We all love our DV (digital video) camcorders, and we're grateful for the happy memories they allow us to document. But is your current video camera looking a little long in the tooth now that retail store shelves are full of high-definition models? Starting to feel a little envious of your best friend's new top-of-the-line gear? Don't worry--there's plenty of life left in your old equipment. And it's probably easier to use too, especially if you're just starting down the path of editing your footage.
Standard Definition (SD) video is the type of video shot by nearly all consumer grade video cameras, especially those made prior to 2008. Although they capture video in a lower resolution than newer high-definition (HD) cameras, SD video cameras are an affordable choice for home videographers. As an added benefit, the popularity and longevity of the SD format ensures easy access to a large number of editing software programs and affordable hardware. So embrace your SD camcorder, and let's start editing that footage!
1. Choose your computer
Specialized video editing computer systems once cost tens of thousands of dollars, but plummeting hardware costs since the mid-‘90s means that any reasonably modern home computer will be capable of editing your SD footage. Although PCs and Macs each have devout fans, there are powerful editing solutions available for each. For video editing on a PC system, Microsoft recommends installing the fastest processor you can afford to reduce video render times and make more efficient use of your time. Don’t break the bank, however—people have been known to edit simple video projects on a machine running at a speed as low as 300mhz. For Mac fans, a simple G4 system (such as an iMac DV) can be used for most projects, although advanced users may wish to seek out a dual G5 Power Mac or better.
2. Choose your editing software
In many cases, the choice of editing software will be made for you, based on the type of machine you purchase. Any Apple machine running OS X or later comes preinstalled with iMovie, a basic but effective video editing program, while Microsoft includes a similar piece of software called Movie Maker with Windows. Although there are more powerful third-party editing programs that are available for both Windows and Mac (including Avid and Adobe Premiere, etc.), you’ll probably want to stick with your preinstalled programs for your first few projects.
3. Perform the edit
Although the exact editing procedure will vary based on your software, the basic process will involve reviewing your captured footage and choosing the best pieces. Footage that is uninteresting, out of focus, or otherwise undesirable can be removed from the final video in much the same way you would remove an unwanted paragraph from a text file with your word processor. Spend some time playing with, and learning, your software’s interface before beginning to edit the project in earnest. Remember, no matter what you do, you can’t hurt your footage: you still have everything on the videotape itself. At worst, you’ll have to recapture it and start over. Check for video tutorials on YouTube for your particular software program.
4. Output the video
Any computer editing program will have an option to output the finished video once the edit is complete. Doing so will allow you to transfer the final edited movie back to tape, or to DVD, or in many programs, to YouTube or other similar web outlets. Let your family and friends know about your latest masterpiece, and wait for the rave reviews to come rolling in!