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Monday, February 4, 2013

Getting Started with Editing Your Video

There may come a time when you're interested in becoming a little more involved with your video--an easy move considering almost every camera including phones come with some sort of editing option and every laptop comes with a basic program from the factory. Even Apple has made the iPhone a one stop shop for shooting and editing with the iMovie App.

I remember shooting a broadcast news piece when the iPhone was released along with the iMovie app. I don't recall which model it was...I believe the 4. At this point in my career, I wasn't a field photographer anymore, but I decided I wanted to go talk to the people waiting in line for their phones and (because I was lucky enough to get mine early) I wanted to shoot and edit the entire piece on my phone to really drive home how far our technology had advanced. It was important to me to convey why these people might be so interested in a phone. That was the value I wanted to communicate to the viewer. In this case, using the technology seemed to be a good way to drive that point home.

I was surprised how easily I was able to do something right on my phone which I normally used several thousand dollars worth of equipment to accomplish.

By now we've gotten used to and expect that kind of power in our smart phones, but the moral of the story is that it's not what you use to shoot and edit, but how you use it.

That's why you won't find me outright endorsing any particular editing software or camera. There are many writers on the Internet that devote all of their time to this. Matter of fact, I don't know if I could tell you every available option out there and certainly haven't used all of the editing software available.

What's more important are the principals behind editing. The same principals I applied whether using expensive AVID software or the iMovie app.

Editing simply means reducing the raw video you've shot down to the parts you feel are the most interesting or convey the most important things about the scene you're hoping to portray. It also allows you to take multiple video files or shots and combine them.

Editing is going to allow you to take all of your video and condense it down into one, easily understood story. And that's the key here: story. Just like shooting video needs to be about communicating what you value in a particular happening, editing needs to aid in telling that story. And it needs to help the person watching that video better understand what's going on.

What you're shooting and what you're editing go hand in hand. In fact, the more involved you get in editing and shooting video, the more intertwined the two become.

So the most basic idea with editing is getting rid of the video that doesn't really mean anything. Perhaps you wanted to film your friend's speech, but started recording a minute before he started talking. Editing allows you to get rid of that minute of useless video. This idea in particular is usually referred to as "trimming". If you imagine your video as a line (or timeline) where the pictures are laid out in chronological order starting from when you pressed record, then you're trimming what's on the front in and back to make the clip shorter so that you're only sharing what's important with the viewer.

The next basic idea is combining separate shots. So say you've recorded your friend's speech and then several minutes later another friend gave a speech and you shot that as well, but you wanted to combine those two things into one continuous video. Editing will let you splice those two clips together.

I know this is basic, basic stuff, but it needs to be addressed.

Think about it in terms of time. You're wanting to communicate something you value: you're friends' speeches. At the same time, you want what you're trying to communicate to be easily understood and convenient for the person viewing it. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to sit through a bunch of dead time while other people are talking or nothing is happening. In editing, you're simply removing that time in order to convey the most valuable parts....while still telling the story of the event you value.

If you're wanting to tell the stories of your life with video, then eventually you're going to want to start becoming familiar with editing.

Understanding the basic ideas above is the first step.

If you're ready to make your edited videos more pleasant for the viewer, then we'll need to discuss some more advanced topics.

To me, the very first concept is that of the JUMP CUT. I will address that in my next post.