After you've shot your 'raw footage', it's time to bring everything together into a coherent, entertaining, and motivating program. Since we're living in the digital age, it's very likely that you'll be editing your program on your computer. There are different levels of editing software and since this is about producing a professional corporate video, I focus on the professional program that we use at Video One Productions, called Final Cut Pro (FCP). It's only available on the Mac.
I've used Media 100, Premier, Pinnacle, and FCP editing software, and they all operate along similar lines, be we prefer FCP because it gives us more bang for the buck and it has a relatively intuitive interface.
Though we use FCP, we use other software that specialize in particular tasks that are necessary for professional editing and post production. We use Photoshop and Illustrator to create graphics and manipulate still images that we want to import into FCP; Soundtrack Pro and Sound Loops to produce music and sound effects; Live Type for text effects; After Effects and Motion to apply special effects to the edited footage; and Studio Pro to author the DVD's that contain the programs we edit.
The first task is to get the footage you shot into the computer by digitizing the footage into a useable file format. Typically, the material is transferred to your computer via a firewire cable which goes from your camcorder or 'source' deck to the computer. Try not to use your camcorder as your source deck, to feed the footage into the computer, as camcorders have small motors and are not designed to be used as tape players. Buying a player will add to your expense out front, but will save you money if you don't have to replace your camera because you burned it out using it for something it wasn't intended to be used for.
When you digitize the footage with FCP, it gets converted into a QuickTime file. This file can then be dragged into the timeline so that you can edit your piece. The timeline is where your video gets displayed and edited. It is the pallet of your video work of art so to speak.
There are a variety of tools you can use to move, cut, slow down, speed up or do other things to the footage. You also have text effects tools, video transitions and a host of special effects to enhance your video. I'm not going to give you a tutorial on FCP, but I will discuss some of the do's and don't of effective editing.
Once you have acquired your footage, you can either digitize the footage yourself or have a company digitize it for you. If you go the latter route, the company should digitize it to an internal hard drive of theirs and then transfer it to your external hard drive. Then you can transfer the footage from your external hard drive to your internal drive. You never want to capture or edit to an external hard drive, as the throughput is not sufficient to move the video. If the throughput isn't fast enough, you'll get stuttering video or the program or computer may crash.
There are now external hard drives that you can capture and edit to. But unless you have an external hard drive with a firewire 800 interface, play it safe and edit from your internal drive. Not to get too technical, but your external drive needs a serial ATA connection and an IDE or Ultra ATA hard drive that goes at least 7200 RPM to edit video. If you have that combination, you can capture and edit video on that drive with no problems. Of course your computer must have the firewire 800 interface and be fast enough to handle video as well.
Don't forget to max out on RAM. You never have enough RAM in your computer. And you'll need it to edit video.
If you're editing video to an internal drive on your computer, it is recommended that you use one internal drive for your applications, system, etc. and another internal drive for your video projects. We've had the best luck editing video on Hitachi internal drives.
No matter what drive you use, for optimal performance, and to prevent crashes, make sure you have at least 10% free space on the drive at all times. Internal hard drives are cheap these days, so get the largest one you can. You'll be amazed at how fast you use up the space.
Let's talk about the video program itself. People who are new to video editing often go overboard. Don't go crazy with the special effects, use of wild transitions, or feel that the text you use has to fly in every time. If anything, error on the side of conservatism. If you don't, you run the risk of fatiguing your audience with overkill. And that's the last thing you want to do. In fact, using cuts in between shots is sometimes more effective than any transition, especially a wild and crazy one.
This is not to say that your video doesn't need to move along. In fact, a rule of thumb is that you should probably have a new shot every 5 seconds. Of course, it depends on the nature of the shot. If someone is giving a 20 second testimonial, perhaps you can dissolve up the them, and then perhaps after 5 seconds, bring up some text in the lower portion of the screen, identifying the speaker by name, title and company. This achieves the effect of informing the audience as to who the speaker is and it changes up the shot to create visual interest.
Speaking of text, make sure it's title safe, which is another phrase for making sure it fits within the boundaries of the television screen. Your editing program should have a guide somewhere in a menu that will show you how far the screen extends. When you're creating text, the boundary can be superimposed over the screen. This tool shows you exactly where it's 'safe' to place text. If the text goes beyond the safe area, it will be chopped off and won't appear on the television screen.
The final thing I'll mention is sound. You must make sure that the sound level is consistent throughout the video. The viewer will definitely turn it off if the audio is uneven. It must be consistently loud enough to hear, but low enough to be constant and not startling to the viewer. So no matter how long the program is, go through the entire program and tweak the audio, making it louder or softer where needed. Your program should have tools to do this.
There is much more to the editing process, but I hope you have benefited from this overview.
To get help with your next video production project, contact the author through their website at http://www.video1pro.com
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