Thursday, January 31, 2013

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #56

France 2004: Loire Valley

We hit the road again, a few days in the Loire Valley on the way to meeting the rest of our group further south.  This 7th vignette starts with some nice music but is unmotivated until we enter Chateau Royal D'Amboise.  Some nice camera work of Gargoyles, gardens, and structures.  This is where Leonardo DaVinci died; humorous scene when Gloria thinks she's discovered his "secret".  
A quick look inside Chateau de Clemonceau spins a portrait of Louis on his head, then we tell a few jokes as we drive off in the rain.

This chapter does not tell a coherent story.  Why did we visit these locations?  What did we hope to see?
Similar to the Mont Ste Michel chapter, this video content seems to have been driven by the length of the song.  It could have easily been presented in less than half the time.  

The next chapter needs to be very entertaining, because at this point I can feel that we are losing the attention of the audience.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #55

France 2004: Mont Saint Michel

This is a "horror movie" about the rocky monastery of Mont Ste. Michel.  Others might call it a "horrible movie"?  Chapter #6 of 23 ... it makes liberal use of sound and color effects.  Do you think I look scary when my picture is combined with the soundtrack from Phantom of the Opera?  Actually, nothing too scary here.  But it sure looks damp and grey.

A watchable little movie.  But I think it could be improved if reduced from six minutes to less than four.  In this case, It looks like I stretched the video material to fit the length of the music track.

Chapter #5 was an emotional look at Normandy Battlefields.  If watching the chapters in sequence, this video does a good job of slowly bringing the audience back into a cheerful mood.  The opening scene, with desaturated sepia coloration and sound effects is almost worthy os a "B" horror movie.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #54

France 2004: Bayeux - Normandy

This is the 5th of 23 video chapters edited from our trip to France in 2004.

We arrived in Bayeux a month before the 60th anniversary of D-Day, then toured the Normandy battlefields and cemeteries.  The visit was moving; I found it emotionally difficult to edit this video.  Needed a lot of breaks to pull myself together.

A few highlights:
  • The use of slow-motion in opening scene of a waterwheel helps to slow the expectations of the audience.
  • Vangelis' music is suitably somber and heroic.
  • I composited newsreel footage over my own video clips.  Incredibly, with little conscious editing effort, the ghosts of soldiers appeared to walk the same locations that we witnessed sixty years later.  This was the single most incredible, almost supernatural, thing that's ever happened to me at a computer!
  • President Reagan's address from the 50th anniversary of D-Day always leaves me speechless.
This is not a typical home-video narrated look at World War 2 battlefields.  This is not a video that draws applause from its audience.  It does command silent, reverent attention.  I think it is a great success.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #53

France 2004: A Botany Lesson

This fourth vignette from France is simple and fun.  A fanciful title ... classical music ... is this Masterpiece Theatre?  HAH!  Listen to the dialog and that idea is quickly dispelled.

We kept seeing flowering trees, but I had trouble remembering remembering their names.  This quick lesson set the record straight.  This video is not in proper chronological order ... did you notice?  No!  And that's important to remember.  As a video editor you have the  power to rearrange time!

When this was edited in 2004 I did not have a tool to reduce the background noise of the minibus' diesel engine ... that extraneous sound is perhaps the only thing I would change in this little video.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #52

 France 2004: Giverney

This 3rd of 23 vignettes takes us to Monet's home in Giverney, France.  You can feel a bit of tension as we escape the traffic loop around Paris, followed by the serenity of the garden.  Title says "Giverney", but a roadside directional sign points to it.  A simple video, nice easy pacing.  I like its serenity, enhanced by Willie Nelson's performance of Stardust.

Lessons Learned:
Signage captured in the video is a nice change of pace from electronically-generated titles.
Consider using gentle pacing and music, versus frenetic high-energy editing. 

I consider this three-minute vignette to be a success. Its is an enjoyable story that works separately or combined as part of the larger collection. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #51

 France 2004: Paris

This is the second in my series of 23 vignettes from our 2004 trip to France.  We transition from the craziness of Chapter One's fictional introduction and really begin to "feel" like we're on vacation.  

Eurostar arrives, and the viewer is immersed into the City of Lights.  Mood of the sequence is enhanced by music from Josephine Baker,  ending with a fade to black.  Fade-in from black then another segment begins, showing us more of Paris.  It is not until the very end of the video that we see images of the four travelers who have rendezvoused; this is the beginning of their adventure!

Take a look at the beginning title; I was experimenting with placing motion pictures inside the outline of the letters.  I like the idea; there's a sense of anticipation as you hear the train conductor's announcements and the scene slowly unfolds.  You will also notice that I did not narrate this series of videos, choosing to use titles and natural sound to inform the viewer.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #50

France 2004: Introduction

If you've read/watched some of my earlier examples, you'll understand that I'm not afraid to use some wacky extraneous material to grab my viewers' interest.  Such was the case here.  Serendipity played a huge role, as I was experimenting with digitizing broadcast television by passing it through my camcorder's firewire to the computer.  A horrible movie from 1962 called The 300 Spartans found its way onto my hard drive.

Slashing & burning, sex and depravity ... that seemed to describe the group of friends we were traveling with!  Experimenting with green screen I masqueraded as a serious documentary videographer and created a totally fictitious introduction that left those travelers with gaping open-mouthed smiles when they saw it for the fist time.  Folks who view my videos today are much less surprised by this type of craziness.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #49

Aruba 2003:  OD's Gone Wild

(If the video window does not appear, please click the above link.)

Our friends invited us to join them in Aruba.  He was taking a continuing education class with other Optometrists.  We were there to play.  I brought a miniDV camcorder and taped several activities including this stage show.  Several of the O.D.'s were pulled onto stage by the dancers, creating an innocent but memorable exhibition.

The only editing software on our Dell laptop was Windows Moviemaker.  (This video is the first and only movie that I ever edited with that software.)  Our friends previewed and laughed their heads off.  They insisted that I play it for the seminar leaders; who asked me to join their class and show the video using their projector.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #48

Tabloid News  (edited 2002)
This is the last of the three examples I will post from the Adobe Premiere video editing class that I took at our local community college in 2002.

The instructor brought in a few clips from news coverage of the Washington Sniper (remember that crazy rifle guy in Washington DC?).  Our assignment was to make a teaser in the style that a television news show would use early in the day to attract an audience that night.

Once again I blended my old-guy sense of humor into the video in a way that the teenagers in the class didn't appreciate.   My thirty-second production became a satire about outrageous political claims made by news broadcasters.  Some YouTube viewers accused me of being an anti-Bush nitwit; others despised the humor at Hillary Clinton's expense. 

Animation was improved versus previous examples, a four-way split screen is interesting, and I successfully used some of Premiere's sound filters to enhance my voice.  Unfortunately the project was made in 320x240 so there is no higher resolution available.

Lessons Learned:
Not everyone will understand your humor, satire is especially difficult and will be misunderstood by political partisans.  Don't worry about it.  Have Fun!

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 2002 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.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #47

Darth Maul's Secret  (edtited 2002)

(If the video window does not appear, please click on the above link.)

This was another assignment from the community college class on Adobe Premiere.
We were given a few clips from Star Wars and asked to edit them into a "silent film" style.

Alternately titled "The Phantom Spider" I tried to inject an element of humor by counterposing two pop culture icons and some vaudevillian-style titles.  I think it worked, so did the instructor.  But my classmates were teenagers and I was this bald 50-ish guy that they thought was weird.  You should know by now that they were absolutely correct.