If you feel that you need a better video editor than Windows Movie Maker, you can download the free tryout version of Adobe Premiere (for a 30 day period). Adobe Premiere is a video editing software which allows you to create various effects such slow-motion, reverse-time, and basic chroma-keying (green-screening). The chief advantage of Adobe Premiere over Windows Movie Maker is the ability to manipulate the basic elements of your video footage (speed, size, shape, color, and opacity) and combine various clips together to play at the same time.
To get Adobe Premiere CS4 or any other Adobe Software, follow this link: http://www.adobe.com/downloads/ and click "Free Trial" to download.
You must create an Adobe account to download any of these programs, but it only takes a moment.
In addition to Adobe Premiere, there is a program called Adobe After Effects out there which is capable of creating extremely high quality effects. You can simulate virtually anything in After Effects, but it is a much more advanced software that is hard to use without detailed instruction or prior experience. The good news is that there is a very helpful website out there which gives you step-by-step video tutorials that can instruct someone without any experience at all on how to create advanced special effects such as soul sucking, obliterating people or objects, advanced chroma-keying, blowing up planets, stopping time, and simulating a person getting hit by a car.
For these tutorials, follow this link: http://www.videocopilot.net/tutorials/
The only issue with these tutorials is that a few may require extra plug-ins. If you need help finding these plug-ins you can contact Aris at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him (229 630 5423).
If you would like to learn more about After Effects so you can come up with your own effects, the same website has a series of "basic training" tutorials that will help you understand how the program works (this is highly recommended). One of the most fundamentally useful qualities of After Effects is its ability to control the part(s) of the video(s) you want to be seen.
Below is a freeze frame of someone busting through a wall with After Effects. (This is an effect Aris threw together, not one of the "extremely high quality" effects.)
Limitations: After Effects is not a sequencing software. It is recommended that you edit individual scenes in After Effects and then put them together in Premiere.
One final useful tool in video-editing is something called Action Essentials. This is a set of HD video footage of explosions, muzzle fires, smoky atmospheres, blood, and other various action-oriented footage. This is not a program; it is a collection of videos, so there is no trial version. However, you can contact Aris if you are interested in using Action Essentials.
To use Action Essentials, you simply drag the footage into place over another video and resize it if necessary. (Note: If you are not using a tripod, this can be a little more complicated.)
Muzzle flash effect from Action Essentials:
Videos created (By Aris) with Windows Movie Maker, Premiere, After Effects, and Action Essentials:
- made with Windows Movie Maker
made with Premiere only-
- made with After Effects, Premiere, and Action Essentials
- made entirely with After Effects
Note: Premiere can create more advanced effects than those seen in "Ode to the Grapefruit". The ones seen are the ones that are creatable by a few clicks of the mouse. Also, the quality of the videos is almost exclusively affected by the camera and video converter used, not the editing software.
IMPORTANT: These programs will create very large files, After Effects being the worst. Videos lasting thirty seconds may be up to gigabytes in size. Premiere will decrease the size of the final product, but a five minute video may still take up around 1 gigabyte of space, depending of the resolution of the video (The standard 720 x 480 frame size will take up about half this much space). The best way to solve this without ruining the quality of your video is to upload it to YouTube, which has improved greatly of the years. The only issue with this is that YouTube does not accept videos with a length of over 10 minutes, so if your video is longer, you will either have to break it into segments an upload them separately or upload them to a different site such as The Daily Motion, which allows 20 minute videos. The other option is to "compress" your video. Any Video Converter will do this, but the problem is that it will lower your video's quality. AVS Video Converter is a better program for this, but it isn't free. (around $30) You can download the trial, but your videos will have an AVS watermark on them.
Some Suggestions on Creating Videos
Tips on Taking Videos:
Generally speaking, the more light your camcorder is exposed to, the better the quality your footage will be. (This is extremely important to chroma-keying.)
Using a tripod will get rid of unwanted motion blur and camera shake.
Switching camera angles often gives your video better flow. (This is especially important in dialogues, which can become visually boring if shot from only one angle the whole time.)
Actors/actresses must raise their voices to be heard. (This is extremely important on windy days, and if at all possible, avoid shooting on windy days all together if you want your actors/actresses to be heard.)
Also, whenever recording audio by any means, record at a higher volume; digitally increasing the volume after recording will lead to distortion of the sound.
Transferring Videos From Your Camera to the Computer:
For cameras using memory cards:
Use USB connection and cut and paste video files. Attempt to import the videos into the video editing software, if unsuccessful, you need to download a video converter to encode your videos to a
supportable format. (Go to your software, click import, and check the acceptable file extensions to see a list of supported formats.)
There are many video converters out there, but a one free program out there is Any Video Converter. This is not a very high quality software.
A higher quality option is Adobe Media Encoder, which is automatically installed with Adobe Premiere. To find it, run a search for "Adobe Media Encoder" in your C Drive.
For cameras using tapes or other media:
You will need to buy a firewire cable to "capture" your video footage. To capture your footage, hook up your camera via firewire and run Adobe Premiere. Go to the Window toolbar and check "Capture".
Press the red record button in the capture window and press play on your camera if it doesn't play automatically. Press stop when you the footage you need has played all the way through. It will then
appear in the Project Window.
Capturing can sometimes be a hassle. You may need to consult your camera's user manual or an online forum for help.
Note: You cannot capture in HDV in the trial version of Adobe Premiere.
Basics of Special Effects:
The whole basis of special effects is giving the illusion of something happening which did not really happen in the footage. The advantage that the video editor has over his or her audience in creating special effects is that videos can only be seen in the perspective that they are shot in, meaning that the editor only has to simulate the effect on a two-dimensional level. Because the audience can only see what happens on the surface, the editor only has to make one perspective look real.
Most special effects are created by "stacking" different videos or pictures on top of one another in such a way that gives the illusion of three dimensionality, while in actuality, it is nothing more than digital cut-outs of various media stacked on top of one another to make a sort of video collage.
This makes chroma-keying immensely popular. Chroma-keying works by picking a color in the footage and eliminating all objects of that color from the video. The person stands in front of a "green screen" and all the green is cut out, allowing you to isolate the person. By isolating the person, this allows you to manipulate them independently of their surroundings.
Chroma keying can be used for effects such as background replacement (such as in the news), teleportation, flying, and any effect which you only want to apply to the isolated person/object.
If you don't want to buy a green screen, you can just use a large green piece of fabric (or blue for that matter). Try to get as many wrinkles out as possible; they will create shadows.
Note: While chroma-keying is possible in Adobe Premiere, the chroma-keying in After Effects will look much better.
In After Effects In Premiere
After Effects utilizes an effect called the Keylight, which decreases the opacity of the green, rather than making each green pixel invisible (as shown in Premiere). This gives a smoother edge. If you zoom in, you may notice that the arm in Premiere looks like a cut-out, rather than just an isolated hand.
After the hand is isolated, you can put a background behind it.
The compromise for the smoother edge in After Effects is that with improper lighting, the edges will be slightly transparent. However, this usually looks better than the rough, pixelated edges created in Premiere. Additionally, the color key in Premiere will often appear to eat away at the person you are trying to isolate, forming holes in them, or it will leaves stray green pixels that are not quite the right shade of green to be recognized by the color key.
This leads us to the most important part of chroma-keying, lighting. In order to successfully use the chroma-key, you must make the green background as uniform in color as possible by exposing the whole background to an equal amount of light (eliminate as many shadows as possible). This is because if the range green selected to be erased is smaller, the chance of part of your subject being erased is greatly decreased. In addition to making the background uniform, you need to attempt to keep the green light from being reflected onto your subject. Also, YOUR SUBJECT SHOULD NOT WEAR GREEN.
Example of poor lighting:
As you can see, bad lighting will negate the effectiveness of chroma-keying, especially in Premiere.
Tip for Chroma-keying: If you are doing a news-style video and are doing a background replacement with chroma-keying, use a blur effect on the background; it will do wonders for the look.
If you have any questions about making a video, you can contact Aris at email@example.com or call him (229 630 5423).