Home Movie Making Tutorials for Beginners -
Video Editing with Corel VideoStudio Pro X2

Tips for Making Better Home Movies

CONTENTS

Home
(Introduction to the site.)

Tutorials Page 1
(Topics: Setting Preferences, Trimming videos, Adjusting audios, Audio fade-in fade-out, Downloading videos from camcorder to computer, Buttons in the Option Panel of the Edit Step.)

Tutorials Page 2
(Topics: Doing PIP, Adding Transition Effects, Adding and Animating Titles, Ripple Editing, Title Safe Area.)

Tutorials Page 3
(Topics: Adding Special Effects to your video, Adding Music/Audio to your video, Saving your project as a Video File, Uploading your video to YouTube.)

Examples
(See videos using Special Effects, Painting Creator, and Chroma Key.)

Useful Tips
(Discussion includes some Dos and Don'ts, Copyright issues involving music, Using YouTube's AudioSwap feature.)

Chromakey
(Chromakey written tutorial. Includes suggestions for buying the right equipment at affordable prices.)

DVD Burning
(Written tutorial on how to burn DVDs using Corel. Includes instructions on how to add chapters.)

Painting Creator
(Show originality by adding animated drawings and writings on your videos. Everything you need to know is discussed in this chapter.)

Slideshow
(Corel's Movie Wizard can create an impressive slideshow quickly for you. This chapter tells you how to use the Movie Wizard.)

YouTube HelpNEW
(Answers to all common and not so common questions relating to YouTube.)

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Video editing is both an art and a science. The science part has been taken care of by the software engineers. You just have to learn how to use the software and take advantage of all its capabilities to produce a professional looking video. But for the video to really look good, you must have and use your artistic sense. Unless you have a good artistic eye, however good the video editor may be, your video will not look good. In this chapter, I shall give you some pointers on video editing - things you should do, and things you should avoid.

First, a list of things you should avoid doing:

  • Make sure you do not use any video clip that does not look good such as:

    • Blurry videos.
    • Videos ruined by camera shake.
    • Videos shot in insufficient light (dark videos) unless it was done on purpose to reflect the mood of the scene, such as a romantic candle light dinner, or a mother singing lullaby in bed to make her baby fall asleep, etc.
    • Out of focus videos.
    • Subject matter of the video is not properly aimed at.
    • Too much light reflecting from an object that hurts the eyes, such as a mirror, a car's headlight etc. (unless that is done on purpose to create special effects or to bring home a point you are trying to make). Sunlight coming through a small opening in a jungle canopy might actually look good!

  • Make sure you do not use any video clip that includes objectionable/unwanted noise or sound such as sound of a passing car, or a horn of an approaching electric train, or a baby crying, or a dog barking, etc. Either mute that part of the clip or trim (discard) that part of the clip with unwanted/objectionable/unpleasant noise.

  • Try not to include shots in your home movie that are more than say, 10 seconds long. This is a mistake that almost all beginners do! It is very boring for the audience to look at the same thing from the same angle and same distance for a long time. If you carefully watch TV shows or movies, you will notice that they almost never show the same shot for more than a few seconds! Learn to break up the shot in small segments. Change the angle, or camera postion - go left, go right, go to an upper level, go to a lower level. If you are video taping your son's soccer game take some shots from the left side of the field, some from right side, and some from behind the goal keeper! Take some shots from the ground level and some from a higher level in the spectators' gallery. If you are video taping a parade, at times show only the legs of the paraders and at times show only their upper bodies. Use zoom-in and zoom-out to break the monotony. Where possible, show scene A for sometime, then go to scene B for a while, and then come back to scene A again. Watch TV shows and movies very carefully - that's what they do, and that is why we do not feel bored. But when we make home movies, we generally fail to do that. As a result, however interesting you may think your movie is, viewers who are not your friend and family, get bored to watch your movie. If you plan to upload your video to YouTube for the whole world to watch, please remember this point. This is the single most noticeable improvement you can make to your home movies. Trust me.

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  • Do not use transition effects too frequently between scenes, and when you do use some, do not use too many different effects. This makes your video clumsy looking. How often do you see transition effects in TV shows or movies? Hardly ever, specially in movies. Yet all beginners tend to use them very often because (a) they are so easy insert in your video and (b) because most of the editing software provides hundreds of them! If you want to make your home movie look good, avoid using the transition effects as much as possible. I hardly ever use them.

  • Avoid doing the same kind of "special effect" (whatever it is) again and again. This includes Pan and Zoom of every still picture in a slideshow. Remember, the key to good video editing is to avoid monotony! This also applies to animation of titles. Not every title needs to be animated, and don't use the same animation (such as pop up text) in all titles!

  • Don't use too many font types in the same movie. It looks too clumsy. Choose one or two and stick to them.

  • Be very careful about music. Taste of music varies widely. Whatever sounds sweet to your ears, may be unbearable for another person. If you are uploading your movies to YouTube, remember the whole world is your audience. People of different culture, different age group, different language will watch your movie. It is a good idea to stick to instrumental music whenever possible, and please keep the volume low. If somebody likes loud music, he/she can turn up the volume of his/her speaker. I sometimes hear so loud music in YouTube movies, that even with the lowest volume setting in my computer my ears hurt. As a result, I either mute my computer or simply move away to another movie!

  • Adding music to home movies is probably the single most difficult thing to do, if you plan to upload your movie to YouTube, for another reason -- the copyright issues. Remember law is law. "No copyright infringement intended", "This movie is not for profit" or similar notice in the description of your movie DOES NOT PROTECT YOU FROM COPYRIGHT LAWS UNLESS YOU HAVE PRIOR WRITTEN APPROVAL FROM COPYRIGHT OWNERS. Theoretically, you can be sued for copyright violation whatever YOUR opinion may be about the copyright laws. In reality, if in YouTube's opinion you are violating copyright issues, they will either disable your sound track or take down your movie from YouTube altogether. This happens everyday to a lot of people. So, please be informed and be careful! All music that are in CD's are copyrighted. You can use these music if you do not plan to upload your movie to YouTube. If you are making your movie for your personal viewing, and save it in your computer or burn it into a DVD for your personal use, you can use any music. But if you make it available for public viewing, you MUST obtain prior written permission from copyright owners (usually by paying them a hefty royalty). And please be warned that latest technology can create a digital watermark on music to catch people who steal copyrighted music thinking who is going to notice? Google or YouTube will (sooner or later). There are a few get arounds of this problem. If you are a musician yourself, you can put your own music in your movie without a problem! Second, it is OK to use copyrighted music without permission from copyright holders if you use that music for less than 30 seconds. But the easiest is to use the music clips that are included in your video editing software, such as Corel VideoStudio Pro X2. These are either copyright free or the software company has obtained the necessary permission from the rightful owners.

    But a lot of people do not know that YouTube offers a very good solution to this problem, for FREE, to all those who upload their videos to YouTube. It is called AudioSwap. Using this feature, you can swap the music of your video with music from YouTube's music library. You will have lots of genres and artists to choose from and you can try as many of these musics on your video as you want. Once you find the the right music for your video after trying it, just click on PUBLISH. Your own audio will be replaced by this music permanently, you will not be able to bring back your original music. YouTube has obtained the necessary permission from the concerned parties to use these audios in YouTube videos. You will not be held responsible for copyright violation. A nice solution for this copyright problem in adding music to your videos.

    Two things to bear in mind.

    1. It takes a while to replace your audio with one from YouTube's library. So please be patient.
    2. If you do audioswap, YouTube will put ads on your channel and you will not be eligible for revenue sharing if you had singed up for revenue sharing with YouTube earlier.

    I shall not go into the details of "how to" AudioSwap because YouTube has its own explanations and instructions here. The page has both written instructions and a video tutorial. But a better and more upto date video tutorial on AudioSwap can be found here.

    Smile! Hundreds of people are using YouTube's AudioSwap everyday and thus they are eliminating the risk of YouTube either muting their videos or removing their videos from YouTube altogether.

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Now let's talk about a few things you should do:

  • Break up your scenes in small segments lasting no more than a few seconds each.

  • Try to shoot scenes from different camera locations.

  • Use (smooth) zoom-in and zoom-out to break the monotony. This needs some practice.

  • Use a (smooth operating) tripod whenever possible to avoid camera shake. (Nobody can hold the camera steady for a long time. That is another reason for breaking up shots into small segments.) Movie camera operators always use tripods. TV camera operators always use tripods when shooting inside the studios, and use tripods outdoors whenever possible.

  • Try to use video lights when shooting indoors. Good lighting makes heaven and hell difference in the quality of your pictures. If you are a good shopper, you can buy photographic/video lights at a very economical price from Ebay. I did.

  • If a particular video clip does not look that good because of poor lighting conditions in which it was shot and you do not want to discard it for some reason, use your editor's Color Correction feature (white balance, hue, saturation, brightness, contrast, gamma) to improve the quality of the video clip before including it in your movie. This will need some practice and practice makes perfect! Learn by doing trial and error. I did. Nobody taught me.

  • Try to mix some still photos with your video clips. That makes the video much more interesting. All digital camcorders can take still photos as well (may be not as high quality as the regular digital cameras, but good enough for the purpose mixing a few still photos with your video clips). Many good video editors (including Corel VideoStudio Pro X2) can capture a particular frame of your video as a still photo. Learn how to use this feature. (It is not rocket science).

  • Once in a while use Picture-in-Picture (PIP) and/or chromakey techniques to make your videos more interesting and stand out among thousands of videos in YouTube. Not many people know how to do these things.

  • Give some prior thought about title(s). Would they be on the video clip itself, or on an image, or on a color chip? Are you going to use a premade title found in Corel VideoStudio Pro X2 or you are going to build one yourself from scratch? What kind of font? What color? Shade or no shade? Font outline color? Animated title or not? If animated, what kind of animation? You literally have hundreds of choices in Corel VideoStudio Pro X2. If you use your options wisely, you can make spectacular titles (eye-catching, soothing, and appealing). Please remember very bright colors, unusual fonts, and jumping letters do not necessarily make a good looking title. Depending on the mood of your movie, a simple, unanimated, white lettering on black background may make a very appealing title (with the right font style and size). You don't have to use all those options that Corel VideoStudio Pro X2 offers you to make the title of your movie! Simplicity is often the key.

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Tutorials P3
Examples
Useful Tips
Chromakey
DVD Burning
Painting Creator
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