Video 101: Postproduction

Using movie-editing software
“The trainyard is your media; the train is your story. Assemble the tracks you need. Then create the trains to run on them.” My Apple Store instructor was searching for an analogy for our class about movie making, not describing Southern Pacific operations. The resemblance worked for me.

Transforming our rough clips and music files into videos is called “postproduction,” which refers to all the stages of media selection and assembly, data editing, and blending the video and sound into a single movie file. Postproduction is where we create our stories.

My postproduction formula anticipates that for every hour spent collecting videos on location, there will be at least three hours at the computer in postproduction and, from that, about one minute of finished video.

So, after loading the video files onto the computer, after editing still photographs captured to accompany the video, after creating a folder of our favorite railroad songs (or obtaining permission if we plan to show our videos online), after outlining the story we wish to tell, and anticipating the audience that we hope to entertain, let’s make a movie.

Selecting software
There are over a hundred different video-editing software programs to choose from. Some are shipped with PC and Mac computers, GoPro, Garmin, smart phones, and tablets. Others are available at online app stores.

For demonstration I’ll use my iMovie software, which has easy-to-learn features and a variety of consumer-level libraries and templates. Other consumer-level software packages will be similar.

The home screen shows three important sections. These are circled in red in the video accompanying this story. Upper left are links to libraries of video files, still-image files, music files, sound effects and recording capability, titles, backgrounds, and transition options between scenes. Upper right is the viewing box to view and edit the video files. Here, colors can be adjusted, and we can even run the clip backward with the click of a selection box. At the bottom is the movie timeline, where the parts are assembled, timed, and trimmed.

The associated video demonstration combines all three sections, rendering a short video filmed on Richard Murray’s railroad in Millbrae, California. The video highlights the parts of the home screen and shows the video timeline that underlies the finished video. (See Garden Railways, August 2015, for the story on Richard’s Green Hills Railroad.)
The photographer’s notebook

What should I do first? Is this hard to learn?

Take a class.
Visit the website for your computer system and search out the “support” menus.
Watch YouTube videos about making videos.
Buy books about your software.
Meet up with someone who is a few steps ahead of you.
Create a movie for a program and learn what you need on the fly.
Read the credits of a motion picture and notice how many hundreds of people and skills are involved in making it.
I have been helped by all of these.

Which software?

Some computers come with a good software package preinstalled.

• My Apple computer came with iMovie. I have logged many hours with other amateurs at the Apple Store, learning what it can do and visiting with others about their projects:

• Microsoft has a similar setup for software help and instruction at stores in malls in my area. Their consumer video editor is “Movie Maker:”

• GoPro distributes its own movie-making software with its action cameras:

• DJI has created movie software for use with their Phantom camera and drone systems:

• Garmin VIRB action cameras come with editing software for creating and sharing videos:

• YouTube offers movie-creating software:

A leading PC magazine posted a top-ten list of software-package suggestions for video editing, together with links to hosts from which many of them can be downloaded:,2817,2397215,00.asp

To those mentioned above, the magazine list adds.
Adobe “Premiere Pro”
Apple “Final Cut Pro”
Corel “Video Studio”
Cyberlink “PowerDirector Ultimate”
Pinnacle “Studio Ultimate”
Adobe “Premiere Elements”
Magix “Movie Edit Pro”
Nero “Video”
Vegas “Movie Studio Platinum”
The Apple App store lists 100 video editing titles. These will have counterparts for Android operating systems as well.

While tempted to use the pro-level software packages, one of my ground rules for this column has been to use basic consumer-level software for our movies. Nothing we have attempted has exceeded my software’s ability to execute it.

Looking ahead
The next three Video 101 segments will expand upon the three components of the Home Screen.
• Media selection and manipulation
• Movie timeline creation and editing
• Viewing and editing video files.
We are gathering more clips from interesting garden railroads to provide the video for our examples. Meanwhile, try it. More and more garden-railroad videos are being posted online and submitted to this magazine. I hope to encourage model railroaders who would like to add video skills to their modeling skills. Creating movies makes digital models of our models.


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