31 Reasons To Edit

Are you still making your friends and family suffer through hours of uncut vacation highlights? Still playing tapes right from your camcorder without cutting out the bad shots? Still fast forwarding through the boring parts? Why? Video editing is now cheaper and easier than ever before!

Just a few years ago, nonlinear editing was reserved for the big boys. Only high-end professionals with big budgets could afford to work in the digital realm. Consumers and video hobbyists had to make due with crash edits from camcorder to VCR or string together complicated combinations of black boxes. They needed a stand-alone titler to build graphics, three VCRs and a video mixer to add transition effects, an audio mixer for sound, an edit controller to drive the three VCRs needed to edit A/B-roll productions. Then to cable it all together and make it work, theyd need a degree in engineering. As complicated as linear editing was, the thought of computer-based nonlinear editing intimidated many hobbyists. Configuring a computer for editing meant opening the lid and installing a video capture card (at the risk of voiding your warranty). But that was then. Todays computer-based editing systems are cheaper, easier to configure, easier to use and much friendlier to beginners. Still not sure if its worth the investment? Here are 31 reasons why we think it is.

1] Its cheaper than ever before

Computers and hard drives, the heart and soul of todays editing systems, are getting more powerful and less expensive. It is now cheaper to configure a complete computer-based editing system than a comparable linear system. With the money you save you could get a second camcorder or a nice light kit.

2] Physical space

Unlike linear editing setups, todays editing systems dont require their own rooms. All you need is a computer and a VCR. No tangled spider webs of cables and jumbled electric cords to contend with.

3] Its easy to configure

Instead of buying all of the black boxes and cables needed with a linear system to create graphics, edit video, manipulate photos and record and mix audio, you can get a computer with editing software that does it all. Pre-configured editing systems come in two varieties (See #4 and #5).

4] Computer-based

turnkey systems

Configuring a computer for editing used to require taking off the lid and installing a card. You can still do it that way, but its no longer a necessity. Turnkey systems are all the rage. These systems come pre-configured for video: no installation required. Just plug them in, launch the software and edit. Sonys VAIO and Apples iMac with iMovie are just two examples. For a complete list, see the Turnkey section of our Computer Video Buyers Guide in the March 2000 issue of Videomaker.

5] Turnkey appliances

These stand-alone systems are the greatest thing since sliced bread. With them, anyone who can open a cardboard box can edit video. Editing appliances like Dracos Casablanca and Avio boxes and Applied Magics Screenplay and Sequel units make editing high-quality video extremely easy. Just plug your camcorder into the VCR-sized box and plug the box into your TV. Set up couldnt be easier.

6] Versatility

Todays editing systems eliminate bulky and expensive VCRs. Because transition effects are performed from the hard drive, you dont need to buy two expensive decks to do A/B roll editing, and your playback deck can also be your record deck. One VCR does the work of three or more. In addition, you dont have to upgrade your system every time there is a format change. As long as you can plug your camcorder into the digitizer/capture card, you can edit.

7] Better image quality

Because you do your work from the hard drive instead of from one tape to another, your footage is protected from the grainy effects of generation loss that plague analog copies. The result is higher quality, better looking video on your edit master.

8] The timeline interface

Most editing programs employ a convenient timeline editing interface. You can see your whole project at a glance, or zoom in for a close up look at a portion of your masterpiece. The timeline makes it easy to see how layers of audio and video match up, making editing a breeze.

9] Click, drag and drop editing

Changing the order of your clips is as easy as clicking a mouse. Adding effects is as easy as dragging and dropping an icon. So simple, an adult could do it.

10] Change the length

Changing the length of a clip is a simple task. Just grab the clip and stretch it longer or shorter to suit your needs. Cascade the rest of the project to fit. The project doesnt need to be recreated, regardless of where the clip is in your project.

11] Undo

Like any other computer program, editing software lets you undo things. Didnt like that last edit? Undo it and try again. This handy feature gives you the freedom to experiment without having to worry about making a mistake that cant be fixed.

12] Its fast

When you produce short videos that have multiple transition effects, multiple graphics, multiple audio tracks and lots of edits, there is nothing faster than a digital editing system. For complicated projects less than 15 minutes in length, computer-based editing cant be beat for speed.

13] Instant access to your clips

No more fast-forwarding and rewinding around to cue tapes so you can review edits or locate raw footage, just click what youd like to see and play it instantly from your hard drive.

14] Transition effects

Dissolves, fades, wipes, flips, spins and other transitions are easily performed and are extremely accurate. Most systems include more effects than youll ever need, and many of the effects can be customized.

15] Filter effects

You can easily add special effects like black and white, solarization or film grain to a clip without effecting your original footage. Dont like it? Try another. The process doesnt damage your original clip.

16] Slow or fast motion

Want to add a little drama? Most digital systems allow you to easily change the speed of your clips. Slow them down or speed them up: the choice is yours. To do this in the linear world youd need to spend several thousand dollars on a professional quality VCR. Its included as a standard feature with most editing software.

17] Image processing

If youve ever edited footage from two cameras that didnt quite match or you forgot to change your white balance setting, youll appreciate this one. Most digital systems let you easily change the color or brightness of a clip for color correction or for effect.

18] Chromakey

Whether you want to create cool special effects like the invisible man trick (July 1999 Videomaker) or do your own weathercast, color keying is quick and easy with most editing software. Simply select the color to make transparent and key away.

19] Titles and graphics

Even the simple titler thats included with most editing software can create high resolution graphics that are far superior to those made by standalone consumer titlers. You can create full screen titles on computer generated backgrounds or key your titles over video. Have them fade in and out or fly across the screen.

20] Scrub

Scrub is a nifty feature that allows you to drag your mouse across a project and view your project at high speed. Many editing applications allow you to scrub forward and backwards through your video, some will scrub audio as well.

21] Video stills

Need a still shot? Freeze frames are a snap. Just scrub through your footage, place the play head over the frame of video that you like and extract a still that you can stretch to any length you like. Add a filter effect and use the still as a background for a title or graphic.

22] Frame accurate edits

Todays editing systems allow you to trim clips with pinpoint accuracy. You dont have to worry about tapes slipping, or vague edit points like linear editors do. Your editing software lets you trim each clip to the precise frame where youd like to make an edit. Theres nothing more accurate.

23] Edit and mix audio

from any source

You can edit audio from any source. Once the sound is on your hard drive, you can import it to your editing timeline and use it in your production. It doesnt matter whether the sound originated on videotape, audiocassette, CD, MiniDisc, MP3 or 8-track tape. If you can capture it to your hard drive, you can use it.

24] Multiple audio tracks

With multiple audio tracks, you can layer an unlimited number of soundtracks to create sophisticated soundscapes. Mix between two CDs (something you cant do with a linear system and only one CD player), add narration, sound effects and natural sound, all in the computer.

25] Audio editing accuracy

Frame accurate audio editing allows you to make precise edits on audio cues. You can time edits to the beat of a song, or make edits in dialogue between breaths. Because you can edit your sound track independently of your video track, you can do amazing things with your audio. Some editing software is so accurate that you can edit out the "s" of the end of a word.

26] Rubberbanding

Most nonlinear systems provide easy volume control through a process called rubberbanding. You can literally click and drag the levels higher or lower on the timeline, to raise and lower background music under dialogue, for instance.

27] Equalization

Most editing systems offer customized audio EQ ability that allow you to tweak and manipulate the quality of your audio files.

28] Audio waveform display

Most video editing software applications allow you to monitor the audio visually while you edit, in a form you can easily identify, not mysterious digital bursts. The waveform view is a great visual reference when its time to slice you audio tracks accurately.

29] The World Wide Web

With your computer connected to the Web you have access to a vast array of pictures, video, graphics and music ready to use in your videos. Youll need to make sure you obtain the proper rights to use any materials on the Web, but they are available nonetheless.

30] Digital edit masters

The days of mastering to VHS are over. Today you can record your edited project onto Mini DV tape, Video CD or DVD. Your digital masters will produce higher quality copies for distribution, and they take up a lot less shelf space.

31] Streaming Video

With a computer-based system and an Internet connection, you can move your video right from your editing timeline to the Web for global distribution. Dont have a Web site? Not to worry. There are several sites that will host your video masterpiece for you, some for free. Check out www.yourvideoontheweb.com and www.shortends.com for instance.

Mike Wilhelm
Mike Wilhelmhttps://www.videomaker.com
Mike is the Editor-in-Chief of Videomaker and Creator Handbook

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