Saturday, July 4, 2015

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #154 - Video & Photo Montage Part 1

California 2015:  Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

I had time last weekend to create a couple of little movies from our trip up the mountain on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.  These are two very similar videos but with one notable difference:  One uses royalty-free copyright-licensed music, the other uses “borrowed” music.I

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway” 3min 31sec with a surprisingly-entertaining copyright-legal soundtrack (shown here):

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway - Relaxing with the Classics”  3min 25sec featuring spirit-enriching music by composers Edvard Grieg & Johann Pachelbel.  This will be shown in my next post when we critique both versions.

I've told my friends that these little movies are "excellent in their brevity and also because they don’t take too long to watch.  They are also short, and it’s over with very quickly."


I took some notes while I was assembling these montages, so that I could share some tips about the process here on the blog.  

My Process for Editing a Short Vacation Video/Photo Montage
  1. As soon as you get home, organize all of your source material into one folder.
  2. When you're ready to edit, review all of the source material.
  3. Begin culling everything that's not too interesting.  Import everything that "might" be worthwhile into your editing program.  I discard about 80% of the original footage, but leave generous "handles" at the beginning and end of each clip.
  4. Drag the best portions of the video clips from your program's browser onto your timeline.  Discard about three out of evert ten seconds.  Remember, there are very few long takes within a montage.
  5. For a vacation video I usually start with a chronological arrangement of clips on the timeline.
  6. Select some of your best still photographs in the browser, set for a duration of about 150 seconds each, and drag them to the end of your timeline.  Still photos of signage will be very useful to orient your viewers.
  7. Finalize the arrangement of your video clips to suit the mood or theme you are delivering.
  8. Drag still photos into position to support the video clips.  I like to use groups of stills in between groups of motion.
  9. Tighten up the timing again (by about 10%).
  10. Insert some placeholder titles, and perhaps some sound-effects or ambient sound.
  11. Export the timeline to a "working-copy" movie file.  Use this file to discover your background music.
  12. Find the tracks you are going to use for the music bed.
  13. Record your narration (if any)
  14. Import your music and narration into the editing program, then drag it into position on the timeline.  Chop and trim the music tracks as necessary.
  15. Now it's a reiterative process: trim the clips to suit the music; trim the music to suit the clips; repeat until it feels right.  This project was five minutes long when I imported the music.  Cutting to the music allowed me to shorten it by another 30% ... and believe me your audiences appreciate it.  Leave them wanting more!
  16. You're almost done; you can now make color corrections, masks, special effects, etc.
  17. Finalize your titles and transitions.
  18. Adjust your sound balance.  Listen to it with headphones and speakers several times.  For starters I bring in the music at about -12dB; background ambience about -28dB; sound effects -12dB; narration -12dB but ducking the music to -20dB when it's behind important narration or live sound.
  19. You might be done!  Preview your project with a friend to make sure you haven't missed anything.

Next time we'll compare and critique the two finished products.  One with Royalty-Free music, the other with "Borrowed" music.

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