Monday, August 6, 2012

The Joys of Video Editing

A side tangent from woodworking, but I know some of you do video work as well...

The last episode is among the first done end-to-end with new video editing software (Final Cut Pro X).  I used it a bit for the previous episode, but with considerably less editing than this one.  Learned a lot; the next video will be better with the lessons learned being applied up front.

Some things that caught me by surprise was that my "tool-cam" doesn't generate 30 fps like the specifications state... it generates a varying number of frames that average 30 fps on good days... which is odd given it has hardware encoding (ideas?)  It makes synchronizing the clips near impossible until I did a lot of pre-processing... the re-editing of the parts I did when scratching my head at all the synchronization issues!

Then the A/C comes in and now have to remember to change the louver setting before recording at it has a subtle effect on the focus.  Not something you can see when watching, but something I can see when scrubbing through the video, but it's there.

On the software side, my custom Motion-5 template for the trivial picture-in-picture effect was having all kinds of problems.  The first was that if I save the template without "build-out" markers then add them in after FCPX had opened the template, it won't see the markers; at least this is the symptom I had.  Second was a complete user error... I wasn't sure why the PIP window would get placed seemingly randomly.  My mistake was forgetting that crop/transform adjustments on the compound clip where I was applying the filter actually take effect after the template despite the order I did the edits.  I think my frustration with the other issues kept me from seeing this one.

Now that I have more confidence in using Motion 5 templates, I'll start adding in some nicer titles and effects to make things more interesting to watch or add better clarity to a (rambling) explanation.  Until this simple PIP effect could be solid, I had no intentions of getting fancy!

Then, just as I thought I was out of the water, I had the video rendered ready to go... I install the latest OSX Mountain Lion.  All I have left to do is upload the video; what could break?  Well, the upload did.  This video has been failing uploads all week.  Eventually figured out that Mountain Lion's new power management is significantly more aggressive than the previous OS (I don't recall my machine being asleep once on the previous OS).  As soon as the screen saver goes on, everything halts including that background render or background upload you started.  So, if you have this issue, change your machine's sleep setting to 'never' before starting either task.  This is a simplified description of the problem and resolution; likely both applications will get an update to resolve it.  It's a nuisance for me, but a nightmare for a friend who renders to many formats for a living.

On the positive side, memory management in Mountain Lion is much better; Lion leaked like a sieve if you used any large software (FCPX, iMovie, XCode).  Also once you learn FCPX and Motion-5, you can do nearly anything; FCPX gets used to edit motion pictures so it's that capable.  It's overkill for a family vacation video... for that, the $14 iMovie is a smokin' deal.

As for the toolcam, it works but I don't like how finicky it is for white balance and lighting; though I have all automatic modes turned off, it still has some light gain issues.  May look for a new real camera since this dual-camera mode seems to work well; it seems worth all the extra editing work so I'd like the video to be equally worth it!

Now comes the question: do I get a cheaper digital camcorder as the toolcam or do I upgrade the one I have thus turning it into the toolcam?  Whomever thought woodworking was a great way to liquidate excess cash hadn't yet started down the video path...

Okay, just felt like saying all that :)


  • Jeff Branch said...

    Interesting. I have been wondering how much work goes into a video, and now I know - a lot of work. How do you find the time? :)

  • Anonymous said...

    There is an app on the appstore called Caffeine. Puts a cup of coffee on the menu bar. Just click it and it prevents the computer from sleeping. Click again and the computer can sleep. Might be handy so you do not have to fiddle with the settings when you upload.

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Thanks, Jeff... Likely I make it more work than I need to :)

    I'll look for Caffeine (awesome name!) that could be a good solution. I like letting the machine sleep when I'm not around as it doesn't tick away at my drive's MTBF that way. Simple button like that will work well.

    I also wanted to try a simple hotzone. I made the lower right corner of the main monitor a hotzone to disable the screen saver. I'm assuming it will also block sleep, but I haven't yet tried it out when uploading a video. Guess I should finish recording one :)

  • Andrzej Boczek - said...

    I was surprised, that you are using webcam to record your clips. Is it the only kind of equipment, you're using?
    Looks like a professional camcorder with a pro lens.
    Do you use any additional lighting for shooting or just a standard workshop lapms?
    Do you record with just one camera, or with multiple cameras connected to a computer at a time?

    -- Andrzej

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Hi, Andrzej,

    The main camera is a Canon Vixia HF-S100 camcorder so it's a nice camera. The "tool cam" used for overhead shots is unfortunately just a webcam :) I wanted to try that out for awhile to see if I liked how it worked with the video before investing in another camera to get better video for the toolcam. I like how it works with the videos so will likely start researching some cameras.

    I have 2 softboxes for recording although I sometimes get some over-exposure on some of the shots; since I shoot alone, it's difficult to look at the zebra stripes in the viewer when I'm standing in the shot :)

    I have recently been chatting with someone about ways to improve the lighting and am doing a number of experiment videos for me to import and see how the settings worked for different common angles I used. Hopefully the improvements will start showing in the project videos. So that said, though, two videos ago when I was at my bench, I forgot to turn on the softboxes so the shot was digitally lightened, which looked odd, but better than the original darkness!

    I record with the webcam to the computer and the Canon to the SD card. Once processed, the webcam video can be synchronized with the Canon. A real camera for the toolcam would save some steps and provide better color, sharpness, and likely a dozen other things :)

  • Andrzej Boczek - said...

    Hi Paul-Marcel
    Thanks for comprehensive answer. I'm an inch closer to understanding how to improve my first clips :) Thanks a lot.
    After reading your posts about video editing, I was very close buying a Mac (I'm a Linux guy) ;)
    I'll be watching your clips, trying to catch up with your ideas (both video and woodworking).
    Thanks again for the inspiration :)

    Best regards
    -- Andrzej

  • Spiral said...

    The gopro can be great for you, if there is enough light...

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Ooh, why did you send me to the GoPro camera site?! Very nice camera. I have a new camera since this post so the one I was using back then will replace the webcam for the tool-cam views. At least the video quality is pretty good with my old camera vs a webcam.

    I know some guys who could use a real sports cam. I'll see if I can talk one into it and borrow it :)