Editing Your Own Videos

People often ask me for recommendations on what to use to edit their own videos.  My first suggestion is of course to hire me to do it for you!  But barring that:

As far as platforms – computers – video editing can be relatively resource-heavy, depending on your format.  If you intend to edit HD video (and you will eventually if you do this for awhile) you will likely need 4 MB of memory, as well as a decent amount of video memory.  A relatively well-equipped desktop should do fine, but if you plan to work on a laptop, don’t skimp.  So if you’re buying a computer, get as much on-board and video memory as you can afford, and consider external storage – 500GB to 1 TB – it’s cheap.  You may think getting a large hard disk in the computer itself is enough, but you’ll want to keep your footage and your products somewhere, and no internal hard disk is going to last you very long in that regard.  I use a home server with 1.5 TB of redundant (RAID 5) storage because I have lost too much footage from crashes, and HD uses a lot of space.  The software that comes with my Sony camera catalogs everything and I can search by date.  And if you buy a Sony camera, you’ll need that program because your other programs won’t give you a proper thumbnail for AVCHD files.  Also having a firewire input can be helpful, although more and more they’re using USB.

If you’re buying a camera, make sure its output works with your computer (ports).  Stay away from cameras that store on DVD because they’re too big, and the DVD format includes a lot of loss up front.  I recommend a flash-based camera or a hard disk camera so you can drag files to your computer.  If you use miniDV the quality is supposed to be better, but you have to play it back while your computer captures it. 

Then you can look at software.  Make sure, first of all, that your software works with the output your camera produces.  You can use what’s already on your computer (Windows Movie Maker or Apple iMovie) but you wil eventually want to do something that program can’t do.  There lots good programs for under $100 – check out http://www.videomaker.com/article/14142?utm_source=enews&utm_medium=email&utm_content=tip_enews_2009_09_3&utm_campaign=traffic for a recent review.   The cool thing is that many vendors offer “trial version” downloads, usually for a month or so.

And finally, if you want to do decent work, strongly suggest a tripod and an external mike.  Even if you don’t use an external mike to record video, a decent USB mike will be useful for voiceovers during editing.  Strangely, I have found the mike that comes with the video game “Rock Band” to be a pretty decent mike.  The computer mikes I have tried pick up too much hiss and pops.

Now all that’s needed is your own creativity.  I’m afraid I can’t help you there 🙂

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