Many people hesitate buying a high definition video system because of hardware and software concerns. Most have heard that the cost of updating their computer to an HDV capable system is high, and that the software available to handle HDV is not reliable. It's true that when HDV cameras premiered in early 2005 software companies were behind the curve. People found capturing HDV footage wasn't possible and system requirements were vague. This is no longer the case. Both the PC and the Mac have software solutions that work right out of the box. The Mac has Final Cut Pro and iMovie. The PC has Adobe Premier, Sony Vegas, Pinnacle and more. Though you'll need a computer with a bit more power than the run-of-the-mill desktop, you don't need a top of the line model to get professional results. With a RAM and storage upgrade anyone can get professional looking video with minimal monetary investment.
The following article contains basic information on how to use digital video editing software. For more detail on other HDV editing topics please refer to the articles listed below.
Editing HDV: An Introduction
Editing HDV: Preferences
Editing HDV: Capturing
Editing HDV: Output
I. SHOOTING CONSIDERATIONS
These suggestions will help the editing process before you even get to your keyboard.
1. Shoot Less
The more bad video you have to sift through, the less likely you are to sift through it. Only shoot when you have something to shoot! Get right up on your subject. Fill the frame and pop off 30 seconds of well composed properly exposed footage. KEEP YOUR CAMERA AS STILL AS POSSIBLE. Shaky footage is frustrating to watch and will make your audience seasick.
2. Create a Scene
Shoot your subject from a distance. Give it a sense of place. Example: Shoot a distant shot, a rockfish in a kelp forest. Shoot a midrange shot, what the rockfish looks like as a whole animal. Shoot a close up shot, the rockfish's skin. This is it's eye, gill, fin etc. All of these shots edited in succession will give your scenario depth, and your audience will better know and understand the context of the subject you are shooting.
3. Label your Tapes
As soon as you take the tape out of the camera label it! I know this is hard to do consistently, I always have 5 to 10 rogue tapes sitting around unlabeled, but when editing, an unlabeled tape is an organizational nightmare. Put the date, location and subject matter on each tape. Trust me, this small step will save you hours of needless searching in the future.
Get a powerful computer or upgrade the one you have. This is essential and becomes less expensive by the week. The things to upgrade include:
RAM - at least 2gb of RAM though 4gb is preferable,
External and Internal hard drives – each at least 250gb and 7200rpm.
Look around. Talk to people. Find out what they are using and how they like it. For Mac users, it's easy. iMovie is a great, simple solution, while Final Cut Pro is quickly becoming the industry standard for budding professionals. For the PC user, there are many choices. Ask people about Sony Vegas, Avid, Edipus or Ulead. All are non linear editing systems and work under the same essential concepts. The concepts discussed, though based on Final Cut Pro 5, will readily transcend platforms and editing suites.
To capture is to import footage from your tape to your hard drive. Plug your camera into your computer using the Firewire cable that comes with the camera, The camera will then behave as a VCR or playback device and your computer functions as the recording device. Most editing suites have capture presets you can choose from according to your camera type: mini DV, HDV or HD etc. You will need to manually set the presets so your computer recognizes the format of your footage.
Film with editable scenarios in mind (i.e. close, near, and far shots). All editing suites provide a large selection of transitions to choose from. Use only cross dissolves or jump cuts. Most of the other "creative" transitions such as "page peel," etc. can look tacky and distract the viewer from your footage.
The final step in the editing process is Rendering. In order to save processing time, your computer will not "apply" all your transitions or filtered color corrections in real time. In order to make these adjustments permanent, you'll have to render them. This is where the power of your computer's processor will come into effect. Hours of rendering time can be saved by having a computer with enough processing power.
The only obstacle left to HDV is how to output and view it. As of right now, there is no way to output HD footage to a true HD format medium. The only way to view HD footage in its true format is to master your sequence back to tape and play through an HD deck or camera. This will all change this fall. As in the old days of VHS Vs. Beta, technology companies are matching up for another battle in media dominance. This time they'll be fighting over the new HD DVD format. There are two formats to choose from, HD DVD and Blu Ray.
Blu Ray is supported on the hardware side by Sony, Hitachi, LG, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Apple, Dell, HP, TDK and Thomson. On the software side, Blu Ray is supported by 20th C Fox, Walt Disney Studios, MGM, Paramount and Warner.
HD DVD is supported on the hardware side by Toshiba, NEC, Sanyo and Thomson. On the software side, it is supported by New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and Paramount.
Blu Ray seems to have the upper hand as it holds more data, up to 50 GB per dual layered disk, while HD DVD holds 30 TO 40 GB per dual layered disk, and Blu Ray has more company support. But HD DVD has one major advantage. The technology needed to make these disks is already in place. HD DVD is not that different from a traditional DVD and so existing factories can already produce them. Blu Ray disks will use an entirely different manufacturing process and therefore cost more to implement. We will just have to wait and see who wins out in the end!