Before you can actually begin editing, you have to import the video footage from your camera into your computer. You can capture one long chunk of video and break it down into smaller bits within the editing application. Or you can view the footage but choose to capture only those shots you know you want to use. Once the footage has been imported, you'll need to collect any other material you'll want to add to your video, such as music or still images. But before you do anything else, it's a good idea to get organized.
Organizing Your Files
Since video files take up a lot of disc space, it's important to get organized before you import footage to your computer. We recommend keeping all files related to a particular video project together in one folder (Figures 5.3, 5.4). Once you've finished a project, you'll find a single folder easy to back up and easy to remove from your hard drive to free up more space for the next project (See "Backing Up Your Files").
Figure 5.3. Simplify your videoblogging by using one folder for all the files related to a single project. If you use a Mac, put the folder under Movies to make it easy to find.
Figure 5.4. If you use a PC, put your project folder in the My Videos folder so it won't get lost.
Importing Video from DV Cameras
To capture DV video from your camera, you will need to connect it to your computer with a FireWire cable. (Some cameras come with these cables, but if yours didn't, you'll need to buy one separately.) As we mentioned in Chapter 3, the smaller 4-pin connector plugs into the port on your camera and the larger, 6-pin connector plugs into a desktop computer (Figure 5.5). Many Windows-based laptops have 4-pin connectors, so be sure to check first before you buy.
Figure 5.5. The 4-pin FireWire connector.
Once you have the cable you need, connect your camera to your computer. To save yourself some frustration, make sure you turn on your camera (in VCR mode) before launching your editing software. Otherwise, the software may not recognize the camera is connected.
When you have everything connected and turned on, it's time to create your first video project. If you're using iMovie, choose DV when the program prompts you to create a project with a specific video format (Figure 5.6). If you're using Windows Movie Maker, the Video Capture Wizard will walk you through the capture process. Simply select DV-AVI as the Digital device format when it prompts you for a Video Setting (Figure 5.7).
Figure 5.6. If you're using iMovie, choose DV as the video format for your project.
Figure 5.7. If you're using Windows Moving Maker, choose Digital device format (DV-AVI) when prompted for a Video Setting.
Like most other editing programs, both iMovie and Movie Maker have a capture tool with VCR-like buttons that control your camera remotely. This allows you to view footage from your camera and cue the tape to the location where you want to begin capturing. You can capture one clip at a time or an entire tape. (When deciding how much to import, keep in mind that about four and a half minutes of DV footage takes up about 1 GB of hard drive space as a digital file.)
As you capture footage, make sure you include a few seconds on either side of the shots you plan to use in editing. These extra seconds, called handles, may be needed during editing to create transitions in or out of shots. Once you finish capturing all the shots for your project, you'll see that files called clips have been placed in a bin for you. The bins used by iMovie and Movie Maker (Figures 5.8 and 5.9) look different but accomplish the same task by breaking the footage into smaller, more manageable chunks.
Figures 5.8 and 5.9. Both iMovie (left) and Movie Maker (right) can place individual clips in a bin as they import footage.
In traditional film editing, the good takes of a scene were literally cut out of the film and hooked on a rack that hung over a canvas-covered bin. Computer-based editing involves a similar task of choosing and organizing selected clips, and the term bin has been adopted by video editors.
Importing Video from Digital Still Cameras
One day soon importing video from digital still cameras will be a snapat least, we hope it will be. Today the process can be a little time consuming, depending on the video format your camera saves and the computer and editing application you're using. But don't let that scare you. For many vloggers, the small size and nifty memory cards of these cameras make up for any video-capture quirks. Keep reading for details.
Importing to a Mac
If you use a Mac, connect your camera, and either the software that came with your camera or iPhoto will launch. If you are using iPhoto, click the import button and it will transfer and organize both the photos and the video clips from your camera. Then all you have to do is launch iMovie, create a new DV project and just select all the video clips that you need in iPhoto and drag them to the iMovie project window (Figure 5.10). No matter whether your camera saves video in, .mov, .avi, or .mp4, iMovie will convert them all to DV so you can edit them. The downside is that this conversion process can take a long time. The good news is that you can go get yourself a sandwich while this is going on.
Figure 5.10. If you use a Mac, you can drag-and-drop video clips from iPhoto to iMovie to edit digital still camera clips. Just don't expect to do it in a hurry.
If you're not using iPhoto, check the camera's software documentation for specifics on how and where your files will be transferred.
Importing to a PC
When you connect your camera to your PC and turn it on, the software that came with your camera or the Windows Scanner and Camera Wizard will launch and provide a way to transfer your clips to your computer. Please see the camera's software documentation for specifics on how and where your files will be transferred. If you're using the Wizard be sure to click the Advanced Users Only link (Figure 5.11) and drag the clips manually to your video project folder, otherwise the Wizard will skip all of your video files and import only your photos.
Figure 5.11. Clicking the Advanced Users Only link will open up a folder where your clips are stored on your digital still camera.
With your clips in your video project folder, you are ready to get started with Movie Maker. If your camera saves clips as .avi files, you've got it easy. You just import the clips directly from your project folder using the File > Import into Collections commandno conversion necessary (Figure 5.12).
Figure 5.12. Import .avi files into Movie Maker by choosing File > Import into Collections, or by using the keyboard command (Ctrl+I). Then just choose the videos you copied to your project folder to import them.
If your camera saves clips as .mp4 or .mov, you need to convert them to .avi before you can import them. You can download a free program to do this for you called MP4Cam2AVI Easy Convert at http://sourceforge.net/projects/mp4cam2avi/. It's an extra step, but it only takes a few seconds for each clip.
Once you import your digital still clips into Movie Maker, click the Collections Button to see all of your clips (Figure 5.13).
Figure 5.13. Clicking the Collections button allows you to browse the clips imported from your digital still camera.
Splitting Your Clips
If the imported footage is in fairly long clips, you'll need to split them into shorter clips before you start editing. To do this, choose a clip and review it. Decide where in the clip you want the next clip to begin. In iMovie choose Edit > Split Video Clip at Playhead (Figure 5.14). In Movie Maker choose Clip > Split. Now choose the next clip and do it again. This will turn your big clips into smaller, discrete clips that you'll be able to arrange in any order you want in the timeline.
Figure 5.14. Splitting a clip follows the same process in both iMovie (shown here) and Windows Movie Maker.
In some editing applications, the process of identifying the usable part of a clip is referred to as marking a clip.
As you go through the process of splitting clips, you might be tempted to delete things you don't think you'll use. Instead, set them aside because there's a chance they could come in handy (see "Don't Delete Potential Gems").
Before you start the actual editing, it might be helpful to give your short clips descriptive names instead of the generic ones assigned by your editing program. This is especially useful if you're editing an interview and all of your clips have nearly identical icons (Figure 5.15).
Figure 5.15. Give your clips names that will help you remember what part of the story they tell.