How to Edit Pre-Edited Footage

It happens in every videographer’s life – you didn't save your editing files and now need to make changes. For instance, a customer mailed you footage of her kid playing by the pool. She wants it delivered on DVD and YouTube. A few days later, after mailing the material back, the irate customer calls you. She complains that her two year-old is parading naked over the Internet – um, not that this has ever happened to me … 
Covet Not the Work of Others
 Before we get more in-depth, let's get a caveat out of the way: Do not copy copyrighted material! This article is meant for editors who need to alter their original work. Even if you're not a "professional," you need to pay due respect to copyright laws. Individuals who intentionally use the work of others for their benefit (financial or otherwise) are committing a crime
In order to re-edit a project, you need to have the video in your editing suite. If you've already sent the source footage back to your customer, what can you do?! Of course, you can always have the client send it back. This may not be possible, however. Perhaps it's your personal project and you discarded the original material (video, editing files, etc.) Hopefully, you'll have a backup copy of your edited video somewhere, laying about. Let's explore the common options.
The How-to of Copying
You have two or three choices: Use the file that you uploaded to the Internet, directly import the files from a disc or capture the video from a DVD or Blu-ray player to a with your computer. 
Option 1 – From the File you Used to Upload:
This is probably the easiest solution but not without challenges. Simply import the file into your editing program and drag it to your timeline. Create the edits you require and export.
Option 2 – Capture from a DVD or Blu-ray Player:
This method involves using a player and capturing to your hard drive. Typically, you'll have cable(s) connected from the output of your player to the input(s) either of a device leading to your computer or an internal capture card. There are numerous devices available, ranging from $50 up to $1,000 for this special task. Naturally, you'll likely get the best results from the more expensive equipment, as it will have better capabilities. This route has at least two huge benefits – you won't have to worry about compression degradation and you won't have to reassemble your video, since you are getting files directly from a DVD or Blu-ray disc. 
If you have capture capability, whether built-in or from a capture card, it's a simple process to import it into your editing program. You add the video to your timeline and create the edit(s) you want. By employing this process, you bypass any problems with artifacts. It is important to note that you should use the same resolution settings as the original.
Option 3 – Direct File Import: 
Hopefully, you have a disc to copy from. You'll have to locate the video and audio files on the DVD or Blu-ray disc. For DVDs, you'll need to explore the disc, the video is in the Video_TS folder. The video is broken into segments and will often have .vob file extensions. Blu-ray discs are also broken into segments. They are normally found in the STREAM folder, which is contained in the BDMV folder. They have .mts extensions. Once you import all of the files, you can drop them into your timeline and edit at will. Of course, nothing is ever easy, is it? The immediately obvious issue is you have to reconnect the files together. This can be tiresome. 

The Meat and Potatoes of Editing

Adding Footage:
Now that we have the video loaded into your editing software, it's time to get down to business. First, you can't magically "grow" video … that is, unless you create new footage. In a studio there is usually no problem: Stage the scene exactly as it was (don't forget lighting and acoustics,) make certain the talents’ costume/grooming and makeup are identical to your original footage. You should be good to go.
Outdoor scenes may be more challenging. Weather and the season may drastically alter your set. Your continuity will be totally destroyed if your snow-covered landscape is suddenly lush with green foliage. The lesson here is make corrections as soon as you learn they're necessary. Also pay attention to the time of day. Once again, set your scene exactly as it was. Look for things that were present that may not be there now – and vice versa. Finally, pay attention to the lighting characteristics of your original video for cues on how to proceed. If there had been a cloud partially blocking the sun it will certainly look different if you have full sun in the new scene. 
Cutting Out Footage or Garbage Mattes:
If you have unwanted signs or graphics from the original product you have two choices – cutting the offending footage or using garbage mattes. Cutting is the easiest and swiftest method, especially if you use a "ripple" edit. The video after the cut automatically butts up to the end of the first part. 
Sometimes, for various reasons, you need to retain these parts. Perhaps the talent or equipment is unavailable to reshoot the scene. In these situations, garbage mattes may be the solution. Garbage mattes are shapes you overlay (the track above the video) on your timeline. The goal is to cover other elements of your video.  The goal is to cover other elements of your video, as in our titles examples in Figure 2. 
Fixing Spelling Errors in Title
Fixing Spelling Errors in Title
There are several ways to create masks. You can use your editing software's title application, in this case Adobe Premiere Pro. Apple's Final Cut Pro also has the same capability, as does Sony Vegas Pro and others. It is also easy to create garbage mattes in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, even Microsoft Paint.
When You Need to Eliminate Elements of Your Video That are Moving
Sometimes, like in the example of our naked toddler, you need the mask to move with the subject. (See figure 3) 
How to use garbage mattes to blot out faces
This is done by using keyframes. In Adobe Premiere Pro, you have your mask in the timeline, in the track over the footage where you need it. You must have the mask selected on the timeline. From there, you need to select the Effect Controls, usually in the middle panel of your workspace. Click on the arrow at the left of the panel, next to Motion. You'll see Position and Scale with what look like stopwatches next to them. We typically will have our mask already at the point where we want it to start. We’ll have the opacity set to zero and bring it up to 100 percent. Depending upon what we want to accomplish we’ll move the mask by dragging the horizontal control (left) and vertical control (right) at various points. The closer the points to cover the movement, the smoother it'll look. 

A Final Word

It is almost certain that you will run into difficulties when trying to re-edit one of your projects.
Let's Review Our Key Points:
– You have at least three methods of copying your original work.
– Recreating scenes, indoor and outdoor must be identical to the original.
– Use simple cuts or garbage mattes to eliminate unwanted elements.
– Choose your export settings wisely, to avoid degradation and artifacts in your new, finished product.
Nothing beats adequate review before publishing. However, if the need arises, you can be ready with these strategies.
Ed Rogers runs his own videography/editing business from his home, in Utah. He is self-taught, stemming from a job assignment he had in the U.S. Air Force in 2000.


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