Just about all of today's digital cameras are capable of recording video. Most are also capable of taking very good quality HD video. But a similar problem arises for most people in that it's not easy to view those video clips. Many would like to combine them to single playable videos, but don't know how. Similarly many others would like to create their own YouTube videos, but also don't fully understand where to start. This site's tutorials are intended to help those people. ONLY FREE SOFTWARE are used in these tutorials. That way, the average person can get started and try what they've learned immediately.

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Why is this Software Free?


The question often comes up as to the reason why a company would offer their software free of charge?  This can create suspicion that the software might be malware in disguise.   The software featured on this blog is all malware free.  But the vendor's are being reimbursed (or will be reimbursed) through other means.


For example, FileLab Video Editor is utilized free of charge by the users.   Why?   Because FileLab is sponsored and receives reimbursement from Facebook, Google, and Yahoo.  To use FileLab, the user must login to one of these services.   In this manner, users are encouraged to sign-up for any of these services if they don't already belong.  Thus FileLab brings in new members to these services.

Freemake video converter/editor is also offered free of charge. Although it is excellent software for what it does, there is a reason why it's free.   Freemake utilizes what I like to call the "CNET-style installer" (oh CNET, how you have fallen).  When installing their software, they use a special installation program. The installer uses the fact that most people just blindly hit Next, Next, Next, without reading the notices of the installer.  This installer offers additional bundled (sponsored) software during installation.  Unfortunately, most of these offers must be unchecked (opted-out) during installation otherwise they may automatically be installed, and Freemake will be paid.   Although I really feel that Freemake is excellent software and highly worth trying, please use extra care during installation, and read/uncheck those boxes.

Read each screen when installing freeware



VSDC video editor and converting programs are also offered free of charge. (UPDATE: March 10 ,2013.  With the latest 1.2.3 release of VSDC, it appears that VSDC also is utilizing a software bundler installer similar to Freemake. Please use extra care during installation of VSDC, unchecking and declining any and all offers of additional software.  Again both Freemake and VSDC are excellent software, and could both easily make money as payware if their vendors decided to do such.  Wished they didn't to use bundler installers, but I guess they need to make money somehow.) 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Free Photo Slideshow Software


So you have a ton of photos that you took from your last vacation.   Now you would like to share those photos with your friends, maybe with a nice music background.  It might also be nice to easily share those pictures with your friends using YouTube or Facebook.  But maybe you're new to video editing, and are not quite sure where to start.  Well this article should be able to help you.

The following video is an example slideshow of Bonita Meadow in the Sequoia National Forest, CA.  The second video below is a tutorial showing the steps that created this slideshow.

Example Slideshow
Click "Full Screen" in lower right corner.


It's actually quite easy to make slideshows.  There are many freeware programs out there that are fully capable of doing such.   But my favorite of the bunch (for making slideshows) is Freemake.  I like Freemake for this purpose because it's one of the easiest to use, yet it allows you to edit many things that other slideshow makers can't, or worse yet, won't let you.  

This includes music.  You can use and upload any musical background that you want.   Unlike some other free editors, you may also be able to monetize your videos on YouTube if you use royalty free music, or music freely licensed for commercial use (my favorite site for downloading such is http://dig.ccmixter.org/).  Just remember to follow the licensing restrictions, and especially remember to give proper credit as specified in the license.

Note that the Freemake downloader will suggest installing additional bundled software along with Freemake.  This is why Freemake is free.  Carefully read those installation screens and make sure to uncheck any software that doesn't interest you (probably all).  In other words, don't just hit Next, Next, Next, or you might install additional programs that you did not want.

Read each screen when installing Freemake


Photo Slideshow Tutorial (Download Freemake Here)
This video is in HD.  Click "Full Screen" in lower right corner.


Freemake does require Microsoft's .NET FW 4.0 to run properly.  This is automatically installed on most newer computers   But if not, you can download it for free directly from Microsoft.  (Download .NET FW 4.0 from Microsoft Here).



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Free Video Converter Software


Let's say that there's this video that you'd like to be able to play on a certain device, mobile phone, TV, DVD, mp3, media player, etc....  But let's also say that the device doesn't particularly like your video, and refuses to recognize it or play it.  To make it even harder, let's also say that your video may be many GB 's in filesize, and that you really wish it could be smaller so that it would fit within the memory for your particular device.  Just what can you done?  Well, just about anything you want.



What would help you is some good "video conversion software".  As for video editors, there have been some very good recent freeware releases that will fit most peoples requirements.  And even though free, they are each excellent quality, easy to use, yet very powerful.  

Freemake Video Converter
Freemake is a new breed of "All-in-One" video processing programs.  And as the word infers, it is totally freeware, no trial periods, no watermarks, nothing.  It's no-kidding freeware.  But because of its gaining popularity, I'm sure that one day this program will include some means of monetization for its makers.  But for now, I'm very happy with it and use it quite frequently.


Freemake, the ultimate Swiss Army Knife of video processors.  Freemake is the easiest program that I've seen to convert all those short video clips from your digital camera into a final production that you can view on your DVD, BluRay, or just about any other device that can play videos, no matter the format.  FreeMake can convert your videos into just about all the main video formats used by smartphones, tablet, and even many game and mp3 players.
Capabilities include:

* DVD Ripper/Converter - for converting DVD's to other formats, such as viewing on mobile devices.  Or just making backups of your DVD's (let your conscience guide you where you can go with that).

* DVD and Blu-Ray burner capability - for viewing your videos on BR and DVD players.

* Video downloader and uploader -  for downloading/saving your favorite videos from YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Dailymotion, + many many other websites.  With its built in video uploader, it also makes it very easy to upload your own videos to YouTube (the uploader only supports YouTube at this time).

* Basic Video Editor - for clipping, splicing, joining.  Also can modify each of you video clips audio level individually from the editor.  Only 2 transitions available, none or Fade transition.  But really these are all you need.  Nothing emphasizes a lame video more than tumbling, swirling, transitions.

* Video Converter with customizable video resizing, bitrate and audio modification.  Also included is subtitle support, so that you can view your movies with their subtitles on your various devices.

* Device video presets, or you can set and save custom video presets for your particular device.

* Photo slideshow maker with user inputted audio (You can load up any audio that you please.  Some other free video makers may force you to only use their preset music).

* Audio converter and extractor - Save the music or audio track from any video (yes including YouTube) as an mp3 file.  If you desire, you can modify the sample and bitrate for your saved file.


The following video was actually created and uploaded with Freemake.  It goes over each of the above abilities in more detail so that you can see for yourself, and judge whether this program might be for you.  The program also requires Microsoft's .NET Framework 4.0 to run.  Usually this is installed on most newer PC's.  But if Freemake doesn't run on your computer, you likely need to also install NET Framework.  It's very easy to do, and you can install .NET FW 4.0 for free directly from Microsoft at this download link (Download .NET FW 4.0 here)  


And here is an overview of Freemake, followed by a tutorial.  Note that the Freemake downloader will suggest installing additional bundled software along with Freemake.  This is why Freemake is free.  Carefully read those installation screens and make sure to uncheck any software that doesn't interest you (probably all).  In other words, don't just hit Next, Next, Next, or you might install additional programs that you did not want:

Read each screen when installing Freemake




Freemake Overview (Download Freemake Here)


Freemake YouTube HD Video Editing Tutorial


VSDC Free Video Converter
Another relatively new release!  VSDC is an "All-in-One" video processing programs.  It is also totally 100% freeware.  Has most of the capabilities of Freemake, but has some additional conversions that Freemake does not currently have (such as Real Media RM conversion).  It also does not require MS NET Framework, and runs just fine on most PC's.  Recommend that you try both Freemake and VSDC to see which best suits you.  Can't go wrong as both are free.  


But note that the VSDC downloader will suggest installing additional bundled software along with VSDC.  This is why VSDC is free. Carefully read those installation screens and make sure to uncheck or decline any software that doesn't interest you (probably all). 


VSDC Free Video Converter (download VSDC Converter from VSDC Here, or from Softpedia here)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Color Correction, Brightness, Contrast, and Gamma


Newer cameras have excellent automatic color correction capability.  But sometimes it's nice to be able to provide some manual adjustment of your videos to get that "just right" look.  Often a video may be too dark and needs to be brightened/lightened.  This tutorial covers the basics of color correction, to include Brightness, Contrast, Gamma, Saturation, and Hue.  As always, freeware video editors are utilized exclusively to demonstrate these type corrections.

Brightness and Contrast
The most common correction that may be needed is Brightness, and with that Contrast also.   When you brighten a dark video, you may lose some definition causing the video to appear noisy or flushed.  This can be corrected by also applying a little Contrast to bring out some definition.

Gamma, Saturation, and Hue
A simple(but not entirely correct) way to explain Gamma correction is to think of it as an automatic balancing of both Brightness and Contrast.  Instead of individually adjusting Brightness and Contrast, I almost always use Gamma exclusively as it enables quick and simultaneous adjustment of brightness and contrast.  But some color may be lost in the process.  This is easily corrected by applying a little Saturation after Gamma to brighten up the colors.  Hue provides a special adjustment if the colors of your original video look abnormal.  A gently adjustment of Hue should enable you to easily bring back natural looking colors to the video. 

And here is a sample video demonstrating the application of color correction. The freeware program FileLab Free Video Editor (download it here) is used as it enables easy adjustment of each of these corrections.

Color Correction Tutorial: Brightness, Contrast, & Gamma
This video is in HD.  Click "Full Screen" in lower right corner.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"Green Screen" / "Chroma Key" Editing

If this information helps you, please pay it forward, and share this article with others who may be searching for this info.   Your help in sharing will be appreciated, and karma will prevail!

Many people would like to include special effects within their videos.  These may include visual effects such as gunshot flash, explosions, ghostly images, clones, or maybe something simple like your Grandma riding that new roller coaster. 



Such type of video editing implements what is called "Chroma Key" effects.   Software is utilized to remove a particular color, to make it invisible such that a background video or picture can be seen through it.  Any solid background color can be used.  But green or blue are most often used for various reasons.


Green is often used as background for people, as the color green is less popular for clothing, thus less likely to show green invisible spots on the subject's clothing.  It is also the easiest color for software to identify and eliminate.  Blue is also a popular background color as it is easily distinguishable from skin color, and reflects a natural looking light onto foreground objects.  But really overall any color can be used.  Just make sure that your foreground object does not contain that color.  And here's a quick tutorial showing how to do chroma key editing using the freeware program VSDC. 

Chroma Key Editing with VSDC Free Video Editor
This video is in HD.  Click "Full Screen" in lower right corner.


Note that VSDC downloader will suggest installing additional bundled software along with VSDC.  This is why VSDC is free. Carefully read those installation screens and make sure to uncheck or decline any software that doesn't interest you (probably all). 
(VSDC download link here). 


YouTube is a great place to find green screen effects to include in your videos.  Search in YouTube for "Green Screen Effects".  Two particular channels that are very prolific in producing free special effects for YouTube viewers are Best Green Screen, and kanadaka.  Just try not to go overboard with the special effects now that you know how to do chroma keying (it will be hard not to).  ;-)

Action Meadow (all effects from YouTube)
This video is in HD.  Click "Full Screen" in lower right corner.

And here's a great greenscreen tutorial.  The making of "Greenscreen Grandmas".  Thanks Brian, this is a classic!


And here's the finished result.   Here we go, WOOOOOOO!:


"Picture in Picture" / "Split Screen" Video Editing


A number of popular YouTube channels utilize a "Picture in Picture" effect to simultaneously display two or more videos on the screen.  For example, these videos may contain a background of video game play, while a second smaller video is overlain diplaying the video author commenting on the main video.  These type of videos are very easily done with available freeware.  

The following two tutorials provide step-by-step instructions exactly how to do such using FileLab and VSDC video editors.  As usual, these programs are both 100% full working freeware, with no strings attached.  More info on these and others freeware editing programs may be found here.  And here are the tutorials:


FileLab "Picture in Picture" Editing (download FileLab here)
This video is in HD.  Click "Full Screen" in lower right corner.

Please note that I apologize for the quality of the following video, and also the singing.  I was rushed, I'm not a singer, and I used the microphone from a cheap $4 webcam.  But the video does show that it is easy to import multiple simultaneous PIP videos with this program.

VSDC "Picture in Picture" Editing


Note that VSDC downloader will suggest installing additional bundled software along with VSDC.  This is why VSDC is free. Carefully read those installation screens and make sure to uncheck or decline any software that doesn't interest you (probably all). 


If you're interested in doing music covers, of the two programs, I highly recommend that you consider VSDC.  It does take some practice. But it's well worth taking the time to learn it, as it was used in the following projects (and you can't beat the price :).






Basic Video Editing (Cutting & Joining)

If this information helps you, please pay it forward, and share this article with others who may also be looking for this info.   Your help in sharing will be appreciated, and karma will prevail!

Only FREE video editors are used in this tutorial!  The below videos cover each of the basic editing techniques of this article in detail.  They utilize three different freeware video editors depending on your taste or needs (FileLab, VSDC, and Freemake).   These programs are all no-kidding free and fully functioning programs, with no trialware, no watermarks, and will not ask for money.  In other words, you should be able to start video editing soon after reading this article!

Like most people, you probably have a very large library of video clips taken with your digital camera.  Unfortunately, they're all very short clips.   You've only viewed them maybe once or twice using either your camera, or possibly your computer screen.   How can you compile them into a seamless video that can be viewed just about any time that you want on your TV or, better yet, YouTube?  To do such, you'll need to learn the basics of Joining/Merging, Splitting & Cutting, and Transitions.



The first thing you'll need to do is identify the files that you'd like to utilize in your video.   If you haven't already done so, download your video files from your camera to a folder on your computer (recommend that "Videos" folder located within "My Documents"?).  This is important not just for video editing, but also to ensure that you have a backup of your videos in case something unfortunate happens with your camera's memory card.  

Within your videos folder, right-click and create an additional folder for your video project.  Identify and drag into that folder all the specific videos that you'd like to combine into a single video.  Now we're ready to start editing. 

Joining/Merging
Joining/Merging is the first step that would be needed to produce your video.  You'll want to combine all your project clips into a single video.  This is done using a video editor. Some software may allow you to simply drag them into the program.  But others may ask you to load them or add them.  Don't worry, this step will be covered in detail in each of the tutorial videos. 

FileLab Tutorial, Free and Easy Editor (download FileLab here)
This video is in HD.  Click "Full Screen" in lower right corner.


Splitting & Cutting
Your individual clips may also have short sections that you'd like to remove.  A particular section might be too jerky.  Or maybe someone walked in front of the camera.  With most editors, it is easy to identify these specific sections (splitting) and remove them (cutting) from the clip.  This is also covered in detail in each tutorial video.


VSDC Tutorial, Basic Video Editing
This video is in HD.  Click "Full Screen" in lower right corner.

Note that VSDC downloader will suggest installing additional bundled software along with VSDC.  This is why VSDC is free. Carefully read those installation screens and make sure to uncheck or decline any software that doesn't interest you (probably all). 

Transitions

Viewing your current combined video "as-is" may be unpleasant as it would abruptly transition from from one clip to the next.  We'd like to smooth those "Transitions".  Most video editing software enables you to do such.  At the very least, we'd like a "cross fade" as one clip would smoothly dissolve into the next.  Most software also have special transitions such as flipping or rotating.  However, care should be taken as overuse of these special-effect transitions may also make your video appear amateurish.  As mentioned, a simple cross-fade is suitable in most cases.  

The following video includes a download link for Freemake, the simplest of these free editors.  Freemake is included here, as IMO it is the easiest freeware software to accomplish all of the above steps.  It will even automatically upload your final video to YouTube, if you so desire.  But note that the Freemake downloader will suggest installing additional bundled software along with Freemake.  This is why Freemake is free.  Carefully read those installation screens and make sure to uncheck any software that doesn't interest you (probably all).  In other words, don't just hit Next, Next, Next, or you might install additional programs that you did not want:

Read each screen when installing Freemake


Freemake Tutorial, Easiest for Most Tasks (download Freemake here)
This video is in HD.  Click "Full Screen" in lower right corner.
Freemake also requires Microsoft's Net 4.0 to run (if you don't have it, get Net 4.0 here from MS).