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I've had cause, recently to do some video editing. Even though any editing ability I may have built up through the years has atrophied to a crippling degree, I'm still enjoying it. You can click here to see what I’ve been editing, or you can read on to find out the what, why, and how of the project.

Like most people who grew up in the 80s, I first experimented with editing by starting and stopping two vcrs tethered together with coaxial cables. I was pretty terrible at it. Later on, we would use a friends video camera and "edit" by simply checking the tape after every take and rewinding and recording over anything that didn't measure up to our extremely low standards.

When I was in University, my uncle handed me a box of software that no one in his company had any interest in. I'm not sure if it had been sent as demo software or somebody had bought it and never used it, but any knowledge about where it came from is likely lost to time. That box of software is the reason I do half the stuff I do today.

In the box was a copy of Truespace, the program that got me started in 3D. There were also copies of Coreldraw, and Photopaint, Corel's answer to Adobe's illustrator and photoshop, a few other assorted applications. Slightly more obscure, there was a copy of insync:razor.

Razor was a revelation. You could load in video clips, cut them up, move them around, and add simple effects like chroma key. Never once during all this video rearranging did you have to worry that you would ruin the original footage. You could make as many copies as would fit on your tiny hard drive with no generation loss. Sure my computer only had the memory and raw power to deal with about a second and a half of postage stamp sized video, but it was still pretty amazing.

During one of my film classes, we shot and constructed a movie on SVHS and beta tapes. We had access to a fairly high end editing station,at least at night when no one else wanted to use it. For all it's button pushing and T-bar pulling whizbangery, I knew I was using yesterday's tech. It would mark edit in and out points in a timeline and wind the tape back and forth to match, and then copy the contents of one tape, arranged according to your edit timeline, to another blank tape. If you were very lucky, the audio would still be in sync with the video 15 minutes later. At home, I animated, rendered, cut together, and dumped out to tape, opening titles and credits for the movie. By myself. With a 486. I’m sure digital editing was a big deal already by that point, but it probably cost a fortune and required dedicated hardware. This was one outdated desktop pc. Things were obviously changing.

Almost 20 years later, I’ve been using Lightworks. This is an open source (depending on who you ask) program that can be had for free, or very cheap if you want some extra features. With it you can edit, in realtime, full HD or better video and audio. I’m not 100% clear on the companies business model, but it seems like they are aiming to be the ubiquitous youtube edit platform, while still offering extremely expensive editing hardware and software to professionals. Lightworks is a niche product in a niche market, but Adobe should probably keep their eye on it. A free, or very cheap photoshop would very quickly squelch any open source upstarts like Krita and Gimp.

And here is what I’ve been making with Lightworks. A friend and I have been attempting to record a weekly chat and draw session, with increasingly successful results. In time I hope to turn it into a regular show, with other creative types presenting something they are working on. Illustration, programming, animation, video editing, fx work, sculpture, photography, whatever they do presented realtime on screen while we chat about pretty much anything. From time to time, the conversation will turn to something that one of the presenters is working on, and information about a person's particular process will be revealed in a much more natural way than any tutorial series. Hopefully we can continue to make it more interesting and entertaining as weeks go by.
This post is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 by the author.
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