Video 101: Assembling a video timeline

How a video timeline is created during post-production editing
John Cushman
Here I’m using a video of Jim Cunningham’s Cumbres & Toltec 1939 railroad to show video timeline creation in postproduction editing. See the video on Garden Railways’ website to connect these production notes with the movie images.

In my software, the timeline is along the bottom of the window. I have circled it in yellow in the photo above. This is where all the components come together. From the Titles Library I have created a title for Jim’s railroad when we show our video to the visitors at the Children’s Museum. Video and still images are drawn from the Media Libraries and are assembled along the timeline. I can move them easily into the proper sequence.

I like to start with a wide shot to help orient the viewer, then intersperse closeups to identify people and details. Closeups help keep our video from becoming a moving panorama of distant landscapes.

Use a variety of shots to keep your viewers’ attention. This video has some onboard shots and some as the train passes by. Others are from a distance as the train crosses a water feature or as the train emerges from a tunnel. Some of the clips are in slow motion, as indicated by the turtle symbol. Slow motion seems to work proportionally better in videos of models. The video ends with a wide shot of Jim’s mountain pass.

Music and sound effects are dragged from the audio library to the timeline just like video clips. They appear as green rectangles that can be edited for length and volume. Between the videos I add transitions so that one image blends into the next. And even in short hobby movies, credits and acknowledgements are a good idea.

So that’s the timeline for a four-minute version of the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad that is currently running at the Children’s Museum. I continue to watch for new garden-railway videos online, and appreciate both the modeling skills and the movie skills I am seeing.


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