Joey, your tech posts are great. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if ZD was watching you!
Question: What do you use to edit your video? I’m looking for something relatively simple with basic functionality (and free if possible). Any suggestions?
That’s a great question Abbie. The editing program that I finally found was a godsend.
I’ll share the story of how I arrived at the video solution that worked for me. Keep in mind however that I am not trying to say that the editing solution I use is perfect for everyone. I will say that it is super fast, super easy, can edit today’s HD technology (which is what most new cameras ship with nowadays) and gives you a variety of preset formats for you to save your project in. You can save it as a dvd, you can save your video as a standard definition smaller file size, you can save it in HD, and there’s even a upload direct to YouTube preset which I use 90% of the time.
I’ll start in the beginning of my quest for the right video editing software. In the early stages of the blog I was using the Sony H3 camera which shot standard definition video. It was a bit grainy in low light, it was more square 4×3 in dimension and didn’t have the polished look of widescreen HD video. The newer cameras that were coming out shot in HD, 16:9 widescreen and I wanted the blog to be the best it could be. The desire to shoot interviews and the Gloucester Zen scenes in HD was consuming me so I read every single forum and magazine article I could about HD cameras.
I realized that the new Sony model that had replaced my H3 shot in HD and was pocketable (an absolute must for my blogging needs) The camera needs to be on my person to capture things as they happen and not disrupt work running to the office to set up a dslr or separate video camera.
So I bought the new Sony, the DSC H20, my current camera, which shoots 720p HD and went to edit my shoot first movie and my Vista PC could not push the movie around to edit it. It was a format called AVCHD and most video cameras today shoot in this format. I was horrified. My baby, the H3 that had been with me from the start of the blog and recorded hundreds of great scenes had been sold to a good FOB Brenda Malloy and here I had a new camera that made better qualoity movies but didn’t have the tools to edit them. To say I was frustrated would be a major understatement.
So back to the forums for answers. Vimeo, a video hosting site has a fantastic user community forum with some professional video editors and camera folks that can answer just about anything. A good majority of the people suggested Apple Final Cut Pro or iMovie but I had a PC and switching to a mac was not something I was even considering.
Most of the people on the Vimeo forums that owned PC’s suggested Sony Vegas video editing software. It was $80. I bought it because I desperately wanted to edit HD video and I desperately wanted to create more content for the blog.
Sony Vegas is a bit complicated. It was a good program for someone that needs a ton of different options as far as different transitions and color schemes and trickery and special effects. I consider myself more advanced than the average computer user but I had a very hard time figuring out the right export options and if you didn’t do things just right you would have ugly black bars on the top or sides of the video. It also used a ton of system resources on the Vista machine and many times the video would render without sound. I was ready to tear my hair out (and if you know me you know that the little hair I have left is a rare commodity).
So then someone did something very mean to me. Another Blogger and tech geek like myself Kenny McCarthy from The Cut Bridge Blog let me borrow his macbook for a couple days. It was just a basic one, a couple years old but I fell in love with it. I became obsessed with getting a mac- any mac because you can make a pretty professional looking movie with the editing software that comes with them.
Research began. Going into the Apple store every time I was at the mall, logging onto the Apple online store and configuring just the right model but the prices were going to be over $1000.
Cut to the house. My wife’s laptop shit the bed and it needed replacing. I did some research and because her computing needs consist of A) browsing the internet and B) logging onto the internet to check out her Facebook account I decided that for her needs a 4GB of RAM 500gb of storage computer with the newly released Windows 7 would fit the bill. We spent $550 for a Toshiba Satellite 17 inch laptop with a 12 cell battery that screams.
Not knowing a whole lot about Windows 7 beforehand I set out to set up the new laptop for her and discovered this new suite of programs that Windows 7 ships with.
Microsoft even had a blog explaining each new program. While I used Windows Movie Maker with my first camera on the Vista machine the new Windows 7 shipped with a completely redesigned movie editing program that had a very similar name- Windows Live Movie Maker. I checked out these easy to follow videos on the Windows Live Movie Maker Blog which showed how ridiculously simple it was to make movies with transitions and titles and end credits in mere minutes. The video demo was easy to understand and genius in is simplicity.
Now for MY NEEDS, with such little time to bang out videos and the amount of content I create I didn’t need the complexity of Sony Vegas’ video editing software. I also saved a considerable amount of time with Windows Live Movie Maker’s Auto Movie function over the Apple iMovie.
I can edit a 9 minute HD movie with 20 different slideshow pictures and 3 different movie clips with titles, end credits and transitions in literally less than 90 seconds with Windows Live Movie Maker. I challenge any other movie editing software to be able to do the same in that little time.
Here is a video demo of just how easy Windows Live Movie Maker Works-
So instead of buying an Apple for $1300, I got myself a new gateway desktop with 6GB RAM, 1 Terabyte of Hard Drive Space and Windows 7 operating system for $579.
It does everything I want it to do really well and for blogging I’m convinced I can edit my blog in at least half the time with Windows Live Writer (another free program that ships with windows 7) than I could on any other machine. I also love the snipping tool where I can copy anything on the screen of any web page even if it is a flash movie slideshow or a YouTube Video and paste it into Windows Live Writer and BANG, it’s there! That’s how Abbie’s avatar got into this post up at the top of the page,the snipping tool I captured it from her comment and pasted it in the edit box on Live Writer. No dealing with any url address of where the picture of her avatar was located or code- just a simple capture and paste.
This is coming from a guy who had major Mac lust not even a year ago. I’m just lucky my wife’s old laptop died and needed replacing or I might never have found out how great Microsoft’s new suite of software is. I’ll say it again, I’m shocked that Microsoft isn’t beating it’s own drum more loudly with the clear winner they have in Windows 7.