By now, nearly everyone has heard about some of the impressive ways a computer can enhance (or create) a moving image. Blockbuster films like Jurassic Park, Terminator 2 and Forrest Gump have shown the world the high end of digital movie making. What many people may not realize, however, is that their humble home computers, while not quite able to mimic these multi-million-dollar productions, can work some pretty impressive video magic if they own the right hardware and/or software.
With the right gear, your computer can convert video to digital information, control editing VCRs, edit video (and audio), overlay titles or graphics, create and overlay animated sequences, help you brainstorm ideas for scripts and even create storyboards for video production.
What's more, digitized video has several advantages over video on tape: there's no generation loss for successive dubs, allowing countless edits without loss in picture quality.
Desktop video includes any video operation that uses a computer. For pre-production, this covers scripting and planning (including computer-generated storyboards). For production, it means computer graphics, animations, and presentation programs. The term is most commonly connected with post-production, including shot logging, edit controlling, effects generating, titling, and even producing music and effects.
How can I use my computer as an edit controller?
Computer-based edit controllers typically consist of a software program and an add-in card that you connect to your editing VCRs. (Some simple models use infra-red controls, like your TV remote.) As you enter the start and stop points of the shots you want, the computer stores them. Then on command, it will create an assembly tape from its list of shots. Note that with an edit controller, the audio/video signal does not have to loop through the computer.
How can I use my computer as an effects generator?
A computer effects generator consists of software, plus a card with video input and output jacks. Once inside, the NTSC analog video signal is digitized, processed to create dissolves, wipes, and other effects, the converted back to NTSC upon output. Some of the better systems combine DVE generation, edit controlling, signal processing, shot logging and even titling in a single hardware/software package.
How can I use my computer to log and locate shots?
If you have a computerized edit control system, chances are it includes a proprietary database to use in logging, describing, and locating your footage. Special logging software is made for laptop use by professional script supervisors, but you can set up any flat database to record shot number, address, type, content, and any other information you choose.What's an edit decision list and how can I use it?
An edit decision list (or EDL) is a log of every shot in your edited program, in order, and with exact start and stop points noted. An EDL also includes the positions, lengths, and types of all transition effects, along with separate information about the audio track(s). Generated automatically by your computer as you build the assembly, the EDL can then be used to automatically generate an assembly from your original elements -- either on the desktop, or in a professional video post production facility.
What's an auto assembly and what's it good for?
Generated from an edit decision list (see separate entry) an auto assembly is a finished program assembled automatically by the computer, using the original camera footage. It is used in professional "online" editing to replicate, at higher quality, the manual assembly you've made in the original "off-line" edit phase. If you have time code, you can also assemble a program from expendable dupe tapes; then make a final assembly automatically from your originals.
How can I work with time code even if my camcorder doesn't record it?
In some editing systems with VITC time code, the computer-based edit controller can generate time code for at least the assembly deck, which can record it even if it can't generate it. A better approach is to "bump up" (transfer) the original camera footage to a professional format like 3/4-inch or Beta-SP, onto tapes pre-striped with linear time code.
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