Dianne's Comments on Digital Editing on a PC:
Hey, since I'm the only PC-vidder in the group, I had to throw in my bit, no? :-)
Computer vidding -- specifically: computer vidding on a PC -- can be summed up thusly: When it is good, it is very very good! And when it is bad, it sucks very dead rodents through one of those really twisty character straws. :-p
The best part comes if you are a control freak like me: You can (and do) edit scenes frame-by-frelling-frame. You can stretch or compress scenes for effects or just to fit [i.e., Buffy cries just the right length of time, and at 94% speed, no one can even tell you messed with it! :)] You can mess with things, replace shots, move shots, tweak, test out, try out, and play around to your heart's content in real time with the soundtrack and with no generational loss of video!
Well, yes. Once you get to that point.
This presupposes you've shelled out the $ for a fast processor (400MHz+), lots of memory (128MB+), a huge hard drive (6G+, two hard drives would be even better! [I wish!]), a video capture card (mine is ATI All-In-Wonder 128), and a copy of a cool editing program like Adobe Premiere. Also, that you've gotten all of the above properly installed, configured, and communicating clearly with both each other and your VCR.
Note: Allow approximately 6 months for this step.
No, you may be luckier than me, but that's about the length of the nightmarish hassles and confusion I went through. Working without anyone I knew who'd done this before who I could beg advice from, and without any documented set-up for such things... well, let's just say that 2 capture cards, 5 drivers, 17 re-installs, unlimited device conflicts and unexplained crashes, and months of web-searching out-dated (or undated) articles and information later, I finally have the above-described wonder set-up. [Or I did until the drive partition cr*pped out on me and trashed the entire thing and it took me a full month to recover everything... and so it goes... *sigh & g*]
Once all set up and working, it's a joy! [Kinda like childbirth, that way, I've been told: You're so delighted with the end product that you immediately start to forget just how much pain and effort was involved in getting there! ;-)] Vidding then goes something like this:
1) Have evil thought while listening to song. Realize it could work....
2a) Sit down with printed lyrics and scribble scene notes for each line, idea, or segment.
b) Play song over and over on tape in car on way to work. Plan out ideas in head.
3) Spend a few hours grabbing appropriate clips from tapes to hard drive, making sure you balance the huge file sizes against making sure you have enough of the scene.
4) Edit song as appropriate, then open it in Premiere. Start playing it and putting markers at appropriate beats and clip-change points.
5) Open the video clips in Premiere and start drag-n-dropping 'em to their place on the timeline. Use the nifty trimmer window to trim them down to just the bits you need (frame-by-frame! :)
a) When it doesn't quite fit, clip, stretch, speed, and tweak it until it does.
b) When the scene isn't filmed quite the way you want it, re-edit it. [Remove one frame from the middle of ten so that Giles-Demon's tongue doesn't stick out distractingly. Excise the cut-away so you can get a longer shot of Faith sitting there.]
c) Decide that that clip fits better in the third chorus anyway, and drag it out of the way until you get there. Repeat above with different clip for first chorus line.
d) Decide you don't like anything there right at the moment and put a full-screen-color spacer block there until you feel more brilliant.
e) Keep playing it in the Preview window to see how it's working. (Don't try to compile it -- even in pieces! -- as you go. Much too much time and hard-drive space for no reason.) (Figure this out before you finish the entire first vid the long, slow way! :-p)
7) Run it all for yourself. Disclaimer blanks spaces, then run it for your roomies. Provide running commentary of planned changes. Bask in admiration of roomies. :)
9) Repeat #6 the next night, changing, adjusting, adding, and subtracting.
10) Repeat #s 6 through 8 until all the blank spaces are non-blank and it all works.
11) Set the thing to compile overnight (2-3 hours).
12) Check in the morning. Note extra frames. Curse. Re-adjust clip ends in timeline. Set to re-compile while at work. Repeat until get a clean version. [Eventually realize you can 'lock' the clips in place before compiling and avoid all frame-drift that way - Doh!]
13) Export as .mov file.
14) Bask in admiration of fellow vidders!
[15) Curse because you still haven't gotten the export-to-tape set-up to really work...] Summary: Totally different experience. Just as much trouble, just with the trouble and the play parts split up into chunks instead of happening simultaneous. (Right, tape-vidders? :)
Val's Comments on Digital Editing on a Mac:
If you use a PC, talk to Dee. I'm clueless. :-)
If you use a Mac, I don't know if I have the best goodies, but I'm not complaining. About four years ago, my hubby purchased a Bravado 1000 video card and Adobe Premiere 4.2. They rock. They are lots and lots and lots of fun. Neither is the current version of the product in question; all reviews I've read indicate that subsequent versions are trustworthy improvements. All my observations are based on using this setup.
First and foremost: read the documentation. If you've read it already, read it again. Pay close attention to the boring bits. If you're like me, you almost never crack open a manual, preferring the hands-on approach to learning a new application. DON'T DO IT. It's just not a good policy with something that takes about an hour per minute of movie duration (during which you can't do anything else with the computer) to compile the finished product. Trust me. You will have no hair left. Unutterably dumb mistakes on my first vid that could have been avoided by reading the documentation included:
1. The biggie: I did all my source clip captures through the wrong card. All of 'em. We didn't even know that card (a weird off-brand we bought a couple years back to replace the system's original display card when it went kerplooie) could accept video input. I would have discovered this error much sooner if it hadn't worked at all, but it actually worked okay, albeit with some frame droppage. How much frame droppage was hard to really conceive from the numbers when I wasn't used to working with video yet; I didn't realize until after I had edited a full beta version (total capture and editing time about 15 hours) that, although it had compiled into a pretty decent little QuickTime movie, it looked like utter spasmodic crap in full-size video. Only then did I look at the diagram of the Bravado card and realise that not only had I plugged my input into the wrong jack, but that said jack was in the wrong slot. So I had to recapture every single clip, set the in and out points again, and substitute them for the faulty clips in my Project file. D'oh!
(Note: the upside of this is that, as long as I was forced to redo the captures, I got to do about half of them from better-quality tape copies that I had forgotten I had, and not wanted to go back and redo after I remembered their existence during editing.)
2. Compiled output-to-tape version at wrong compression. Card not happy. Gobbledygook on tape.
3. Compiled output-to-tape version at 30 fps instead of 29.97. See #1 re: spasmodic crap. 4. Captured source clips at 30 fps instead of 29.97 (discovered this was a problem at the same time as #3). Fortunately, this was less of a problem, as Premiere allows you to conform a clip to whatever frame rate you want without having to redo the capture. Very very useful tool.
Things I learned from trial and error more than from documentation:
1. Make sure you have all the available hard disk space you can get your hands on. I started to try making vids about two years ago, and gave up because I just plain didn't have enough disk space to put things on. We're talking at least 6GB or so, as much of it as possible on a fast, preferably internal hard drive. Set this drive as your scratch disk in Preferences. This is most important for capturing your source clips from video--the more speed and clear space you can get from the scratch disk, the less likelihood you'll get dropped frames.
It's also important for playback of the full-size version to tape. I tried to play it from a file server (yes, my house is wired for Ethernet, be afraid) instead of from the internal hard drive. Plenty of space, but insufficient speed, and the playback suffered greatly for it. It was totally worth rearranging files to clear extra space on the newest internal hard drive, and taking the time to run Norton Speed Disk to optimize it, before copying the file to that drive and doing the tape output from there. Even the little QuickTime version played much better that way (not surprising, since "little" in this case was still a 30MB file...).
You need lots of space for storing source clips during the editing process, of course; but for this purpose the speed aspect is less important. This is where the file server came in handy--I captured them to the good internal drive, then moved them to the file server to clear space on that drive. Next time I'm going to try storing them on a CD-RW and editing from there; I'll report back on the results of that. I'm hoping it will work and thus streamline the process, involving less of the moving around of files and repeated optimization of drives I did this time in order to get the best playback.
2. Work in 320x240 rather than 640x480. The latter is video standard, but unless your source clips are really pristine (which mine so very weren't) and you're trying to keep that quality, you're not really going to see a difference on the screen, and you'll save a ton of compiling time and file space.
3. Premiere's documentation says you can output to tape in the Preview window of your Project, but it doesn't say that the results aren't very impressive. In fact, I didn't find the Preview window very useful at all. It may be just that my system doesn't have sufficient memory or power to use it properly; YMMV. At any rate, it was not only worth the three-hour wait but absolutely imperative to compile it into a movie file with the appropriate output & compression settings for the Bravado card (or whatever you're using...which brings us back to checking the documentation). Also, don't panic when what shows up on the monitor while you're playing back said movie is spasmodic crap--it won't look like that on the tape. In fact, I don't think my monitor preview ever got past the first three seconds of the vid on playback by the time I had my final version.
4. Lots of other little details that I can't really think of how to define at the moment. Suffice it to say I compiled about 11 little QuickTime versions and 6 or 7 full-size versions before arriving at my final product, and learned something new every time. So hopefully it'll be a lot easier and less stressful next time!
Oh, and a note about sharing vids online: It's a pain in the tuckus. A big one. I understand now why more people don't do it. I had no idea that putting a 30MB QuickTime file out there for people to check out would be so frelling hard, but it was. In the case of my first vid, the lovely and generous Stephanie Kellerman, keeper of the Forever Knight FTP archive, has volunteered to host it after my search for a suitable free file server met with only limited success. (I don't want to know what she pays for server space, but boy am I glad she has it!) It now lives at www.nimr.org/valerie/onceuponadream.mov. She's a goddess, and I owe her big-time! However, it is still 30MB, and thus takes forever to download on anything slower than a cable modem. I have been experimenting with both RealPlayer and QuickTime files to see if I can get it to a more manageable size and still be able to tell what the heck it is when it's played; so far I haven't been very successful. If I can pull it off, tho, mayhaps we can start showing off some of our vids here.
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