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Tecnología

Este artículo no está disponible en Español
May 2008

George Cole

Video editing is an essential part of the video making process. It’s editing that makes it possible to set the mood, pace and atmosphere of your video shoot. It also enables you to add titles and effects, shorten or lengthen sequences, and much more.

For a long time, video editing was a somewhat laborious process, not least because video footage had to be edited sequentially. This meant that if you wanted to go from a scene that was five minutes into your recording to another, at say, the 17-minute point, you had to spool through metres of the tape to get to the right spot. Even when using sophisticated video editing decks that could assemble a series of edit points throughout a tape, it was still a long-winded process.

Now, thanks to desktop video editing, this has changed. That isn’t to say that the video editing process has become less challenging, but simply that editing tools have become faster, easier, more flexible and more versatile thanks to desktop video editing technology.

In a desktop video editing system, a computer and editing software are the main tools used in a video project. The first task is to transfer the video from the camcorder to the computer. With analogue video, this meant installing a video capture card in the PC so that the video could be digitised. But as HDV is a digital format, this process can be avoided. Instead, the video can be transferred directly from camcorder to computer using an IEEE 1394 terminal (also known by a variety of names including, Firewire). Most video equipment supports the IEEE 1394a standard, which offers a top data speed of 400 Mbit/sec, although a more recent standard - IEEE 1394b - offers almost twice the maximum data rate. All HDV camcorders have an IEEE 1394 terminal and many PCs now include the connection as standard. To connect camcorder to computer, you use an IEEE 1394 cable (these come in four- and six-pin configurations). This enables the raw video footage to be transferred to the computer. The IEEE 1394 connection can transfer audio, video and time code data, and its fast, sustained data transfer rate makes it ideal for transferring video footage.

Size and speed

There are many benefits in using a PC for editing, but there are also many challenges. One of these is the fact that even compressed video files are large. One minute of raw HDV footage requires around 200Mb of storage space, or put another way, one-hour of footage needs around 12-13GB of storage capacity. For this reason, most desktop video editing systems use external storage systems, such as a very large hard drive or a RAID array. The latter enables data to be spread over several or more hard disks, but as far as the PC and operating system are concerned, only one disk is connected to the PC. External storage systems like this can offer terabytes of storage capacity and fast data transfer speeds. Although computer hard drive read/write speeds have increased over the years, they can still struggle to process video at the full frame rate.

Desktop video editing systems used to require computers the size of a fridge, but today, modern laptops above a minimum specification can be used for many projects. However, it’s important that the computer’s processor is fast enough, that there is sufficient RAM and there is also sufficient bus bandwidth to handle the vast amount of data that video generates. One of the best things about transferring video to a hard disk is that it gives you a non-linear video editing system. In other words, video files can be selected and moved around as easily as text in a word processed document.

Processing

The HDV format uses MPEG-2 compression, which works by coding the differences between frames. This means that raw HDV footage can’t be edited without some form of processing. The good news is that the major editing software packages can carry out this processing automatically, although the penalty paid is a much larger video file.

There are lots of powerful video editing software packages on the market, including Apple’s Final Cut Pro and Adobe’s Premiere Pro.

Premiere Pro

Adobe’s Premiere Pro software.

There are three basic elements to using a desktop video editing program. First, you assemble all the elements you need for the video project, such as audio, video and effects. You also need to be able to monitor both the source and edited video footage, and video editing packages offer two or more on-screen windows for this purpose. The third element involves using a timeline.

To edit your footage, you select a series of start and end points and then drag and drop the selected footage onto the timeline, building up the edited video footage as you go along. You’ll also want to add transitions (such as fades, wipes and dissolves) and perhaps some special effects and titles. Don’t forget that the audio will also need editing, such as adding narration, background music or sound effects. Video editing packages also include a preview feature, which lets you check your edited footage before outputting it to a disc burner or some other media.