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Video Maker's Journey Introduction

Beyond Basics:  start | story development | pre-production | responding to criticism | editing refinements | transferring cine film to video | pace

The Videomaker's Journey: part twenty-two
Beyond the Basics: Editing Refinements.

Use the links in the text to move between sections.

Fading in the start of a movie and fading out at the end is a standard procedure.

The cover of 'The Film Makers Handbook'.Cover of the book 'Film Directing Shot by Shot'.Now I have just gone back and studied two books - Film Directing Shot by Shot by Steven D. Katz (£11.99 from amazon.co.uk in February 2010- see page 321, “Transitions”) and The Film Maker’s Handbook by Steven Ascher and Edward Pincus (£11.69 from amazon.co.uk in February 2010 - see “Joining Sequences”, page 350.) These books will provide useful advice.

My preferred system is listed below.

Neat Cuts - a neat cut without using a soft cut is very satisfactory - but take care to delete any unusual movement or a jump in a frame at the cut, as it will show when watching the movie. On shots of static scenery watch out for the first frame of video sometimes appears to "jump" and should be trimmed off. With dramas that would be rare as we are usually trimming off "dead" or "useless" time.

Fades to Black. I had used the transitions as outlined in Part 17, to separate the sequences. I now intend to shorten and speed up the fades to and from black. I also include below other comments on joining and separating the video shots and sequences.

Joining video shots

The Video Maker's journey, Part 17 describes transitions in detail and provides video clip examples.

(a) Transitions are fashion items - sometimes they are popular, sometimes not. Even if fashion swings back to flashy transitions everywhere, at least people will still understand the simple form. The opposite is not always true: fancy transitions can distract audiences who are not used to them.
(b) transitions keep them simple - use soft cuts, these are 3 frame cross-fades, they join the shots together in a smooth and superior manner.

I now recommend that visible cross-fades in dramas, should not be used - except in special circumstances such as where a shot of a young woman is cross-faded to a shot of her at a much older age. For a documentary use cross-fades to connect the shots in a smooth manner.

(c) transitions - cross-fade to and from video black - joining and separating the sequences so as to effect a shift in time or a shift to another location. I now recommend that the fades to and from black, should be short and the pause in between should be minimal. Use one second fades with about 5 frames of black between.
(d) special transitions - that drag a victim into a darkened doorway or through a wall or make a ghost appear and disappear.
Still from 'Violets are Blue'.

Note: the video clip Violets are Blue shows many examples of cross-fades to and from black. I can now see there are several fades to black that shouldn't be there. I have also revised my ideas on using fades to and from black as described above.

(e) Still from 'The Problem with Harry'.

Speeding up the action to twice speed can enhance the action shots in some situations. Refer to the movie The Problem with Harry and look at the scenes where Harry runs to the boot of the MG, also where he is running around with the golf clubs and gets in the MG car. Also the cars arriving and leaving, were speeded up.

HD Video

At the time of writing, the end of 2009, HD (high definition video) has not settled down in the amateur film world. There are several competing formats. The editing of HD is also tackled in a variety of ways by different editing systems. These notes are based on my experience using the Apple HD formats in iMovie.

The iMac, iMovie HD Editing Software - I use this format. Editing with the HD (High Definition) software is not a problem, as long as you have a basic understanding of the HD format and how it works - and as long as you are aware of what types of video camera shots might cause problems. It is not possible to correct faults or improve the shots taken by HD video cameras, but at the moment it appears possible to prevent them from getting worse ... and that can happen if you don’t do something about it.

Standard DV format compresses at 5:1.

DVD equipment uses MPEG-2 compression. This is a variable format. It can be set on a low compression that is used for the high quality storage of one hour of video on a DVD disc. This setting can be varied all the way up to a high compression that will record 6 hours of low quality video on a DVD disc.
My iMac computer will record 2 Layers on a DVD, but I don’t use it, because the computer manual advises it may not replay on other equipment.

High Definition video uses MPEG-2 compression. When I convert my standard DV to HD it uses approximately 12.7 GB of space, per hour of video, on the computer hard drive. This is the figure for standard DV, converting it to the HD Format does not increase it. But once you start editing the figure will go up to 25 to 30 GB’s per hour of edited video. I do not know what the figures are for camera recorded HD video. HD video packs so much information onto each millimetre of tape that when recording HD in the video camera, it is best to use “Master Quality Mini-DV tapes", and limit the re-use of tapes. Any blemish in the tape would lose quite a lot of data.

AVCHD (Advanced Video Coding High Definition) - has recently become a popular format for amateurs shooting high definition. It was designed for use with "tapeless" cameras which record onto memory cards/sticks or small hard drives. It is compatible with the Blu-Ray disc system.  It uses MPEG-4 compression which is very efficient. Unfortunately there are various "flavours" of MPEG-4 which can lead to incompatibity if you use kit from different manufacturers.

Editing HD or AVCHD video. Editing high definition makes heavy demands on a computer so fast processors, lots of memory and large-capacity hard discs are required. Where rendering of complex transitions or simple scene changes - the affected part is decompressed, then rendered, then re-compressed. There are other HD editing systems that use a variety of methods. Repeated decompression and re-compression may cause some deterioration and unwanted problems, called artefacts: the background shaking is the main one, a cross-fade shaking is another one. This is why you should plan your edit and keep amendments to a minimum. Extreme effects such as reversing the direction of the video will cause artefacts.

These problems only appeared when I made some changes after my initial draft. Also I was dealing with some old video that was a bit shaky. On top of that, I always had a belief that transferring problem video to a Mini DV Tape is a Silver Bullet: it fixes many problems. So I used to manage very well with the HD Software.

Use a Tripod so as to minimise problems.

To fix the problem: restore the video from the original shot, then apply the transition again. This is why you should use a non-destructive editing technique. To do this, when you have trimmed the shot, copy it and insert it on the timeline. Another way used by some people is to make a complete copy of all the shots, then edit from the copy, but this wastes a lot of hard drive space.

For the last 3½ years, I have been editing in HD iMovie and processing DVD projects in the iMac, so far, I have always been able to fix any problems.

The MPEG-2 Compression is as follows:  first there is an I-frame - this is followed by a series of P-frames which only store data that is different from the I-frame - then a new I-frame appears - followed by more P-frames.

Ocean waves, fast flowing water and fast moving objects play havoc with this system. I have found that actors running flat out towards the video camera and passing close by are not a problem, but actors walking away from the video camera, even doing it slowly, will cause artefacts.

One of the HD editing systems uses I-Frames only, this needs a huge capacity hard drive.

The following is a summary of the situation:

(a) The HD format can make problem shots worse, but so far I have been able to prevent this.
(b) Use a tripod for all HD shots so as to minimise problems and avoid shaky video.
(c) When taking the shots, have the action move towards the video camera.
(d) Use a non-destructive editing technique, so that you can restore to the original shots.
(e) Don’t use extreme video effects.
(f) Keep alterations to a minimum by planning your edit, before you start.
(g) 2-frame cross-fades look strange on the computer screen - the shots seem to flop from one to the other, as though a black frame has got in there, but the completed DVD looks OK. Longer cross-fades are OK.

Video Maker's Journey Introduction
Beyond Basics:  
start | story development | pre-production | responding to criticism | editing refinements | transferring cine film to video | pace

© copyright Arthur Bullock, 2010

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