Digital Video Overview

This curriculum provides an overview for the digital video creation process as well as information about digital video as a medium.

Pre-production

  • Create outline
  • Write script
  • Make storyboard (click for templates)
  • Determine budget
  • Cast project
  • Gather and create costumes
  • Gather and create props
  • Scout and OK locations
  • Get equipment (UW students can use Classroom Support Services).

Production

  • Capturing Video
    • Tape camera (miniDV - "DV" stands for digital video)
      • Pros: compatible with all mainstream video editing applications
      • Cons: loud; real-time importing (e.g. a 2 hour recording takes 2 hours to import)
    • Hard drive camera
      • Pros: quieter than tape; can store many hours of footage
      • Cons: heavy; not easily interchangeable
    • Flash storage camera
      • Pros: quieter than hard drive and tape; lightweight; flash cards are easily interchangeable
      • Con: expensive
  • Capturing Audio
    • Handheld recorder
      • Versatile
      • Takes time and organization to sync audio with video during post-production if your handheld audio recorder does not connect to your camera
    • Lapel mic
      • Good for voice
      • Wireless makes it mobile
    • Shotgun mic
      • Highly directional
      • Good for interview voice
  • Setting up shots
    • Consider different shot types (click to view examples)
    • Use the rule of thirds to help set up aesthetically pleasing shots
    • Minimize camera and subject motion with tripod or stabilizer
  • Lighting
  • Preparing computer graphics, photographic images, and audio
    • Adobe Illustrator for creating computer graphics
      • JPG: Compressed, lower quality images (bad for text)
      • PNG/TIFF: Uncompressed, high quality images (good for text)
    • Adobe Photoshop for editing images
    • Record additional audio
    • Gather stock video footage and sound (see Freesound for stock sounds)

Post-production

  • For hard drive or flash storage, connect camera via USB to your computer
  • For miniDV, put tape into a DV deck or into camera connected via FireWire to computer
  • Back up the project continuously to an external hard drive
  • Exporting to file
    • Lossless vs Compressed
      • Compressed videos are smaller and lower quality than lossless videos
      • We recommend the H.264 codec for compressed videos
    • Burn to DVD with iDVD (basic, Mac only), DVD Studio Pro (advanced, Mac only), or Adobe Encore (advanced, Mac or Windows)
    • Upload to streaming media sites such as YouTube or Vimeo

Post-production Applications

There are several different commonly used video editing applications. If you have little to no video editing experience, we recommend that you begin with a basic video editing application. Once you are comfortable enough to move beyond the basics then you may want to consider a professional application designed for advanced users. The following list includes some of the most popular video editing applications from both of these categories for Mac and Windows.

Video Editing

Advanced Effects and Compositing

Advanced Audio Editing

  • For additional information on audio editing see Digital Audio
  • For recording and mixing please make a reservation for the Sound Studio  

Digital Video As A Medium

Digital video, in contrast with analog video, is an incredibly flexible and forgiving medium. Its files can be moved from one location to the next without losing quality, and they can be modified with effects and transitions and then later restored. It is possible to transfer a video project from your Windows computer at work to an external hard drive, then to your Mac at a home, upload it on a server, and then download it on a new computer without any loss of quality.
 
Digital video is comprised of a series of images, called frames, quickly changing from one to the next. This rapidly progressing sequence of images produces the illusion of motion that we perceive and call video. The following outline provides information concerning how individual frames are structured as well as how frames change from one to the next. Keep in mind that these characteristics are first determined by the type of camera with which you record. You should try to preserve these settings throughout the video editing process since changing these settings can result in a loss of quality. Fortunately, the majority of current video editing applications manage most, if not all, of these settings for the user.

Resolution

  • The resolution is the frame size in terms of its width by height in pixels, the smallest unit of color
    • Resolutions are most commonly named by the height of the frame
      • NTSC (480p) is the most common standard definition format, with width by height resolution of 720x480
      • 1080p, 1080i, and 720p are the most common high definition (HD) formats
        • 720p has a width by height resolution of 1280x720
        • 1080p/1080i have a width by height resolution of 1920x1080

Aspect Ratio

  • The aspect ratio represents the ratio of the width by height of a video frame
    • High definition aspect ratios are typically 16:9
      • For example, both 1280/720 and 1920/1080 reduce to 16/9 (≈1.78)
    • 16:9 video is "widescreen" because the frame's width is much larger than its height
    • Standard definition formats are typically 4:3 (closer to a square than 16:9)

Frame Rate

  • The frame rate determines how fast frames change from one to the next
    • The frame rate represents the number of frames per second (fps)
    • The most common frame rates are 30, 24, and 25fps
      • Broadcast video and consumer camcorders typically record in 30fps
      • Motion picture cameras typically record in 24fps onto 35mm film (an analog medium)
      • Films from non-western countries are often 25fps

Progressive and Interlaced Scanning

  • Whether video is progressive or interlaced determines how the frames render (appear)
    • In progressive video (e.g. 1080p or 720p), each frame instantly renders in its entirety
    • In interlaced video (e.g. 1080i), there is a rendering delay for the even and odd horizontal lines of pixels. This decreases the amount of data but also reduces the sharpness of the image. In interlaced video, small horizontal lines are often visible when there is motion.

Importing Video

The following steps work for the equipment available in Mary Gates Hall 066 and the second floor of Odegaard Undergraduate Library.

I. IMPORTING miniDV TAPE

  1. StepsActions
  2. Place your tape in a miniDV deck (you may want to lock your source tape by sliding the small tab on the back of DV tape to keep it from being overwritten).
  3. Push the DV button, then the arrow pointing to the right.
  4. Set the channel of the deck to F-1.
  5. Cue your source tape to the point where you want to start recording and pause the video. The deck may be controlled from the computer by clicking the buttons on the Playback control. If this doesn't work use the controls on the deck.
To import miniDV tape with your own camcorder, set the camera to VCR/VTR/playback mode, and connect it to the computer with a Firewire cable. Cue your source tape to the point where you want to start recording and pause the video.
 

Then in iMovie '08, '09 or '11...

 

In iMovie HD 6...

  1. StepsActions
  2. Once you have completed the steps at the top of the page, open iMovie and switch to Camera mode. As soon as the connection is made the words "Camera Connected" will appear on the monitor. The position on the tape will be shown in the following format: hours:minutes:frames. 
  3. Click Import and iMovie will begin capturing the clips.
  4. When you are finished capturing, press the Import button again to stop capturing.

In Final Cut Pro X...

  1. StepsActions
  2. Once you have completed the steps at the top of the page, open Final Cut Pro X and go File > Import From Camera...
  3. Click the blue Import... button.
  4. Final Cut Pro will give you the option to add your media to an existing event or to a new event. You can choose either option depending on how you want to organize your video files. Events function similarly to folders.
  5. Click Import.
  6. Click Stop Import to finish capturing.

In Final Cut Pro 7...

  1. StepsActions
  2. Once you have completed the steps at the top of the page, open Final Cut Pro 7 and go File > Log and Capture... You may need to turn ON Device Control in order to get FCP to work with the DV tape correctly. This is set in the Preferences tab on the right side of the Log and Capture dialog.
  3. Once you have found the material you would like to capture, click the Now button in the Capture area. The clips will be automatically imported into the default capture bin.
  4. When you are finished capturing, press . to stop capturing. This command is shown on screen.
  5. You should now save the captured footage somewhere safe where you can find it.

In Adobe Premiere Pro...

  1. StepsActions
  2. Once you have completed the steps at the top of the page, go File > Capture.... You may need to turn ON Device Control in the Settings tab in order to get Premiere to work with the DV tape correctly. (Select Scene Detect in the bottom right corner if you would like Premiere to automatically detect and separate individual clips).
  3. Once you have found the material you would like to capture, press play then click the red Record button.
 

II. IMPORTING HARD DRIVE OR FLASH STORAGE MEDIA

  1. StepsActions
  2. Connect the camera to the computer with a USB cable.
  3. Set the camera to playback mode.
  4. Make sure Connect to PC mode is activated (often automatic, but sometimes must be done manually depending on the camera).

Then in iMovie '08, '09 or '11...

 

In iMovie HD 6...

iMovie HD 6 only supports miniDV tape cameras. Consider using another application to import the video and then transfer it to iMovie HD 6 if you would like to use this software.
 

In Final Cut Pro X...

  1. StepsActions
  2. Once you have completed the steps at the top of this section, open Final Cut Pro X and go File > Import From Camera...
  3. Click the blue Import All... button or select certain clips and click Import Selected...
  4. Final Cut Pro will give you the option to add your media to an existing event or to a new event. You can choose either option depending on how you want to organize your video files. Events function similarly to folders.
  5. Click Import.

In Final Cut Pro 7...

  1. StepsActions
  2. Once you have completed the steps at the top of this section, open Final Cut Pro 7 and go File > Log and Capture...
  3. Select the clips you would like to import and click Add Selection to Queue.

In Adobe Premiere Pro...

  1. StepsActions
  2. Your files will appear in the file browser.
  3. Choose the ones you want to import.

III. IMPORTING VHS

  1. StepsActions
  2. Turn on the VHS deck. Make sure that its Firewire cable is connected to the computer.
  3. Put your tape in the VHS deck (you may want to lock your source tape by punching out a small tab at the back of VHS to keep it from being overwritten).
  4. Push the S-VHS button.
  5. Select the right arrow on the Dub Direction controller (pointing to the left). This tells the DV deck to send the DV signal through to the VHS tape.
  6. Set the channel of the deck to F-1.
  7. Cue your source tape with the controls on the deck to where you want to start capturing and pause the video. 
  8. Follow the importing miniDV tape steps for the application you are using (press Play on the deck when you are ready to import).

IV. DUBBING VHS TO miniDV

  1. StepsActions
  2. Put both tapes in the VHS deck (you may want to lock your source tape by punching out a small tap at the back of VHS to keep it from being overwritten).
  3. Push the S-VHS button.
  4. Select the RIGHT arrow on the Dub Direction controller (pointing to the left).
  5. Cue your source tape to the point where you want to start recording and pause the video.
  6. Push the DV button. The TV screen should display "VHS->DV."
  7. Press Record.
  8. Press the S-VHS button followed by the Play button.
  9. When you are finished capturing, press the DV button followed by the Stop button.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I combine both high definition and standard definition videos into a single project?

This is possible but not recommended. Each video project has fixed settings that cannot easily accommodate video files that are formatted differently. A standard definition video file will have to be stretched to fill the entire frame of a high definition project. A high definition video file will have to be shrunk to fit a standard definition project. Both cases of rescaling cause quality loss and switching between different formats during a video project produces noticeable inconsistencies. The best way to avoid this is to record with one resolution (e.g. 720p) for the entire project. If you would like to use multiple camera then we recommend that you record in the same format across all cameras – consult the camera's manual to learn how to adjust the settings.

What video editing application should I use?

You should choose your video editing software based on a number of criteria.

  • Your level of expertise.
  • The type of operating system on which the application runs (especially important if you will be using your own computer).
  • Your preference after evaluating several video editing applications.
With these criteria in mind, please refer to our post-production applications list to decide which software is right for you. We encourage you to take our workshops to help make your decision.

Resources and Important Free Applications

  • Apple iMovie Training - video tutorials on the basics of iMovie '11
  • Adobe TV - video tutorials on the basics of Premiere Pro CS6
  • Creative COW - tutorials for professional video editing software
  • VLC - video player for both Mac and Windows that is compatible with many formats
  • MPEG Streamclip - video converter and DVD ripper for both Mac and Windows that can handle most formats
  • HandBrake - DVD ripper for Mac and Windows

Last modified: November 10, 2014