Intro. to Digital Video

by Merrill M. Hessel

Last year I showed a video that demonstrated many creative things you can do using digital video techniques. A similar video is now viewable by clicking on either of the two Streaming Players below, but first I suggest you read the article on streaming media  (click here for the article).   Dennis Courtney demonstrated a simple package to make music video called Muvee go to their site and get a free trial.

Now that you have taken the Video with your camcorder and captured it on your computer how do you edit the video to get striking effects, titles, images, free sound effects where you want them?  This presentation will show how to use editing software packages to provide video that you would be proud to show your family (and keep them awake) or to use these effects for television productions. The clips and  discussion below demonstrates these effects.

Below is a detailed explanation of each item in this clip.  If you have both Real Player & Windows Media Player. Try either Player they both give reasonable quality video.

Click Here for Real Player to start Video

Click Here for Windows Media Player

Explanation of the Streaming Video Clip

This 6 minute clip was done on a 933 Mhz PC using Adobe Premiere editing software, some items were done with After Effects, and Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop were used for some screen items. Many of these clips could have been done with Final Cut Pro or some other Non Linear Editor (NLE).

Item 1:  - Flying and Rotating Text Title plus Lightning and Thunder

The text was created in Photoshop with different Fonts colors as individual images, they were then rotated and moved.  The motion can be done in Premiere but I found it easier to use After Effects. The lightning is a video effect that comes with Premiere and also After Effects.  The thunder is a sound clip obtained from the Internet. has thousands of free sounds of almost any type that you can download ( they have 171 thunder sounds). If you listen closely you can hear that I used two types of thunder sounds in this item. To signup for the free sounds you must go to


Item 2: Openings -Fire, Space Capsules, Puppy Raiser

I try to open my various shows with something that would attract the viewers attention when it starts.  

The first Opening was in a show about a County Arson Investigator and his Dog.  We show a fire, an explosion, flames and the Montgomery Fire & Rescue Seal that we zoomed out. The explosion, fire crackling and fire engine sounds came from the Internet. The fire video I obtained from the Count Fire Academy. We zoomed in on their seal. To make this opening I put the fire on one Video Track, the Seal on another Video track, the title on a third track, the explosion on two audio tracks that were offset to make it reverberate loudly.

To make the second opening we had photos of the two hosts superimposed on a satellite in Photoshop and a white background.  The white area of the photos shown was keyed out in After Effects. Using After Effects (AE) the space capsules were then both scaled and placed at different positions throughout a 15 second timeline.  The "motion graphics" was set with keyframes and then rendered in AE and put into Premiere where the music and titles were added.  We could have generated this opening entirely in AE or in Premiere.  You could do the same in Final Cut Pro or other NLE's.

The Puppy Raiser opening used four different clips of the puppies, each clip was positioned and scaled to take up one quarter of the screen.  The Title was done in After Effects using the new three dimensional rotation transform and its motion was timed to the music.

Item 3 Green Screen

A 5 foot by 7 foot portable green screen (cost $90) was placed in the background for all of these clips.

The first clip was just a video of a JVC miniDV camera rotated by hand on a tripod and taken in front of the Green Screen.

In the second clip we used Adobe Premiere and on the first video track we put a video pattern that we purchased from Digital Juice.  On the second track we used the video of the camera in front of the green screen, and then used the Green Screen or Chroma Key that Premiere provides (other Non Linear Editors also provide this type of keying) to get rid of the green color and make it transparent.  When you render (composited) these tracks, you get the camera taking a video of OUTER space. Fox TV and ESPN use these video patterns, particularly when they broadcast sports. Using the same technique but replacing the video pattern with a picture of the ATF Dog Kennels in Front Royal, VA we rendered the tracks so that it looks like a camcorder is moving in front of the kennels.  

In the next clip we photographed Eileen Thompson of the "Guiding Eyes for the Blind" in front of the Green Screen.  Throughout the 1/2 hour video program she was explaining various things about the Guiding Eyes.  It would be a very boring show if you see just one talking head sitting in the same position throughout the show.  Again we used the same technique with two tracks and we keyed out the green screen. You will see how we put various photographs in the background behind Eileen that were relevant to her conversation jazzed up the program.

For a 1/2 hour program on an attack on EMS personnel, Captain Steve Miles explained the incident.  We used the green screen to video his conversation and put some action video behind him. Again we used the same technique (green screen, two tracks, keying out the green color).

In the case of Eileen and Steve we used After Effects since the Chroma Key in AE  produces a better render with virtually no green halo around the edges of the talent. 

In the final clip of this section there was a 911 call to the Communications Section of the County Fire and Rescue Department. To distinguish between the caller and the responder the conversation text was written in Adobe Illustrator and each voice was identified in a different color.  After Effects was used to scroll the text up the screen and time it to the voice.

Item 3 Split Screen

The split screen is very easy to make on any Non-Linear Editing (NLE) Program.

The first clip is a repeat using 1/4 of the screen. You need 5 video tracks, 4 for each dog clip and one for the title.  Many inexpensive NLE programs have only two tracks for video.

The second clip is used to show a comparison of two actions: dog and Jeff Pledger, white cane and Jeff Pledger. Only two video tracks are required.

Item 4 Color Correction

In this case we used two cameras to shoot this video.  One was a Sony TRV-900 miniDV Camera #1 and the other was a JVC SVHS Professional Camera #2.  The Camera #1 was on one side of the talent.  Notice the nicely saturated colors.   Camera #2 is on the other side and the colors are washed out.  Colors that are not matched may happen with a single brand camera or even shooting the same scene at different times of the day with a single camera.  

By using a color correction tool within Premiere, AE or other NLE you can correct the Camera #2 so that it matches Camera #1. This was done but in this clip I probably over saturated Camera #2's color.  You can see that you can change the color of a clipusing digital techniques. They used these techniques in the movie Traffix to give different moods. Digital Video Colorists earn quote a good living.

Item 5 Fun -Ballet , Horror, Animation, Looney Tunes

If you want to produce an artistic show or a "cool" bumper try the ballet sequence. It uses nine video tracks and clips. It can be done in a good NLE or AE. This was an exercise in the 1997 Adobe Classroom in a Book for After Effects.

The Horror Clip came from the same book. I did make my own animated ghost.  This shows you what you can do with digital software tools.

The animation of pumpkins and a ghost was done by using the clip art that comes with WORD and using After Effects to provide the motion, rotation and scaling. Plus the text came from Adobe Illustrator and then scaled in AE to expand across the screen. Animation of this type is fun for children videos.

Finally for any Looney Presentation you must say "THAT'S ALL FOLKS".

If you have any questions contact me at:












2003 MerAl Productions, Inc.