Thursday, December 27, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #46

France 2001:  Balloon over Dijon (Edited 2002)
My video camera was pick-pocketed during our first visit to France in 2001.  So moving pictures and sounds of Paris are missing for that trip.  However we extended the visit with a barge trip on the Burgundy Canal.  Another passenger allowed me to put my tape in his camera, so that piece of our trip were captured.

In 2002 I began taking multimedia classes at the local community college.  One semester focused on Adobe Premiere.  This video is one of my class projects; it was required to use music, transitions, and graphic overlays.  I also placed a "bug" in the lower right hand corner ... this now-ubiquitous annoyance was pretty advanced at the time.

I like the way the graphic balloon follows a twisted flight path in the beginning of the video.  The composited images and music provide a relaxed atmosphere and add some interest to this slow float over the French countryside.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #45

Africa 2002:  Zimbabwe Announcement & The End

Ding-Dong!  That started the fist vignette from this trip; now it also ends the show.  This was a simple "thank you" and "The End" for the DVD which was composed of ten other short movies.

It works well on DVD, but makes no sense out of context on YouTube. 

A YouTube video should be short yet have some sort of conprehensible storyline.  This clip does not belong on-line, but was placed there as an educational resource for anyone who is following this blog series about creating enjoyable travel videos.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #44

Africa 2002: Monde School in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe was and is a crumbling social disaster.  Monde School was trying to help the residents achieve some degree of education, which is tough when life is subsistence.

Nice scenes of the children singing, with an "L-cut" that allows their voices to underlie other video clips.  I like the close-up of hanging ornaments and workbooks.

Lessons Learned:
Capture the natural sound even if you won't use all of the accompanying video.
Close-ups make good cutaways.

There is a very prominent smudge on the camcorder lens.  Probably a good idea to carry some lens tissue and make a habit of using it!

Let's rescue your horrible vacation video.  Turn it into something your friends will enjoy watching!
Africa Botswana mopane worm eating Zimbabwe Victoria Falls hotel

Monday, December 3, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #43

Africa 2002:  Zimbabwe Village

Visitors are surprised to find Zimbabwe's rural people living in dirt-floor huts whose walls are plastered with cow dung.  They're much more interested in shopping for handmade crafts.  This video is somewhat instructive, somewhat insulting.  Looking back at it, I don't especially care for my attempts at humor.

Once again, considering that the original audience viewed this on DVD as part of a remembrance of their travels,  it was appropriate at the time.  Now I would likely consider a re-edit that would focus on people and culture.

Lessons Learned:
Things change, thoughts change, awareness changes.  Something considered "pretty good" ten years ago might become a candidate for re-edit.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #42

Africa 2002:  Zambezi River Cruise

Yawning hippos, threatening crocodiles.  Do I really want to be on this pontoon boat?  The sunset is pretty and we see a couple of the travelers.

This is a kind-of "filler" clip.  The original media was a multi-chapter DVD, this fills a gap in the chronological sequence.  It may be of interest to those who were on the trip, but not compelling for a general audience such as "YouTube"

Lessons Learned:
Consider the audience.  This very short clip worked well in the original DVD, and jogs a memory of what we did on that afternoon.  Another person watching the DVD sees it in context and that also works well.  So USE it for that purpose, but don't expect it to go viral on the Internet.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #41

Africa 2002:  Victoria Falls

The hotel doorman gives some outrageous directions; next thing you know we are overlooking the massive falls.  Water mist, rainbows, droplets on the lens.  Wish I had an HD camera ten years ago!
Slow motion effects are effective, and Beethoven's music is perfect.  This is a nice little video.

Lessons Learned:
Steady the camera, be patient, allow the beauty to unfold.

Take your eye off the viewfinder and appreciate the natural wonder.  Tomorrow's technology will allow consumers to capture in even higher definition, but it will never replace your own eyes, ears, and memory!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #40

Africa 2002:  Zimbabwe Godfather

Mismanaged and corrupt, collapse of the Zimbabwe economy was underway.  President Mugabe was manipulating the currency for the benefit of his offshore accounts, creating an opportunity for freelance money changers.  The hotel doorman hooked us up with one of those guys ... a character with the ominous name of ... "Con".

What happens when some of the cash is missing?  Will we be able to pay for dinner?

One of our friends narrates the story, it's certainly a fun memory.  But it might be one of those videos that's for a limited audience.  When I play it for folks I usually stop the movie and provide a background story. 

There's a lot of money counting, music and stills from The Godfather are well-placed.  Light in the restaurant was very dim, so the I desaturated color and raised brightness which created something watchable and also a nice effect. Audio is from the camcorder's microphone, some of it is over-modulated.

Lessons Learned:
We have so much ownership of these vacation videos that we are sometimes unaware of an "inside joke".  Have an uninvolved person preview the movie before publishing it to the world.

Two lines of narration might set up the video for an audience that doesn't know the background story.

Music Copyright Considerations:
This is a short excerpt from one of my older edited videos.  It contains some identifiable music that is regrettably used without permission.  But remember the time this video was created; in 1997 the audience for this production was usually sitting in my living room.  "Fair Use" allowed me to use the music without consideration of copyright.
Today, with digital distribution, artists' rights deserve more attention.  Since this video is intended for non-profit illustration and educational purposes only, I believe that valid arguments can be made for its "Fair Use" in this situation.  Please understand that I do not encourage improper use of copyrighted material.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #39

Africa 2002:  Zimbabwe

Ding-Dong!  That's an attention grabber.  Then a native guy introduces "The Show" and the audience is subjected to a short visual collage of unexpected scenes that includes eating worms!

The DVD that I created from this trip became my first use of a "vignette" concept.  Multiple chapters, each with its own story, presented more-or-less chronologically.  I rarely leave home with the story concept; just keep the camera running and hope for inspiration during the edit.  So each vignette become the result of serendipitous inspiration during the edit.

This particular vignette is the opening of the DVD.  We gain a humorous glimpse of the various travelers in an unusual setting.  It was shot and edited in 2002, using Pinnacle Studio.  If re-edited I might sweeten the sound and tweak the coloration, but it is essentially well done and humorous.

03/15/2014:  I noticed today that the video ends abruptly with scenes from the Zimbabwe Elephant Camp.  That was supposed to be a separate blog post.  Oops!  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #38

Africa 2002:  Meet The Beetles

How do dung beetles feed their families in Africa?  They roll big balls of elephant poop from the roads to their nests.

Here it is, captured on videotape.  A lighthearted view of the beetles doing their job, with some Disney music thrown in.  One continuous unedited take for your enjoyment.

Music is from Snow White ... the prequel to Heigh Ho, about digging in a diamond mine.  Metaphorically speaking, I thought it was appropriate.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #36 & #37

Africa 2002:  Grey As A Mouse (NO copyrighted music)  #36

Africa 2002:  Grey As A Mouse (YES copyrighted music)  #37

These are two versions of my "Elephant" video from our second trip to Africa.  You may recall that Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" was released in 2001.  I decided to read Tolkein's books before seeing the movie, and read them during this trip.  Coincidentally we experienced a large herd of elephants at the same time I read Sam's recitation of a nursery rhyme about "Olifants".
This could not be mere coincidence.

I was inspired to use the poem in a video.  It begins with a native play that includes an elephant puppet,  then I come on screen to personally narrate the poem and introduce close-up video of the giant animals.  The closing scenes are of the elephant herd, with titles and background music.
Example #36 above uses natural sound from the elephant puppet show for the closing background music.  It works well enough and won the annual competition at the local amateur videomakers club.
Example #37 is the same movie, but an excerpt from Fleetwood Mac's song Tusk is used for the closing music.  I think it's a superior version, but the music would have violated rules for the competition.  Notably, no one has questioned the use of Tolkein's work.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #35

Africa 2002:  Romance

This is the first of eleven clips from our second trip to Africa.  The video was taken in Chobe National Park, Botswana, from the back of a jeep where I sat with six other tourists.  We were not allowed to get out of the vehicle; as everyone jostled to get the best camera angles, the fully zoomed video became shaky, but that problem is mostly forgiven by viewers because of the subject matter.

Music is an old doo-wop favorite from the Orioles, It's Too Soon To Know, which perfectly sets the mood.  Slow zoom in, hold, then slow zoom out works well as the lyrics and visuals relate the story of "Mr. Belt."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #34

Matt Tries to Surf:  2002

When my nephew from the midwest visited us in San Diego, the Pacific Ocean was a real treat for him.  We asked a Rick to give Matt a surfing "lesson."  Result:  the surfing professionals have nothing to worry about, but our guest was happy! 

While editing the video I had an idea to composite a shark into the waves.  (This would explain why Matt kept falling.)  Well, I knew nothing about alpha channels, and early versions of Pinnacle Studio DV did not have a keying feature.  But the family enjoyed this video anyway!

Titles, interviews, cuts and fades are all well done.  Music is Pipeline by The Ventures.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Videos Uploaded and Ready to Discuss! Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video

I just completed uploading thirty-eight more videos to YouTube.  These are digital edits that were used as DVD chapters from two vacations, Africa (2002) and France (2004).

So, there's lots of great stuff to come.  Plenty of discussion about how to create easy-to-watch video from boring source material.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #33

India 2000:  Laughing Through India

You might have guessed from Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #32 that we were having a great time on this trip to India.  And you would be correct!

I used Pinnacle Studio DV to compile this assortment of crazy clips soon after our return from the trip.  Even today, twelve years later, I smile at the memories.  Please be assured that we are good tourists, and absolutely love India.  The language and cultural differences create challenges, but our ability to laugh at ourselves makes world travel fun!  I hope no one takes offense from this video, as none was intended!

I like this video.  It's certainly not a typical travel video; sights, sounds, and landmarks go unexplained.  It's more a video explanation of, "Why do you people like to travel together?"
The musical selection, Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now [, I'm having such a good time!]" perfectly establishes the tone of the movie.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #32

India 2000:  Elevator Antics

This is an experiment that I tried using my new digital editing tool - Pinnacle Studio DV.
Our friend Tom had a room on the first floor of the Taj Hotel in Jodhpur, India.  After dinner he was frustrated by the elevator which refused to take him from the first floor to the first floor.
So we re-enacted the incident.  Soon, everyone had to get into the act.  Hotel staff were certainly puzzled by the five people giggling and having a great time in the elevator lobby!

I set the camcorder on a table, which created a steady-framed picture, then used cut and fade edits.  (Trying to achieve something like a Star Trek transporter effect.)
Music was well-selected, the fun Give Up the Funk by George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic is perfect for the comedy.

This was a great idea that begs to be shortened.  After 5-1/2 minutes of giving up the funk, the joke is tired and boring.  I think the re-edited duration should be about thirty seconds.  Perhaps it could be reprised as part of a longer production, for instance a ten-second version could be funny if it appears later in the movie.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #31

Nepal 2000:  Mount Everest

This is the first of three clips from our second trip to the India subcontinent.  These were also the first videos I produced 100% digitally, using the previously discussed Pinnacle Studio DV.  My Windows PC sputtered, gasped, and crashed multiple times but was able to output these three edits before in-between upgrades of hardware and software.

This six-minute video actually tells a story!  Beginning with title, map, and a waving brochure we know that this will be a sightseeing flight to the Himalayas on Buddha Air.  Beginning with a lot of humor, the viewer knows they will enjoy their time with these tourists!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Digital Non-Linear editing -- Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video

Pinnacle Studio DV

Pinnacle Video Director Studio 200 enthusiasts were very active in discussion forums.  The technology was exciting, but necessarily limited by our consumer-grade equipment.  My PC was unable to control camcorder playback functions with Panasonic's 5-pin interface.  Others had more success if their camcorder used Sony's LANC control.

After spending hours with Pinnacle's tech support people, they invited me to beta-test a new product.  Pinnacle Studio DV was released in 1999, shipping with a Firewire PC-interface card and new software.  Fully-digital non-linear editing was now within reach of non-professionals!  But users were still limited by Windows system crashes, expensive hard drives, and the FAT-32 file system.

I now entered a never-ending cycle of upgrading hardware > upgrading software > upgrading hardware > etc.  It was impossible to reliably produce a long-form production.  
However I did manage to create three short videos from our second trip to India in 2000, plus another little family fun video.  Those will be the next four discussions on heNBC's History of Vacation Video.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

1,000 PAGEVIEWS !!!!

This blog passed a milestone today.

Thanks for taking the time to look at
(I hope you're learning something, or at least feeling entertained.)


Monday, October 22, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #30

Peru and the Amazon 1999:  Opening Titles Concept

When I previewed the twelve mind-numbing hours of raw footage from our trip to the Amazon, I had no idea what the video story would look like.  Although the destination sounds exotic, scenes of leafy canopy and flooded river will only hold audience interest for a few minutes.  Peru is actually a more entertaining subject.

Later that year, I was experimenting with feeding broadcast television through a VHS recorder onto my camcorder.  After successfully recording a few programs on miniDV, I used Pinnacle Video Director Studio 200 to create a bizarre mix tape.  The incomprehensible story told in this mix could have become the basis for a Peru/Amazon vacation video.

Here's the plot:  Imagine the bad guys from Magnificent Seven battle the Starship Enterprise and The Highlander, only to be foiled by Rocky, Bullwinkle, and The Three Stooges. 
The world is certainly thankful that I dropped this idea!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #29

Antarctica 1998:  Ten Minutes

This was an early attempt to extract the "Best Of" from the original long edit.  I was corresponding with other early adopters of Pinnacle's Video Director, and they wanted to see what I was working on. offered free hosting up to five megabytes;  I created a rudimentary site with Microsoft Frontpage.  Then I produced and uploaded a low-resolution RealVideo file using Video Director 200.  "The Ten Minute Antarctica" is the first movie I ever posted to the Internet!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #28

Antarctica 1998:  Cute Little Penguin

This is a quick, funny clip from Antarctica.  The baby penguin had too much krill in its belly, and it exploded violently in front of the camera!

This is one of those moments when you are lucky to have the camera running.  Just a few seconds long, but it would make a cute transition between longer chapters of a complete vacation video.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #27

Easter Island 1998

I took twelve hours of video during our multi-destination vacation in February of 2008.  Beginning in Bariloche, Argentina; crossing the Andean lakes to the coast of Chile; from Santiago to Easter Island; returning to Santiago and then on a cruise to Antarctica.

You know from previous posts that my analog 8mm camcorder had failed; to replace it I invested in an early miniDV unit made by Panasonic ... the AG-EZ20.  I loved that little camcorder, used it around the world until it was pick-pocketed in Paris.  Although the video was captured in DV, there were no affordable hobbyist solutions for digital editing.  So a 105-minute analog edit onto VHS tape was made with the help of Video Director Studio 200.

This six-minute Easter Island excerpt is the first of three that I'll be writing about on

Monday, October 15, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #26

India 1997:  Andaman Islands

When the cruise ship arrived at Port Blair, Andaman Islands, it was greeted by a discordant local band playing ... Que Será Será.  Well that could have set the stage for a crazy video; and it might in some future edit.  But remember, this is 1997 and we're happy just to superimpose a few titles using Video Director Studio 200!

There is also a technical disaster.  Shortly after capturing the musical greeting, the 8mm analog camcorder stops recording usable video.  So there are few usable video memories from this location and also the next cruise stop, which was Yangon, Myanmar (Rangoon, Burma).

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #25

India 1997:  Cochin

Thankfully there is no tape damage in this two minute clip.  Excerpted from the original 80-minute edit on VHS tape, the viewer is introduced to the beauty of Cochin, India.

The scenery is nice, with a little humor as we are surprised by the name of a neighborhood called "Jew Town".  Pleasant enough, but this is just a slideshow of unmotivated moving pictures.  I think we could do better if edited today, using some of our previously discussed editing tricks.

Lessons Learned:
You included this scene for a reason, make sure the viewer understands your motivation.

It needs to be part of a story.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #24

India 1997:  Goa & Mangalore

This six minute clip begins with a nice title that includes an interesting still photo compositied onto a moving background.  I'm obviously having some fun with the effects made possible with Video Director Studio 200.   Audio is pretty much unintelligible, but there is some potentially usable video from the tomb of St. Francis Xavier and also from a "Stealth Cam" walk through the marketplace
A pyramid of acrobatic drummers greets the ship in Mangalore, but the original tape is heavily damaged at the cashew and roofing tile factory tours.  Some music replaces the sound and a few still photos supplement the jumpy video.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #23

India 1997:  Taj Majal
This is another clip from our first trip to India.  It opens with some interesting but lengthy street scenes as we approach the outer gate.   Passing through the gate, we begin to see the Taj Majal.  But the cameraman [me] is so entranced with the experience that image framing is poor.  [Who can blame me?]
Video Director Studio 200 allowed me to create titles that explain no video cameras were allowed within the Taj.  So there's a "first ever" digital slide show.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #22

India 1997:  "DIGITAL EDITING"  -- Remembering Video Director Studio 200

By 1997 I had been making manually-edited videos of  our vacations for eight years.  Pinnacle Systems was advertising Video Director Studio 200 in Videomaker magazine with the questionable claim "Edit videos like a pro, right on your PC!

Pinnacle Systems had specialized in professional video editing equipment and software.  Now they were dipping their toes into the hobbyist market after acquiring a product, "VideoDirector," from a company named Gold Disk.

For $200 I received sets of cables and a mysterious "purple box" that needed to be connected to my '286 computer which was running either Windows95 or Windows98.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pop Quiz "Answers" - Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video

Can the "Thailand Chiang Mai: 1994" be saved?

Overwhelming response was to "Throw that clip into the trash bin!"
I pretty much agree.  That clip is unusable as shown.  Since our goal is to entertain our audience, we have to worry about pacing, and need to be ruthless in throwing away scenes that don't work.

Having said that, let's have some fun just thinking about how we could salvage some value from this clip.  Perhaps not used in today's production, but held as our personal "Stock footage" and placed into some  future video.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #21 - POP QUIZ

If you've been reading my posts, you could be developing a sense of editing techniques I might use to improve the watchability of older vacation videos.  Here's a video clip that you haven't seen before.  How would you approach this video if you were re-editing it today on your computer?

Thailand 1994:  Chiang Mai

The video clip is (mercifully) only 32 seconds long.  Use your imagination ... think of these scenes as part of a larger edited project.

I'll offer some ideas in my next post.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Musical Travesty creates Video Opportunity? - Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video

Two weeks ago we went to a backyard party on Labor Day.  The hostess was feeling uninhibited (thanks to free-flowing alcohol) so she dusted off her decades-old accordion.  Our unscheduled entertainment included vocal stylings by her husband.  Both the instrumentalist and singer chose to use a melodic key that had never before been heard on planet earth.

This was a magic moment, one of those rare occasions that cry out for a video archive.  So I used my iPhone 4S.  It was well past sunset, and the only light was provided by gas flame in a fire pit.  The raw footage is incredibly dark, with host and hostess silhouetted in the fading light of the western sky.  Take a look at what I was able to do in a half-hour edit using Final Cut Pro X:

The original sound was nearly unintelligible.  I boosted levels using FCPX's built-in audio effect "Compressor" plus some keyframed volume adjustments.   The vocalist (who is singing some aberration of Julida Polka) was slurring his words, so I added titles for the lyrics.

The silhouetted video was a real problem.  No combination of FCPX's built-in filters seemed to boost the lighting levels acceptably.  I had obtained a deeply-discounted copy of Crumplepop's "Finisher" plug-in at the 2012 NAB show, but never used it before.  Adjustments to Finisher's Subject, Background, Contrast, Brightness, Saturation, and Detail sliders helped a lot.  Then I completed the enhancement with FCPX's built-in "Spotlight" filter.

The result is grainy and imperfect; but most importantly it's funny!
This is a hobby, after all.  We have to embrace magic moments like these and find a way to make our audience laugh.  And it's even better when friends deserve to be embarrassed!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #20

Ireland 1996:  Belfast Murals - Video Montage

1996, the "Troubles" had calmed, but horrific memories were evident when we visited Belfast.
We asked the taxi dispatcher for a "neutral" driver to take us on a tour of the murals. The assigned driver chose to show us deeply troubling murals and graveyards in the Catholic areas.  Returning home, I determined to create a video that reflected my feelings -- a plea for peace.

This is probably my earliest effort to deliver a social message using a video montage.  The soundtrack is Against The Wind by Máire Brennan.  The lyrics are a plea to "take a stand" against the "old ways."  I was surprised by the partisan comments that were posted when this video was uploaded to YouTube in 2012.  What inspired the writers of those comments?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #19

Ireland 1996:  Quiet Man Locations

The Quiet Man, my favorite John Ford movie, was filmed about an hour north of Galway in the Irish village of Cong.  Residents literally operate a "cottage industry."  Entrepreneurs have constructed a furnished replica of John Wayne's thatched cottage, happily selling Quiet Man souvenirs and maps to filming locations.

One drizzly afternoon in 1996 we tracked down all of those locations.  Some were remarkably unchanged; others, such as the original cottage, were blasphemously unpreserved.  Naturally my camcorder never stopped running.  When we got home I attempted to match my clips to scenes from the movie.  The result is this 9-minute movie, which is somewhat successful.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #18

Ireland 1996:  Waterford Crystal Factory
This clip contains some promising images.  Handheld but stable, good color saturation, focused well without excessive zoom & pan.  The beginnings of a nice video montage.
Sound is blown out with the loudness of the factory, so we cant distinguish what the guide is saying.  I also notice that no one is wearing ear protection; eye protection is limited to prescription spectacles; burn protection seems to be non-existent.  Perhaps this could be re-edited as the "bad examples" in a safety video?

I hope there are some extra frames in the source footage to provide editing handles at the beginning and end of each short scene.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #17

Ireland 1996:  Jameson Whiskey Distillery

This is a simple little clip selected from the 65-minute tape-to-tape edit of our trip to Ireland.  I like the establishing shot at the beginning with a Waterwheel in front of the Jameson's sign.  A big grin after sampling the six whiskeys, then my official "Irish Whiskey Taster" certificate.  Accompanied by an an appropriate song ... i
t tells a story in only thirty seconds!  

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #16

Africa 1995:  Charging Elephants

This is 3-1/2 minutes of video that's worth watching; I was lucky to have the camcorder running as the family of elephants threatened our vehicle!  The bull elephant even displays his manhood after chasing us away!  Great sound and good video.

Clips like these can become the centerpiece of a watchable video.  Imagine building suspense with music reaching a crescendo as the roar of the elephants scares us out of our seats!

Although the camera is a little jumpy, the audience doesn't notice.  This is a case where handheld is the appropriate choice!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #15

Africa 1995:  Caped Buffalo

This is another segment from my 110-minute tape-to-tape edit of our African adventure. The two-minute sequence of shots was a happy coincidence, lifted directly from 12 hours of source video. 

The video of varied wildlife subjects is interesting, but jumpy.  The moving safari vehicle did no favors for the camera.  Perhaps stabilizing filters in modern editing software could help here.
Instrumental music, borrowed from Lion King.  That wa a good choice back in 1995 for private exhibition of this work [see below for copyright discussion].

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #14

Africa 1995:  Stuck in the Masai Mara

What happens when your vehicle gets stuck in the Masai Mara?  Let the tour company's drivers handle it ... there's lions nearby!

This two minute video is actually a pair of segments from my tape-to-tape of that 1995 vacation.  I like it; the stuck vehicle is a humorous interlude, the lion dragging its dinner is for the National Geographic crowd.  A couple of titles, maybe some background music, and these clips are ready for prime time!

Good pacing, steady camera.  These two scenes could easily find a place in the digital re-edit. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #13

Africa 1995:  Mount Kenya Safari Club

Here's an interesting video from our trip to Kenya in 1995.  It starts with some great footage of a native drumming troupe on the club grounds, then a nature hike, and visit to the animal orphanage.

Edited in-camera, this six minutes is reasonably paced and already quite entertaining.  It would benefit from some titling to orient the viewer, and a digital re-edit would likely make use of at least 50% of this footage!  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #12

Hong Kong Finicular 1994

Today I'm presenting this clip from Hong Kong.  Looking ahead, there will be four clips each from Africa and Ireland.  Then you'll be able to see what happened when I graduated to a type of digitally assisted editing in 1997.

This clip is less than a minute long, extracted from the original 80 minute edit of a trip to Thailand and Hong Kong.  Images from the funicular windows as it climbed the mountain, and fountain at the top are fun!  I like the raw material; camera work is steady, framing is reasonably good.  These could be nice scenes in a future edit.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Deep Thoughts About Editing Vacation Video: Where do we go from here?

A couple of weeks ago I began posting portions of everything I've ever edited onto YouTube.
Web journalism has become my new hobby.  heNBC allows me to share tips about simple but imaginative editing with other hobbyists.

The blog started with my earliest examples -- 22 years ago when we used to have to hook up two VHS decks and use the pause/record buttons to trim a video.  Even those horrible, long tapes have some good ideas.]   Eventually the blog entries will catch up to my newest edits.

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #11 - INTERMISSION?


After spending hours with the Pause/Record buttons on two VCRs, I discovered a 4-minute gap in the edited Master tape.  I could delete the gap it if I made another generation copy, but the analog video quality would suffer.  What should I do?  

Fill the gap with an "Intermission."  I connected the camcorder directly to the VCR, inserting 4 minutes of our cat playing!

This turned out to be an entertaining excuse to wake up my audience so they could watch the rest of the 90-minute video.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #10

Galapagos 1994

This was my first attempt to create a "Music Video"

Blue-footed Boobies entertained us with their mating dance when we visited the Galapagos Islands in May of 1994.  This video attempts to choreograph the birds with Frank Sinatra's old hit "The Continental".

Selected from six hours of source footage, these two minutes are easy to watch!  
Still hampered by VHS tape technology,  it's obvious that I made some extra effort to be selective when linking together the selected clips.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video - #9

New Zealand 1993 - Angora Rabbits
If the video fails to appear on your mobile device, 
please play it on your desktop computer.

Once again it's a tape-to-tape edit.  Beginning with four hours of source footage, my final production was 83 minutes long.
This clip begins with a lot of promise!  For instance, the informal conversation while looking at a road map provides great orientation.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #8

Greece 1992:  Crete

It apears that after two weeks in Greece, my camera work had improved a little.  This clip was taken at King Minos' bronze-age palace at Knossos on the island of Crete.  

Sound is natural, no music added in the edit.  Video picture from a guide book confirms the location.  Clip highlight might be the tour guide's narration, although it is probably too long for an entertaining edit. 

Deep Thoughts About Editing Vacation Video: Comic Voice-over

I found this video on YouTube.  Scott Markowitz [formerly the creative force behind  CreativeHomeMovie[dot]com***] created an example of how to use comic voice-over to breathe some life into an otherwise boring movie.

***UPDATE 9/26/2015 ***
"creativehomemovie[dot]com" appears to have been abandoned by Scott.  When I clicked it presented some sort of click & redirect mess -- fortunately no porn, but definitely an unsafe website!  So don't go there.
For some reason, his voice-over home movie still works.  Watch it below:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #7

Greece 1992: On The Road, Athens to Larissa

If the video fails to appear on your mobile device, 
please play it on your desktop computer.

I have six hours of source footage from our tri
p to Greece in 1992.  This sample clip is mercifully only 2-1/2 minutes long.  
It's point-of-view, taken from the front passenger seat of a moving car.  There are glimpses of a map and a guidebook, plus appropriate Sirtaki mandolin music.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Editing tricks for Amateur Vacation Video - #6

Mexico Cruise 1991 - Cabo San Lucas

If the video fails to appear on your mobile device, 
please play it on your desktop computer.

I've rediscovered a couple of older edited tapes.  The Mexico Cruise had four hours of source footage, final version was 91 minutes.
This sample clip is point-of-view, bobbing and panning from a glass-bottomed-boat.  Copyrighted music was borrowed from Herb Alpert, and is perhaps its best part.  Once again the camera points to a travel brochure which provides titles.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Vacation Video Equipment: 27-LED "Worklight"

I bought one of these from Harbor Freight a few days ago.  It was $2.99 with a coupon, $3.49 on their website.  Here's a link.

3 front-facing LED's for a flashlight, and a 24 LED array for a floodlight.
Magnetic base and hanging hook on the back.  Comes with 3 AAA batteries which are supposedly good for up to 48 hours.
It's very bright, but color temperature seems a bit blue.  Certainly good enough to light a pathway, or maybe light a scene in an emergency.  It's earned a spot in my camera bag.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #5

Alaskan Cruise 1989 - Inside Passage

[This is the third of three clips that I have posted from the Alaskan vacation.]

This short example clip illustrates how a good choice of background music can set the mood, making your video memorable. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #4

Alaskan Cruise 1989: Skagway

[This is the second of three clips that I'll be posting from the Alaskan vacation.]
Editing technique consisted of playing parts of the original 12-hour video from my 8mm analog camcorder into a consumer VHS tape recorder.  Using the record/pause function on the VHS recorder I managed to create an edit that was just 1 hour 45 minutes.

This short example clip illustrates my earliest ideas for titles and background music.  
Titles were created by focusing the camcorder upon literature from the cruise line.  That simple addition tells the viewer that the ship was named MTS Daphne, it was Tuesday, and the port-of-call was Skagway Alaska.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tripod Panning Technique - Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video

I've been a member of The The American Motion Picture Society [AMPS] for several years.  This is a club for non-commercial movie-making enthusiasts.  They used to hold annual gatherings; those have now evolved into something that's more web-based.  I love the advice on their Film Talk page, and also found this great tripod technique on their Cinema page:

AMPS conducts two festivals for non-commercial productions.  Members who submit an entry into one festival gain automatic entry into the second.  I've just submitted two masterpieces:  "Mexico City 1995" and "Monsters of the Amazon".

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #3

Alaska Cruise 1989

We bought our first camcorder in 1989 in preparation for a family cruise to Alaska.   It was a Sony Handicam that used 120-minute 8mm analog videotapes.  I used six tapes during the trip; 75% is devoted to the shipboard entertainment and especially the showgirls.

HAH!!!  I'm glad I have nine hours of this stuff!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #2

Home Movies on 8mm Film

Kodak introduced its Brownie 8mm Movie Camera in 1951.  These were priced affordably (about $30) ... the "real cost" was in the film's processing.  Many dads added the role of "cinematographer" to their job descriptions!

Serious hobbyists could splice their short 3-minute filmstrips into longer spools.  Some formed clubs and edited their home movies to create stories.  But in most cases the families watched their home movies in their original form.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #1

Kodak Carousel 35mm Slide Show

My earliest experience with an amateur vacation presentation must have been watching slideshows projected onto a screen from a Kodak Carousel Slide Projector.
These projectors had an automatic mode that changed slides every few seconds, or the presenter could narrate using a wired remote control to move forward or backward.  Entertainment value was directly proportional to the presenter's sense of humor. 

I hope you find this interesting!

I acquired my first camcorder in 1989.  Since then, my wife and I have dragged vacation gear around the world on our vacations.  That's hundreds of hours of video.  In its unedited form, most of it is unwatchable!

I'll be posting "Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video", using my own work as examples.  The next post will talk about my earliest examples.  Then we'll step forward in time, as I attempt to edit with two VHS tape recorders then advance to the digital age.  

Perhaps, along the way, this writer and readers of will share some ideas that make sense!

Thanks for looking; I'll try to keep it interesting.