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Video Editing Software

Apple’s Final Cut / Adobe’s Premiere

This is not a tutorial. There are terrific manuals and video tutorials online.

Official Final Cut Pro 7 User Manual – it is also available at each computer in the 3rd floor lounge in Main.

Official Premiere Elements user manual is available at each computer in Huber 216.

For the best video tutorials, search YouTube for whatever task you want to perform + “Final Cut” or “Premiere Elements”. For example, if you want to learn how to do the split screen effect, try this search phrase:

final cut split screen


premiere elements split screen

or if you did some green screening, try this search phrase:

final cut green screen

premiere elements green screen

The video tutorials that you find in this way will be very uneven. Some will be worthless to you; others will be gold mines. Poke around to find what works for you.

Here on this page of our course web, you will find the list of 16 steps you need to go through to make a short video. In other words, here I’ll tell you what to do and only to a limited extent how to do it and why you’re doing it that way. I expect that you will learn the how and why by exploring and discovering (and making mistakes!) on your own, by searching the web and YouTube, by talking to other students, and by sitting with me to go over it.

I am happy to sit with you for as long as you need. I am a teacher, however, so I’m not going to do it for you. I’m going to show you how to learn to do it yourself. The idea is for you to learn by doing, to learn how to learn without teachers and courses, which is how to do most of your learning, of course.

The Macs on the third floor of Main (Final Effect) and the PC’s on the second floor of Huber (Premiere) are stand-alone computers for video editing purposes. They’re connected to the Internet, but you can’t sit down at any of them to work on your project. You have to use the same computer each time.

The two most important concepts:

– this process is non-destructive. It is always working with copies of files. Your original media files (video, images, music, voiceover, etc.) in your capture scratch folder and you project folder will remain as they were when you put them there.

– there are two types of files. The .fcp file or the .prel file is the project file. It is a small file and contains the instructions for how to treat the media files when you finally export the video. The .mov files (or .avi or .mpg or whatever you exported) are the playable video files. They are large and can be uploaded, attached to other files, transfered on USB drives, etc. They can be viewed in the appropriate software.

1 – prepare folders

This is a one-time operation. After you make these folders and begin using them, you’ll just keep using them.

capture scratch folder

If you had Final Cut on your home computer, you would capture video files off your tape through the log and capture procedure below. Most people editing video put those captured files on a separate external hard drive that is used only for those often very large captured files. This special folder is called the “capture scratch” folder. Final Cut will manage the contents of that folder on its own. Your best bet is to designate it and then forget about it.

Because these files are so large, most Final Cut users don’t back it up. They consider their miniDV tapes their back-up.

In our lab, each computer is stand-alone and you have to share it with other users. I suggest that you make a new folder in your Documents folder. Name it Media Assets or something generic like that. Then in Final Cut, pull down the Final Cut Pro menu, select System Settings, and then set your scratch disc, in this case, your scratch folder.

Most important: do not ever move or rename files in the scratch folder. Just capture raw video to that folder and then forget about it.

project folder

While the raw video captures go into the scratch folder, everything else, all your other media assets — images, short video clips ripped or downloaded, text, music, voice overs, etc. — go in one other folder, which I call FCP Projects and you can call anything you want. You can also put it anywhere you want, though your Documents folder or Desktop are the most common places.

How you name and organize your media assets within that folder is up to you. You can move and rename files, but you might have to “reconnect” them under their new name and location. So do that before you begin editing and then don’t move or rename after that.

Also, using Final Cut will generate various other files that you should also save to your project folder.

I use Final Cut often, so my FCP Projects folder has within it a sub-folder for every project. Then within that sub-folder, I organize the files in the way that makes sense for that project.

Most important: put all your media files in one folder, even if there are copies in another folder. The files will be easier to find, manage, and back up.

With Elements on the Windows PCs, you have more flexibility in where you store your media files. But I would highly recommend doing exactly what Final Cut requires. Make on folder in your My Documents for each project, put everything to do with the project into that folder. After you get your media placed into the folder structure, don’t move or rename any files.

2 – save project

By default, your project is titled “Untitled Project 1”. Before you do anything else, save it under a more appropriate name, such as a shortened form of your video’s title.

After that, save it often. It takes only a second and then you don’t have to worry about losing your work. The software has an automatic back-up system, and you can use it in an emergency to recover from a disaster. But I would recommend depending for everyday use on your own frequent saves.

3 – log and capture video from tape

You have two possible workflows. The first is to capture the whole tape as one huge file and then break it into scenes and shots later. It involves less time now and more time later, in step 6.

The second option is to capture the video as shots. If you have a lot of unusable tape — alternate takes, bloopers, etc. — then this method will be easier. It involves more time now and less time later.

The interface for logging, that is, labeling each clip, and then capturing it can be a little tricky at first because it gives you so many options. The procedure is to identify the clip you want to capture, set the in point (where the capture begins) and the out point (where it ends). I recommend leaving a “handle” on either end of a couple of seconds. That is, capture a little more than you will need. You can trim it later, in step 7.

Most important: when you are finished capturing, you should have one or more .mov files in your capture scratch folder. If you want to rename them at this point, do so. But after that, don’t touch them. Final Cut and Premiere Elements will manage them for you.

4 – fill the project folder

Using a USB drive or downloading to get your media assets into your project folder. If you want to rename them at this point, do so. But after that, don’t touch them. Final Cut and Premiere Elements will manage them for you.

5 – import media assets

After you have all your media assets in your folders — the raw video in the capture scratch folder and everything else in your project folder — then you are ready to import them into your project.

In Final Cut and Premiere Elements, one of the panes is the Browser. It has an Effects tab and one or more project tabs. Select the one for your project before you begin importing media asssets.

If you captured the raw video as one large file, import it once, and not that you will need to keep importing it for each new clip that you make from it. If you captured each shot separately, you may have quite a few files to import. If you have still image, voiceover, and music files, import them, too.

6 – bins/folders and sequences

After the media assets are imported, Final Cut will keep associating them with the media files in your capture scratch and project folders. Meanwhile, in Final Cut’s Browser, you can arrange, rearrange, copy, delete, name, re-name, etc. to your heart’s content. Bins are like folders. You can make sub-bins and name and re-name them, too.

The other type of thing in the Final Cut Browser is the Sequence. Again, you can name and rename the sequences. When you click on a sequence, it will open in the timeline below. When you make the final viewable video in step 15 below, you will export one and only one sequence.

When I am making a complicated video, I tend to make a sequence for each section. That lets me deal with a manageable amount at any one time. Then copy and paste each smaller sequence into a single sequence just before I export it.

If you can see more than one way to construct your video, you might want to have a sequence for each so that you can export them separately and compare them.

Tip – have a naming system for your clips. You may get smarter about this as you edit the video, but here’s my workflow. I name all the clips by their number on my shot list. If you weren’t working from a shot list, this is the step where you can get really confused.

Making subclips in Premiere Elements

In the Project Window

Double click our file in the Project Media view to open the Preview Window with its SetIn and SetOut points. After you set the SetIn/SetOut for a given segment, you have two options (can use both):

a. click/drag from Preview Window to the Timeline

b. click/drag from Preview Window to the right to the Project Media area where you file is listed…that creates a subclip which becomes a permanent part of your project’s media.

In the Timeline

The destructive way to do all that is to use the Split Clip Tool at the bottom right of the Edit Mode Monitor and progress along the Timeline cutting the file, retaining what you want and clearing what you do not want. With Split Clip Tool, highlight the file, place the Timeline Indicator where you want the cut, and press Split Clip Tool.

If you have audio linked with video, this will cut the audio as well as the video at that location. If you want to cut just video or just audio, then you need to unlink the audio from video (See Clip Menu/Unlink Audio from Video).

Tip – You will not be able to put a transition on either end of a newly created subclip, because the Premiere software will not automatically extend your media. Shorten the end of the subclip by at least 15 frames before applying a transition.

7 – timeline – arranging and trimming

Now, finally, you are ready to drag each clip or subclip onto the timeline and arrange them in order. This is going to take a little experimenting, but Final Cut and Premiere Elements have an Undo command that will let you retrace your decision path as far as you need to. You can also trim clips by grabbing the ends and dragging.

8 – effects and transitions

Final Cut has an amazing, bewildering array of effects and transitions that you can try. Explore the Effects tab in the Final Cut Browser to get an idea of what can be done. All I can do here is indicate the step at which to add them. You can certainly make an effective, entertaining video without any added effects or transitions. If you want to experiment, I’ll be happy to sit with you and explore a little. Your best bet is to read the User Manual for an idea of what the effect can do. Then search YouTube for a tutorial.

Premiere Elements has a less amazing, less bewildering array than Final Cut or the full version of Premiere. It also has a lot of pre-packaged effects and transitions. I would like to see you make your own rather than rely on the pre-packaged features.

The most important concept here is key frames. Tutorial – Premiere Elements 9 Essential Training — Understanding animation Tutorial – Premiere Elements 9 Essential Training — Understanding video effects

My advice is to use effects and transitions sparingly, like spices.

9 – other effects in Motion

As if the effects that come with Final Cut were not enough, Final Cut Studio comes with a separate piece of software called Motion. I don’t know whether it was used to make this Monday Night Football introduction, but it could have been.

ESPN Monday Night Football intro

The special effects here give you an idea of what it can do. Now that you’re aware of it, you’ll see that it is used in many commercials and feature films.

In Premiere Elements, you get another trade-off. The Motion feature can’t do as much, but it is much easier to use. You can’t make the Monday Night Football opening, but you can do some other things with a quick drag-and-drop.

For purposes of this course, you don’t need to use Motion. But if you have the time and interest, I’d be happy to sit with you and explore its potential to give you video some snap and gloss that it wouldn’t have otherwise.

10 – title

Final Cut and Premiere Elements have a lot of options for adding text to the screen, whether as opening titles or text over the video, for example, to identify the Disney princes and princesses. You can also add some effects that will make the titles look better.

You can access your options in the Effects tab or by clicking on the A or T icon in the lower right corner of the viewer.

11 – closing credits

If you want your closing credits to either roll or crawl and have some fancy formatting, you should use the Boris option in either the Effects tab of the Final Cut Browser or by clicking on the A icon in the lower right corner of the Final Cut Viewer.

12 – music

Now is the time to add your music clips. (An exception would be a music video, where you would add the music after step 6 before you dragged the clips onto the timeline.) Drag them onto the timeline just as you would with any other clip. Trim and re-arrange just as you would with any other clip. Do not worry about how loud or soft anything is. At this point, just get them all in order.

13 – soundtrack

Final Cut Studio has a separate piece of software called Soundtrack that will let you adjust the relative loudness of your audio — voices and music — and run all sorts of filters to play with the audio quality. This step should come at the very end of the process.

Premiere Elements has …?.

14 – color

Some of you at this point will want to adjust the color in your video. The most common adjustment is taking mixed warm (yellow) and cool (blue) white balances and making them all one or the other. Most of you will be able to skip this step.

15 – export video

Up until now, you’ve been working with your project file, the small .fcp file. This is the file that keeps track of your instructions for how to treat your media assets. Final Cut can let you preview what the finished video will look like, but it is not the finished video. If you try to upload the .fcp file, it won’t work. If you try to show someone the .fcp file, it won’t open in any software except Final Cut.

When you have finished all the editing, it is time to actually make the movie, what Final Cut calls exporting. With the edited sequence selected in the timeline, pull down the File menu and select Quick Time Conversion. In the dialogue box that appears, note the file name, which you can change at this point, and the folder into which it will be exported.

For a short video of a minute or so, exporting will take only a couple of minutes. You will then find your .mov file in the folder you exported it to.

16 – upload to YouTube

You are welcome to create your own account at YouTube. However, for purposes of the course, use our class account, username MatteoRicci and password santa13. If you use your own account, you’ll have uploaded to YouTube, but the video won’t be listed with the other students’.

YouTube’s interface will let you browse your hard drive to find the .mov file to upload. Note the file name and description, etc. You can change all that later if you want to.

Depending on your connection, the uploading could take twenty or thirty minutes for a video that lasts only a minute or so. If it is uploading successfully, you will see the thumbnails being created as it goes along. After it has successfully uploaded, it may take only a couple of minutes or even a couple of hours before it will be playable in your Web browser. Please be patient.