Part II: Video Montages Tech Talk Tutorial

This article is part 2 of our continuing series on the technical side of creating video montages for weddings, sweet 16s, quinceañeras, or bar / bat mitzvahs. If you haven't read Part 1, please search Google first before reading Part 2.

The last time we stopped, you had managed to navigate past the PAL / NTSC choice, decided if you wanted your edit to be 4: 3 / Full Frame or 16: 9 / Widescreen, and chose to create or not your video editing in hi-definition video, commonly referred to as high definition, or in standard definition video, also referred to as standard definition.

You should also have figured out how to import your photos and video clips into your project and you are now ready to go.

An entertaining montage for an event such as a wedding, bar or bat mitzvah, sweet 16 or quinceañeras is most effective when telling a story. Rather than just switching between photographs while music is playing in the background, you want the edit to enlighten the audience on who the topic of the edit is - what makes him, her (or them) , the person (s) are, as shown in photos, video clips, music, voiceover, and graphics. I won't spend too much time explaining how to best achieve this, as this series mainly focuses on the technical aspects of creating a montage and it falls a bit more into the creative area, but there is some overlap. here, then I'll cover some of the technical tools used to create an effective edit.

The basic elements that make up a montage are as follows:

  1. Image / images
  2. Sound
  3. Titles or graphics;
  4. Transitions;
  5. Special effects

"Image" or the images seen in a montage are mainly (a) the retention for a certain time in a photograph; or (b) allow a video clip to play for a certain length of time.

With photographs, editing will be infinitely more enjoyable if you can use "camera movement" while the photo is on screen. Different software will allow you to create these movements in different ways, with the end result allowing “camera movement” to zoom in on the photo, zoom out or move around in any way on the image. The speed at which the movement will occur depends on the duration of the photo on the screen and the size of the movement you are programming.

For example, let's say you have a nice, wide photo of a person standing on a beach and the person's full figure is only about half the height of the photo. If the photo stays on the screen for two seconds and you program the computer to show the entire photo first and you want it to end up close-up on the person's face - well, that's a great movement that occurs in two seconds and the movement to get there will be relatively quick. It will appear slower if you lengthen the length of time the photo stays on the screen, or if you choose an end point that is not as drastically different as the starting point - like switching from the full photo to ending up framing the person from his head to his knees rather than just his face. It would then require slower camera movement to get there.

As in a movie, camera movements also serve to signal aspects of the photo to the viewer. They help "tell a story". If you start close up in the photo and “pull back” to reveal another object or person, the viewer gets a certain feeling, that is, “Look, there is little Mikey who is there. has fun on the beach. Oh, he's here with cousin Bobby! "Or, if you start large on a photo of a group of people, the viewer will first take in the whole group at once ... but if you then zoom in on a particular person, the camera movement will focus the viewer's attention to perhaps signal something about that person, ie "look at Lisa's expression! She rolls her eyes at the person standing next to her. “In this way, you can make a static photograph much more exciting and informative by relaying information bit by bit.

Keep in mind that camera movements are also effective when they are not the same over and over again, but rather varied, i.e. sometimes they start broadly and come closer; other times starting near and backing wide.

Video clips should be chosen to help add to the story of the person featured in the montage. Be careful not to use a clip that is too long - keep wondering what is the shortest length where the purpose of the clip was conveyed, then move on to the next material.

The sound can either be the audio from the video clip, or a selection of music, a voiceover or sound effect, or a combination of all. Obviously, there will be no natural sound with the photographs, so all of the above can be used to make the photo more interesting. Also, just because a video clip contains sound doesn't mean that you can't have more sound like music or sound effects that you add to it. Also, there may be times when you don't want to hear the natural sound of the video clip, but instead want to use only the clip for its visuals, with a different soundtrack behind it. Image and audio should always be seen as two separate elements - and you have unlimited freedom to change, either, no matter if there was something there in the first place. Again, these choices combine to help you tell a story through the montage.

Titles or graphics are elements created in your publishing system (or elsewhere) that convey visual information. Titles can appear on black (or other colors or backgrounds), or they can be added on top of a photo or video clip. Titles and graphics can be an effective way to convey information in your “story” and also to vary the visual impact of your edit, so that the viewer can momentarily skip photos and video clips. This can be used to separate sections of the montage for a specific purpose or to create a particular photograph or video.

Transitions are the methods by which you move from visual to visual. The simplest is known as trimming, which simply replaces one visual with the next on a particular frame of the video or at a specific time. For edits, cuts can be effective when they occur in time with - or with - a beat in the music. The cuts can also be jarring, intentionally or not.

A smoother or smoother way to switch between images is to use a dissolve or erase effect. A fade is a gradual replacement of one frame for another over a period of time - which can be adjusted in length. Essentially, one image fades away as the other fades away, creating a more lyrical shift from one to the other. A “wiping” can present itself in different ways. The image may slide off the screen while the other image slides over it; it can twirl, bend, break; shrink; etc. There are circular scans, page scans, pixel scans, etc. As computers have become more sophisticated and software more developed, the amount of "pre-defined" scans has only increased.

A word of warning. Beware of wipes!

They may look cool when you first watch them, but if you use them too often, they can be distracting and ultimately look cheesy or cheap rather than cool - the opposite effect you might have been thinking. In my opinion, cuts and fades are the more "classy" tools, with the occasional use of a creative wipe an effective way to add some variation to the edit. But use them sparingly! Just because you've figured it out doesn't mean you have to use it!

Special effects can also be effective if used occasionally. One trend that has found its way into event edits, but is starting to enter the “cheesy” zone, is the use of green screen composition with video clips. This is where a character from a clip (usually newly created for this purpose) is inserted or composed into another background or moving image, such as a well-known movie. The biggest problem I have with this is not so much the idea itself, but rather the poor quality of the composition work. Green screen / dialing is difficult to do well. In fact, I made a mainstream movie where we shot two-thirds of the movie in front of a green screen. It was a movie called Gamebox 1.0 (watch it on video or TV!), And the story involved a video game tester that literally ends up inside a video game, and the only way to come out is to win the game. (The upcoming Tron movie has a similar premise). So I am very familiar with green screen work. In order to do the green screen well, the right tools must be used and it must be rotated a certain way for the integration to be believable. If you can't do it right then don't do it at all in my opinion! There I said my peace.

Obviously with special effects in general, if that "adds" to the story of the edit, then great, do it. If not, then don't. Sometimes simplicity is the best way to tell a story.

Now is the time for you to get busy putting the assembly together using all of the items described above. Good editing!

This concludes the second part of our series ...

Stay tuned for Part 3 of the Tech Talk Video Editing Tutorial, which will cover the technical aspects of making an edit and preparing for its big screen debut.


Future reading