Video editing (the joys of)

I decided to go back to an earlier piece of work for my field Interaction Design, and re-edit the video I presented in order to make it smoother, now that I know it doesn’t need to be precisely 2:30. As well as re-editing the final video, I decided to also put together a video from clips I took of people’s reactions to the toy in order to judge whether or not it was getting the reaction I wanted.

To watch the videos, click here for the “Rumblebee Reactions” of people’s response to the toy, and click here for the final edit of the presentation video.

While I must say, I do overall really enjoy video editing and it is a new skill that I otherwise would never have touched, it can be extremely frustrating and monotonous at times. I imagine that with experience and learning to use the software better (I am using iMac) then things can probably be done much easier and quicker, but I found lots of things finicky and repetitive. However overall I find the process very satisfying and rewarding, and I would definitely like to make videos of my work again in future.

It’s easy to look at the finished videos and assume that it’s a fairly straight forward process, especially with the reaction video, and that I’ve simply strung a few clips together and put some music to it. Unfortunately it was far from that simple.

uneditedWe begin with an unedited video clip. Many of my clips I now realise were filmed in portrait, because when I was filming (and having had no experience with making videos) it made sense to me to hold the camera in the way which framed the subject best, as you would taking a photograph. I failed to take into account that videos are of course always displayed as a landscape view. This means that almost all of my clips would have to be rotated and cropped. Not only does this cause much more work for me, it comes with issues of reduced quality from the zoomed in shots, and trying to account for the new frame with the crop. I have certainly learnt the value of trying to get the best shots you can while filming, rather than relying on editing.

crop to fill

Once you’ve rotated the video, you then have to crop it, that is unless you want the actual proportion of footage:black screen to be very small. But as I said earlier, this brings up the issue of framing. When filming in portrait I had accounted for the frame, and gotten everything I wanted (reasonably) cleanly in shot. But now with half the height to work with, it makes it much easier for things to move off screen.

crop ken burns start

I did find a feature called the “Ken Burns” crop, which allowed the camera to move/pan from one part of the frame to another  between a starting and ending point. While this was reasonably useful, I would have liked to be able to be more precise, moving the camera up/down/left/right between a shot. I am fairly sure there must be a way of doing this, as it seems like a glaring oversight not to have it, and I expect it’s down to my lack of experience that I can’t figure out how to do it. I did try to break the video clip into sections where I wanted to change camera directions, but I found I couldn’t accurately line up the end point of clip A with the start point of clip B seamlessly, and so it would jolt from one to the next which was more distracting than the framing issue.

attached audio

The main thing I spent my time doing, was editing the audio. When importing an unedited clip, you are presented with this, and the audio file is attached to the video. All that you can do at this point is crop it with the video, and it took me a long time when I was making my presentation video to figure out how to do anything with it.

detach audio

First I had to go to the menu and detach the audio from the sound clip

edited audio

This then places the audio in a separate bar parallel to the video clip, which can then be trimmed, moved and edited in all manner of ways. I spent a lot of time trying to edit myself out of the clips as much as possible, not just because I didn’t like my voice but I didn’t want it to get in the way of people’s reactions. Rather than each clip having a full audio track, I edited it down so that it only had a few chunks of audio, usually where the person is speaking or the toy is making noise.

As well as trimming the tracks to remove myself, background noise was also a big problem. The studio in which we work is a large open floor and therefore often full of noise. I did various things to try and remove this from the audio, including have the “Reduce background noise” option turned up to max, and play with the audio levels.

adjust adudio levelsEditing the audio levels was also an important part of trying to make the video run smoothly. After removing much of the audio on each clip, when the sound did start it often sounded abrupt as it was coming from silence. As well as this there were often parts that I wanted to be louder than others, or louder/quieter than they were in the original recording. For example, in many parts of the film you can hear me laughing, and although I have removed as much of that as possible there were areas where it wasn’t possible to remove it as I am laughing over a noise I want to record, such as somebody speaking or the toy making noise. In this situation I then had to break the audio up into chunks, lowing the volume of my laugh and increasing the volume of the noise I’m trying to capture to make it more clear.

While all of this is tedious, by far the most frustrating part of the editing was the music. iMac had a good number of copyright free music to use on the videos, which I felt suited my theme. However, the issue was trying to make the music loop, as each track only lasted 1 minute. You would imagine it would be as simple as putting the track down a second time, but you need to take into account that each track as a beginning and an end sequence. After removing those sequences it’s then the tedious matter of finding two points where you can join the track together in a reasonably seamless fashion. Again, I imagine that there is an easier way to do this, or perhaps some way to fade in one audio track to another, but I could not find it and it was simply a matter of trail an error, and listening to the same song over, and over, and over again. In fact at the end of two days straight editing I have to say I have a blistering headache.

Another frustrating point was the title overlays, which had surprisingly few options it forced you to pick between. For example, you could have text fade in to the bottom left of the screen, but not the top left. Or certain choices would constrict you to only being able to type in capitals, only in a certain sized font etc. This made it difficult to get a consistent aesthetic across both the videos, but I managed to settle on a typeface and format that worked at least satisfactorily.

Overall though I must say that I am very happy with the results, and I certainly feel that coming back and re-editing the initial video has improved it. I think if I was going to do this project again I would have a much clearer idea of what it was I needed to film in the first place, and the shots which I would need to get, which was the only downside to the re-edit as I was working with the limited shots which I took initially.


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