Aaand Action… cam.

I came across this guide the other day and thought it was worth posting.

It goes into the points you need to cover when choosing an action cam to buy but in all honesty the points apply to most situations.

It is not really an “in depth” article but does serve as a good reminder as to what you should be keeping your attention on.

The reason I mention it is that these days it is all very well getting yourself armed with the latest information and setting off to buy a cam.

Very quickly most of that has dropped out of sight in the face of endless marketing ploys to do just that.

I think there is nothing like a checklist to keep you focussed on the job at hand and what is really important.

Posted in Blog

The Friday Roundup – LUTs, Diffusers, Reflectors and Audio

luts

LUTs ‘n’ Stuff

For those of you that have LUT capable software but are uncertain about what to actually DO with that here you are!

Everything you ever wanted to know about getting started with LUTs but were afraid to ask!

For those of you who don’t know what we are talking about, here’s the deal.

LUT is short for “lookup table” and is really a set of preset adjustments to the color settings of footage.

A LUT is sometimes designed with the known attributes of a particular camera in mind or sometimes is a general range of settings designed to achieve an overall look.

If you have a bunch of clips and you want them to all have the same look you could adjust one, make a note of all your adjustments and then repeat and repeat until they are all done OR you could take those original settings and save them to a file that software can understand.

Then just load that file and apply to the rest of the footage and you are done… that’s a LUT.

At the moment within the consumer level of video editing you can use LUTs in CyberLink ColorDirector and WonderShare Filmora of all things!

7 New YouTube Updates you May Have Missed

As Google continue to fight off competition from FaceBook for the online video market through their YouTube property there have been a number of updates to the service.

Unless you are closely following the YouTube Blog it is pretty easy to fall behind with all the changes.

If you are trying to create or maintain a presence on YouTube then you have to be aware that you ability to grab and retain your share rests very much with the YouTube algorithms.

Yes, of course there are things you can do to attract viewers to your videos outside of the YouTube ecosystem but for the vast majority of people this doesn’t really add up to much when compared with the mammoth traffic numbers you can get from the inside.

Check out the video below from Tim Schmoyer where goes through most of the latest updates and gives some great insights as to what they are and how you can take advantage of them.

Shooting Around the House

This week I was asked to undertake one of the most dangerous of tasks available to the home video enthusiast.

My wife asked me to shoot and edit some footage for her showing various cleaning techniques for her cleaning business.

So apart from the minefield of trying to explain to her what was and was not achievable and still maintain domestic peace.

I also entered a world of shooting that I had not been in for quite some time.

What I quickly discovered was that most of the shooting in larger spaces like living rooms and bedrooms was pretty straightforward however there were a few places that became a bit of a challenge.

A lot of the shots I needed to get required they be taken fairly close up and often I was restricted in the position or angle I could adopt to get that shot.

This very often led to bad lighting situations that would have resulted in poor footage that showed nothing in particular to anyone watching.

So, to fix this I used a reflector in a lot of the shots and was quite surprised at how easily an awkward shooting angle from a lighting perspective became no problem at all.

Of course a pro reflector will cost you an arm and a leg but there are heaps of tutorials out there on the interwebs showing how you can make a cheap one for yourself at a fraction of the cost and just as effective.

The other thing I was running into especially in kitchen and bathroom shots was annoying reflections.

They were sometimes distracting but most often were from reflective surfaces throwing glare all over the place so the other link below goes to some tips for taming reflections.

Audacity: Improve your Voice TUTORIAL for Commentary & Podcasts

As I continue to run this website and keep my ear to the ground on the latest and greatest in the world of video one thing is very easy to do.

That is to forget the stuff I had previously found and when you have a mind like a sieve like I do that happens a lot!

In fact one of the driving forces behind my starting this website was to be able to keep all sorts of resources I had come across in one place.

So here I am a few years later and I am discovering that despite my best intentions I am still forgetting things!

So this week I was reminded of one of those things I had forgotten which is the Audacity audio editing program.

If you are unfamiliar with it, Audacity is a free audio editing program that has been undergoing active development for years now and is an incredibly powerful piece of software.

On top of that because of its open source basis there is a strong community that has formed around the software that has not just helped develop it but has resulted in hundreds of special effects and filter type plugins that work with the program and again, most are free.

Now I do have a couple of pages on this site that show how to use Audacity to clean up a voice track especially if it was recorded on a computer or with a less than professional microphone which you can see by clicking this link. Audacity Tutorial

I thought this week I would add someone’s else’s method for doing this which had a slightly better explanation for using the Equalizer and the Compressor than mine.

I prefer to just go with the presets for a down and dirty solution but this one adds a little more detail in how these features work when you are operating manually.

Cell Phone Audio

With more and more video being shot on mobile devices like smart phones these days there is one part of that equation that is clearly not keeping up with the image quality part of it.

Let’s face it these days you can shoot some pretty high quality footage on an IPhone or other type of smart phone art the moment.

Yes the lenses are tiny and yes the sensors are tiny but given sufficient light you can still get incredible results.

So incredible in fact that last year there was a full feature length movie included for showing at the Sundance Film Festival that was shot entirely on an iPhone.

The serious downside to this footage still remains and that is the problem with audio.

Audio is not really the easiest of subjects when it comes to recording video even with perhaps a high end dedicated camcorder with an onboard mic.

Even under those circumstances you are still going to get a lot of dubious sound.

So when you take the specs of everything audio on a device down to the level of a smart phone things start to sound seriously bad, seriously quickly!

Posted in Blog

The Friday Roundup – Pan and Scan, Pan and Zoom and Free SFX

sound-effects-desk

So this week I am afraid it will be a very short Friday Roundup.

Apart from the fact that things have been a little quiet on the news front I have also been working on the site to keep it maintained.

To that end I have been going through a lot of old posts and giving them a bit of a spruce up as well as updating the information on them.

So, pathetic excuses out of the way, here’s what we have for this week!

Free Sound Effects

I was sent a link to this site the other day and after having checked it all out I can highly recommend taking a look.

It is a new royalty free service providing music mainly but also some other effects as well.

The reason it is worth wandering over and slapping down you email address is that they are offering a bunch of sound effects for free.

There are about 170 individual .wav files of many common effects like windows and doors closing, ambient room sounds and a whole lot more.

Now in order to get the freebies go to the link below.

Once you try to download there will be a popup to provide an email address.

I see no problem in doing that as later I can always unsubscribe if they drive me nuts.

Wait a while and you will get a confirmation email and after that a link to download all the goodies.

They are very high quality and you can’t beat the price!

Pinnacle Studio 20 Ultimate | Pan and Zoom Tutorial

As opposed to another article this week on cropping and panning old movies for TV and how bad it was, this one is different.

Pan and Zoom is a pretty standard feature of most video editing software these days.

In fact I can’t think of one right now that doesn’t have it in at least some rudimentary form.

Pan and Zoom can be used in a number of way and is a tool well worth learning and well worth not overdoing like any tool!

Pan and Scan

One of the great tragedies of the introduction of television in it’s original format was the introduce of what we would describe today as standard resolution.

Now I am not talking about the actual pixel size and sharpness part of resolution here.

I am talking about the aspect ratio of 4:3.

The downside of that was that nearly all motion picture movies from a time well before the introduction of television had been shot in what we would call today, “widescreen.”

Actually it is an aspect ratio of 16:9 or thereabouts.

To see just how bad the adaption of these big widescreen movies to the confinement of the TV box has to be seen to understand why it was a tragedy.

Posted in Blog

muvee Reveal Finale Review Part 2

muvee Reveal Finale Box shots

More on muvee Reveal Finale Styles

To really understand how this software works it is important to have an understand of what they are talking about when referring to “Styles.”

The style that you choose actually determines how your final video will look in an overall sense.

The muvee Reveal Finale software has 13 different styles included with the program and each style has its own set of effects, transitions between sequences and animations.

Personally, I like to mess around with colors and filters and create my own timeline, but if that sounds too complicated for you or about as interesting as watching paint dry then the styles will take care of all of that for you.

It is after the selection of your basic video and image assets that you choose the style of your movie and once that is done the movie gets “virtually” created for you to preview.

Personal Customization

At this point you can now get into personal customization of your projects and again this is all done from within the program using very simple tools that can create remarkable effects.

You can:

  • Add text or drawings to individual scenes or photos (Graffiti).
  • Add Cinematic Titles to the beginning or end of the project with your own text.
  • Mark individual scenes or images with a “thumbs up” or a ‘thumbs down” and let the software re-render the preview freshly with the “thumbs down” scenes deleted.
  • Adjust any photos where the software has decided to zoom in on it to cancel that zoom or pan or you can add a zoom and pan to an image that the software didn’t already do it.
  • Add, adjust or change the music selection.
  • Record a voiceover track and add it.
  • Speed up or slow down the editing pace set by the software to suit the subject matter.
  • Add color filters to parts of the project to “set the tone.”

muvee Reveal Finale Audio

Working with audio has also been made easier with the muvee Reveal Finale.

You can crank up the volume of the background music where you want to, or you can turn it down and heighten the volume of the voice track.

To manipulate the sound like this all you need to do is use the feature that clips the video into segments. By just pointing and clicking you can turn up or down the volume easily.

If you are worried about music copyright laws, you do not need to be.

This version includes tons of licensed music, but the manufacturers have cleared all of the licensing stipulations for you so you can use the music without worry.

When you post your videos online, you will never have to worry about them getting flagged and removed due to copyright violations because muvee’s lawyers have taken care of all of those details for you.

Uploading / Sharing

The tools for sharing your videos have been revamped with this new version so your videos are even easier to upload onto Facebook, YouTube or any other video sharing site.

You can still easily burn to CD or DVD and the program pretty well takes care of all the settings to make sure you are achieving the highest quality possible.

If you are undecided about where you want to post these videos or are concerned you mat need to share in a variety of formats, you can simply store them on your computer ready for later use.

Summary

muvee Reveal Finale is perfect for what it is, a very good, automatic video editing solution.

If you have a backlog of photos and videos that you “have been meaning to get to” or if you want to take a bunch of new videos and craft them into a great looking video without getting too involved in a complicated process then this software is probably ideal for you.

The manufacturer of muvee has been making easy to use video editing software for over a decade now and because it is so easy to use it has garnered a very enthusiastic audience over time. Highly recommended.

Click Here to See muvee Reveal Finale for Yourself

Previous Page: muvee Reveal Finale Review part one

Posted in Software Reviews

muvee Reveal Finale Review – Easy Movie Editing Software

muvee Reveal Finale Box shots

Before I get completely into the actual muvee Reveal Finale review I think with this software it is important to understand not just what it does but also exactly who it is designed for.

Over the past ten years or so the major video editing software companies have been developing and adding features to their products at breakneck speed.

This development has been conducted in an atmosphere of fierce commercial competition and has not always been driven by what is specifically needed or wanted by the consumer.

In fact often the driving force has been the intention to produce something with a “Wow!” factor to get the sale rather than functions people would really use.

Regardless of why that development has occurred the result has been a steady process of complication and complexity being added to these programs and to their respective user interfaces.

For the average person who has little or no interest in either the process of editing or in an almost professional level of features, this presents an often bewildering barrier to them using that software.

This is where muvee Reveal Finale comes in with it’s target very firmly fixed on the goal of ease of use rather than “all the bells and whistles.”

Having said that, this does not mean that Reveal is in any way crippled or lacking in necessary or desirable features.

In evaluating it for yourself it is very important NOT to think in terms of “it’s better than…” or “it’s not as good as…”

The key question to ask yourself in making a decision is, “Is it the most suitable for me?”

If you are looking for complex, advanced controls so that you can enjoy fiddling around with video on your computer for hours on end while your husband / wife / significant other walks around the house scowling at you then no, this is not what you are looking for!

However, if you want to quickly and painlessly put together a professional looking video without getting bogged down in technical terms or an endless array of options, then muvee Reveal Finale is most likely a good fit.

How muvee Reveal Finale Works

The process is very straightforward and begins with Reveal Finale allowing you to easily import your videos and images into a central library.

You can use video clips or images from almost any source such as smart phones, your webcams, camcorders, digital SLR camera or whatever.

What you don’t need to do is give a second thought to such things as those videos or images having different sizes, different formats or even aspect ratios or resolutions.

In fact you don’t need to know what aspect ratios and resolutions are!

The software has the ability to detect and synchronize all of those differences whether you have a widescreen video with an aspect ratio of 16:9 or a standard video that has an aspect ratio of 4:3.

Once everything is imported you can then organize them into individual folders for different projects.

You then choose the assets (video clips, images and any music tracks) that you wish to incorporate into a project by just clicking a button.

After you have selected your source material, you then need to choose a style.

A “style” is like a template that you use to determine the overall “look” of your final movie.

I will talk more about the muvee Reveal Finale styles later in this review but at this point you click again and sit back for a second or two while the software creates your video for you automatically.

The creation process involves the software scanning all the videos and images you have selected and arranging them into what should be a logical sequence.

At the same time it syncs the music track you have selected to not only the overall length of the video but so that editing cuts and fades occur in time with the music. A good range of free music tracks are included with the program.

Once this has finished you will be presented with a completed video which you can then preview.

If you like the finished product you can go to the next step or if there are changes you want to make then you can manually make those changes with very easy to use tools that are available.

Once you are happy with the project you can share your video with others by burning it onto a DVD, save to your hard drive or portable device or upload it to YouTube or any other video sharing site.

In keeping with the automatic theme of muvee Reveal Finale, even the Sharing options are totally painless.

No need to bother about all those complicated output settings and video file choices at this point!

Just tell the software what you want to do and it will automatically put it together correctly. Muvee even has a dedicated site where users can share their videos.

If you want to add some personal touches with titles, credits, captions, or even voiceovers, you can easily do that after the preview in a few easy to follow steps.

Here is a quick video demonstration of what the software can do.

Improvements in the Latest Version

With the latest update of the software we move to muvee Reveal Finale from the earlier muvee Reveal X version and in keeping with the program’s stated purpose of keeping things simple, muvee have resisted the urge to go all “latest and greatest.”

Instead this version is just a matter of improving the existing product as it is.

Cinematic Titles

Professionally designed title sequences have been added which include their own music tracks so you can just add some text and look like an editing genius… well maybe not a genius but you can look pretty good!

Take a look:

Edit Your Own Custom Styles

You can now take any existing style from within the software and perform a wide range of customisations to each one to get your project looking the way you want.

If you like the way you have adjusted one of these styles then you can now save that customization for future use whilst the original style is left intact.

You can set a faster pace to the project, selecting a specific color filter or even change the default font and background colors.

Graffitti

Under the Photo Option menu you can now add a range of “stickers” to overlay on top of the original image. (Think putting a moustache on Grandma!)

The program includes a wide range of stickers from frames and borders, to hand drawn embellishments, to even light sparkles, fireworks and cute stickers for kids.

You can then save a new photo with these embellishments for Facebook before using them in your muvee slideshow.

graffitti-image-

Project Portability

You can now zip up your projects in their entirety, transfer it all to another machine and continue editing without loss of anything.

It will zip up all the photos, videos, and music content along with all settings, captions, intertitles and every imaginable detailed setting of your projects into a single file, and continue where you left off on another machine.

Capture and Add Video Snapshots

Now you can choose images directly from any of your video clips and save them by clicking on the “Capture” button.

capture-snapshots-image

Click Here to See muvee Reveal Finale for Yourself

Next Page: muvee Reveal Finale Review part two

Posted in Software Reviews

Multimedia Suites for Video Editing

Multimedia software suites reviewed.

An often viable alternative to a purpose built video editing software program for those whose needs are modest can be in the form a a multimedia program that comes loaded with a video editing module.

Before we go any further on this page and in the interests of keeping things simple you should approach these types of programs with at least a little caution and with your eyes wide open.

In the case of video editing you may want to look on this page for a purpose built video editor or on this page if you need a DVD or Blu-ray program.

The marketing of software these days is largely built on the concept of creating a “wow!” effect in the potential customer, triggering a sale.

The “wow!” is most easily achieved by the presentation of a vast array of awesome features that can do amazing things!

Unfortunately very often the majority of those “amazing things” prove to be utterly useless to the end user when it comes down to what they are really going to do with the software.

This strategy is alive and kicking in the world of multimedia software suites because they inherently have a bunch of features anyway so it is important to keep a cool head!

Common Multimedia Suite Features

Although within the various brands of software available there will be some variation, these are the basic capabilities you will find in a good suite.

  • A dedicated video editing module.
  • A dedicated audio editing module.
  • A dedicated image editing module.
  • A video and audio playback module covering MP3, CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray including HD and 3D capability.
  • A library module allowing integrated organization of all media files.
  • A Disc burning and copying module which also allows output to a range of file formats for distribution to services such as YouTube or to mobile devices.
  • Some kind of connectivity with mobile devices.

Below I have listed the three main contenders in this market but please take note that they are not listed in order of preference or desirability.

Each one covers the basic requirements of a multimedia suite more than adequately and all three are well matured, stable and well maintained products.

In all honesty you can’t really go wrong with any of them so a choice of which one comes down to your personal needs.

My own order of preferences would be as follows, understanding that the choices are based on a user having need for all modules but an emphasis on one:

For the person mainly interested in video editing:

  1.  CyberLink Media Suite 14
  2. Nero 2016
  3. Roxio Creator NXT Pro 4

For the person mainly interested in dealing with DVD or Blu-ray discs:

  1. Nero 2016
  2. CyberLink Media Suite 14
  3. Roxio Creator NXT Pro 4

For the person mainly interested in handling images:

  1. Roxio Creator NXT Pro 4
  2. CyberLink Media Suite 14
  3. Nero 2016

Product Overviews

CyberLink Media Suite 14 – Standout Feature: Video Editing and Social Media Integration

CyberLink Media Suite 14 Box ImageCyberlink Media Suite 14 comes with all the main features of a well balanced multimedia software package.

If offers a very good audio editing and manipulation module, a similarly good image editing program as well as all the other basic features you would expect.

Although very good at most things it is within the video editing part of the program that Media Suite 14 excels although it must be noted that of all three programs listed here it’s integration with various social media properties (think FaceBook etc.) is the best.

Essentially what’s on offer here is their award winning consumer level video editor PowerDirector packaged into the suite.

This has been my top choice for a video editor for a few years now and offers an enormous feature set to the average home movie maker in an easy to use interface.

Of all the choices listed here it offers easily the most user friendly interface and is very much aimed at the person who just wants to get the job done.

Click here to see CyberLink Media Suite 14

Nero 2016 – Standout Feature: DVD and Blu-ray Burning, Copying and Disc Tools

Nero 2016 box imageNero started out in life many years ago in the days when CD burners and a little later DVD burners were introduced to home computers.

At that time it was considered a rather exotic subject and way out on the leading edge of technology! How things have changed!

Because of those origins and the subsequent development of the technology Nero has had to adapt to a new world order in terms of what value their software offers.

It is that ancestry that gives Nero 2016 the strongest feature set of all three programs when it comes to handling discs of all types.

This isn’t just confined to burning or copying CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs. It extends to an incredible set of features that allow all sorts of manipulation of files in general as well the ability to output to a wide range of formats.

In keeping with this it also offers a very powerful set of disc recovery tools and data retrieval programs and in fact on my DVD Disc Repair page it is one of the main tools I recommend.

The remaining modules are quite good with none of them standing out in any way but they all do the job they are designed to do.

Click Here to See Nero 2016

Roxio Creator NXT Pro 4 – Standout Feature: Image Editing and Auto Correction Tools

creator-nxt-pro-250Roxio Creator has had a major overhaul over the past few years due to the company being bought out by Corel, the makers of VideoStudio Pro.

The included programs pretty well match it pound for pound with the others as far as general functionality goes but it excels in two main areas.

The first of these is in image editing where Corel have included their flagship image editor PaintShop Pro.

By itself this is almost worth the price of admission alone if your emphasis on usage is for editing photos.

None of the others could match this feature or even come close as it is a fully fledged “pro” image editing program.

The other area it excels in is that of correction tools for video, audio and images. The suite comes with a wide range of features to clean up sound files, correct video files and manipulate images that far exceeds what any of the others can do.

The video editor is OK as are the other features but as I say, this one is definitely for those wanting to deal mainly in images or have a need for correction technology.

Click Here to See Roxio Creator NXT

Posted in Software Reviews

MAGIX Video Pro X Review Part Two

Video Pro X8 Interface

MultiCam Editing

With Magix Video Pro X you can synchronize up to four camera recordings of events with just a single click of the mouse.

I personally love this feature. Any event these days like weddings, concerts or even graduations are going to be covered by a number of people with their own video cameras.

Trying to incorporate all the different footage in different formats and having different time codes previously made this impossible for the average video editor at home.

With this feature the editing of such events become a total breeze and this point alone makes the purchase price worth it.

This will save you so much time on painstakingly trying synchronizing video recordings using visual and sound events by hand.

Video objects can be synchronized using their sound tracks and quite literally all you need is ONE audio event that is common to each file and you can snap them together.

A More Comprehensive Overview

The real problem in reviewing software at this level of the market is the sheer number of features on offer.

Any comprehensive review is going to drag on and on forever and even then may still not cover the exact feature or features you were looking for.

So to save a little time here is a video made by Magix that gives quite a good overview of the programs full feature set

DVD Authoring with up to 8 Audio Tracks

Magix Video Pro X DVD Authoring

You can author your DVDs up with up to eight audio tracks which is especially useful for creating multi-lingual DVDs or DVDs with different sound formats (5.1 Surround, stereo etc).

Magix Video Pro X can create DVDs using a number of included templates that you can manually customize. The menus that you do customize can be saved for later use and the extended MPEG-2 settings provide full control over the video/audio quality as well as file size.

Export to Blu-ray Discs™

Video Pro X can burn movies on to Blu-ray Disc™ is just as simply as burning DVDs with animated menus and 6-channel PCM Surround Sound with the same range of functions offered for DVD.

Compatibility with Post-production Programs

You can import AVI file sequences from compositing programs like Jahshaka or Adobe After Effects™ via integrated alpha channel support.

Inserting .psd (Photoshop) files with multiple layers can be done without converting them in any way, directly into your project.

Support for Video and Audio Plug-ins

Magix Video Pro X’s extensive range of effects can be augmented with numerous video effects plug-ins and it supports the plug-in format of VirtualDub, as well as the “VitaScene” and “Adorage” by proDAD.

Tested VirtualDub plug-ins can be downloaded as an installer-package directly from Magix.

With DirectX plug-ins, audio effects of other manufacturers may also be embedded. The included VST-DX adapter light” makes it possible to embed VST plug-ins as well as DirectX plug-ins.

Broadcast-quality Audio Editing

Magix Video Pro X supports High Definition audio formats which correspond to the standard from Intel. This means that stereo signals at a sampling rate of 192kHz with 32-bit and 8-channel signals at a sampling rate of 96kHz with 32-bit may be used.

It includes professional broadcast-quality effects such as DeClipping, DeNoiser, DeHisser, equalizer, compressor, stereo effects, echo, reverb, pitch-shift, and more to help you exercise full control over your audio.

Real-time Audio Mixer

Video Pro X Mixing Desk

The software includes a real-time audio mixing desk with a master effects section as well as a separate effects rack with equalizer, reverb/echo, compressor and plug-ins for each mixer track.

The master audio level display is integrated directly into the timeline indicating the total volume at any given point to help avoid clipping or distorted audio sections in your project.

Dolby®Digital 5.1 Surround sound

You can use the Dolby® Digital 5.1 Creator to create real Surround sound with full channel control while mixing live with the audio mixer.

3D Title Effects

The integrated Magix 3D Maker can transform text and shapes into high-quality 3D graphics and animations.

There are a number of designs and templates in different styles, plus intuitive real-time editing and easy-to-understand tools will quickly help you produce professional results.
The integrated title editor allows you to change the size and position of text at any location in the image to create impressive title animations. Scrolling and blending effects is especially easy with the help of a range of practical presets, e.g. for captions or subtitles.

Multi-processor Support and GPU Hardware Acceleration

Magix Video Pro X uses the advantages of the most modern processor architectures to shorten the rendering times of complex projects on multi-processor and multi-core systems. Magix Video Pro X 1.5 uniformly scales HDV material on up to eight CPU cores to produce results faster than ever before.

The optimized real-time architecture uses not only the resources from the high-performance processor, but also those of your graphics card to decode HDV video, calculate transitions and effects, and to mix video tracks, overlays, and titles as effectively as possible.

3-way Color Correction and Secondary Color Correction

You can use color wheels with shadows, median values, light, and professional exposure control according to the lift, gamma, and gain principles. Smooth out color errors, produce a “special look”, or highlight naturally present colors.

Edit shadows, mids, and brights separately for the foreground, background, and in an extra master layer. The foreground layer features an easy to use eyedropper tool.

Change, highlight, or understate individual colors – the blue of the sky, the green of a field, or the red of a dress. This also helps you apply the “Leave color” effect: e.g. red remains and all other colored objects in the image are displayed in black and white. (think Schindler’s List)

All in all Magix Video Pro X is a pretty impressive package and for the price blows just about everything else out of the water.

To get this feature set in another video editing software package will easily require you to go up to $600 minimum so if this is the level of video editing software you are looking for then Magix Video Pro X is a great buy.

Click Here to See Magix Video Edit Pro X for Yourself

Previous Page: Magix Video Pro X Review Part One

Posted in Software Reviews

MAGIX Video Pro X Review

videorpoX-full

Magix Video Pro X is the top of the line video editing software from the European based Magix company and in posting a review of the program it is important to understand where it sits in the overall editing software universe..

This is a professional grade video editing program able to handle consumer level file formats through to fully professional broadcast quality formats so from a review perspective it is aimed at the advanced amatuer through to the total professional.

As such, it offers professional special effects and audio dubbing, has a flexible user interface for a customized workflow and is optimized to produce video, image and audio at studio quality.

Magix Video Pro X8 was the final version if the software before Magix dropped their previous version numbering system to adopt a less “version-centric” update cycle.

The program slots itself in right in the middle ground between the top consumer video editing programs and the fully professional editing market.

What is notable about it is that they have set that position by price point rather than the features or capability on offer.

Make no mistake, Magix Video Pro X may be priced at the lower end of the prosumer or even professional video software market but it’s feature set sits up there with the best of them.

Before I get into the review part of this it is important to note that this is not an average home user type of software. It is semi to fully professional and comes with a price tag around U.S. $400.

If something like this is out of your range or beyond what you have a need for then save some time and take a look HERE for more suitable consumer level editing software choices.

Who is it for?

While I can’t answer that for you specifically, just going over the full features of Video Pro X would lead me to believe that it would be a great choice for you if:

  • You are wanting to get into video editing seriously and have yet to make a decision as to what video editing program you will use BUT don’t want to spend $800 – $2000 plus to find out if it is really what you want to do.
  • You are already using a consumer level video editing program, have exhausted the possibilities there and want to step up to a prosumer or professional program.
  • You are dealing with footage from a number of separate sources and different video file formats and need a video editor that can easily handle mixed assets on the timeline.
  • You need a video editing program with more professional audio control thrown in.
  • You have equipment that is recording broadcast file formats and need a program that can handle these demanding video assets more efficiently.
  • You are dealing with multi-cam video editing projects and you require fast and easy control over synchronizing the separate footage from separate sources.
  • You just want to buy a REALLY good video editing program!

So before I get into full “review mode” take a look at this video to get a better feel for the software and what it can achieve.

MAGIX Video Pro X is the perfect software solution for intuitive and powerful video production.

Video Pro X8 Interface

Editing Interface

Video Pro X offers a flexible user interface which allows its windows to be adjusted for your particular working situation.

Both preview monitors can be resized to fit your screen or enlarged to full screen and moved to support the use of multiple monitors. Project folders, the time-line and the various media folders can be resized and moved as separate windows.

Keyboard shortcuts for all menu functions can be customized as you like allowing you to adapt your existing shortcuts from whatever program you are using to remain the same in this program. This really is a time saver as you don’t have “re-learn” a whole new set of keyboard shortcuts for basic or repetitive functions.

Users who have switched from Magix Movie Edit Pro can select whether they would like to work with the same workflow or with the Video Pro X workflow.

Supported Import Formats

Video: AVI, DV-AVI, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, MXV, MVC, MXF, ProRes, DNxHD, DVCPRO, AVC-Intra, MKV, MJPEG, QuickTime™, WMV(HD)

Audio: WAV, MP3, OGG, WMA, Dolby®Digital Stereo, Dolby®Digital 5.1

Images: JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIF, PNG, PSD, TGA

File Import Screen

Magix Video Pro X File Import Module

You can import and edit different video formats in SD or HD resolution such as DV, HDV, or AVCHD without having to change the project settings or convert the files into an intermediate format beforehand.

It supports AVCHD from camcorders and digital photo cameras allowing those video files to be imported easily into Video Pro X for further editing. The resulting projects can be burned onto AVCHD disc or Blu-ray™ and played back on Blu-ray players.

Video Pro X also supports importing and editing of the professional XDCAM format as is without any requirement for upgrades or add-ons.

Magix Video Pro X imports from a wide range of recording sources such as camcorders (DV, HDV, AVCHD, DVD), hard drive, memory card), webcams, TV cards, screen capturing software and USB video converters.

Project files created with Magix Movie Edit Pro can be imported directly into the software for further editing.

Supported Export Formats

Video: AVI, DV-AVI, MJPEG, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, QuickTime™, WMV(HD)

Audio: WAV, MP3, Dolby®Digital Stereo, Dolby®Digital 5.1

Images: JPEG, BMP

AVCHD videos can be burned onto standard blank DVDs and viewed with any conventional DVD player without having to go to the more expensive Blu-ray™system although it is supported.

Export Directly to YouTube, Mobile Devices or Numerous Different Video Formats.

You can make your finished productions available for viewing on cell phones, iPods or an entire range of other portable devices. In addition to Windows Media, RealMedia or QuickTime, export can also be done in MPEG-4/H.264/3GP with AMR and AAC audio.

You can upload videos directly to Vimeo from within the program as well as YouTube and in the case of YouTube it can be automatically in H.264 HD resolution format to maintain the very best quality possible.

Click Here to See Magix Video Edit Pro X for Yourself

Click here for part two of the Magix Video Edit Pro X Review

Posted in Software Reviews