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.