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Video Production Workflow and Best Practices for Editing and Uploading to Video Streaming Hosting Services Like Blip.tv, Vimeo, YouTube

Technology > Video Production

20070124-video-production-pbs-small-house-dsc06356Summary. This document describes an ideal video production workflow and best practices for editing video that will be used for DVD or uploading to streaming video hosting services such as Blip.tv, Vimeo.com, or YouTube.

Prepare. Before getting started, you should have the following:

  • Apple Computer. Either the Apple iMac or Mini are fine for use. A notebook could also be used. For doing lots of video projects, it’s helpful to have dedicated computers for importing, editing, exporting, and uploading since these tasks are fairly time consuming.
  • Audio Recorder. To keep things from getting boring, it’s nice to have a variety of camera angles and perspectives. This means you may be backing away from the person speaking. When you back away, the volume of their recorded voice will diminish unless you are using a recording device that stays with them. You could spend hundreds of dollars on a wireless microphone system (assuming your video camera has microphone inputs), or for about $50 each you could purchase the Olympus VN-5200 and the Olympus tie-clip microphone ($20 extra) for exceptional sound. This technique requires and extra step of synchronization and exporting, but is usually worth the effort.
  • Digital HD Video Camera. A high definition video camera with a hard drive is nice because the data can be quickly and easily moved to a computer hard drive. There is also the possibility of recording longer events, such as concerts, without needing to change memory cards, tape, or mini discs.
  • Digital Still Camera. It’s nice to have some high quality photos to include in the video as cutaway images. Photographs are often more thoughtfully composed and are therefor sometimes nice in a video. If someone is stumbling over their words, you can delete what they are saying and put a cutaway image over it (assuming this works for your video project).
  • External Hard Drive. Video production uses a lot of hard drive storage capacity, so it will be necessary to purchase two high capacity external hard drives such as the Western Digital MyBook. One is a primary drive and the other is a backup drive (containing an identical copy of the folders on the primary drive). The folder structure should be something like this (alphabetized but also in order of use):
    • camera-archives. Contains copies of your original video.
    • iMovie Events. Automatically created by iMovie. Contains working converted copies of videos used for iMovie projects.
    • iMovie Projects. These are relatively small files. They keep track of the timeline for your project and what original content is used for the project.
    • supporting-files. These are any photos, music, PowerPoint slides, audio files, or other media used for the project.
  • Lighting. The quality of the video will dramatically improve when lighting is increased. Diffused lighting will create a happier and brighter environment. Pure natural white light will help maintain natural coloring. An overcast but bright day is an excellent environment for video and/or photography.
  • Video Online. After all the time and money you are spending on making videos, you’ll want to share them by setting up video online accounts with Blip.tv | Vimeo.com | YouTube.com
  • Wide Angle Lens. Video recording is often done inside or in tight quarters. So, it’s essential to have a wide angle lens. This also allows you to be closer to your subject which means the camera’s internal microphone will work better and background noises won’t be as intense. A nice wide-angle lens attachment is about $50 and typically comes with adapters to make it work with just about any camera.

1. Record. The video recording process is simply about two things; lighting and sound.

  • Lighting. Make sure to have excellent diffused natural color lighting, if necessary use umbrella reflective lamps like those that photographers use.
  • Sound. In addition to the camera microphone, use several microphones to ensure each person is clearly recorded. These can be pasted in if necessary for clearer sound. An example of an excellent additional audio recording device would be the Olympus VN-5200 and the Olympus tie-clip microphone.

2. Archive. The new iMovie ’09 has an archive feature to copy all files from the camera’s hard drive or memory stick to the computer’s internal or external hard drive. It’s best to archive after each major event, then backup that archive. Use the working copy of the camera archive for producing the video. When working with video, depending on the anticipated outcome (such as YouTube) we typically would work with video that is 960 x 540 (half of the HD 1920 x 1080P resolution), unless you have a computer that is powerful enough to rapidly work with full HD video. For this reason, once the video is imported/converted from the original HD 1920×1080 size, it’s a good idea to keep the original in case additional work is desired.

3. Import (Event). When importing into iMovie ’09, the video will be converted to 960 x 540 resolution video and given an event name. Events are comprised of imported raw videos. Here are some information resources for importing.

4. Edit (Project). In iMovie ’09, the videos you create are called projects. They can consist of event videos from different occasions (although usually they are from the same occasion), still pictures, PowerPoint slides, music, and other media. Online training and tutorial videos are available on the Apple website.

  • Supporting Files. During the editing phase, it is common to have other media to be included in the project. Sometime during the import or edit process, if you’ve used additional audio recording devices, you’ll want to transfer the audio from those devices to a “supporting files” folder. A good naming system for the Supporting Files folder on your external drive might be to use the date and then a short name for the project. For example, “20090515fr-imovie-workflow” might be the name for folder containing supporting files for an iMovie Workflow video created on 15 May 2009. Because the project files simply “point to” and reference other files, it is important that the events, projects, and supporting files all stay on the same drive in the same folder names without being moved elsewhere. In this way, the external hard drive can be moved from one computer to another without breaking any links from the project to the video events and supporting media used to create the project.
  • Backup Revisions. As you work, return to the project library periodically. Right click on your project to duplicate it. Give the duplicated project a name extension such as Rev 2 (for revision 2), and continue working with the revision, leaving the previous revision (version) untouched. This is in case along the way something causes your file to become corrupted. If so, you can return to a previous revision.

5. Export. When a project is completed and ready to share, the first step is to export it. There are many export and share options. One of the best methods is to choose Export using QuickTime from the Share menu in iMovie. This will bring up a basic dialog box for saving a file. For Export: option, choose Movie to QuickTime Movie. For the Use: option, choose LAN/Intranet. Then click on the Options button to find the Size button where you can click on Dimensions and set that to Current which should display (grayed out) as 960 x 540. Click the OK button (to confirm the size), then from the Movie Settings menu click the OK button (to confirm all selections), then save the file with the desired name to your supporting files folder for this project found on the external drive. This keeps all related project items in a central location. This should be using H.264 format for the highest quality.

6. Share (Upload). Now you are ready to use online services to share your saved file in step #5. Consider services such as Blip.tv, Vimeo.com, or YouTube.com for sharing files. YouTube.com is limited to 10 minute videos, but Blip.tv and Vimeo.com can handle longer ones. It’s best to post to all three whenever possible for greater exposure and compatibility. Blip.tv and Vimeo.com seem to have better quality video presentation, and each service has its own benefits and drawbacks regarding embedding video on web pages.

7. Backup. Be sure to regularly copy your entire hard drive contents to another drive. As you start a new project, the only files needed to be backed up will be the folders and files relating to the new project (camera archives, events, projects, and supporting files).

This is workflow version 20090608mo1453 for video editing using iMovie ’09. Contact us you have any comments or suggestions.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com