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Video editing for a complete beginner: how do I do it? Please post your favorite resources.  RSS feed

 
gardener
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Hi, my name is Dan and I am completely clueless about how to edit a video.  Please help!

Rambling backstory: we got a much-needed inch or two of rain last night so I went out to splash around in the woods with my dogs and look at stuff and put a few tree seeds in the ground.  And as I went, I listened to the Dirtpatchheaven podcast about residual income that Paul Wheaton participated in.  And that conversation was reminding me of Paul's thread on building residual income streams and his more recent thread with even more detail about residual income streams.  None of it's new ground for me because I've been making a living with affiliate marketing for more than a dozen years, but Paul is not wrong when he starts talking about all the different ways most affiliate programs can and will screw you, and in my opinion these problems have gotten worse as internet marketing has gotten more competitive for everyone and less profitable for many.  In my case the consequence is that most of the income streams I spent a decade building have gotten broken in the last few years as various people decided to make a fast buck by screwing their affiliates in various ways.  The upshot for me is that I don't expect to stop doing affiliate marketing,  but it has become brutally clear that my methods and attitudes and skills all need a major overhaul.  Which is a fancy way of saying I'm too broke for comfort, and working longer hours doing things the same old way (only harder!) is not fixing it.

I've always been a words guy, a text-on-the-screen guy.  I'd build articles and rely on search traffic, but I was slow to mess with social media and I am entirely behind the 8-ball when it comes to making videos.  In the last few days, and especially while listening to that podcast this morning, it's been crystallizing in my brain that I have absolutely no remaining choice: I simply must learn and then master the skill of making my own videos.   There are just too many people out there for whom "going on the internet" means "searching for a video on YouTube", and likewise there are too many social media platforms that are a dark country if you don't have your own visual media to upload.

So, I have a smartphone camera, and access to an older-model Canon digital camera that takes very nice movies.  I can manage the basics of shooting video.  I know how to research improving my shooting skills and technology when I am ready to do that.  Getting the raw video is not my problem.

Nope, my problem is that I'm a total clueless newbie about editing.  I mean, I literally don't know the first thing about it.  I've Googled some software recommendations, downloaded several different programs and apps, and when I look at all the doodads and try to figure out how to turn my odd little chunks of video into a polished six-minute narrative, I'm totally at a loss.  I can imagine which segments of video I want to see, in which order, the captions I'd like, the audio I'd like to overlay, all of that; this isn't a creative brainfreeze problem so much as it is a technical idiocy problem.  I don't think I've found the right software and I know I'm clueless about how to operate it. 

So of course I tried what everybody tries these days: I went looking for "video editing for the complete n00b" videos on YouTube.  There are a zillion, and I'm still lost.  Most of them assume I know way too much, and they involve inside-baseball tips for stamping prancing unicorn logos on your transitions (or whatever).  Nobody I've found yet starts with "here's the best software to use and here's what you do from the moment you fire it up" which is what I'm looking for.  I'm sure (or at least, I'm hoping) that's out there, but instead I keep finding camgirls telling me how to do sexy makeup that works in cam show teasers, which is entertaining but not terribly helpful.

Hence this thread!  Here I am begging for:

  • Software recommendations (I use an IOS phone and Windows desktops, but don't let that limit you)
  • "How-to" video recommendations -- embed the videos right into this thread if you can, please!
  • Other resources: articles, blog posts, ??? (I don't know what I don't know.)


  • My motives are self-interested but I am hoping we can build this thread into the definitive guide for total newbies who want to learn video editing.  If you know of any helpful resources (and especially step-by-step start-from-the-very-beginning YouTube videos) please share!

    A note on software: Video editing seems like it might be the sort of area where paid software is ultimately what is needed.  But it's daunting for a broke person to "invest" in the tools for a skill that isn't learned yet, especially as the effort to learn may fail.  So if the "best" software you want to recommend is expensive, do share that recommendation, but if there's "good enough" software that's free to download or (better yet) open source, please share that too!  I am a huge believer in building my professional workflows around open source software where possible; I've had too many projects disrupted when my project outlived the commercial viability of the proprietary software I was using, or worse yet, when the revenue model for my "free download" software failed so the "free" software stopped working. 

    Educational resources on video editing for the total beginner: Go!  (And thanks so very much.)
     
    garden master
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    I use pitivi running in Ubuntu. I've also used Kdenlive, but pitivi supports more file types so it's my preferred movie editor.

     
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    FWIW, I got my wife Corel VideoStudio Ultimate X6, which is now the older version of this:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01AC3ZAHW/ref=s9_acsd_hps_bw_c_x_6

    I got this because she too was a noob to video editing and I did not want to break the bank if it was something she couldn't use.  She has been using it routinely, although she mostly just cleans up and adds a bit of text to her vids....not a whole lot of editing.  There is a "Pro" version which is a bit less expensive, but don't ask me why.....I'm not sure what makes "Ultimate" what it is.....
     
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    If you are on a budget, but have the time and desire to learn how to use it, Lightworks is free if you are just going to be making YouTube type videos. Martin Scorsese's editor uses Lightworks on his movies, so it's certainly not lacking in features, but do expect to spend numerous hours learning how to use the program.
     
    master steward
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    I installed lightworks ages ago but have yet to fire it up.  

    I hope to get back to making youtube videos, and I intend to give lightworks a thorough try.

     
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    First, a hard-learned cautionary tale. eight years ago I was living in LA and had a similar revelation - I had been making a living as a carpenter for 30+ years and wanted to hang up my hammer. What I felt drawn to was Video Editing. What a friend suggested was to buy a decent Mac computer, Final Cut Pro, a used video camera, and several instructional books and then go ahead and teach myself. I had taught myself carpentry this way and I decided that instead I wanted to get a full-on Editing education on the best equipment. So I found a trade school that taught the Avid. 3 years later I was a highly-skilled editor with my own Avid Workstation and a  $30,000 debt. And I couldn't find enough work to make the payments, let alone support the family and I had to go back to wood-butchering. I was over-qualified for 95% of the video work out there which is just simple cut-to-cut, lay in a few transitions, titles, maybe a little music and Bob's-your-Uncle.

    When you pick your software make sure that there are at least one or two instructional books on Amazon for it. For me, at least, books (with an included DVD of cuts to play with) are much easier to teach yourself editing processes with than YouTube tutorials. You can try each step, go back and try it again until you get it right, then move on. And you don't have to listen to some 13 year-old with a nasal pubescent voice and try to follow his mouse movements as they whip around the page.

    Other random points: when you shoot video with your phone, always hold it horizontally (landscape), otherwise you'll never get rid of those black bars on each side of the picture. Find out what format your phone and camera shoot in and make sure your software accepts those. Find out what format your software exports in, if it's not MP4, then get a freeware called MPEG Streamclip (so good I'm still amazed it's free) to transcode to MP4. This is the format that YouTube likes the best. If you're going to sell DVD's, Roxio makes good burning software under $50.

    You'll need an editing software that can give you at least 4 video tracks and 6 audio. More than that is superfluous. It should have an integrated title tool with at least a couple of dozen fonts. Beyond simple dissolve, most transitions (wipes, page rolls, blinds etc.) are just annoying and useless. Use Audacity (another free software that way too good to be free but it is) to edit all your sound (music, voiceover, sound effects) then export it as WAV or MP3 which your Editor should happily import and lay into an audio track (or 2 if it's stereo).

    Don't be too worried about the learning curve. With some skills, like writing computer code, you have to have some mastery before it gets interesting and fun. Editing has rewards and fun right from the get-go and for every step thereafter.

    Good Luck,
    Tim

     
    Tim Pelton
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    By the way, I've not played with Lightworks, but a friend of mine knows it well and says that without the Controller it's a little kludgy, but with the Controller (you can find them on ebay) it's very slick and accurate. The contoller is kind of a track ball that can run your footage back and forth to find the best cut point - much easier and quicker than pressing keys on a keyboard.
    Tim
     
    Dan Boone
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    Ooh, Tim, thanks so much!  Those are exactly the sort of tips and suggestions I was hoping for, especially the free software recommendations.  I also appreciate your cautionary tale -- that had to suck!  Unlike you I don't feel any particular calling to the trade of video editing, I am just getting to the point where I feel it's a skill as necessary to my making a living in the world as "typing" was back when I took it up in high school or as "word processing" was becoming by the time I hit the professional world (just when secretarial pools were starting to vanish). 

     
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    I may be a little late in replying to this post, but here are my thoughts.  I don't do a lot of video editing, but many years ago I used to work for a company that supplied the equipment, back when digital video editing was first coming out.

    I would recommend you first learn cut only editing with adding beginning and ending titles.  This means taking the 15 minutes of video you shot down to 3 minutes of relevant content someone will actually watch without getting board.  Add a title for 3-5 seconds at the beginning and information on how to find you at the end.  This can actually be done fairly well with the free YouTube editor, assuming that is your intended destination for your videos.  My personal experience is I spend most of my editing time cutting out stuff that is not needed.

    What the YouTube editor does not have (at least that I could find) was a way to speed up the video.  Sometimes when you are filming a longer process you want to run at 4, 8 or 16 times speed so you don't bore your viewers.  Therefore I'm back to using the Windows Live Movie Maker that is free to Windows users.  I'm sure that iMovie for the Mac is similarly capable.  I believe you will find that until you are much further along in your video editing endeavor that this software will do almost, if not everything, you need it to do.  I used to have access to a couple of mid-range video editing packages and it was so hard to do the simple cut only editing that I needed I ended up going back to Windows Live Movie Maker.  If you remember the 80's & 90's everyone wanted fancy complex transitions from one video to another where a video flys in on a ball or spaceship and takes over the screen.  However people have moved away from that as users don't really care for it, they find it distracting at best and annoying or un-watchable at worst.  When moving beyond cut only editing to a transition you really only need some basic fades, wipes or dissolves which I believe these software packages do.


    My recommendation is unless you know that the basic video editing software that is free with Windows or Mac will not do what you need, then start with these free options.  Note that they usually are not pre-installed so you have to download and install them, but again they are free.  Of course if you are Linux desktop user this advice doesn't help you much
     
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    This is my workflow for finding any kind of software:
    1. Use your favorite search engine to find an article about the most popular tools for what you are trying to do. In this instance: Kdenlive, Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, etc.
    2. Wikipedia.org search the article for one of those tools: eg. the Wikipedia article on "Final Cut Pro".
    3. Look for the hyperlink in this Wikipedia article for the exact industry name type of software we are seeking & click that link (usually appears in the very first sentence of every Wikipedia article on software): eg. "Video editing software"
    4. At the bottom of that article there are always 2 hyperlinks to amazingly comprehensive lists of software specific to tools for the job you are looking to do: "List of 'X' software" & "Comparison of 'X' software"
    5. Click on the hyperlinks for the individual Wikipedia.org articles for each of the programs that are interesting to you depending on what platform you are using (Linux, Windows, MacOS, etc.), feature set, what license you prefer, etc.
    6. Importantly, these articles will show the initial & latest releases of updates of each of these programs. Personally, I tend to choose software that's been around at least a few years & that has had regular updates, including recent ones.
    7. Choose which program is best for your situation based on the charts in the "Comparison of 'X' software" article. Personally, I tend to choose from the FLOSS software under a GPL license, but all the programs are listed anyway, the free/libre tools are listed along side expensive proprietary commercial stuff. I'm a huge proponent of Free/Libre Open Source Software (F.L.O.S.S.).
    8. Now that you have a specific program chosen, you can narrow down all those youtube tutorials based on program-specific how-tos. So... now you only have to sift through hundreds of 13-year-old makeup & fashion experts teaching you all about adding motion graphics, editing the background noise out of the audio, & the like to create awesome videos, instead of hundreds of thousands of tutorials. LOL!
    Have fun!

     
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    Beginner level calls for more basic software where you are more focused on learning the tool. One requires an editor with a simple interface and user-friendly tools at that time. If you have not worked on lots of video editing, then I would recommend you to go for cheap video editors such Magix Video Easy. It will make you familiar with video cutting, splitting, timeline and adding effects to video production. Read More...
     
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    For a free video editor I would suggest Hitfilm Express 2017.

    Easy to plus there are a ton of tutorials on YouTube on how to use it from beginner to advanced.

    And did I mention it is free??
     
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