Video Editing Programs Basics
Watching this 7 minute video tutorial on how to edit video on a computer will help you learn any program. In this video, Windows Movie Maker is used as an example, but the basics are the same with all edit programs.
Editing video on a computer can be both a fun hobby or lucrative professional skill.
I see tons of ads touting how easy and marvelous this or that video editing program is. Well, that’s all true, BUT…
Any newbie to video editing will have their hands full learning whatever program they choose. The ads won’t tell you that, but I will. Video editing on a computer isn’t hard once you know what you are doing, but it can be mind-blowingly confusing in the beginning.
The good news is, once you learn one program, you can more easily learn any program. Video editing programs have many similarities; they are more alike than different. It’s much the same as with automobiles. If you know how to drive a Volkswagon, you can probably handle a Lamborghini.
In the beginning, many people can feel lost and I can certainly understand. The first thing you need to do is become familiar with a video computer editing screen and what it all means. The on-screen interface in any video editing program contains multiple windows that all function separately, yet work together. As you edit, you go from one window to another to another performing tasks. Sometimes, windows have to share screen space, so you can hide one window to reveal another.
Here’s a basic rundown of how a video editing program is laid out on your screen. The visuals are from Windows Movie Maker (version 5.1) a simple program that comes free on many PCs. Remember, this basic layout is the same for most programs.
Different sections of your screen have different functions.
The picture shows the screen divided into four sections. Each section is a different window that functions independently from the others.
The bottom turquoise section of the screen is called the timeline. The timeline is a horizontal, graphical representation of your edited story. This is where you build your story, adding video clips, audio clips and titles.
A timeline is made up of separate horizontal lines for video and audio. The timeline above has one video line, one line to place transitions, two audio lines, and one graphics line called title overlay.
You build your story in the timeline, left to right. Each thumbnail on the video line in the picture above represents a different shot.
A timeline might have many different video lines and audio lines. Cheaper programs give you one line of video, one for graphics and one line for audio.
More sophisticated programs give you up to thousands of video and audio lines. It’s great to be able to mix as much audio and video as you want. On a practical level, I’ve never gone over 32 lines of video and that was a woolly-bugger. I can’t fathom needing over fifty lines. One thousand lines is overkill.
In Windows Movie Maker, the timeline portion of the screen can be switched back and forth with a story board. You can see one or the other, but not both at the same time. A story board is a planned out visual map of your story. Most of the time you’ll leave it on the timeline function.
In addition to the timeline, notice the flower picture in the window on the upper right. This window is a very important part of your video editing screen. You can think of it like a tiny TV in your computer. More technically, this window would be called a combination playback monitor and preview monitor. This is where you watch your story as it plays. You can see and hear all of your edited video/audio in this window. You can also use it to preview all of the clips in your project. You see your video here as it would look on a regular TV, just smaller!
The upper middle portion of the computer screen is a window which contains all your video and audio clips, each represented as a thumbnail in this illustration. Think of this portion of the screen like a file drawer. Everything in your project is stored here. Any video or audio clips in your project will show in this window. Organize your strategically named clips in folders just like you do in any computer program.
In Windows Movie Maker, this upper middle portion of the screen will also show you choices of transitions and special effects if you select those options in the small pull-down window located in this section.
No matter what video editing program you’re using, each will have its version of:
- File List
- Preview Monitor
- Playback Monitor
One reason why video editing programs confuse newbies is because each section of the screen can be operated independently. Once you master how each portion of your screen functions, you can begin to feel your way around the program more easily.
Computers sold today are all powerful enough to edit video. Lots of RAM is important if you have a choice.
A video editing computer need to be a work horse. Buy as powerful a computer as you can. Video files are huge (5 gigabytes for thirty minutes of video) and manipulating them takes some power. Personally, I’ve found some great deals on used equipment at eBay. My first personally-owned video editing computer was a used Mac G-4 and it worked like a dream. It came already loaded with all the expensive software and I got it for a song off eBay.
Buy what you can afford. I long for the day I can buy a Mac G-5 with super blow-out capacity. But in the meantime, this cheapie Compaq I bought on sale at Sam’s Club will do fine.
Thanks for reading Video Production Tips
Internet Video Gal