PapaJohn's Newsletter #21 - Movie
Maker 2 and Photo Story 2 - Oct 2, 2004
A wedding video is a popular theme, as it should be. I've
been requested often to do a newsletter about them. Now that I'm in
the middle of a wedding project myself, the latest email from a
reader pushed me over the top.... it's time to do one, with
....it's into the artistic end of editing,
not the technical computer stuff that most of my material is about.
Art is highly subjective, subject to individual tastes. You may
disagree with my approach...better yet, you should have your
own style which works for you.
But it may help to share info about editing styles, and I'm
always in favor of sharing what I know or what I do.
The latest request was from someone who was editing videos taken
by other people.... I've never done that. All the weddings I've edited were
also shot by me.
My current wedding project is the first one with Movie
Maker 2, and the first one using a website as another way to distribute it.
Here's the link to it.
You may have noticed that this site is also tucked into the
newest branch of my main website menu, the one called 'Living
I'm up to 9 videos on the site so far for a total
of 36+ minutes... the website is very modular, a great way
to let people pick and choose what they want to see. They all know the story so
there's no need to bore them with more than they want to see. If
someone just wants to see that one dance scene with themselves
in it, they can do so. If the brides mother wants to see the ceremony a
hundred times, she can do it. Websites and links are great.
Editing is so easy today that I can actually
enjoy the wedding in while shooting the video. It used to be such that
editing was so hard to do that I'd do 99% of the editing in my head as I did the
shooting..... instead of enjoying the moment, I'd be constantly thinking about
the next shot. Only lately have I finished changing my mentality to
one of so easily disposing of bad clips that it's OK to have
mostly garbage on the tape... instead of turning the camcorder off and
on to avoid fast pans and zooms, I leave it running and edit them out.
The bad stuff is so easily discarded.... I can put my full energies
into getting better clips.
On one hand, weddings are great subjects.... if a movie is a
story, we all know the story ahead of time. But, on the other hand, if everyone
knows the story, they may get bored much quicker and the editor had better make
the video worth watching.
Before getting into it more, a
few notes about things going on...
• My Toshiba laptop is back after 3 weeks in
the repair shop in Texas, with a new hard drive and new combo CD/DVD
drive.... I'll pick it up tomorrow. It'll have the operating system and
software that it had when I got it new 1-1/2 years ago.... guess I'll have some
updating to do with it.
• Got an email from Microsoft today... a notice that I
was given an MVP award for my 3rd year... The people at Microsoft are great to
work with and I look forward to the upcoming
....on to the topic of the week
Thoughts About Wedding
I had an hour sit-down with the bride, going over
the schedule and her preferences for the
video.... finding out things like ".... should I get little
speeches from the guests.... or just shoot what was happening?", and did she
want the video to include older pictures as so many do... if so I'd
need her to get me some pictures to scan. A few dozen points like
Today's planning includes additional points to
consider. Should I shoot it in standard 4:3 aspect ratio
or widescreen? We opted for standard as the
couple and their parents don't yet have widescreen TVs or monitors. Did they
want a website with videos on it, or just DVDs? Did they need any VCR tapes in
addition to DVDs?
In the equipment department, I had my new digital camcorder
(Sony TRV80) but no extra battery for it.... I got one a
couple weeks ahead of time.... and some extra tapes. You can never have too
Shooting the Video
When I shoot a wedding, I do the rehearsal and rehearsal
dinner the day before, the wedding preps, ceremony and reception, and the
morning breakfast or brunch the day after.... it's a 3-day weekend
Besides my digital camcorder, I brought my Hi8
camcorder (Sony TRV615) with its two batteries.
The still photographer is still the director of the
production.... he does all the work to stage the wedding party. With a
camcorder's zoom lens, it's easy to work around him, and get the benefit of
The wedding ceremony was outdoors, great for a digital
camcorder. If it rained and we had to move indoors, I might have
changed to my Hi8 analog camcorder, which does considerably better in low light
conditions. With the good weather, I laid the Hi8 one on my backpack fairly
close to the front, turned it on, and let it capture the full audio from
when guests started arriving until the end of the recessional....
2 hours on the Hi8 tape was enough to get the entire audio. I moved around with
the digital camcorder, using my tripod as much as I could, and hand-holding it
at other times.
I had the Creative Zen Portable Media Center
for that weekend..... so I put some video of the resort the wedding was going to
be at on it to let those at the rehearsal dinner see it. Then
the video of the rehearsal dinner went on it to show at the
reception.... from camcorder to Zen with minimal editing. Just for the
novelty of it. I let the Zen be passed around to anyone who wanted to see
The dancing at the reception party is often a great part of the
final video. But how low would the lighting be and how best to shoot it? There
was a live band on a stage that was pretty well lit. And the dance floor
was pretty dim. So I put the digital camcorder on a tripod to
shoot the band as I walked around with the Hi8 to take footage of the dancing.
The Hi8 does so well in such conditions that I'd buy another to replace it if I
needed to, instead of buying a second digital one. Until low light is better
handled by the digital ones, I'll continue using one of each as
Thoughts about the Editing
In the editing phase, you combine the computer technical
aspects with the artistic...
....about the computer setup
and file logistics
With the large size of DV-AVI
files, computer setup and capabilities often guide or
dictate the methods of managing source files and saved movies. My
primary editing computer is my Toshiba laptop, which is still in the shop for
repairs. It has a 60 GB hard drive and I usually run with about 15 GB free....
not enough space to capture most of the 3+ hours of video for the wedding
project. That's fine, as I work on the project in a very modular way,
one small video at a time. So far the longest video is 7:02 and it'll probably
end up as the longest one.
The laptop is always connected to my other computers via our
home network.... where I have hundreds of GB free on other hard drives. More
than enough total space to manage it all, with the 'master' files on
one drive and backup copies on another. The laptop only needs the
files to work on one video at a time.
I've dubbed the analog footage to digital
tapes, so all is on digital tapes for the editing phase.
And my database has all the info about which tapes
have which scenes, their starting points, etc. This was all done before
starting to capture any footage to the computer.
After finishing each video, I'm rendering it 3 times:
(1) high quality DV-AVI files to make DVDs at
the end of the project, (2) medium quality WMV files -
800kbps 640x480 - for CD versions of the website videos, and
(3) lower quality WMV files - 400kbps 320x240 - for the
With the ongoing project tucked into my Movie
Maker website, you can check my style by viewing any of the videos
whenever you want to.
Check online for other examples from professional studios.
Shutters Video is one that does weddings:
....click the link at the bottom of the page to
the wedding video - special ending. It's a WMV file
of 5:22 duration. It looks and sounds pretty good.... assess it a bit and
you'll see that it's a pretty simple editing job with:
37 clips that average 8.7 seconds
dissolve transitions are used almost exclusively
a few slow motion effects were added
....about editing wedding
My overall video shooting and editing style leans toward
the documentary, even more so for a wedding. I don't need
to develop the story.... we all know it. I don't need to direct it... the
wedding coordinator and photographer take care of that. I just need to get
enough good clips to put them together into videos. An hour total is perfect for
a DVD, and long enough to adequately cover all segments of a wedding.
Here's a link to a school you can attend
to learn about making documentaries:
Michael Rabiger's book 'Directing the
Documentary' is a good one. It includes this caution: "Most
people learn film technique by copying other filmmakers.... but one should
search for the roots of their craft in life itself, not in others. A copy of a
copy is always degraded. Your ideas and feelings about life should be
preeminent, and you should use screen techniques as the vehicle for their
About 1/5 of the book is devoted to the editing process,
with many good points.
Here's my personal take on a set of
guidelines for editing a wedding video
review the clips - you have only them to work
with.... sort them into logical segments, and copy some to two or more segments.
A close-up of flowers in the reception room might look great someplace in the
scenes of the ceremony. It's easier to get the close-ups in the
reception.... at weddings the flowers are often moved around. You can move
the clips around too.
a guide for documentaries is to establish the major timeflow
first before breaking off into others.... rather than
having flashback slideshows or video of the bride and groom at the
beginning, before the wedding timeline is well established, how about doing
the visual flashbacks during the talks by the bridesmaid, best
man, and father of the bride. I'd do some flashbacks during the readings and
sermon of the ceremony, but that might be too irreverent.
edit a rough cut - let your
material tell you where and how to cut it. The more you let your material
decide, the more obvious the right points will be become, and you'll be in the
zen of editing. Let it flow.
Don't worry about length or balance in the
rough cut. Leave everything long and don't worry about repetition. It's
important to see the whole long film as soon as possible before doing any
detailed editing work.
Keep changing hats from editor to first time viewer.
Decide on the ideal length after the first viewing. Most
beginners films are agonizingly long and slow.
Avoid trying to fix everything in one session. Wait a few days
and think things over. Then tackle only the major needs of the film. Don't jump
into fine-tuning too soon.
Editing: the Process of Refinement
Once a reasonable order for the material
has been found, you'll want to combine sound and action in a form that takes
advantage of counterpoint techniques. Bring the sound from one shot together
with the image from another. Bring the materials into juxtaposition. The dance
scenes of the wedding are great opportunities for alternating counterpoints....
if you can use two camcorders... if not, fake it with the material from one,
integrating the visual clips with the sound track.
The J and L audio cuts are contrapuntal editing
features that draw you into the scene, as if you were there.
Narration - it's not fashionable to
use third party authoritative narration.
Narration is so intrusive that if it's not first rate,
it'll degrade rather than enhance. If you narrate, use it to
complement the images, not duplicating them.
Music - can be misused as a dramatic
crutch. Like narration, it should complement the visual, not substitute for
Be aware of copyright issues and do what is appropriate. I have the
permissions of the bride and groom, their parents, and the band to use all the
video in all my published works.
Procrastination is always good. Stop working on it for
a while and do something else.
Mini-Tutorial: Editing the Wedding
I started with over 3 hours of footage, a couple hours of
digital and another 1-1/4 hours of analog.
With 9 videos finished and another 5 or so to go, my
approach to the editing has evolved a bit as I've gone through them.....
I'm in the middle of doing #10 right now, the video of the processional.
I'll use it to show my approach in a bit more detail.
The finished videos are on the website, on CDs as interim
releases, in DV-AVI formats for the DVD at the end, and there are backup
copies of all files on another computer's hard drive.
Wedding Processional - the Source
I've been creating a new folder for each of the videos, putting
all the source files, the Movie Maker project file, and the saved movies in
it.... the figure below shows the current set of files for the
There's (1) the project file, which I'll show
you later, (2) the 'EnhancedNarration' wma file which I'll
explain below, (3) the '54D-Audio DV-AVI' file that I captured
from the camcorder for the audio track, (4) two captured video
DV-AVI files for the video... I finished the first capture a bit too soon so
I had to pick up the rest as another capture file, (5) 11
still pictures in JPG format from our digital still camera, and
(6) 2 frame captures from another DV-AVI source file, pictures
that fit more in this video.
Recessional - Source
A file starting with 54D means it's the 4th segment of
video on tape number 54. If I go to the record in my database for tape 54,
it'll tell me it starts 31 minutes into the tape. The first thing I do when
I open a new tape is mark it with the next tape number and start the database
record for it.
Prep the Source Files
Once you have the source files rounded up, it's tempting
to jump into the video editing project.... fine to play with them a bit, but
it's best to go over each and do some prepping.
I have two audio tracks for this
video, one from each of the camcorders. I was mostly hand-holding the
digital one, so it got whatever was around it at the time. The analog one
was lying still on my backpack.... running from the beginning of the guests
being seated phase to the end of the processional. So the digital had good but
spotty audio and the analog had the full but lesser FM quality audio.
I dubbed the Hi8 tape to the digital camcorder, and then
captured the digital tape to get the file named '54D-Audio.avi'. You can tell
from the 2 GB file size that it's about 9 minutes in duration (the picture of
the working project below shows the overall project duration as 9-1/2 minutes,
the length of the audio file).
After capturing the 2 GB segment just for the audio, I rendered
it to the 'Audio-Recessional.wma' file, played the file in WMP10,
adjusting the equalizer controls to 'enhance' the audio. As I played
it in WMP, I captured it into MM2.1 using the Narration capture wizard and
the stereo mix option. That got me the 'EnhancedNarration.wma' file. It
might sound like a bit of work, but you can see from the file timestamps that
the enhanced file was created 15 minutes after the wma file was
extracted from the DV-AVI file.
The 11 still pictures from the digital
camera will need cropping for better content and to get them
into 4:3 aspect ratios. I'll do that with IrfanView, but only
when I've decided to use one in the project. if I did the work
first, I'd feel more compelled to use them all, even if they didn't quite
The 2 video snapshots (JPG) are appropriately
sized already. Snapshots from either my digital camcorder or MM2 are so
easy to take and use. Note that all the still pictures on the website's main
pages are simply snapshots of video frames taken by my camcorder.... when I
preview the video in the camcorder, anytime I see a frame I want, I press a
button and it makes a snapshot of the frame on a memory card.
Start the Movie Maker Project
With all the source files ready for the early editing phase, I
imported the audio first and put it on the timeline..... that
gives me the first reading of a logical maximum length for the video.....
Then I imported the two video files, getting
two collections with clips. From there I looked at each clip in sequence,
subdividing them further.... using any bad video spot as the dividing point. A
bad spot could be a blurry frame, a quick pan or zoom, the photographer jumping
in front of me (which he did a lot), etc. Once or twice I split the clip
with no bad spot, just to divide different scenes into different clips. I
discarded all the pure junk clips. I have one scene in each
clip, all with good frames, but without the start or stop trim
points being selected. I'll do the clip trimming in the timeline as the
project takes shape so I can easily change the location of the trim
Once the clips in the collections were split , I renamed
them with sequential numbers, sorted them by name and batched them into the
In the timeline view, I fine tuned the start and stop trim
points of each clip. The Next and Previous frame buttons under the monitor
are great for scanning each clip as you look for the sweet spots to start and
After trimming, the overall duration of the video clips is 3
minutes and 40 seconds, as you can see from this view of the project. That's
about 1/3 the duration of the audio track. I haven't clipped and trimmed the
audio yet, which will reduce it... and I haven't added any of the still pictures
to the timeline, which will expand it.
Recessional Video - Early
That's as far as I've gotten on this video so far. From this
• view the entire project a few times to see where things drag
on, and where spots need something
• for the clips that drag on, trim them some
• for the places that need more, look at the 13 still
pictures and import appropriate ones into the project, after cropping
in IrfanView to the 4:3 aspect ratio.... or take snapshots from the video clips
and add them to the timeline, essentially re-using the good material by stopping
on a particularly appropriate spot to linger a bit, or to add good filler
material for some padding as needed. Panning and zooming on a still image in the
video, as the background audio continues, is almost like having another video
• as I work to add more to the video and at the
same time prune extra from clips with too much, I'll be listening to
both audio tracks, that with the video clips and the enhanced full one.... I
won't be editing the audio yet, just making mental notes about which clips have
the better audio. As both camcorders were in different locations, they each have
different audio (unlike the dance scenes later, where the band's
speaker system provides more than enough sound to fill both camcorders at the
• when the clips are just about right, I'll add any
transitions and effects. I agree with the video on that professional website....
dissolves or fades from one clip to another is the right kind of soft touch for
a wedding theme, the kind of transition you can do even with MM1. The
focus of a wedding video is on the bride, then the groom, then the parents
and others.. it's not about cute or whiz bang effects and
• the transitions will effect the overall
duration of the timeline, and the sync between the video and audio, so only
after they are done will I start fine-tuning the audio.
For the audio editing, I'll choose which audio
track to use. It might be from one camcorder or the other, or both
together at some relative volume.... the string trio was playing during
much of the recessional so I'll keep their
complete pieces as background music, or foreground music if
the other audio is just background noise.
The resting time between the classical string pieces
was appropriate for the group when playing them, but too long for the
videos... when editing, I've been reducing the pause between the
• I haven't been using text clips for titles or
credits.... not yet. With the website being the current method of
distribution, the web pages have more than enough text.... so the videos just
fade open, do their thing and fade to a close. The exceptions so far are the few
dance videos of the reception, and the two children at the flagpole, where
I've used a little text and some iTunes visualizations as opening/closing
• The DVDs won't have the web pages with the
text, so I may add some text when preparing for or authoring the
That's as far as this tutorial goes. Some closing
My wedding project is
ongoing and on schedule...
I thought that putting shorter videos
on the website would help the bride and groom view them via their dial-up
connections. But it's still too much for them.... yesterday I went to
the office of the bride's father and loaded the full website from a CD, so he
wouldn't have to wait for the downloading.... the audio played but not
the video. as his work computer runs Windows Me with WMP7.0.... I left
it to upgrade to WMP9, the forecast download time was 2 hours, and it was
time for him to close the office for the day. I'll find out next week if he ever
got to see them on that computer.
.... his home
computer situation is better... Windows XP with a version of WMP that
plays the videos. But his dial-up connection is worse... what takes about 5
seconds to start playing on any computer in my house takes more than an
hour at theirs.... I've had lots of food and drinks over there as we wait for
the next video to finish downloading.... waiting can be a
And the bride and groom tell me their
dial-up connections are worse yet. To prove it, they tell me that, in a month
they've seen the website lots but none of the videos.
You can see why people need it on
Your editing style is different than
mine and anyone else.... keep it that way and make your videos
the best you can with the material you have.
I find that each wedding project is
different... better and easier. This one is with MM2 and distributing via a
website, CDs and DVDs. My previous one was using MM1 and VCR
tapes. Before that was my Hi8 camcorder dubbing directly to a VCR
tape. Before that 8mm camcorder tape to a VCR..... I didn't do my own
wedding over 40 years ago, but those I did at the time were on 8mm film
with a projector/screen to view them. Yesterday's challenge was to
just make a video and get it out for viewing.... today's tools are so much
better, and they put the more significant challenge where it should be....
on the creative aspects of editing the videos.
I read lots of posts about needing
higher end hardware and software to shoot and edit professional wedding
videos.... but I've also seen a number of professionally produced
videos. The brides and grooms are the first to say that my Movie Maker
productions are better than what they paid for.
Have a great week...