Newsletter #174 - Nov 3, 2007
At any type of ball game...
football, baseball, soccer... after some overall shots to set the stage for the
action, when it's action time, you have two main choices to focus on. The wrong
thing to do is to flit quickly back and forth between the two, and get nothing
but blurry uninteresting footage.
I won't count the choice of
keeping the view from afar, like a wide-angle shot that takes in
everything. Those are good for openings, closings or intermezzos. But
the tighter shots are better to capture the
Zoom into the ball and
follow it wherever it goes, hoping it'll sometimes be at the players
you're interested in. If they never get the ball, try again next game...
or next year.
Zoom into a player and go
wherever he or she does, hoping to capture the shots when the player gets a
chance to encounter the ball. Even if they never get into the
ball action, chances are you'll get some interesting personal
I miss lots of great shots by shooting the ball when
some players are busy doing something else, or taking lots of footage of a
player doing nothing but waiting for his or her turn. The zooms of today's
camcorders are great to capture facial expressions and other interesting
Digital video footage is cheap so you can afford to
shoot an hour to get a few minutes of randomly captured good
clips. There's no need to tell anyone about all the great shots you
totally missed. Play up the ones you did get.
Subtle but effective enhancements are what I'm looking to
do in the editing phase. I'll illustrate it with a clip from my
grandson Nick's game last weekend. He's #75.
I'm using Pixelan's PanZoom Maker to go from full screen
at the start of a clip to a tight focus on Nick at the last
frame. The utility is great for that custom pan/zoom. That combined with
slow-mo, a little spot-lighting, and audio are enough to enhance the
Click this image to see it... the before and
after are included, and the whole thing runs less than a
minute. Nick accidentally trips and falls, but just at the right time and
point to pull down the pass receiver.
There are a few things to consider when doing the
enhancements. I'll get into them below.
Before doing it, here are...
My latest four-pack of BrightHub software
reviews are finished and it's on to other things. BrightHub is getting
close to being fully online.
Something interesting happened today. A new poster on the Movie
Maker forum made a post, and before I could read it, he popped up
on SupportSpace asking for a session. We ended up having a
good 30 minute discussion about interlaced files and how Movie
Maker handles them... BFF or TFF (that's Bottom Field First versus Top
Field First). My party line of 'Movie Maker preserves whatever
interlacing there is' was from my XP info. He was using Vista, feeding TFF
MPEG-2 files into the process and ending up with BFF DV-AVI files
coming out. Hmmm!!! I haven't tested Vista with this item.
Seems that DV-AVI
files might all be BFF, but Tivo files are MPEG-2 and TFF. What do you get
if you mix TFF and BFF clips in a project and save the movie as DV-AVI? Do you
get BFF? Is that the standard for DV-AVI while MPEG-2 lets you pick either? Some
online info indicates that TFF might be the more normal for MPEG-2, but I don't
know. Good topic for a newsletter.
.... back to the main
Focus on the Center of Attention
Without getting into the storyboard, let's take a look at a
single clip from a football game and see how easy it is to enhance
the focus of attention, and add some pizazz.
Here are the steps I took...
Step 1. Put the clip on the timeline and view it. As
I followed prudent rules of thumb during the filming, I hadn't zoomed
while shooting the clip, so it's all at a certain distance. I was at
the top of the bleacher boxes in the press room, using the 10x optical zoom
of my mini-DV camcorder.
You can see in the original clip that it was a scene during
which I was following Nick wherever he went, having no idea where the
ball was and what was going on in the game. It ended up being a lucky clip
because if I had been following the ball during the same scene I'd probably
have missed Nick's action.
Step 2. I split the clip at a point I wanted to
start a pan/zoom effect to slowly zoom closer to Nick
after the cut point.
When to start a pan/zoom depends on the clip and your
preference. For this one, I wanted to go from the unzoomed clip and start the
zooming after the offensive player was down. The exact frame of the
spit wasn't important.
Here are two frame grabs by Movie Maker. The first is the final
frame of the original clip before the pan/zoom was applied. The second is the
final frame with it applied (with the spotlight added also).
I used Pixelan's PanZoom Maker to make the custom pan/zoom
effect. The picture in the opening paragraph
shows the area of interest I selected, and this picture
shows the result.
The heavy pixilization comes from zooming into a video file
which is low quality (720x480 pixels) to start with. It's not like Photo Story 3
that can preserve pixel quality from high quality pictures.
Step 3 - To see the action a bit easier and better, I applied
the standard Slow Down, Half effect to both parts of
the split clip.
Step 4 - In addition to the pan/zoom effect, I added a
round soft spotlight effect from a Pixelan
lighting effects package to both parts of the split clip.
The zooming into Nick, combined with the soft spotlighting, was
enough to make it clear who my focus of interest was on.
Step 5 - Audio is always somewhere between
important and vital.
My preference leans to real audio clips taken at the event
rather than bringing in stock files from my library.
You can see in the Movie Maker project file that I used 4 audio
clips on the Audio/Music track. They were DV-AVI video clips dragged from the
collection directly onto the Audio/Music track, where Movie Maker treats them as
audio files. No need to rip the audio from the camcorder clips
The slow motion effect slows the audio also, so those clips are
muted and the added audio clips carry all the sounds.
Conclusion and Closing... and What's
A movie is made of a story, but one clip at a time. Make each
clip great and, with a good story, you'll have a much
This newsletter focuses on enhancing just one scene,
but the way of doing it can be applied to many.
Have a great week!!