Module 56


Updated: 01/14/2016


Video Editing,  Part VIIModule 56




Dedicated and

Software-Based Editors



A dedicated editor is designed to do only one thing: video editing.

Video editing is just one of the tasks software-based editors can perform; it all depends on the software you load.

It was in the early 1990s that sophisticated video editing hardware and software first became available for desktop computers.

By 2000, the best laptop computers had become powerful enough to handle sophisticated editing assignments.

The Video Toaster system for the Amiga computer was the first widely used system. Video Toster

The basic screen for that system is shown here. The Toaster was both a simple video switcher and an editing system.

Thereafter, several software companies introduced computer-based editing systems for the Apple and Windows operating systems.

Today's desktop and laptop computers can rival the capabilities of dedicated editing systems. 

Simple, Free Editing Systems

Mac and Windows machines both have simple, free video editors.

Although they aren't capable of sophisticated effects, for assembling audio and video clips with basic transition effects (such as those typically found on YouTube) they are quite adequate.Windows Editor

Although some people prefer the Mac editor, the Windows Live Movie Maker shown here is simplicity in itself, and as a red dot free Windows download it's potentially available to many computer users.

You only have to drag the video clips (either stills or movie clips) from anywhere on your computer to the area on the right. You can trim segments as needed, add filter effects, and create special effect transitions between video segments. 

If you wish, the program can automatically space the timing of the video segments to correspond with selected music or audio. The result can be output in the .WMV file format.

Apple has a movie editor for a minimal cost. It's red dot available for download here.

These editors can be used to create a quick "blueprint" of a production to get an idea of how shots will flow together.

Later, if you need more elaborate visual effect filters or color correction, the original footage can be put trough a more sophisticated video editor.

The illustration below shows a basic representation of how scenes, transitions, and audio sources can be represented on the timeline. 

Note in the top half of the illustration that transition effects (in black) are used between scenes one and two, and two and three.

So we move from scene one through a transition to scene two, and then through a transition effect to scene 3.

 A mouse is used to drag the elements into different positions.

 non-linear editing

In the lower half of the illustration the audio elements (music, narration, and visual effect tracks) are shown in light blue. The height of the blue areas indicates the audio levels. Note that the music and sound effects are faded down (by dragging the red lines down with a mouse) as the narration is introduced.


The question arises, what happens if you select two video sources for display at the same time -- for example, in the above illustration Scene 1 and Scene 2 without the transition effect that moves fully from one to the other?

Answer: As you might expect, you simply end up with one scene on top of the other -- which may result in a mess, or (if you know what you are doing) a crafted effect in compositing or layering.

In it's most basic form you get a superimposition ("super") or a key effect, which we illustrate in Module 60 through the use of a video switcher.  However, with an editing system such as the one shown below it's possible to combine multiple video sources and create much more sophisticated effects.

For example, you can place at least two video clips on your editor timeline, one directly above the other, and by adjusting the individual layers -- turning down the opacity, cropping, or keying out parts of each one as needed -- you'll see the combined effect.

Using this technique you can add titles over video, substitute elements in a scene (such adding a new background) or create a variety of visual effects.

The Avid editing screen shown below more accurately depicts how timelines actually look on an editing system.  This particular system allows you to mix standard-definition and high-definition video in the same project -- an important consideration during this period of analog-to-digital transition. (Avid's Media Composer is used in the majority of network programming.)

Avid Editor

Although you can edit audio on a machine like the one above (note the two tracks of audio on the timeline at the bottom of the screen) for more demanding audio editing you will want to consider a sophisticated audio editing system, such as red dot this one.

With sophisticate editing systems there are a variety of video filters and plug-ins available (software that adds various effect options to the original editing program). editing system filters

Examples in video are various types of blur, color correction, cropping, sharpening, fog effects, geometric distortions, and even image stabilization.

The latter attempts to lock onto a central element in a scene and keep it from moving, thus canceling moderate camera shake. More on that later.

Although it's not possible to create detail that isn't in video to start with, with some plug-ins it's possible to rather convincingly convert standard definition video (SDTV) to HDTV. 

laptop editor 1

As we've noted, there are both dedicated and software based laptop editing systems.

An example of a rugged dedicated system is this Panasonic field editing unit, primarily used in news work. Note that the controls designed exclusively for video and audio editing.

However, with computer-based systems you have the advantage of a wide variety of "off the shelf" laptop computers, plus the software can be readily switched and upgraded.

In addition to editing, computer-based systems can accommodate other computer programs, such as those used to write news scripts.

Computer-based editing used to be confined to especially modified ("souped up") desktop computers.  However, in recent years high end laptop computers can do most anything desktop systems can.

These computers typically use a FireWire, IEEE 1394, USB-2, USB-C,or i.Link cable connection to download the video from the camcorder to the computer's hard drive.

Because video information takes up a lot of digital space, these computers need a high-capacity hard-drive. (One minute of uncompressed video requires about one gigabyte (GB) of disk space.)

>> Even though most computer-based editing systems today are nonlinear, at this point we need to point out the difference between linear and nonlinear systems.

Linear and Nonlinear Editing Systems

" Working on a nonlinear editing system is like working with a sophisticated word processor. Using a computer screen and a mouse you can randomly cut and past segments and move them around until you are satisfied with the result.

Working on a linear editing system is a bit like using a typewriter to type a term paper; you need to assemble everything in the proper sequence as you go along. After it's all on paper (or in this case recorded), adding, deleting or rearranging things can be a major problem. "

With nonlinear editing the video and audio segments are not permanently recorded as you go along as they are in linear editing. The edit decisions exist in computer memory as a series of internal digital markers that tell the computer where to look for segments on the hard disk.

This means that at any point you can instantly check your work and make adjustments. It also means that you can easily (and seemingly endlessly!) experiment with audio and video possibilities.

Sony's complete high-definition NLE (nonlinear editing, or random access editing) system is shown below. This editing system compliments Sony's line of XDCAM cameras.

Although a sophisticated nonlinear (random access) editing system such as the one above may take a while to learn, once you figure one out, you can  transfer the basic skills to other editing programs.

After you finalize your edit decisions most editing systems allow you to save your EDL (edit decision list) — preferably on some removable media that you can take with you in case you need to reload it again to make changes.

The final edited video and audio output can be handled in two ways.

It can be "printed" (transferred) in final, linear form to videotape or DVD or it can remain on a computer drive to be recalled and modified as needed. The latter approach, which is often used for segments in newscasts, requires high-capacity storage devices such as... 


File Servers

Video and audio segments—especially HDTV—take up a great amount of hard disk storage space.

Instead of trying to replicate the needed storage in each desktop computer, manymedia server  facilities use a centralized mass storage device called a file server, sometimes called a media server or video server (shown here.) These were introduced in an earlier module.

A centralized video server not only gives all of the computer editing stations the advantage of having access to large amounts of storage, but it means that segments can be reviewed, edited, or played back from any of the editing workstations (desktop or laptop computers equipped with a network connection) within the facility.

As high-speed, Internet connections become commonplace, you will be able to link to a media server from any location — even your home — and edit and re-edit pieces. Many professionals are doing that now.

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