A few friends of mine and I ‘volunteered’ to put together a movie for a couple of friends of ours that are getting married this weekend. I got roped in because I’m the one that owns a Macintosh, which means I have iMovie and iDVD…
The goal: a 10-20 minute video that gives the couple’s friends the opportunity to share something about the couple with the audience, show a bunch of photos from the couple’s history, with a little music running in the background.
So, we set out a month of more ago with the camera, and my two friends started video taping. They shot around 3 hours of footage. This was a bad start… I knew it, but figured we’d be able to work with it.
One thing I’ve learned about making movies over the past 10-12 months (that’s how long I’ve been making movies using the Macs in the house) is that shorter is always better. If you can make a movie short and sweet, everyone loves it. If it’s long, it always seems to drag on, because the subject gets a little old. It happens…
This past Sunday, we started editing down the 3 hours of footage.
The first few “interviews” were horrible… the interviewees just rambled and rambled, and they didn’t speak up enough to make it easy to hear them. This is partially due to the fact that the two folks that worked the camera for us had never edited a video, and thus they didn’t know that the subject in the frame needed to speak up, and for editing ease, needed to give us good, sharp soundbites. The last few interviews were much better… concise and to the point. I also noticed that the first few interviews were all women. The last few were men. I’ll let you make the connection between rambling vs. not rambling and the sexes.
By Monday, we had it edited down to 45 minutes worth of sound bites/video snippets… Then I used iMovies “Extract Audio” feature on all of the video clips at once. Bad idea!
iMovie on a 2GHz iMac doesn’t like converting all of that audio at once, and it shit on us after the conversion process… so we lost all the work we’d done on the editing side up to that point.
Luckily, I’d created a backup on the original movie data. On Tuesday, we edited again, and were much better at it, because we knew what we were looking for in that 3 hours of footage. It still took a little while to edit though… about 2.5 hours this time. Then we got the footage in order, and called it a night.
On Wednesday, we decided to start putting the pictures with the video clips and to just make it work. After 4 hours of work, we had a finished product that was 20 minutes long, and looked pretty good.
Thursday night, we added the music and some final title screens and transitions… then I adjusted the volume levels of some of the quieter video segments and the music… and I made a DVD using iDVD, and burned a copy.
I watched it at 10:00 p.m. or so, and those low level video segments were still too quiet to be heard on the TV after I made a DVD out of the video… so I re-edited the movie to get rid of the background music completely, and brought the levels way up for the quiet video segments. I called it a night around 11:30 p.m.
The video is done. I personally spent around 18-20 hours working on this thing. My two friends that shot the video and helped edit it spent at least that long as well. 60 man hours, a lot of money on gas, and a few more grey hairs… that’s the cost of this movie. Finally done.
We should have charged for this work.
- iMovie is a great tool, it handled 3 hours of video footage editing just fine… It was a bit underpowered for the things we wanted to do with this video, but it did the job we needed it to do just fine. I should have done this in Final Cut Pro, but I wasn’t going to spend the money on it yet.
- iDVD rocks! iDVD will put a very professional look on your DVD and is worth paying for all on its own.
- Editing 3 hours of video footage down to 20 minutes worth of good stuff ain’t fun. Next time, spend a lot more time getting the people in the movie to be better video subjects.
- Better Together by Jack Johnson on In Beetween Dreams is a great song for a wedding.
- If you ask your friends to make a movie for you, make sure you know what you’re asking for… it’s a lot more work than anyone that hasn’t made a movie before might think… and you get what you pay for.
- The quality of your movie really comes down to the quality of the source material you have to work with. If you have crappy source material, no amount of technology can make it better. If you’re shooting the footage yourself and can direct the actors, focus them on sound-bites and make them speak up if they aren’t right in front of the camera.
- I might have to invest in a microphone and light setup for the DV camera.
Overall the process was a great learning experience, and we’ve created a great movie… I’d put it online for you all to watch, but I’m not that proud of it and don’t want to pay the hosting/bandwidth bill for a 20 minute movie. If you want to watch it, contact me and I’ll tell you where to send that $5 check to cover burning it and shipping the DVD.