Let me first say that I am a BIG fan of keeping things simple. I've been making a living in the PC computing world for over 25 years and I've found that it is much easier to get something done with a tool that is designed to do just what you want then with a tool that does everything anyone would want. So that is why I have stuck with Pinnacle Studio for our video editing. They are up to version 14. I'd just stick with the Standard version for $50, the ultimate and Ultimate collection are not worth the extra money for what we do with them. Although they are worth it if you plan to create your own video DVD's because the extra stuff is nice to have for getting creative with editing menus, titles, etc.
We do all our filming with an older model Sony Digital video recorder the records on miniDV tapes. It has a Firewire (IEEE -1394) connection for fast download speeds. I just connect the cable from the camcorder to the PC and using Pinnacle's Import tab I download the raw video.
Pinnacle has a few concepts you have to get used to and it will be hard to explain these without you playing with the software but once you get the hang of how they want you to do things it is pretty easy to move around.
So what I do is drag my video clip onto the Edit tab. Then using the clip editor I set the starting and stoping postion of the clip. Add a fade transition at the beginnng and ending of the clip. You can then add a couple of simple plugins. The first one I use is the Black and White to convert the entire video to black and white. Then I use the lighting plugin to adjust the video so the whites stand out and everything else fades to black. If I have unwanted areas that still show up I use a masking overlay title and create black blocks to mask of areas I don't want to show. Just be aware you can only create straight lined masks so you have to sometimes position a couple to get the area covered. You also want to make sure that the overlay title is as long as your video clip so it stays during the entire video.
There are two techniques when working with the audio. The first is to use the live audio recorded while filming the actor. This is the simplest approach and there are a couple of plugins that will let you change the audio and clean it up if needed. The other approach is to have a separate audio track (MP3, WAV etc) and add it to the video. Your actor will have had to speak along with this audio track so your video will match the audio. Then with a little fussing around you can line the audio track up with the audio of the video and that way you don't get any background noise and the audio track will sound nice. You can add music background to the audio regardless of how you get the audio and set its volume low so it is barely heard while they speak.
The export tab will let you create a DVD of the video or export to a file. We used to create DVD's and then just play them in a cheap player with the repeat on. Now we export them to MP2 video files and use a digital video player to play them on a 2Gb SD memory card.
I hope this helps shed some light on how we do our video effects and of course you can always email me with questions firstname.lastname@example.org
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