Mar 15, 2011

Joshua Tree National Park

Desert vistas, extreme heat, and incredible plants make the journey through Joshua Tree distinct.  The surroundings are other-worldly and the tranquility of the area is only magnified by the miles of unscathed landscape waiting to be explored.  It's no wonder so many film and television shows have been shot out here.  I think "awesome" (although used repeatedly on our California road trip last year) doesn't quite sum up just how amazing this place is.

Mar 14, 2011

Buick to the Future DVD Menu

Creating DVD menus for my shorts and random edits used to be a big deal. It made an impression on those who I'd share my work with, and suggested just how much work went into the project. However, now that the basis for screening and previewing my work has shifted almost entirely onto the web, I haven't created a new menu in over a year. 

I was reviewing some of the videos that I have archived and found the components for Buick to the Future DVD that I made for my friend Tyler in 2009. This was really just a one off deal, where I was only making it because I wanted to give the four episodes to him as a gift for helping me make them. While the menu is comparatively straightforward when held up to some of the others I've done, what I love about this menu is how it highlights the buddy comedy aspect of the campy series along with some of the key scenes. 

This clip is really just a small slice of what the Buick to the Future project became, but hey, you can always watch the originals! And for more of the other random clips behind BTTF you can view the promo videos here

Mar 12, 2011

Avid Studio Review: Editing Software

As part of my continually progressing edit studio upgrade, this week I purchased the newly released Avid Studio.  For years I've done the bulk of my editing work on Pinnacle, this is also an Avid product, and although both Pinnacle and Avid Studio are based in the consumer to prosumer series of editing products they're both able to produce professional level results.  I consider this to be the best of both worlds. 

Pinnacle, and now the new Avid Studio, continue on with a tradition of user friendly functions and a wide range of custom options for the more advanced editor.  The long and short of it is that if you've enjoyed Pinnacle, you'll enjoy the refined features (and more ambitious layout) that Avid Studio provides. 
The basic rundown of features looks like this: 

  • Sophisticated movie editing tools, including markers and keyframes
  • Powerful media management library to organize videos, photos, and audio
  • Media editor to apply corrections or effects to videos, photos, and audio
  • Unlimited timeline tracks for advanced editing and compositing
  • Professional add-ons and plug-ins (valued at over $2,000):
    • Red Giant Plug-in package
    • Complete Avid content package
    • 100 additional HD video transitions
  • Comprehensive collection of how-to videos from Class on Demand™
  • Motion Titler for adding animated graphics and text
  • Audio tools for professional sound quality
  • 5.1 surround sound import/export functionality
  • AVCHD burning; DVD and Blu-ray disc authoring and burning tools 

The editing I do is largely promotional, largely web-based in HD, and the software I use needs to provide an ample amount of flexibility and user-friendliness to ensure that I can meet the varied requirements of both corporate clients and myself.  The biggest upgrade in jumping from Pinnacle 15 to Avid Studio is being able to carry over the filter features from Pinnacle into the unlimited timeline tracks of Avid Studio.  For more advanced edits, the 3 video and 3 audio tracks in Pinnacle simply aren't enough.  That was a big limitation, and Avid Studio's unlimited tracks are by far the most noticeable and welcome addition.

Avid Studio comes with an ambitious collection of new transitions and filter options, however at least half of them you'll never use because they look like they came from community TV in the mid-90's. I guess this is always the case if you're looking to work off of presets. There are some great effects though, that when tweaked, allow for some very unique looks and titles that you can preview on your clips in real-time.

Capturing video is also made easier as the software will catalogue your individual shots as it imports instead of just showing one lump sum of video.  This makes scrolling your library a breeze, and makes picking and choosing the clips you want simple.

In general, Avid Studio adds a bit more polish to where Pinnacle leaves off.  A more structured (and in some ways, technical) timeline is helpful for larger, more intensive edits, where coordinating specific shots requires the space and markers to do so.  All this is achieved while still maintaining a clean and efficient layout, that even a novice editor could pick up without too much effort. 

As someone who edits on a day to day basis, the strength of this software is in its obvious interface that takes the pompousness out of other programs.  I found it easy to organize and layout numerous tracks of footage, cut between them, and make precision edits.         

I look forward to experimenting and using Avid Studio in combination with my other editing software as I move forward.  I think it's yet another amazing example of just how affordable it's becoming to produce diverse and high-end video on a smaller (and often) individual scale.  If you're passionate and educated about editing, I think you'll find that no one will notice you're using a relatively affordable piece of software - in fact, you'll have others who screen your work asking how you did that and what you were using.  

With so many options, it's a good time to be an editor.

For more info, check out the follow up post I wrote that highlights some of the problems I've come across with Avid Studio and where it could use improvement - CLICK HERE.