Movies that make the cut

Ever wondered why the latest Hollywood drama looks so good? Ok, you’ll never have the same big budget as the LaLaLand players, but there are some simple tricks that can make your home movies look a million dollars too.

The Shot List

Before you settle down to edit your latest movie masterpiece sit down and create a shot list. If you know the story you are going to tell, it will be that much easier to edit it. A bit of time spent whilst shooting keeping track of the time code and the good takes also saves you a lot of time in the edit as you need only import what you need. If you don’t have time to make notes while shooting, at least try to jot down any ‘money shots’ as it can be easy to get overwhelmed if you have shot a lot of vision – and no-one wants to spend hours searching for that one ‘great’ shot.

The time is now

Create a timeline for your work. Using software like Windows Movie Maker, Premiere Elements or iMovie, import all your clips onto the timeline. The timeline will show you your movie in a frame by frame sequence. You can drag and drop clips and choose in and out points to sharpen up your story telling – removing any extraneous action. Remember that in this attention deficit world, less is more!

Colour your world

Think of some of your favourite movies and remember how they used colour to create mood. Wizard of Oz, Traffic, Sin City – all used colour, either with special film processing or colour control in the edit suite – to great effect. You too can add drama to your pieces with the use of colour control. Usually colour correction is done to fix imbalances in the footage, such as an off white balance or desaturated colours but you can add impact by controlling your colour palette. Once you’re  happy with how your clip looks it’s time to add in the transitions….those little shifts that add a breathing space between your clips as you enter a new scene. Most common are fade to black, or cross dissolves where one scene fades out as another comes up or a straight cut, perhaps to an establishing shot of an exterior to give the impression time has passed. Try to stick to these simple transitions to give your home movie a classic feel.

Text is the word

Once you’re happy with how your edit looks it’s time to add any titles or graphic effects. Even the most basic video editing software will allow you to add titles and credits to your movie. You can usually even add motion to your titles so they will scroll across the screen or even appear a letter at a time.

You’re the voice

Sometimes you want to add a soundtrack or voice track to your film. If you want to do anything more layered than this you will need to purchase an editing program that will allow you to lay multiple tracks so you can import the video and audio tracks separately and edit separately. A simple way to record your audio if you don’t have a mic is to film yourself doing the narration, then import the track and keep the sound whilst throwing a way the vision. If adding multiple music tracks to your film try slightly overlapping your sound so the sound from one track flows into another – this will make for smoother transitions as the sound and vision won’t cut abruptly. Most audio formats such as MP3 and WAV can be imported into editing software so you can plunder your computer’s music library for tracks– just remember that if you plan to broadcast your masterpiece (maybe you want to enter it in a film competition for example) the music you use needs to be royalty free or you need to obtain copyright permission for use of the track.

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