HomeDVD presents a top level overview of the most popular video production software tools for you to consider when editing 8mm film or 16mm DV film masters or edit-ready videotapes
Introduction — What you are getting into!
After HomeDVD or yourself has converted your home movies to an editable digital video format like Windows DV AVI or MAC Quicktime MOV files (in either NTSC or PAL format), you now have the option to edit and assemble selected components of your newly minted digital files and create something completely new. From simple trims, cuts and pastes to get rid of the ‘junk’ to more complex family biography projects. These software based DV tools has its roots in what is better known as Non Linear Editors or NLEs. NLE’s by definition are just digital video editors with a defined degree of functionality for creating the basis of a ‘broadcast ready’ or distributable video productions. Early NLE’s did not offer DVD author and burn facilities. Third party tools were needed in addtion to the NLE tool. Although the definition of an NLE has been changing with each software revision. So I’ll use the term NLE in this discussion very loosely. It’s closer to say video production suite of tools using the NLE component as the foundation to building DVD titles.
Creating compelling storylines that are made up of a mix of media assets can be a rewarding experience for many people. Assets like clips extracted from your digitized videotapes or DV film masters, scanned slides or photos and sound beds. Couple that with composing your own scene titles, incorporating special effects and building DVD titles complete with menus and chapters. Composing family stories, historical perspectives, genealogy trees and media rich slideshows are just a few of the exciting projects that can be built using affordably priced video production software tools now available in the market.
Your imagination, creativity and patience mixed with a good understanding of the software tools you plan to use, represent for the most part the main ingredients necessary to produce a great final result. You may need a sprinkling of resourcefulness here and there to mitigate unforeseen design and asset issues, but its all part of the experience.
The DV based video production tools we are about explore, will give you a heads up on what they offer and in turn a measure of the degree of effort to learn them.
My only word of advice when taking on a multimedia project of any size is to realize the work to be undertaken is not really technical, like learning and mastering a new software tool, but is in the time and effort to research and assemble the assets you plan to use for your project. The research aspect of a project can be a lot of fun, but can be daunting at the same time. It depends on your resolve and attitude.
The old 80/20 rule applies; -80% of your time will be spent on research, storyboarding, retrieval, creation and organizing the multimedia assets, the other 20% is the assembly of those assets in the production tool of your choice and the creative actions you take to realize your vision. The rewards for a well researched and assembled project will garner the positive feedback and respect for a job well done. Sloppiness and intentional short cuts outside the original plan at the front end will show up in your final result leading to disappointment.
Overview — Editing your 8mm Film DV Masters or Videotape Archive
When using any of the NLE-Authoring tools out there today, they all for the most part share the same paradigm, the ability to capture video footage as digital files (usually DV files), the dropping and dragging of video clips onto a time line or clip pallette, so they can be cut and re-organized. They also offer the means to add other media assets like audio tracks and digitized pictures to the edit mix, access to visual palettes, editing toolboxes, the facility to transcode, author and finally to burn the project to DVD recordable media. For most people this basic suite of functions is more than good enough. Of the consumer level video production tools available today, these basic functions are more than satisfactory.
The degree of intuitiveness and smoothness of workflow designed within the various user interfaces of a prospective video production tool, could make or break a project for many beginners who just want to experience the joy of putting a family project together using the camera footage and pictures they have taken with minimum hassle. If the tool fails to allow the user simple navigation of the user interfaces in an uncomplicated and intuitive manner it has not done its job for its intended target market.
What separates these software products from one another, are the range and depth of features offered and of course cost and the degree of learning curve associated with the product. Many consumer level products have been designed to be as simple as possible to use, with just the number of features needed to edit DV or create a DVD title. Your challenge is to determine what NLE-Author tool will suffice to give you what you want to achieve. The bottom line is simplicity trumps design flexibility. Simple low cost tools with limited features will yield very basic results, with short learning curves.
In that vein, moving up to more feature rich professional tools from Adobe like PremierePro, Encore After Effects or Mac NLE Final CutPro will come at a higher price and a steeper learning curve. In return however, the results will be more polished and compelling. The degree of design flexibility when using professional tools will offer deeper compositing features and more interesting possibilities in the navigation behavior of DVD titles.
If you want to find out more about DV editing tools, we have assembled a very basic review of perhaps the most recognized consumer based software editing tools out there today.