Masterclass: Editing Family Videos

You and your family have returned from an exciting vacation and now you are ready to check out the videos you made of beautiful scenes at the beach at sunset, a fun day at an amusement park, or a weekend caravan trip. The image on the screen is seldom as lovely as you remember it through your viewfinder, is it? The images jump about, the lighting is too dim, and for heaven’s sake, someone forgot to take off the lens cap! You may lower your head and resolve to do a better job next time. You may even think you are now stuck with the results of this family trip. But, hold on now, you can fix these errors with a lot of patience and a little bit of know-how.

How to get started editing your family video.

You will need to download a VHS to DVD converter software program into your computer. There are free ones available online. In many cases the free version is rather basic and is intended as an introduction to encourage users to purchase a higher level program with more “bells and whistles.” Once you have a program installed, you will need to use the cords provided with your camcorder to attach it to your computer to transfer your VHS to DVD. Granted, most people do not use VHS anymore, electing to use a digital recorder, there are older VHS tapes out there that one may wish to improve through editing with computer software.

After you import or capture your video to your program, you will need to save it. Use the highest quality option available. If this will take up a great deal of your hard drive’s memory, elect to save a portion at a time. Make the conversion of that part to DVD (use DVD-R or DVD+R, not rewriteable DVDs) and then delete from the hard drive before saving another part of your video and work that way until the task is completed. Caution: Always check your converted material before deleting from your hard drive to assure everything transferred properly.

Now that your video is in DVD form, here is the fun part.

Most software programs separate into scenes so that you can manipulate them anyway you choose. For example, you may want to show the kid’s events first, and then show the adult’s activities separately. Or perhaps you want to start with the last beach sunrise and work backwards to the start as the family is packing for its adventure.

The best part of being able to edit your video is being able to delete the scenes where the feet are mistakenly being filmed or a wasted period of time is filmed with the lens cap on. Perhaps a child got a hold of the camera and filmed a shaky scene you would rather not see. It is not unheard of for a camera to have had poor lighting as it is moved from indoors to outdoors. The result is a bright indoor scene, and then when the scene moves outdoors the picture is too dark to see anything. Software will enable you to improve the quality of the lighting. Evening scenes can be rather creepy if the people in the scenes appear to have bright eyes or red eyes. You can use the program to fix those creepy eyes.

Adding Special Effects to your family video.

One of the fun things you can do as you edit your family video is add effects to it. You can add titles between scenes, use a fade to black to transition between activities, or add colour borders and trimmings. You can add a spark of humour with “thought bubbles” or add dialogue in script much like the silent films of the olden days.

No longer do you have to endure family videos that don’t tell the story as you remembered it. You can create a video that will be a match to the memory and share that joy with those you love. It just takes a lot of patience and a little bit of know-how.

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