Adjusting playback speed

on Friday, October 31, 2008

One of the coolest yet most unappreciated capabilities of video-editing programs is the ability to change the speed of video clips. Changing the speed of a clip serves many useful purposes:
  • Add drama to a scene by slowing down the speed to create a “slow-mo” effect.
  • Make a scene appear fast-paced and action-oriented (or humorous, depending upon the subject matter) by speeding up the video.
  • Help a given video clip better fit into a specific time frame by speeding it up or slowing it down slightly. For example, you may be trying to time a video clip to match beats in a musical soundtrack.
Sometimes this can be achieved by slightly adjusting the playback speed of the video clips. Of course, you want to carefully preview any speed changes you make to a video clip. Depending on the software, you could encounter some jittery video images or other problems when you play around with speed adjustments. Pay special attention to audio clips when you adjust playback speed. Even though a small speed adjustment might be barely perceptible in a video clip, even the tiniest speed changes have radical effects on the way audio sounds. Usually, when I adjust video speed, I discard the audio portion of that clip. Pinnacle Studio is unusual in that when you change the speed of a video clip, the audio portion of that clip is automatically discarded.

Undoing what you’ve done


Oops! If you didn’t really mean to delete that clip, don’t despair. Just like word processors (and many other computer programs), video-editing programs let you undo your actions. Simply press Ctrl+Z (Windows) or Ô+Z (Macintosh) to undo your last action. Both Pinnacle Studio and Apple iMovie allow you to undo several actions, which is helpful if you’ve done a couple of other actions since making the “mistake” you want to undo. To redo an action that you just undid, press Ctrl+Y (Windows) or Shift+Ô+Z (Macintosh). Another quick way to restore a clip in iMovie to its original state — regardless of how long ago you changed it — is to select the clip in the timeline and then choose Advanced➪Restore Clip. The clip reverts to its original state.

Removing clips from the timeline


Changing your mind about some clips that you placed in the timeline is virtually inevitable, and fortunately removing clips is easy. Just click the offending clip to select it and press the Delete key on your keyboard. Poof! The clip disappears.
If you’re using iMovie, you should know however that when you delete a clip by pressing the Delete key, the clip goes to iMovie’s trash bin. After the trash is emptied (by double-clicking the trash icon at the bottom of the iMovie program window), the deleted clip will no longer be stored on your hard drive, meaning that if you decide you want it back later, you’ll have to re-capture it. Thus, if you simply want to remove a clip from the timeline, I recommend that you first switch to the storyboard, and then drag the unwanted clip back up to the clip browser so you can use it again later if you want.

Trimming clips in Apple iMovie

on Sunday, October 19, 2008

iMovie’s approach to trimming is typical Apple — simple and effective. iMovie uses the preview window for clip-trimming operations. If you look closely at the lower-left corner of the preview window, you’ll see two tiny little triangles. These are in-point and out-point markers; you can use them to trim clips in the timeline.
To trim a clip, follow these steps:
  1. Click a clip in the timeline to select it. When you click the clip, it should load into the preview window. If it does not, make sure that the desired clip is actually selected in the timeline. The clip should turn blue when it is selected.
  2. Click-and-drag the out-point marker in the lower-left corner of the preview window to a new location along the playback ruler.
  3. Click-and-drag the in-point marker to a new position if you wish. The selected portion of the clip — that is, the portion between the in and out points — will turn yellow in the preview window playback ruler.
  4. Choose Edit>Crop The clip will be trimmed (cropped) down to just the portion you selected with the in and out points. Subsequent clips in the timeline will automatically shift to fill in the empty space on the timeline. If you trim a video clip from which you have extracted the audio, only the video clip will be trimmed; you’ll have to trim the audio separately.

Trimming clips in Pinnacle Studio


The easiest way to trim clips in the Studio timeline is to use the Clip Properties window. To reveal this window, double-click a clip in the timeline. The properties window will appear above the timeline. The left pane of the properties window shows the in point frame, which is the first frame of the clip. The right pane shows the out point, or the end of the clip. To adjust the in and out points, click and drag the in-and out-point razor tools back and forth. You can also adjust the in and out points by typing new numbers in the timecode indicators under each pane.
The playback controls in the Clip Properties window include a Play Clip Continuously button. Click this button to preview the clip so it loops over and over continuously. This can help you better visualize the effects of any changes you make to the in and out points. When you’re done trimming the clip, click the Close (X) button in the upper
right corner of the Clip Properties window. The Clip Properties window closes and the length of your clip in the timeline will be changed accordingly.

Fine-Tuning Your Movie in the Timeline


After you’ve plopped a few clips into your timeline or storyboard, you’re ready to fine-tune your project. This fine-tuning is what turns your series of clips into a real movie. Most of the edits described in this section require you to work in the timeline, although if you want to simply move clips around without making any edits or changes, you’ll probably find that easiest in the storyboard. This is especially true if you’re using iMovie. To move a clip, simply click-and-drag it to a new location .

Dropping clips into the storyboard or timeline is a great way to assemble the movie, but a lot of those clips probably contain some material that you don’t want to use.