By Brooke Saunders
Many people are put off by the thought of trying to edit videos, much less taking on the more complicated features in the programs. But if you keep it simple and just take it step by step, you can have a lot of fun and turn out something reasonably good.
Internet marketing, affiliate sales, and many other ventures can benefit from video content. It works two ways: one is the fact that Google loves video content, and it owns YouTube, so websites with good visual content of this sort typically rank higher. The other is that people often like to see and hear people convey a message through video, they are accustomed to the format.
Once you have a camera, and start taking footage, you'll be happy to know that Windows Movie Maker is included in all Microsoft operating systems bundles. iMovie is great also, but I don't know much about that program, but it is what you need if you have a Mac.
One way to solve a lot of video problems in advance is to download the freeware DVD Video Soft. This is a fantastic set of about 40 programs that is completely free, no spyware and no obligations, much less the obnoxious efforts to sign up for other stuff before you get to use the program. And there is no period you can use it before you have to buy it, no "watermarks" that are embedded in the images. Just remember when installing it to decline the toolbar it wants you to allow, and then install it.
The reason you need this set of programs is file conversion, a critical capability if you plan to edit different types of footage from different makes of camera. The 30 gig HDD Sony camera I use creates files that Windows Movie Maker can use immediately, but the my Cisco Flip camera footage needs to be converted. In addition, WMM does not work with the DVD format, that also must be converted. AVI is the gold standard format WMM and many other editing programs prefer to work with.
You hook your camera up to the computer, usually through a USB port, though some older Panasonics go through a 1394 firewire connection, which not all computers have, especially newer ones. If your camera does have the firewire requirement, only buy a computer with that type of jack, or be prepared to buy a box that converts firewire into USB, and more complexities.
Once the footage is in the computer, go to "import video" in the upper left panel. If it won't import, it tells you right away. Then you need to convert with DVD Video Soft, though you might not need to do that if you know how to add file formats with one of the options in WMM. But I found it a little cumbersome, and actually capable of crashing the program. I'm not sure what happened, could have been my computer or some other variable.
Once I found DVD Video Soft, I could just convert footage quickly, and not bother with the control panel in WMM. For example, if you have one of the flip cameras that saves footage in MP4, you just open up the FREE 3GP Video Converter. This is a mobile phone image format that is apparently designed for the many types of files that show up in that world, yet it works great in WMM.
Browse for your files you want to convert, and then highlight them all. Tip: If you click on the first file, and then look for the last file in the batch and click that one while holding the "shift" key, it will highlight all of the files between. Then import them to the program.
Go to the bottom and leave the setting on "High Quality," and look over to the left, where a tiny black triangle is in a window under the word "Formats." When you click on that, you get a menu with a number of options, you want AVI as the format to convert to, WMM can use that one best.
Once you have everything set, click on "Convert," and wait a few minutes, it's pretty quick, depending on the number of files you have. When it is done, click on the folder to the right, and you'll be in the 3GP output folder. I always copy those files I've just converted and put them in their own folder on the desktop, or other place you can easily find them. For some reason, WMM does not like to import directly from that folder, it's far easier from the desktop.
If you want to convert a DVD into AVI, use FREE DVD converter option in the control panel. Make sure the output format is AVI, and also, do not use "Perfect" quality; instead use the next option below it, "High" quality. I tried Perfect once, and it ran for hours and hours and still was not finished. In most cases, High quality is just fine, and it converts in a relatively short time.
I've actually error corrected files by running them through the 3GP format option, it can work magic on some files that won't play or import into WMM.
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