Video Editing

Published Date
01 - Jan - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - Jan - 2005
Video Editing
One of the most popular video editing software available is Adobe Premiere Pro. A tryout version (30 days trial) of this is available in Digit's December 2004 DVD. VirtualDub is another option you could try. It's small, fast, and best of all, free! This freeware tool is popular and works well for basic requirements and can be found at, or on the December 2004 Digit DVD and CD. VirtualDub also has many independent developers making plug-ins for it. For now, though, we will stick to Premiere Pro.

Once you get past the basics and are conversant with the software's interface, you will realise that basic editing is as easy as it can be. This article aims only to get you started on your video editing journey–even if we wrote a hundred pages of tips and tricks on video editing, we couldn't cover all the features. The tips and tricks mentioned here will range from the basic to the intermediate level.

Hopefully, once you are done reading this article, you will not be intimidated by the jargon, menus and myriad options that Premiere Pro throws at you.

Importing Files
The first thing you need to know is how to import files into Premiere Pro. Apart from standard video files (such as WMV, AVI and MOV files), you can also import images (BMP, JPG, GIF, EPS, PNG, PCT, TIFF, etc.), audio (MP3, WMA, AIF, etc.) and other formats such as layered PSD files and Adobe Illustrator art. If you are looking to import many files, just place them all in one folder and simply import the folder.

For starters, create a new project by going to File > New. Now you can select the type of output you desire in the box that pops up and click OK. A new project will open and you can now import your audio and video clips into it. To do this, go to File > Import, or press [Ctrl] [I]. Use the 'Import Folder' option, if you need to import a folder containing audio and video clips.

Understanding The Interface
Before you start editing, you need to understand what all the different panes are and what they are used for. The screenshot below points out the various panes.

The Project pane: This is the pane where all files you import are displayed. Here, you can preview the clips and drag and position them in the 'Timeline Pane'.

The Monitor pane: This pane shows you a clip, your entire video sequence and add effects to them.

The Timeline pane: In this pane, you can place your audio and video clips, and edit them. You can cut clips and join them to other clips using this pane.

The Info pane: Here you see information about the selected clips.

The History pane: Information about all completed tasks is shown in this pane. You can use this pane to undo and step backwards in the editing process to exactly where you made a mistake!

Brightness And Contrast
The first change you might make to a video is to adjust the brightness and contrast. In order to do this, double-click on the clip in the Timeline pane. This will add the video to the Monitor pane where you can add effects.

Now, click on the 'Effect Controls' tab in the Monitor pane. You will see Motion, Opacity and Volume controls by default.

Now, on the left, in the Project pane, click on the Effects tab. Go down to Video Effects > Adjust, and drag the 'Brightness & Contrast' effect to the Effect Controls tab in the Monitor pane. You will see the values "0.0" for both Brightness and Contrast. Hover your mouse over these values, keep the left mouse button pressed and then drag it left or right to adjust the values.

Set a brightness and contrast for a clip by dragging the effect from the Project pane to the Motion pane

Also remember to turn the effect on and off to preview changes and ensure you get the right values. You can do this by clicking on the icon on the left of the effect name, under the Effect Controls tab in the Monitor pane.

You can increase the precision of your editing by zooming into the Timeline. This is not to be confused with the zooming we do with video or cameras. This zoom increases the precision of your editing by increasing the units on your horizontal time scale. So, if one unit on the time scale is, say, five seconds at normal zoom, at full zoom, each unit could be increased to four milliseconds. Considering that most video clips you may need to edit will be shot at the standard 25 fps (frames per second), which translates to 1 frame every 4 milliseconds, no more time scale zoom is needed.

In order to zoom in or out, drag the dark grey sliders above the time scales in either the Monitor or Timeline panes.

You can use the 'Zoom' slider to get more precision while editing-you can zoom into a clip to see each frame

Rewind That!
One really cool effect that you can use when editing video is the rewind, or playing a clip backwards. This is especially useful when showing something funny.

Actually, both the 'Rewind and Slow Motion' effects can be achieved via the same setting. Click on a video clip in the Timeline pane, and go to Clip > Speed/Duration…, or press [Ctrl] [R]. This will bring up a box where you can choose to either speed up or slow down the clip-in terms of percent, or in terms of time. So if you created a clip that is, say, two minutes long, you can speed it up by 200 per cent, or just speed it up to be one minute long. You can also slow it down or play it backwards! Doing this also reverses the audio to play backwards. Check the 'Reverse Speed' and 'Maintain Audio Pitch' checkboxes to play the clip backwards and maintain the audio pitch as you slow down or speed up the clip.
When editing video files, the most important thing you need to know is how to cut and join clips. Joining different clips together is easy using the Timeline pane. All you need to do is drag and place one clip after another to join them. Cutting clips is a little more complicated, though. You need to select the 'Razor' tool from the Tool Palette or press [C].

Use the razor tool to cut a clip into two parts at a given location

Now, carefully mark the point in the timeline you wish to cut the clip at, and click on it using the Razor tool. Make sure you zoom in to mark the exact frame where you want to cut. This will cut the clip into two separate clips. Now you can drag and place the two portions as you please. Press [V] to get back the Selection tool.

Why Video Editing? 
The first question that might come to mind is, "Why do I need to know about video editing? I'm not in the movie business!"
Consider this: You just came back from a vacation. You want to preserve your memories and share it with friends and family.
Unfortunately, all you took with you on vacation was a still camera. You have hundreds of photos, and let's face it, vanilla slide shows are boring. Photo albums are almost passé too. Using video editing software to create your own movie-complete with special effects, credits and added clips will definitely spice it up.
Then again, what about showing it at work? Today, we use video for almost everything. It could be a presentation, a company profile or even your very own video CV... Imagine the look on your boss' face if you can churn out an animated company logo with special effects and Dolby sound; something the company would have paid big to get made!
Similarly, you could just be making a short film for a college project or as a passionate hobby. You could edit that part in a wedding tape and deny absolutely that you ever tripped over a few wires, much to everyone else's  amusement!
Perhaps those amateurish looking clips you shot of your newborn on your camera phone can finally be shown to others, complete with Star Wars style opening credits.
The possibilities are endless; it's all about how high your imagination can soar.

Separating Audio and Video
In the Timeline pane, when you add a video clip, its audio track is added automatically. If you drag the audio to the left or right, the video moves with it too. This is good as you need not worry about messing up the original clip. However, sometimes you may need to correct the original, say, for example, when the audio and video are slightly off sync.

To do this, you need to unlink the audio and video. Just select the track, and right-click on it. Choose 'Unlink Audio and Video'. Now you can move the audio and video tracks independently. You can also do the same thing by holding down [Alt] while dragging either the audio or video. Using the [Alt] key when dragging only temporarily unlinks the audio and video, so you do not need to go back and link them once you have placed them as desired.

Bet You Didn't Know   
Quick Effect Search: A cool feature, when searching for a specific effect, is the 'Contains' field under 'Effects' in the Project pane.
Let's say we want to add 'Lens Flare' to the video. Instead of searching through the list of categorised effects, you can just enter 'Lens' into the 'Contains' field. This will show you all effects which contain the word 'Lens'-in this example, just 'Lens Distortion', and 'Lens Flare'.

Video Capture
You can use Adobe Premiere Pro to capture digital video and store it to your hard disk. All you need to do is connect the digital camera or playback device to the computer using an IEEE 1394 cable.

Open Adobe Premiere Pro and create a new project, using File > New > Project, or [Ctrl] [N]. Now, go to File > Capture…, or just press [F5]. Make sure the input device shows up on this screen.

Video device to capture video on the fly with Premiere Pro-all you need to do is connect the device to the PC using an IEEE 1394 cable!

Now, on the right, you will see two tabs-'Logging' and 'Settings'. Make sure all the options in these two tabs are set to your requirements and then capture your video.

Bet You Didn't Know
Real Estate: The one thing you can never have enough of is screen real estate. You can get more real estate for yourself if you press [Tab]. This hides the palettes and lets you enlarge your Timeline and monitor panes. To get the palettes back, all you need to do is  press [Tab] again.

The most important aspect of editing video, or indeed, creating movies, is storyboarding. This will give you a general idea of how your movie is going to turn out. As video editing often takes days to complete, it will also save you from struggling to remember which clip you wanted to place where. There's no need to pull out a pencil and paper and start drawing-just use the Project pane as your storyboard.

You can use the project pane to drag clips and arrange them to form a rough storyboard

Set the clips to display as thumbnails and add posters as described in the previous tip. Now, just drag and arrange your clips like a storyboard. It's really that simple!
Reader Tip 
Extracting a song from a movie CD using VirtualDub: First open the movie file in VirtualDub. Now, in the Audio menu, make sure the Direct Stream Copy option is selected. After the options are saved, select the portion you want to extract. Just move the TimeLine slider until you reach the starting point of the song you want to extract. Press [Home] to mark the start position of the song. Now move the slider until you reach the end position of the song you want to extract. Press [End] to mark this position. Click on File > Save Wav and enter the location where you want to save this file as Temp.wav. As WAV files are uncompressed format, this will be a huge file but don't worry, you can convert this file to MP3 later, using encoders such as RazorLame.

Contributed by Shahab Jafri (it_waaznt_me on the ThinkDigit Forum)

Poster It

Quite often, you might have a large number of clips in the Project pane. The best way to view these is as thumbnails.

For this, click on the little arrow icon on the top right of the Project pane, go to View > Icon. Now, you can see all your clips as thumbnails in the Project pane. To increase or decrease the size of the thumbnails, click on the arrow again and go to Thumbnails and choose from 'Small, Medium or Large'.

Now you will have all imported clips displayed as thumbnails. However, a lot of clips may look alike, or have just a blank screen in the beginning. This can confuse you and you don't want to play every clip just to see which is which.

You can choose which frame to use as a thumbnail for a clip, also called setting a poster. In the Project pane, click on the clip you want to set a poster for, and then use the slider to select a frame that will let you easily identify which clip this is.

Now, click on the little camera icon (the Poster Frame button), which is located on the left of the project pane. This will set the current frame as a poster or thumbnail for the selected clip. Repeat this for all the clips that you want to set a poster for.

Video Editor Speak. 
Have you always wanted to be a video editor? Do you fancy yourself to be the next Sally Menke? To fit in, you need to understand the phrases and jargon video experts throw around: 
AVI: Audio Video Interleaved. AVI files are audio-visual files that meet Microsoft's Resource Interchange File Format (RIFF).
MPEG: Motion Picture Experts Group. A compression standard for audio-visual files. MPEG-1 files are low-resolution, and are used for short movies on the web. MPEG-2 files are high-resolution videos for digital television.
JPEG/JPG: Joint Photographic Experts Group. This is an image compression standard which reduces image file sizes by deleting unnecessary data. Along with GIF, JPEG images are the most commonly used images on the web.
GIF: Graphic Interchange Format. One of the most commonly used image formats on the web. GIF images contain a maximum of 256 colours with minimal colour variations and shading and are thus small in size. The GIF format is not used for photographic images and are better suited for logos and buttons.
Composite: Two or more layers of video. You can superimpose two or more visuals, each of which moves independently. The simplest form of composites are subtitles and credits.
Rendering: Once you finalise and want to preview your video, the software computes how you want it to appear. It calculates frames, surfaces, colours, shading, texture, etc, and creates the rasterised images that you see on your screen. This is known as rendering.
Raster: A raster image is simply a matrix of points, also called pixels, made up of data. The data tells an image viewer whether the point is to be displayed as black white or colour. Common raster image formats are GIF, JPEG, PCX, and TIFF.
Cross-fade: Fading in of one audio or video clip while another fades out is known as cross-fade. For a brief moment, both clips are visible or audible. This is also called dissolve.
Cut Scene: An instantaneous end of one clip or scene and the beginning of another.
Lip sync: Synchronising the audio and video tracks so that sounds are heard at exactly the same time as the video depicts. An example is the synchronisation of speech with lip movements.
Mosaic: An effect which increases the size of the pixels to give a sort of stained glass or chess board effect. It is often used to artistically blur video.
Voiceover: Like the narrator of a story, a voice over is the voice of someone who is not in the movie.
Wipe: A transition effect that replaces one video clip with another but does so smoothly. It appears like a curtain being drawn from one side to the other.
Posterisation: The process of flattening a visual to remove all colour and brightness variations. It makes the visual look like it was painted with poster colours.
RAW: Unedited audio or video-straight from the camera.
Rough cut: This is an initial quick-edited version of a final product. A rough cut is generally used to make sure that the video follows a storyboard, and to gauge the final product.
Soundtrack: The audio portion of a video. A soundtrack contains background music, speech, voiceovers, etc. Most of us know "soundtrack" as the music and songs from a movie.
Sweetening:  Enhancing the audio track by adding filters, effects and tweaking it.

As with any software, you need to set preferences and default values for a lot of tasks. Thankfuly, this is easily achieved in Premiere Pro by going to Edit > Preferences, and then clicking on an option. The available options are: General, Audio, Audio Hardware, Auto Save, Capture, Device Control, Label Colors, Label Defaults, Scratch Disks, Still images, Titler and Trim.

Set the clip view in the Project pane to Icon and use  the 'Poster' button to set a recognisable frame as the clip icon

The three most important settings that you need to modify according to your choice and computer hardware are:

Auto Save: Depending on available disk space, amount of editing and your paranoia, set the 'Auto Save Every...' value. Twenty minutes is fine, unless you are doing heavy editing, in which case you should reduce this. You can also change the 'Maximum Project Versions' value to a higher number. There is no need to reduce this, as it is vital to have at least five file versions when editing video.

Scratch Disks: Depending on your computer configuration, and free space, you should modify these values. For example, if your computer has more than one hard disk, you can set the captured audio and video and the preview files to the secondary hard disk. This is also helpful to those who do not have a lot of free space on the C: drive.

Sety your project preferences: the three most important setting are 'Auto save', 'Still Images' and 'Scratch Disks'

Still Images: One of the most irritating experiences is when importing still images. By default, a still image is set to display for 150 frames. You can choose to increase or decrease this default value to say 250 frames (10 seconds) or 50 frames (2 seconds). This will save you the hassle of resizing each image individually.
Reader Tip 
Cutting a portion of Video file using VirtualDub
This is a very useful feature of VirtualDub. With it you can extract a portion of a movie and save it. To extract a portion of video from a movie file, just put the movie CD in your CD drive and Open VirtualDub. Here, we are going to just extract the movie file and are not applying any compression to it. To enable compression, you will need Video Codecs such as XVid or Indeo. Now make sure the following settings are applied in VirtualDub:
VirtualDub > Options > Preferences:
"OutPut Color Depth" should be "Match Display Depth"
"Display" should be set to "Use DirectX for displaying panes"
VirtualDub > Video > Compression should be set to 'Uncompressed RGB / YCbCr'
VirtualDub > Audio > Directstream Copy
After the options are saved, select the portion that you want to extract. Just move the Timeline slider until you reach the starting point of the scene you want to extract. Press [Home] to mark the start position of the selection. Now move the slider until you reach the end position of the scene you want to extract. Press [End] to mark the end position of the selection. Now, go to File > Save as AVI or Press [F7]. In the Save As dialog box, specify where you want this file to be saved, hit [Enter], and you are done. Contributed by Shahab Jafri (it_waaznt_me on the ThinkDigit Forum)


Even if you are just using pictures, and not video, you can make some cool looking slide shows with background music or commentary. Importing a folder of pictures is all you need to do.

To start, drag a picture from the Project pane to the Timeline pane. Use the Effects tab in the Project pane to select a transition effect. Now, drag the effect to the beginning of the picture in the timeline. This will add the effect and you can view it using the Monitor pane. Just add more pictures and effects for them. Once you are done, you can add voice or music to the video.

Keyboard Shortcuts 
Here are some keyboard shortcuts you will need to know when using Adobe Premiere Pro. These will help you work faster
Selection tool                                           V
Track select tool                                      M
Ripple edit tool                                        B
Rolling edit tool                                       N
Rate stretch tool                                     X
Razor tool                                               C
Slide tool                                                 U
Slip tool                                                   Y
Pen tool                                                   P
Hand tool                                                H
Zoom tool                                               Z
Navigate through editable fields            Tab
Cancel capture                                       Esc
Eject                                                       E

No movie would ever be complete without titles and credits. After all, the hard work you put in entitles you to some credit!

You can add titles by going to File > New > Title…, or press [F9]. A 'Title Designer' box pops up for you to design your titles.

The first thing you need to do is set a text area. Now set the normal font and tab settings using the options on the right of the box. You have to select whether you want the title to be still, roll or crawl. Click the button next to the option you select to see the settings. For example, if you selected 'Roll', you should click the options button near it and check the 'Start Off Screen' and 'End Off Screen' checkboxes. This will make the titles roll from bottom to top.

Hardware Requirements 
You need to remember that video editing is very system intensive and for satisfactory results, your system should meet or better the following system configuration:

Microsoft Windows XP
Pentium 4 1.7 GHz
512 MB of RAM
20 GB free hard drive space
DirectX-compatible sound card (ASIO compatible card recommended)
1,280x1,024 32-bit colour graphics card with OpenGL

For DV: FireWire port and dedicated 7200rpm Ultra ATA 100/133 SCSI hard disk

After you are finished, close the title box after saving the file when prompted. The title will appear in your Project pane as <filename>.tl. Now, you can just drag it to your Timeline pane and place it. Remember to preview it, though!

With your editing done, you now need to export your video to a suitable format. Click on File > Export > Movie… or click [Ctrl] [M]. A box pops up, and you need to choose what settings you want. Click on 'Settings…', and you can set the format to export-GIF, AVI or any of the other available options.

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