Before we go too much further with video editing tasks, let's talk today about getting your video project set up properly. I want to cover a few concepts that will be helpful to consider. This is part 5 in the Video Class Series and that link will let you go back and catch up if you missed the previous classes.
First of all, let's talk about file organization. When you upload the source files from your video camera, you need to have a logical and organized way to save the files. Usually, you will have some sort of main "videos" folder on your drive with subfolders that make sense to you. For me, I use dated folders, first of all a folder for the year, example 2011 and then a subfolder for the project. That may work for you too, or you may have a different way to organize, e.g. by video type.
When you put your video file on your drive, you want the place you land it to be a permanent location that will NOT change. This is important. When you are doing a video edit project, you editor app is storing a linked reference to your source file name and location. What do you think is going to happen if you rename your file OR decide to move it when you are halfway through an edit project? That's Correct! You'll get broken links and "error" messages. Take a few minutes up front to organize properly. Don't drop the file on your desktop and then think that is a good place to start editing from!
Next, you are ready to start your editing project. Start you app (e.g. Windows Live Movie Maker for Windows, or iMovie for Mac are entry level apps). Before you do anything at all, you need to verify your project type is set up properly. There are two typical frame sizes (shapes) for video creation and they are widescreen 16:9 and standard 4:3. Traditional (original) television was in 4 by 3 aspect ratio. This means the frame has a 1.33 ratio or in other words the width is 33% larger than the height. Modern television and video (including online video at YouTube for example) is best in widescreen format which is a 16 by 9 ratio, 1.77, or 77% wider than tall. Many digital cameras have ability to take video clips. However it is important to note many digital cameras will only take 4:3 so it becomes a noteworthy issue when you actually want to use it. Some apps will let you crop source frames down to make it fit in the desired widescreen format (iMovie yes, Windows Movie Maker no). However, this means you will be chopping off some of the top and bottom and if you did not consider the chop allowance when you filmed, you might be chopping off necessary elements! So best advice is record in widescreen whenever you can because that will provide the best output results.
The first step of working with a new project is setting up your project aspect ratio. Pick the aspect ratio that you want to output to and remember the 16:9 recommendation. However you may have exceptions when your footage is 4:3 and you want to keep the output 4:3. You need to tell your video app which aspect ratio that you want. Many beginners overlook this setting and get the "default" which means that the source and output frame sizes will not match. One of two things will occur then... Letterboxes (top and bottom) or Pillarboxes (pillars, like columns) on each side. The illustration below shows this.
After you have done a few minutes worth of work getting your project setup correctly, you will want to save your project file. A project file stores the arrangement of your work and the parameters you have chosen. In Windows Live Movie Maker, the project file is of a .wlmp type. Remember that the video clip files that you are using are not embedded in the project file. Rather, they are externally linked. That is why I emphasized above to save your footage files in a permanent location where the links will not become broken. When you are completely through editing a project file, you will render it to final output. That is a different selection on the menu and that will be our next topic in the classroom.
If you are ready to get serious about using video in your marketing plan, consider coming to my premium online class called "Video Essentials for Business." That link will take you to the page to tell you more about the class. The class is a set of pre-recorded training videos to teach you what you will need to know to produce quality videos for your YouTube channel. I hope to see you in class! :)
To read more posts about video editing, check out my list of posts in this video series