We're in another wave of holidays...
taking pictures and video... and mostly tucking them away as we
think "... I'll get to them later...".
We (9 of us) did one of our now
routine one-day trips to Chicago on Saturday... the goal of the day was to
have fun, and we succeeded. Collecting digital evidence of it wasn't nearly
as important, but we ended up with 16-1/2 minutes of video footage,
125 pix on my daughter's new 7 megapixel camera (most were blurry - she doesn't read manuals about how to
use such things), and a couple dozen on Bernadette's 5 megapixel camera (most
were sharp... but she lost lots of them when an accidental memory
card re-formatting happened half way through the day, a first time
event for the camera... in retrospect she said yes to something that she
But instead of doing something later
with the pictures and video, we did it while the memories were still
fresh... Bernadette printed an 8x10 group picture for each to take home,
and I put a 3-1/4 minute video online and emailed them (the
visitors) a link before they had returned home.
Allie (friend), Allie (grand) and Summer
In this issue I'll show you the movie project
and take you through it's development. It's a typical holiday home video
made so much better by adding special effects, transitions, a custom image
overlay, and background music.... the kinds of things we can do so easily with
It wasn't snowing at the time...
that's added by the Snowflakes effect in the Winter Fun Pack
The 3 girls were not standing in
front of the railroad station line... they were added by a custom overlay,
using one of the 5 megapixel still pix.
... and when you play
the video you'll start hearing the approaching train, along with
Christmas music... also added to what started simply as a video clip
of a sign. The train sounds came later in the video, and the Christmas
music was copied from a downloaded midi-music file. The project was simple
enough to be done in one pass.
... before getting into them, here
are a few notes...
The gallery in New York City
is on 22nd Street
and will be open by the time you read this... stop by if you get a chance,
especially if you can make it when I'm there for the afternoons of Dec
17 and 18.
I downloaded the latest v2.5
of Paint.NET, which doesn't have an expiration date.
Between it's magic wand feature to remove colored pixels, and its option to
save it as a PNG file with transparency preserved... you can go
directly from Paint.NET to a custom overlay file for your project... no need to
go via IrfanView to select the transparent color.
Using such an overlay is now a
routine part of my videos, and I've expanded the Editing > Text >
Custom Overlays page of the website to fully cover how to
do it. If you try it and have any questions or comments, please send a note. I'd
be happy to tweak the page some more until it's easy and fun for anyone who
wants to try them.
.... on to
the main topic...
There really isn't a script
when for most home videos of vacations and family events like a day-trip to
Chicago, and you can't force one. But you can add interest
by selecting a focal point. I pick the point of interest only
after viewing the source material. Actually I sit back and let the
video footage tell me what to use, and then help it along with some fine
Of all our grands, Allie
is the most social. She had invited her friend Allie, who had never
been to Chicago, and another friend Summer. On the train ride home,
their impromptu rehash of the visit to the Hershey chocolate
shop provided the spark to the theme, and I had some
footage to go with it. The 3 girls became the focal point (the other 6 who
went take secondary or minor roles), with the Hershey shop their
I browsed the clips in the
collection and selected the better ones of the 3 girls...
dragging them to the storyboard in the sequence taken. They can be
Regardless of size or total
length, I try to have an opening portion, a mid-point break of some
sort, the rest of the main segment, and an ending. Here's the final project
with some of the points marked.
Have you noticed how long some
of the big screen movie openings are? Some of them seem almost half way
finished before the opening is finished... I kind of like them that way. In
this 3-1/4 minute movie, I didn't consider the intro
done until almost a full minute into the movie.
Our standard day-trip to
Chicago is an 85 mile drive to a train station, followed
by a 1-1/2 hour train-ride to the last stop at the corner of Randolph
Street and Michigan Ave, in the heart of downtown Chicago. The video starts with
the train, and then moves into a few assorted Chicago scenes... with a few
to let you know it's the Christmas season.
This part of the editing
takes the most work, as it sets the overall pace and tone, fixes
the text titling options (font, font color, animation style, etc.),
and determines the background music to carry throughout.
Some editing notes:
There was some snow on the ground,
and it was cold... but not snowing. The Winter
Fun Pack 2003 package
provided the Snowflakes video effect
for a number of clips, even one shot indoors (the carolers who seem
to be outside a window, but were upstairs in a shopping mall).
Many of the special transitions and
effects are from the third party Adorage
The custom image overlay of the 3
girls started with a still picture of them on Michigan Avenue, cropped and
sized to 856x480 pixels... the background was
removed by PhotoShop, and I saved it as Overlay1.png for the
Overlay Starter Kit. I copied and pasted the overlay a half dozen times in the
project to help provide some continuity of
the main subject.
Two regular text overlays are
in this opening section, almost totally overlapping the image overlays.
If two overlapping text overlays are used, the clip at the
right shows over the first one, but they go suddenly on or off without gradual
The audio of the first
clip... the railroad station sign... was poor and uninteresting... so I
used the audio from another train clip that had picked up the
'horn', dragging the DV-AVI clip from the collection to the audio/music
track and trimming it to fit.
The holiday music is another of the
2,500+ midi pieces from those old player piano rolls. I
played the midi file in iTunes and captured it using
the narration feature of Movie Maker.
The middle makes a transition
between the early and later parts... it can be as simple as the 1-1/2 second gap
between the video clips shown here, a gap filled with the overlay
image. The transition can be short or long... just something to
ease the minds of the viewers as the video moves from one major part
The scenes in the first part
were somewhat disassociated. In the next part the scenes will be more
in harmony with each other. The transition between the parts helps to break the
mood, and set the stage for a new one.
The sub-story and
The second part has
a sub-story, or at least what I could make of one.
The girls were eager to recount their experience at the Hershey store.
They practiced a few times and then did a final version... I used the
clips of each, splitting them in various places, and mixing the
train scenes with 'flash-backs' of store scenes.
The ending was simply the final clip, some text... I
didn't drag out the ending.
Have a great week...