Monday, December 8, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Video #142: "Trailers"

IDEA:  Make a "Trailer" of Your Latest Vacation

I take a l-o--n---g time to put together a well-edited movie from my vacations.  If you look back at previous postings you'll discover that it sometimes takes decades.  For instance, video from our trip to Mexico City in 1995 was edited in 2012!

We were in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada a few weeks ago, hoping to see polar bears.  All of our friends keep asking to see pictures and video.  Instead of telling them to "wait seventeen years" I put together this seventy-second "Trailer" using a template in iMovie:


That little trailer took about one hour to rough-cut, plus another hour of tweaks.  It's not perfect, but it's pretty funny and everyone gets to see the bears.  The poster frame is a photograph of an actual newspaper.  I used Pixelmator (a Mac program that's much less expensive than Photoshop) to replace text in the lower corner.

Suggestion for when you return from vacation:  Sleep, then Organize!
Although I might not edit a movie about this trip for ten years, I think it's important to organize my photos and videos while the trip is still fresh in my mind.  To be honest, this is quite a chore, but editing is a lot more fun to edit when you can easily locate the clips you need.

FIRST Get some sleep!  Your photos and video are irreplaceable.  Don't look at them while you're tired.  When you feel rested and alert, set up a new folder on a hard drive and transfer that priceless data onto your computer.  Now two things have happened: your images are protected in case a memory card gets accidentally erased, and you can begin to organize the media.

I always set up separate subfolders for photos, video, and scans.  Then additional sub-subfolders that make sense for the project.  Here's how I decided to organize the photos from this trip to Canada:

Organize your media in a way that makes sense for the trip.

Next I moved all of my media files into a their new homes, and began the even bigger job of correcting date/time and file names.  In this case we had four separate cameras.  Although I thought everything was synchronized, some mis-matches needed to be corrected.  I was able to do this within iPhoto and Final Cut Pro X on my Mac.

With photos and video lined up in proper chronological sequence, I renamed the files.  (Cameras assign useless names like "P123456.JPG"; I replace them with my software's batch-renaming function.)  I assigned meaningful sequential titles: "Churchill-1"; "Churchill-2"; "Churchill-3";  etc.
Then I refined those names even further, for instance: "Churchill-3 welcome dinner - Bob laughing".

It took me a week to do all of this re-orgaization and re-naming.  But the effort was rewarded when I created the little video teaser seen above. iMovie's template has "drop zones"; it was easy to find the best clips and drop them into the template.

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This was a peek inside of my production process.  Hope it gave you some ideas, and you can adapt it to a workflow that makes sense for you!

Happy Editing!










Friday, October 31, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Video #141

How About a CAT VIDEO?




This was my attempt to create a "viral video".  Everyone loves cats on YouTube, right?

In 2010 I sold my G5 PowerMac and tried editing from a MacMini.  (It worked ok, but I was hampered by data transfer rate of the Mini's internal drive and external drives.  Today's Thunderbolt connections enable super fast external drives.)  I tested it out by playing some video of our cat playing on a rug.

Sweet Pea noticed herself on the computer monitor and decided to challenge the doppelg√§nger.  Video was taken at 720p, 30fps with a Panasonic ZS3 point 'n shoot camera.


Here's what happens when Sweet Pea saw the movie of herself fighting the cat on the computer monitor.  How many generations of this paradox are possible?


Video was taken at 720p, 30fps with an inexpensive Panasonic ZS3 point 'n shoot camera.  The soundtracks are royalty-free selections that are available free from YouTube.

Lessons Learned:
You don't need expensive equipment to make an entertaining movie.
Keep your camera handy, a person or pet in your house might do something that's vieo-worthy.
Not every cat video on YouTube goes viral!


Suggestion:
Keep your camera handy, a person or pet in your house might do something that's vieo-worthy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #140: Mexico City S.W.A.T. Action (3 of 3)

Mexico City 1995:  Police S.W.A.T. Activity
One day we heard a helicopter circling near our hotel room in downtown Mexico City.  It was the S.W.A.T. Team, our hotel had been robbed!  I grabbed my camcorder, leaned out the window, and recorded a few minutes of the action.  Then I got scared … these super-macho guys with automatic weapons on the the helicopter might mistake my camera for a gun!

Pretty exciting stuff ... I created a watermarked video and placed it on the same YouTube channel where I offer my Air Rage Video for sale.

This edit was done in 2012, nearly twenty years after I shot the original video.  It's obviously an undisguised commercial advertisement.  "Wanna' buy my video?"
Just forty-two seconds, yet it tells a story, illustrates the product for sale, and provides contact information.  I've clearly claimed ownership, and the watermarks help to prevent unlicensed use of the material.

Like the previous Mexico City vacation video, the 8mm analog source tape was captured through a Firewire cable as DV.  As a result, the up-rezzed material suffers the same bottom artifacting as the Mexico City vacation video in Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #139.  Background music is a royalty-free  track from SmartSound.

I like this little edited commercial.  It's easy to watch, tells an interesting story, and fulfills its purposes.


Over-The-Top Mash-Up
Look what happens when I mix titles for the television series S.W.A.T. and clips from the movie Heat with my Mexico SWAT video:

This edit was done in 2012, nearly twenty years after I shot the original video.with the first release of Final Cut Pro X.  Very impressed with the program's ability to mix media sources on the timeline.

I used straight cuts not fades.  Timed the action to the S.W.A.T. theme song, and adjusted color and saturation levels using FCPX's built-in tools.  The movie is coherent but non-sensical.  Yet, my wife said it's better than a lot of stuff on television.   I love this seamless edit, and would probably put this on my "Demo Reel".


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #139: Mexico City (2 of 3)

Mexico City 1995:  What can we learn from this video edit?
Video capured on analog 8mm tape in 1995 … Edited in 2012

Last week was an opportunity to simply watch this twelve-minute video.  Now, let's see if there are some editing tricks worth discussing.

Final Cut Pro X
This was the first vacation video that I edited with FCPX.  Final Cut now has a different feel, unlike its earlier versions and other software vendors' offerings.  A lot of editors didn't like the change, I gave it a chance!  Looking back now, in 2014, I can tell you that I am very happy with FCPX.  It meets my hobbyist needs perfectly, and was well worth the learning effort.

Sound Design
I owned several Mexican-sounding tracks from SmartSound that worked well for this video.  I exported a preliminary cut of the movie into SmartSound's Sonicfire Pro, selected/trimmed the music, then exported it as a WAV file.  This imported easily into Final Cut's timeline.
Other sound comes from Aztec dancers, tour guides' narratives, and our own voices.  I chose not to narrate this production.   Unfortunately the guides' voices are unintelligible, but the rest of the audio sounds great and is well-balanced.
The heroic music heard while viewing murals of Padre Hidalgo's Revolución is quite stirring, plus it transitions well into the lighter mood of following scenes.

Video Edits
The opening has an animated map that I created using Apple's presentation software, Keynote.  (You could create something similar with PowerPoint.)  Note that I recently used this vendor's "plug-in" that takes map animation to a higher level.
Title styles were chosen from those that came with the software; I did not adjust the default colors or fonts.
I like the scene of a commuter train leaving the subway station, but it is paired with two other very-short clips that give the feel of jumpiness.
The demonstration of hotel plumbing is hilarious!
Pyramids at Teotihuacan are undoubtedly the movie's highlight.  Which one of us is willing to climb all the way to the top?  Now that we're up there who is able to walk down?

…and who are those people in this closing photograph?  OMG it's me, nineteen years ago!!!!


Lessons Learned
My audiences are always surprised by special effects like the animated map.  "Oooh, Aaaah.  You're really becoming professional now!"
Excellent royalty-free music is available that enhances your project.  Try to avoid copyright violations.
Pay attention to the sound mix.  With practice you can learn to strike a good balance between live sound, effects, music, and narration.
Be careful that adjacent clips do not cause jumps when placed next to one another (e.g. the Metro train scene)
Find the humor and use it.
Not every vacation video needs a narrator.

Suggestion
Create closed-captions to help the viewer understand a guide's narration.

Did you notice the technical problem which spans the entire twelve minutes?  The original video was recorded on 8mm analog tape.  I played the tape on an "Digital8" Handicam, and used that camcorder's Firewire output to capture the digitized video on my computer.  This is a great way to do the analog to digital conversion, but it often leaves a a 5-pixel bar of interference at the bottom of each frame.
I've now learned to easily compensate for this artifact by simply zooming the raw footage to about 103%.  Another easy method is to insert an opaque rectangular shape at the bottom of the image.





Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #138: Mexico City (1 of 3)

Mexico City 1995:  Watch the Video


Although we took this trip in 1995, I didn't get around to editing until 2012.  That seventeen-year lag sets my personal best procrastination record!  But the good news is that the delay enable me to edit with Final Cut Pro X for the first time!

This ten-minute movie is a bit longer than typical for these discussions, so the purpose of this week's posting is to simply allow you to watch in its entirety.  Next week we'll analyze and see what we can learn from the edit.

Here's the video structure:  An alarm rings to wake you up, then an animated map reveals that our destination is Mexico.   A photo montage introduces our four travelers, then there's live video at the city center, an archeological site, a ride on the metro, and walk through a market.  Heroic music then introduces the murals and sculptures at Colegio Militar.

Mood swings to lighthearted, and some pretty lame video gags accompany a look at the residence of former president Porferio Diaz and the Anthropological Museum.  This "comedic" onslaught continues with a demonstration of the hotel's plumbing and during the movie's final moments at the nearby pyramids at Teothuacan.  Tourists dare one another to climb all the way to the top, but discover that the biggest challenges are the steep downhill steps!

OK, hope you enjoyed it!  Next week we'll dissect, analyze, and hopefully learn a few editing tricks.



Music Copyright Considerations:
Please understand that I do not encourage improper use of copyrighted material.  This video was created using royalty-free tracks from SmartSound.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Video #137: Edit the Biographical (Memorial) Video

Ideas for Creating a GREAT Biographical (Memorial) Movie

We're all hobbyists; our amateur editing skills are adequate, and we have some fun remembering our vacations.  Creation of a movie about the life of someone you cherish is a special challenge, one that stretches our skills.  We want to be especially proud when we share this work of love.

Here's a suggested workflow, based upon what worked for me when I created my Mom's memorial movie:

  • Plan ahead. 
    • Extreme urgency will always limit the quality of our work.
    • Gather interviews.
    • Scan and organize old photos & documents.
    • Digitize old videos if they are on tape.
    • Organize all the videos.
  • Create a storyboard or outline of the movie
    • Preview the media
    • Segregate media into themes, such as:
      • Early life
      • Major events
      • Having fun with friends & family
      • Travel/vacations
      • Work
  • Begin the Rough Edit
    • Use interviews as the primary timeline, to pace the movie's progress or support the outline.
    • Use other video and still pictures to illustrate the interview. 
  • Narration
    • Decide if you will use a third-person narration.  This narration can introduce the movie, fill-in gaps, and help transition to new themes. 
    • Write the narration script to support your rough edit
    • Record the narration yourself, or use a volunteer "voice talent"
    • Edit the narration audio into your timeline
    • Cut and trim, taking clues from the narration timing.
  • Add music track(s)
    • Copyright considerations:  
      • You might choose to use some of the honoree's favorite commercial music.  I suggest that, at a minimum, you borrow the person's own music collection or at least purchase the track(s).
      • Royalty-free music will assure that your video can be shared on the Internet.
    • Place the music into your project's timeline.
    • Cut and trim, taking clues from the music timing.
  • Transitions
    • Cuts and simple fades create an elegant look.
    • ...but this might be an opportunity to use some of your software's crazy transitions!
  • Titles
    • Titles can convey lots of information:  names, places, dates, etc.
    • Start with the Opening Title
    • Create informational titles to keep a consistent look
    • Closing title could be a beautiful still photograph of your loved one.  If this is a memorial, perhaps add their life dates.
  • Prepare final version
    • Watch the movie carefully.  Correct spelling errors.  Last opportunity for cut and trim to tighten the edit.
    • Preview the movie with a couple of friends.  Take notes, fix any errors.
    • Lock the edit.  Output the final version to your hard drive as a video at full resolution.
  • Distribution
    • Prepare for projection at the celebration. 
      • I suggest test it on your own equipment and bring your own equipment with you.
      • Bring a copy of the movie on a flash drive or external hard drive for backup
      • Output the movie as a DVD/BluRay disc.  Bring a DVD/BluRay player to the celebration as a backup.
    • Duplicate the DVD for attendees if desired.  There are inexpensive duplication services who will print a photo/text on the discs.
    • Post on the Internet if desired
I hope this is helpful!  Good luck with your memorial video project. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Video #136: Memorial Video Montage

Use Old Family Video to create a Memorial Montage




In my last post I talked about interviewing loved ones to preserve family history.  Previously I had discussed scanning old photographs.  Here's a third element that can make your biographical (memorial) video more interesting:  Clips from old home movies.

You probably have lots of footage from family occasions ... parties, holidays, vacations, etc. Can you find them?  (Oops, that's a topic for another blog post!)   Gather all of the clips you can find that include the person being honored, and place them into categories.

For the purposes of my mother's biography, I discovered archived video clips that fit into three categories:  parties, trips, and home life.  Select the best moments and sounds from each category and you'll have the ingredients for entertaining video montages.

In the example above I show sixty seconds of a montage that was introduced with narration:  "Mom was a well-informed travel companion!"  It's paced with some light-hearted music, and you quickly see four little clips that reflect her personality.


A montage of video clips is a great addition to the celebration's slideshow of still photos.  And it's a great way to practice your video editing skills!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Editing Tips for Amateur Video #135: Interview Your Loved Ones

Prepare to create a Biography or Memorial Video



You and I are the family historians!  We're the ones who often witness birthday parties, picnics, and vacations through a camera's viewfinder.  Our archives consist of priceless memories, and as a result we may be called upon at the last minute to "bring something" to a memorial service, bachelor party, or birthday celebration.   When it happens, the best I can usually do is make a quick slideshow with music and maybe titles.

"If only I had more time, I could have done something nicer!"
What if you had time to plan ahead.   Imagine this:  "Aunt Mary's 80th birthday is coming up next September, do you think you could put together a slideshow or something?"  

My mother was seventy-four when I decided to create her video biography.  I had lots of time to gather old footage, scan photos, and most-importantly conduct interviews!

Watch the video above to gain a glimpse of the interview I did with mom in 2001.  She sat in her favorite chair with good even natural light coming through a window.  (Thank goodness for the overcast weather; I knew nothing about reflectors and fill lighting at the time.)  My miniDV camera was in a static position, set for a medium shot, with a Radio Shack lavaliere microphone hard-wired into its external input.  (Hooray for the microphone!  Turns out that using her narrative as voice-over was critical to the success of the movie.)

We joked and chatted a bit, then I started the camcorder.  I knew enough to ask her leading questions about her life.  For example:  "What's your earliest memory?"; "Tell me about your father."; "What do you remember about World War II?"  Slowly we stepped through the major events in her life.

Next days we visited newspaper archives at the public library, and interviewed some of her life-long friends.  (Those interviews are precious memories for the friends' families too!).


I had hoped to present Mom's biography at a birthday party, but she never got to see its final edit.  Thankfully I was well prepared for the big party we held to celebrate her life.  And everyone took a bit of her home, not just in their hearts but also on a DVD.



Friday, August 8, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Video #134: Prepare NOW to Make a Memorial Video

MEMORIAL VIDEOS:  Take the time today to interview your loved ones!




Thirteen years ago I was inspired to create a video biography of my Mom.  When I suggested the idea, she became excited and looked forward to being interviewed on my next visit.  (She lived on the East Coast, I live a continent away.)

On an overcast morning we turned her favorite easy chair at an angle to the picture window and began talking.  Equipment was minimal and non-threatening, just a MiniDV camcorder, tripod, and lavalier microphone.  I sat next to the camera and asked a lot of leading questions; we were both exhausted after an hour.

During the next two days we took the show on the road.  Mom arranged for us to visit her best old friends.  That was a lot of fun, and I was able to capture recollections of how they met and all the good times they had together.


Later that year, my mother started to lose her ability to remember simple things.  Though she kept her personality and sense of humor, a long, slow, heart-wrenching process had begun.   I began to create her movie many times, but the video always presented me with too much reality, too many emotional memories.

When Mom was admitted to Hospice care in 2010 there was no choice, I began to assemble the edit in Final Cut Pro X.  The movie is possibly the most meaningful work I've ever done.  It was projected onto a screen at her memorial celebration; relatives said "It's as if she was in the room with us!"  The forty-minute video held everyone speechless and spellbound, laughing and crying at the same time.

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Mom's memorial video is intensely personal.  I've selected two short clips to show publicly; they will be the subject of my next two blog posts.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Deep Thoughts About Vacation Video: Photos need people in them!

Add Interest to Your Vacation Snapshots -- Include People!

Here's an observation that I'd like to pass on to you:
Among my fifty or so binders of vacation photos I've rediscovered a treasure:  two albums of original 35mm negatives from 1976-1982, beautifully preserved in vinyl sleeves.  (You may not know that properly preserved negatives can retain all the beauty of the original photo, while prints begin to fade immediately after processing.)

I lack the equipment to scan negatives, so I began searching for an on-line deal.  (Scanning services usually charge about a dollar for two or three scans.  These two thousand photos could cost well over $500 to scan!)  Meanwhile I also began sorting the negatives, culling the uninteresting shots.

My old Minolta SRT-201 was a great tool before it was stolen.  It was also my first serious camera, when I looked through the viewfinder I felt like an artist.  But guess what ... I am not Ansel Adams!  Those rolls of film contained hundreds and hundreds of horribly boring landscapes from vacations -- reminding me of the hundreds of hours of boring vacation videotapes that sit on my shelf!

Ultimately I've thrown away about two-thirds of the negatives.  The ones I kept were pictures of family members, and a small number of vacation photos.  The snapshots I truly value are the ones with friends and family in them!   Treasured memories revolve around people, not the tourist landmarks.

Compare this photo from Venice to the one below.
Even if it's not framed perfectly,
images of friends make this snapshot a "keeper"!



How to scan negatives:
 At the end of June, ScanCafe had a 1/3-off discount deal.  I sent 600 negatives to them, which will be scanned for a total price of about 27 cents per image (includes shipping and tax).  They estimate that the proof scans will be ready at the end of August; They'll send the final images via DVD in September.
This seems to be an excellent price; I'll let you know about quality!
(Note:  I am in no way affiliated with ScanCafe. I am a first-time customer.)



Friday, July 25, 2014

Deep Thoughts About Vacation Video: Organizing Still Photos for Video

That's a Lot of Photos - Here's a way to make sure you can find them!

We all recognize the need to label and organize our videotapes.  But what about other media?  It takes a lot of work to scan our old vacation photos, but we need to be able to find them when we need them!  Use a filing system that works for you, but be consistent.

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Your scanner will assign sequential names (like IMG0001.JPG) to your pictures. I recommend that you change those to meaningful titles for use in searches.  The photo files will also be assigned to the date you scanned them -- adjust these to the approximate time that the photo was originally taken.

This detailed organization is a bit of a chore ... but there are lots of computer software programs that promise to help you.  Here's what I do with iPhoto on my Mac:


(1) All of my new scans are saved in a folder on the hard drive.  I then sort them into subfolders.  For our Africa 2002 trip I used subfolders titled "Zimbabwe", "Botswana", "Cape Town", etc.

(2) I highlight all of the photos in the first subfolder and drag them into iPhoto.  The original scans remain safely in their original folder, but copies are created within a new Event in iPhoto.

(3) Then I repeat, highlighting & dragging the photos from each remaining subfolder.  Now I've created a small group of new events in iPhoto.

(4) I retitle the events so they make sense, like "AFRICA 2002 - Zimbabwe"
Renamed Events in iPhoto.  Clicking a triangle on the left reveals the photos within the event.
(5) The photos are arranged by date within their events.  I use the "Adjust Date and Time" tool to approximate the correct time each photo was taken.  The tool can also adjust a batch of photos.
The date it was taken is more useful than the date it was scanned!
Suggest you check the box to "modify original files.
(6) Once the photos are in proper order I do a batch rename.  Something useful might look like "Zimbabwe-1", " Zimbabwe-2", etc.

(7) Now that I have basic names, I can modify them.  For instance one title might become "Zimbabwe-4 George @ Victoria Falls"
Descriptive names assigned to scanned photos
(8) iPhoto has an additional organizational feature called "Albums".  Photos from any event may be dragged into an album.  I create albums for each of my vacations:
iPhoto's Album Feature

Now if I need to find a particular photo from this trip, I can browse albums or events, plus there's a good likelihood that it will turn up in a search.

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 The above is a description of MY system for organizing photos.  Regardless of YOUR individual strategy, I strongly suggest that you employ some form of organization

(Note that Apple has announced a new program, Photos for OSX, which will replace iPhoto at the end of 2014.  It promises "better" organizational tools, and I look forward to using them!)




Friday, July 18, 2014

Deep Thoughts About Vacation Video: Scanning Photos

What Good Are Old Photos?
Lonely photo albums.  Forgotten memories of vacations past.
Before digital photos, we used film cameras and took snapshots while traveling.  It could cost hundreds of dollars to have those pictures developed and printed!  Something that valuable deserved to be preserved in an album, so I have six shelves full of binders like those seen above.

These albums also serve as scrapbooks.  I've clipped page protectors full of brochures, maps, tickets, and receipts into the binders.  After 1989 they were joined by boxes of videotapes.  What do these carefully constructed photo albums have in common with unedited videotapes?
  1. Together they store the memories and history of our trips.  
  2. Once placed on the shelf, they are never looked at again!
You probably already know that I have hundreds of hours of unedited vacation videotapes.  Each year I catch up with two or three projects, and I've always been glad that the old photos and documents were carefully organized.  Old itineraries help to re-establish the proper chronology of the trip.  And once the photos are sorted and scanned chronologically, and I can use them for the project's "B-Roll" -- to fill in any gaps where video coverage was inadequate.

A set of properly scanned, named and dated old photos are easy to back up; easy to share!  This digital photo frame now cycles through several thousand of those old snapshots:
Bring old vacation memories back to life
 by displaying them on a digital frame like this one!


Try using scanned vacation photos as a computer screensaver!





Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #133

China 2001:  Closing Credits



This is the last chapter of my China vacation video.  I hope that the thirty-three essays have sparked some imagination, perhaps given you some fresh ideas that you might try in your next edit!

These closing credits make nice use of natural sound that was captured at the bell show in Wuhan.  Can you hear/see how the credits change pages each time a major gong is struck.
I like the appearance of the the titles which identify the cast of travelers.  Still photos at the lower right are an unusual placement.  After so many chapters, it's fun to identify the people with their names.  (...and our friends absolutely loved seeing themselves in the titles too!)

A lot of media was "borrowed" to produce this epic.  It is very proper to identify the source, even if you have permission to use it.  In this case it was the least I could do, and my apologies to the artists if they feel wronged (see below).

The video concludes with my narration of a quote from our tour guide: "Good luck ... forever!"  This is unusual, but elegant.  I normally would end with a simple copyright notice like: "©2014 www.henbc.com"


Lessons Learned:
Once again we note the advantages of using live music, that was recorded on your trip.
Allow lots of time for the audience to read the titles.
Pace the transitions to match the music.
Your friends will love having their names appear in the closing credits.

Suggestion:
If the video will be posted on the Internet, preserve your friends privacy by using only their first names in the credits.


FYI:
Do you want to review all of the hints from these China Vacation Videos?  Use this link to go back to the very first one, which was published on February 3, 2014.  There are clickable controls near the bottom the archives that allow you to step to the next "Newer" or "Previous" blog post.
Or use the controls on the right hand side of each page to select individual posts by date.

If you just want to watch the movies, they are all available on my YouTube channel,  HENBCtravel
I have three other channels that might be of interest:  HENBCvideo (miscellaneous videos that try to look professional, with particular respect for copyrights); RAGEAIR (advertises the licensing availability of my newsworthy videos); and this YouTube Channel of Shame (an odd collection of stuff, not respectful of others’ copyrights).



Music Copyright Considerations:
This original audience for these China vacation videos was friends and family who would view the DVD in my living room.  It contains identifiable music that is regrettably used without permission.  
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.





Search description: 
HENBC.COM is here to help those of us who have already taken hours of long boring vacation video.  It's too late for advice on how to use your camera; you need help to transform your boring footage into something that friends will enjoy watching!  WWW.HENBC.COM

Label:

www.henbc.com has tips to add excitement to boring vacation video.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #132

China 2001:  Our Last Night and Air Rage Recap



This is the penultimate chapter of the China vacation DVD.  A few of us are gathered at the hotel's dinner buffet; conversation takes us back to the very first chapter ... The Air Rage Incident.  What has become of the "Air Rage Twins"?  Will they be surprise guests if I accept Maury Povich's offer to appear on his show?  Would anyone buy a copy of Playboy Magazine if they are the centerfold?
Some of you might pick-up on my comic reference to "Flo", a sassy waitress in the 1970's television series Alice.

Lessons Learned:
When traveling, always carry your camera!  Even though this was the last night of our trip, these 90-seconds of conversation pull it all together and bring the project full-circle.  All that remains are closing credits, which will be the topic of my next blog post.
External references are part of the fun when editing a vacation video.  Who would expect to find that crazy waitress from Mel's Diner at a Chinese buffet?  Magazine centerfolds?  Cheesy afternoon television talk shows?

Suggestion:
Sometimes its the sound rather than the picture quality that's important.  Remember that your camcorder is also a sound-recording instrument.  Capture what your friends are talking about.


FYI:
All of the China trip vignettes are loaded onto YouTube.  They may be viewed on one of my YouTube channels: HENBCtravel
I have three other channels that might be of interest:  HENBCvideo (miscellaneous videos that try to look professional, with particular respect for copyrights), RAGEAIR (advertises the licensing availability of my newsworthy videos), and this YouTube Channel of Shame (an odd collection of stuff, not respectful of others’ copyrights).



Music Copyright Considerations:
This original audience for this video was friends and family who would view the DVD in my living room.  It contains identifiable music that is regrettably used without permission.  
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.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #131

China 2001:  Mao Restaurant



We discovered this "Mao Restaurant" around the corner from Yonghe Temple.  Lots of photos of the Cultural Revolution, and decent food.  The toilets made us laugh out loud, but I didn't take the video camera inside.  That's OK, maybe laughter is contagious.  There are references to earlier chapters:  The pink hat guy at the Summer Palace and jumping shrimp at the Hot Pot Restaurant.

The video ends with some unrelated clips that prove we rode on public transit and passed a hotel named after Gloria.

Lessons Learned:
Consider being bold when traveling with your camera.  The two-foot high gender separation privacy walls in the bathroom were hilarious, but all we see is travelers' reactions.  Maybe a couple of "volunteers" could have demonstrated the situation while someone else kept lookout?

Suggestion:
This video works only in context of being a DVD chapter.  A nice reminder for those of us who went on the trip, but it needs too much explaining to be successful as a stand-alone YouTube video.


FYI:
All of the China trip vignettes are already loaded onto YouTube.  They may be viewed on one of my YouTube channels: HENBCtravel
I have three other channels that might be of interest:  HENBCvideo (miscellaneous videos that try to look professional, with particular respect for copyrights), RAGEAIR (advertises the licensing availability of my newsworthy videos), and this YouTube Channel of Shame (an odd collection of stuff, not respectful of others’ copyrights).



Music Copyright Considerations:
This original audience for this video was friends and family who would view the DVD in my living room.  It contains identifiable music that is regrettably used without permission.  
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.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #130

China 2001:  Yonghe [Lama] Temple



This 90-second looks at a Tibetan Buddhist temple in the heart of Beijing is quiet and informative.  Looking at it today, I am distracted by shakiness at 00:25.  If I were re-editing I'd try some stabilization, cuts, or other tricks to minimize that distraction.
The video consists is assembled from just a few clips and stills, they are reasonably well sequenced together.  That unhappy monk at 01:17 scared my camera hand in 2001.  I used a still frame at that spot so we can get a better look -- he still looks pretty fierce! 

Lessons Learned:
I remember editing this a few years ago.  I was on a roll, quickly knocking out many chapters for the trip DVD.  The audience should never have seen the shaky camera mentioned above, but in my rush to finish I likely decided it was "good enough".  That editing mistake does not haunt my dreams, but I wish I had taken the time to review this movie more closely.

Suggestion:
If you're like me, this video production stuff is just a hobby.  Deadlines are self-imposed.  Grant yourself enough time to do some quality control and audience previews before finalizing the edit.
But don't agonize over the movie.  It's equally important to finalize the edit before it becomes an unwanted chore.


FYI:
All of the China trip vignettes are already loaded onto YouTube.  They may be viewed on one of my YouTube channels: HENBCtravel
I have three other channels that might be of interest:  HENBCvideo (miscellaneous videos that try to look professional, with particular respect for copyrights), RAGEAIR (advertises the licensing availability of my newsworthy videos), and this YouTube Channel of Shame (an odd collection of stuff, not respectful of others’ copyrights).



Music Copyright Considerations:
This original audience for this video was friends and family who would view the DVD in my living room.  It contains identifiable music that is regrettably used without permission.  
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.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #129

China 2001:  Hutong



The "Hutong" is a kind of old-world refuge among the Beijing craziness.  In fact, that's precisely what it is ...  a purposefully preserved part of history where residents live in unremarkable buildings that have withstood many generations.

I (as an editor) was fortunate that I (as a cameraman) had captured some nice clips while visiting the Hutong.  There are also some good use of still photographs.  This was also one of those cases where popular music became inextricably linked to my feelings about the raw footage.  It became impossible to edit without using that copyrighted material.

That popular music really sets the mood, regrettably there is a problem with sharing edits like this online (see Copyright Considerations below).   Regardless, its a fun and easy-to-enjoy little video.  A bit of Quincy Jones' Sanford & Son Theme is very appropriate to accompany the opening clip of a jury-rigged smoky gas-engine hoist.  Then Queen's Bicycle Race accompanies nice scenes of our rickshaw ride.  The Bellamy Brothers' Let Your Love Flow is a fun song and goes well with scenes of our interactions with friendly Hutong residents.

Lessons Learned:
This was a well-paced good example for the use of varied camera angles, live action, and stills.
When I edited this clip I did not own a license to use any royalty-free music.  I have since accumulated a reasonable collection of tracks from SmartSound.  If I was editing today I would try to not use unlicensed music.

Suggestion:
A viewer of this video knows that we were at "The Hutong" but the term remains undefined.  Perhaps some explanatory titles or mention in the narration?

FYI:
All of the China trip vignettes are already loaded onto YouTube.  They may be viewed on one of my YouTube channels: HENBCtravel
I have three other channels that might be of interest:  HENBCvideo (miscellaneous videos that try to look professional, with particular respect for copyrights), RAGEAIR (advertises the licensing availability of my newsworthy videos), and this YouTube Channel of Shame (an odd collection of stuff, not respectful of others’ copyrights).



Music Copyright Considerations:
This original audience for this video was friends and family who would view the DVD in my living room.  It contains identifiable music that is regrettably used without permission.  
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.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #128

China 2001:  Beijing Duck Restaurant



It was Ron's birthday and he wanted to eat scorpions.  Others wanted to try something more traditional.  The Beijing Duck Restaurant had something to satisfy everyone.  And this 28th chapter from the China Vacation DVD is reasonably satisfying too!

Comments on the editing:

  • Opens with a still frame, then the motion video is released after 8 musical bars.  I remember not having enough footage for the scene so I inserted the still ... but it unintentionally worked out well to build a little tension and excitement.
  • The dialog in the restaurant is almost hilarious.   I like the use of titles and unrelated images to help clarify the sound.  (e.g.  01:11 Baby with air-sickness bag; 03:08 Mr. Bill )
  • Close-ups of individuals trying the fried scorpions are well-mixed with fanfare from the Tang Dynasty Show
  • Reference to Joe's Apartment is a great way to illustrate man's relationship with bugs
  • Interaction with people outside could perhaps be trimmed to shorten the vignette, but all together it's a nice 4-minute piece.

Lessons Learned:
Use titles and composited images to clarify dialogue and bring home the laughs.
Illustrate your message with clips and photos from referenced cultural icons.  (Someone unfamiliar with Joe's Apartment and his roach friends would otherwise miss the humor.)

Suggestion:
The scenes outside of the restaurant were unrelated to the meal, but fun to see.  Without them, this movie would be a minute shorter ... should they have been cut?  I don't know; that's why its a good idea to preview your movie and get comments from some friends you trust.

FYI:
All of the China trip vignettes are already loaded onto YouTube.  They may be viewed on one of my YouTube channels: HENBCtravel
I have three other channels that might be of interest:  HENBCvideo (miscellaneous videos that try to look professional, with particular respect for copyrights), RAGEAIR (advertises the licensing availability of my newsworthy videos), and this YouTube Channel of Shame (an odd collection of stuff, not respectful of others’ copyrights).



Music Copyright Considerations:
This original audience for this video was friends and family who would view the DVD in my living room.  It contains identifiable copyrighted music and video that is regrettably used without permission.  
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.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #127

China 2001:  The Sacred Way



Continuing my theme of disrespecting China's cultural treasures, this minute-long chapter features a stroll along the "Sacred Way".  This is a pedestrian walkway lined with fanciful sculptures that leads to the Ming Tombs.  Guess I was reminded of the Cleaver brothers walking down their street (Grant Avenue in Mayfield) in the opening scene of Leave It To Beaver.

The last clip is the ultimate disrespect, but it's directed mainly at myself!  It's fun, everyone always laughs at me/with me.  But the video could be improved ... if I re-edited I likely would not use the ten seconds of unrelated clips that begin at 00:23.

Lessons Learned:
Keep 'em laughing!
Call upon your memories and experiences to inspire creative ideas.  In this case, I remember feeling like Leave It To Beaver while we walked down the Sacred Way.

Suggestion:
Keep a notepad with you while you travel.  Take a moment to jot down feelings that might inspire your future video edit.

FYI:

All of the China trip vignettes are already loaded onto YouTube.  They may be viewed on one of my YouTube channels: HENBCtravel
I have three other channels that might be of interest:  HENBCvideo (miscellaneous videos that try to look professional, with particular respect for copyrights), RAGEAIR (advertises the licensing availability of my newsworthy videos), and this YouTube Channel of Shame (an odd collection of stuff, not respectful of others’ copyrights).



Music Copyright Considerations:
This original audience for this video was friends and family who would view the DVD in my living room.  It contains identifiable copyrighted video and music that is regrettably used without permission.  
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.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #126

China 2001:  Ming Tombs



The Ming Tombs are one of China's cultural treasures.  But one of my joys when editing a vacation video is to disrespect institutions in a humorous way.  So ...

...did you know that Flash Gordon's nemesis, Ming the Merciless, was an ancient Chinese ruler?  I discovered that little-known fact while doing some research for this video.  Some old episodes of Flash Gordon are available on YouTube; I used scenes from one to create this chapter of my trip DVD.  You'll also notice little touches like substituting a movie poster for an Angelina Jolie movie for the name of the mausoleum -- "Changling".  And R&B legend James Brown is the resident artist at the site's "Soul Tower".

Frankly, we were underwhelmed by this tourist attraction.  But I really like the video!  If you want a good laugh, check out the helmets worn by Ming's guards at 01:18.  Also notice that the pink hat gag from the Summer Palace chapter reappears at 1:30.


Lessons Learned:
Use video unrelated to your trip to create an entertaining chapter.
Use running gags to surprise your viewers and provide continuity between chapters.  

Suggestion:
If the chapters are posted separately on the Internet, a viewer who watches only this chapter will be confused by the running gag.  "Whats with this pink hat?" ... you might consider a special YouTube cut that omits the running gag.
Be careful when disrespecting a nations treasures.  My work is intended to be light-hearted, inoffensive, and humorous. 

FYI:
All of the China trip vignettes are already loaded onto YouTube.  They may be viewed on one of my YouTube channels: HENBCtravel
I have three other channels that might be of interest:  HENBCvideo (miscellaneous videos that try to look professional, with particular respect for copyrights), RAGEAIR (advertises the licensing availability of my newsworthy videos), and this YouTube Channel of Shame (an odd collection of stuff, not respectful of others’ copyrights).



Copyright Considerations:
This original audience for this video was friends and family who would view the DVD in my living room.  It contains identifiable video and music that is regrettably used without permission.  
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.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #125

China 2001:  Rewriting Chinese History



Which invader got through the Great Wall of China?  We had no idea.  And what does that have to do with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan?  Our lack of knowledge was obvious during this conversation which was recorded as we walked on the wall on May 1, 2001.

It's a decent 46 seconds.  The live video portion is inconsequential, but there's a conversation going on that was worth remembering.  (It's original and witty enough to provide material for the writers of a snarky television show like Community.)  I used some simple graphic overlays to emphasize what we were talking about.

Lessons Learned:
Hey, if it's short and it's funny, it probably earned the right to be in your video!

Suggestion - Alternate edits:
It's great to be an editor.  We can can alter space and time!
Let's assume we wanted to use this dialog, but not extend the length of the program.   This sound could be placed under other scenes of the Great Wall.
Or we could set up an event that never happened.  Find video footage of the tour guide explaining something, then make it look like we posed these stupid questions to her.
... or ... do you have another idea?



FYI:
All of the China trip vignettes are already loaded onto YouTube.  They may be viewed on one of my YouTube channels: HENBCtravel
I have three other channels that might be of interest:  HENBCvideo (miscellaneous videos that try to look professional, with particular respect for copyrights), RAGEAIR (advertises the licensing availability of my newsworthy videos), and this YouTube Channel of Shame (an odd collection of stuff, not respectful of others’ copyrights).

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #124

China 2001:  Great Wall



It's the first day of May, 2001.  In the Peoples' Republic of China, that's the Workers' Holiday.  Vacationers from throughout the country make a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to their capital city, and complete an emotional climb on their Great Wall.

Our tour guide suggested an early start to beat the crowds; the bus left the hotel at 7:00AM! It was an exciting day for us too, but we had no expectations regarding the exciting buzz created by the domestic tourists.  We were first to arrive, enjoying an almost solitary walk along the wall.  Vendors were just opening; guards were just waking up.  But walking back we met excited crowds of early-arrival families -- adults and kids -- making their pilgrimage.  Hence the music selection:  Pilgrim performed by Enya.

I always enjoy this video.  The clip placement and cuts were instinctive and work well.  The story unfolds in a logical manner:  Approaching the wall; Our climb upward; Witnessing others' climb.  I like the pan of a still photo at 01:01 -- Art is standing high on the wall; pan down to see Linda halfway up the stairs.  Enya's music is, of course, inspirational.  Unfortunately I do not have a copyright release from her, but perhaps there is a "fair use" here since I posted the video for educational purposes.

Lessons Learned:
Tell a story.  Don't forget establishing shots to begin.
It's moving video!  Consider the use pan-and-zoom to provide motion when using still shots. That's how director Ken Burns wins Emmy Awards!

Suggestion:
My experience with obtaining clearance for the use of commercial music tracks is not good. But you need to consider the ethics if you intend to post your video on the Internet.

FYI:
All of the China trip vignettes are already loaded onto YouTube.  They may be viewed on one of my YouTube channels: HENBCtravel
I have three other channels that might be of interest:  HENBCvideo (miscellaneous videos that try to look professional, with particular respect for copyrights), RAGEAIR (advertises the licensing availability of my newsworthy videos), and this YouTube Channel of Shame (an odd collection of stuff, not respectful of others’ copyrights).



Music Copyright Considerations:
This original audience for this video was friends and family who would view the DVD in my living room.  It contains identifiable music that is regrettably used without permission.  
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.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #123

China 2001:  Beijing Snake in a Bottle


After the Szechuan Restaurant we stumbled into this supermarket, and discovered snakes in the liquor department!  Get the BIG snake in a GALLON container, or the baby snake in the pint bottle.
It's somewhat humorous and just 35 seconds.  The ZZ Top music almost pulls off the gag.

Lessons Learned:
I'm not sure about this one.  For the trip DVD it's short, inoffensive, and a nice memory.  Not sure about YouTube ... maybe it could go viral?

Suggestion:
This one is a judgement call.  Ultimately I decided to include it in the DVD, but if my captives friends were time-constrained it could easily be skipped.

Hint:
If your software allows you to add chapter marks to video files, use them!  If you are playing host, you'll have the ability to skip to the next chapter -- or return to a previous one -- whatever the "public" demands. 


FYI:
All of the China trip vignettes are already loaded onto YouTube.  They may be viewed on one of my YouTube channels: HENBCtravel
I have three other channels that might be of interest:  HENBCvideo (miscellaneous videos that try to look professional, with particular respect for copyrights), RAGEAIR (advertises the licensing availability of my newsworthy videos), and this YouTube Channel of Shame (an odd collection of stuff, not respectful of others’ copyrights).



Music Copyright Considerations:
This original audience for this video was friends and family who would view the DVD in my living room.  It contains identifiable music that is regrettably used without permission.  
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.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #122

China 2001:  Beijing Szechuan Restaurant



Much of the fun on this trip revolved around meals with our friends.  This banquet for nine was paid for with the money I had made from video of the Air Rage incident,   Everyone was obviously ready to have a good time, so it was natural to place my camcorder on the turntable -- once again everyone got a chance to speak their mind.  Lots of weak Chinese beer and a lot of laughs.  Don't miss the talking fish at about 03:30

I love this vignette.  While it's probably best enjoyed by the people who were there, everyone can appreciate the good times we were experiencing.  And I think that many viewers would wish they were there with us!

Lessons Learned:
Keep the camera running.  The turntable shot of interviews is just one long take!
If the shot is good, there's no reason to cut it.
(But don't forget to turn on the room lights and prop up the camera so that it points to people's faces.)

Suggestion:
One of your editing goals could be, "Make the viewers feel like they were there, or at least wish they were there!"

FYI:
All of the China trip vignettes are already loaded onto YouTube.  They may be viewed on one of my YouTube channels: HENBCtravel
I have three other channels that might be of interest:  HENBCvideo (miscellaneous videos that try to look professional, with particular respect for copyrights), RAGEAIR (advertises the licensing availability of my newsworthy videos), and this YouTube Channel of Shame (an odd collection of stuff, not respectful of others’ copyrights).