How to make better videos

Last updated 09:25 24/04/2012
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HOW TO: Creating great videos for YouTube or Facebook requires good video editing software and some practice.
Daniel Tobin
Videographer Daniel Tobin.

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Great videos require good editing software. Abbie Napier analyses the options.

OK, so you've got video of a friend wiping out on a snowboard or cutting embarrassing shapes on the dance floor. Now what?

Creating a mini-masterpiece for YouTube or Facebook requires good video editing software and some practice.

Selecting the right technical program to match your skills and making sure you don't overspend can be tricky.

If you don't use video often or you struggle with Facebook your best bet will be free software as a starting point. You can upgrade later if you find yourself addicted.

Windows Live Movie Maker

Simple, uses your existing Windows operating knowledge, and is totally free.

It comes installed with a standard Windows Basic package alongside Microsoft Word and Outlook.

The Live version replaced Windows Movie Maker and has some upgraded features including recording live from a webcam and the ability to use video clips rather than just still photos.

This software is only compatible with Windows Vista and later, so if your operating system is older, you will only have slide show capacity.

This software is easy to use but has its limitations. It can function as an animated slide- show (like its predecessor) allowing you to set still images to music with graphics and text - ideal for the embarrassing naked bathtub photos.

However, if you want to take this program to the next level, you can drag video clips into the program and patch them together so they run one after the other like a single video.

Instead of using conventional cutting techniques you move the start and end point on the clip and the pieces merge together as if they were one - pretty simple once you get the hang of it.

The result is not seamless, but if you want to avoid hours in front of the screen perfecting the splice on the dog's latest trick, this will work fine.

PowerDirector 10

This next step up will set you back about $130 but stacks up well with user ratings.

It's the latest version of user- friendly software designed for beginners or "sometimes users".

This program won PC Mag's editor's choice and a nine out of 10 online user rating.

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For the semi-literate computer user, this program can be mastered using the instruction book or trial and error. Like most programs, practise makes perfect and your resident teenager can probably help you if you get totally stuck.

Upgrades made to the program have made it faster and the support system (Help) installed is actually useful.

Version 10 includes all the fast, high performance attributes of Version 9, but can also edit 3-D footage (for the very advanced user).

Adobe Premier Pro CS5.5

For the true professional or someone who wants to get into top-of-the-line editing, this is the kit for you.

But it will dent your wallet. PriceMe.co.nz values this at more than $1600, plus shipping so you would have to use it often to get value for money.

These programs run on PC, but for Mac you can use iMovie, Adobe Premier Elements 10, or FinalCut Pro.

Once you have created your video you could upload it to YouTube.

Posting online

YouTube requires you to create an account to upload your own files but you can use a Google account if you already have one.

YouTube supports many file types (.MPEG4, 3GPP, MOV, .AVI, .MPEGPS, .WMV, .FLV) so it is unlikely you will have a problem with formatting.

You can protect your privacy to some extent by selecting who can view the video: Public, friends only, private.

In your account profile, go to Video, select the File From Your Computer, and the website does the rest. Using high speed broadband helps the process.

Once you have uploaded your video you can share it with your friends on Facebook by copying the link into your Status line.

If you want to skip the YouTube step you can upload it directly to Facebook by selecting Upload Video and finding the file in your computer. This is easy but Facebook responds best to mp4 format - which means you may need to alter your file type (which can be tricky).

Facebook also sets file size limits so it may be easier to use YouTube as a conduit.

DAN'S TIPS

Press videographer Daniel Tobin has 10 ideas for making better videos.

  1. Edit in your head while you shoot. This saves time when you're editing on the computer.
  2. Have an idea of how long you want the finished video to be before you start editing.
  3. Only shoot what you need, don't over shoot, you don't want to be at the editing stage with hours of footage to trawl through.
  4. Have a beginning, middle and end for your video.
  5. Have an opening shot that introduces your audience to the environment they are viewing, so for example if you're shooting something in a cafe the opening shot would be of the cafe from outside. This helps the viewer to get their bearings.
  6. Don't use too many crazy cross fades, these are sometimes appropriate if you are doing something fun , but most of the time stick to simple fades or a straight cut.
  7. If you are using a voiceover, time the footage to coincide with what is being said (or trim the voiceover to the length of the footage).
  8. Lower the volume of the footage if you have a voiceover.
  9. Use fades on your audio cuts. Straight cuts are very obvious on audio.
  10. If you use titles, make them clean and in a font that is easy to read. Use one font, style and colour.

Dan Tobin is a finalist in the best video category at the 2012 Canon Media Awards. Results announced May 18.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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