Using Video Effects in Studio

on Monday, June 29, 2009

Pinnacle Studio doesn’t have built-in special effects, per se, but it does offer tools to let you modify the appearance of your video clips. Here’s a summary of the tools and effects available in Studio:
  • Adjust color and lighting: You can modify colors and lighting in video clips using controls in the Adjust Colors toolbox. To open this toolbox, select a clip in the timeline and choose Toolbox➪Adjust Color. The toolbox appears above the timeline, as shown in Figure. Most of the time you won’t want to make any extreme adjustments, but you can correct color problems in video images with a little fine-tuning. If you’re going for a black-and-white look in your movie, you don’t need any special effects. Simply adjust the Saturation slider all the way to zero to remove color from the video image.
  • Blur: As you might guess, the Blur slider blurs the video image. If you set the Blur slider to number one, it does a fair imitation of a soft filter. Any higher setting, though, and the image just looks, well, blurry.
  • Emboss, Mosaic, and Posterize: These controls are of limited use, in my opinion, although they can be useful when you’re creating a custom background image (for a DVD menu, for example):
  1. Emboss gives the appearance that your video image has been embossed into plastic or metal.
  2. Mosiac changes the image into a pattern of colored square blocks. As you adjust the slider farther to the right, the blocks become larger, further distorting the image.
  3. Posterize reduces the number of colors in the image to create a cartoon-like appearance.
  • Vary playback speed: Studio has a really nice toolbox for adjusting the playback speed of video clips. To open this toolbox, choose Toolbox➪ Vary Playback Speed.
  • Overlay graphics: You can use the title editor to lay simple graphics over a video image_ Hollywood FX Pro: Pinnacle offers Hollywood FX Pro, a tool that can create some advanced video effects. Hollywood FX Pro is available as a plug-in for Studio for $99.

Controlling effects with keyframes


When you apply an effect to a clip, you may want the effect to appear only for part of the clip, or you may want the effect to change as the clip plays. In iMovie, you can make an effect appear or disappear gradually. More advanced video-editing programs like Adobe Premiere and Apple Final Cut Pro control effects by using keyframes. A keyframe is simply a frame of the movie that you set as a landmark (as you would the points you create and adjust on audio rubberbands when you edit audio). In advanced video-editing programs, you can set as many keyframes as you like, and you can change the properties of effects at each keyframe.
For example, suppose you use a rain effect on a video clip, and you want the rain to increase and decrease in intensity throughout the clip. Several seconds into the clip, you can set the rain to be very heavy. A few seconds later, create another keyframe where the rain is very light. The software automatically adjusts the Rain between those keyframes to make the change appear gradual.
Using keyframes effectively take a while to learn, and if you use a program like Adobe Premiere, I recommend you get a book that more fully describes the features of that programBut the keyframe feature does give you almost infinite control over the effects in your movies, so it’s definitely worth seeking out if you plan to move up to a more advanced editing program.

Customizing effects in Video Editing


Most effects can be customized to some extent. When you click an effect, controls relating to that effect should appear in the Effects pane, as shown in Figure. The exact controls that will be available vary depending on the effect, so some experimentation may be necessary. In Figure, I am adjusting the Virtix Flame effect, which is available as a free iMovie plug-in from Virtix ( Slider controls at the bottom of the Effects pane let me control the height and appearance of the flames. Some other controls on the Effects pane are common to all effects. These include
  • Effect In: This slider lets you control when the effect begins. If you adjust this slider to create a delay, the effect appears gradually as the clip plays. If you want the effect to apply to the whole clip, leave this slider set to 00:00.
  • Effect Out: Like the Effect In control, this slider lets you end the effect before the clip ends.
  • Preview: If the tiny little preview screen in the Effects pane isn’t big enough to see the effect, click the Preview button. A short preview of the effect appears in the main iMovie viewer window, as shown in Figure.
  • Apply: Click this to apply the effect to the currently selected clip in the timeline.
After you apply an effect to a video clip, iMovie must render the effect. A thin progress bar will appear on the clip in the timeline. Rendering is a process where iMovie applies your effect to the clip and creates a new video file on your hard disk that incorporates the change. If you decide later that you want to remove an effect from a clip, select that clip in the timeline, and then use the effect controls in the Effects pane to reduce the amount of the effect in the scene. You can’t remove the effect completely, but most effects can be