Trimming out the unwanted parts

on Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Professional Hollywood moviemakers typically shoot hundreds of hours of footage just to get enough acceptable material for a two-hour feature film. Because the pros shoot a lot of “waste” footage, don’t feel so bad if every single frame of video you shot isn’t totally perfect either. As you preview your clips, you’ll no doubt find bits that you want to cut from the final movie. The subject scratches his lip for a few moments at the beginning of the clip, which would be fine, except that it kind of looks like he’s picking his nose. We can’t have that in the final movie. Besides, the clip is about 11 seconds long, and we really only need about five seconds or so.
The solution is to trim the clip down to just the portion you want. The easiest way to trim a clip is to split it into smaller parts before you place it in your movie project:
  1. Open the clip you want to trim by clicking it in the browser, and move the play head to the exact spot where you want to split the clip. Use the playback controls under the preview window to move the play head. If you’re using the Scene 2 sample clip, place the play head about four seconds into the clip. If you’re using Pinnacle Studio, the timecode will actually read about 0:00:16.20 because the timecode is for the entire sample file and not just the selected clip.
  2. In Pinnacle Studio, right-click the clip in the browser and choose Split Scene from the menu that appears. In Apple iMovie, choose Edit➪Split Video Clip at Playhead. You now have two clips where before you had only one.
  3. To split the second clip again, choose the second clip by clicking it in the browser and move the play head about five seconds forward in the clip. Again, in Pinnacle Studio the timecode will actually read about 0:00:21.20 because the timecode displayed is for the entire sample file.
  4. Repeat Step 2 to split the clip again. You will now have three clips created from the one original clip. Splitting clips like I’ve shown here isn’t the only way to edit out unwanted portions of video. You can also trim clips once they’re placed in the timeline of your movie project. But splitting the clips before you add them to a project is often a much easier way to work because the unwanted parts are split off into separate clips that you can use (or not use) as you wish. In the next section, I show you how to add clips to the timeline or storyboard of your editing program to actually start turning your clips into a movie.

Don’t worry! Trimming a clip doesn’t delete the unused portions from your hard drive. When you trim a clip, you’re actually setting what the video pros call in points and out points. The software uses virtual markers to remember which portions of the video you chose to use during a particular edit. If you want to use the remaining video later, it’s still on your hard drive, ready for use. If you want, you can usually unsplit your clips that you have split as well. In Pinnacle Studio, hold down the Ctrl key and click on each of the clips that you split earlier.
When each clip is selected, right-click the clips and choose Combine Scenes. Unfortunately, Apple iMovie doesn’t have a simple tool for recombining clips that you have split. If you just split a clip, you can undo that action by choosing Edit➪Undo or pressing Ô+Z.