The digital photography revolution has an unintended consequence: our PCs are filling up with hundreds of bad photos and many hours of boring home videos.
It’s easy to toss out pointless still shots, but cleaning up videos takes a bit more work; some free video editors can make the task relatively easy — and cheap.
Recording our lives in digital sound and light
These days, we’re recording our lives like never before — mostly still images, but, as YouTube makes all too clear, hours and hours of video, too. Thanks to digital camcorders and the now ubiquitous smartphones, we’re tempted to shoot everything that moves: kids’ sporting events and school performances, pets romping joyfully across a beach, the pleadings of our significant others to “please point that stupid camera somewhere else!”
In most cases, these videos never rise above the level of the worst home movies. They’re posted as short clips to YouTube or Facebook — viewed once and never watched again; interesting to the camera operator, perhaps, but likely to bore friends and family.
That’s too bad, because videos — more so than still images — can be entertaining records of family life. And with the right video-editing software (some of it free), you can pick the best shots; clip out the dull parts; enhance the images; add professional touches such as wipes, titles, and music; and even include narration (although I’d shy away from narration unless you have a voice like Morgan Freeman). You can also integrate still and moving images or make automated slide shows.
Once you’ve created something truly worth watching, burn it to DVD for safekeeping and sharing or upload it to YouTube (where it might now get more than two views) or some other online service.
Video editing has a reputation for being expensive, complex, and time-consuming. And it can be all these things — especially when compared to photo editing. A comprehensive editor such as Adobe Premiere Elements 11 costs U.S. $73, and you’re not going to learn how to use it overnight. However, with a bit of practice and the right software, basic video editing can be relatively quick, cheap, and easy. I’ll describe two video-editing applications that fill that bill: Microsoft’s Movie Maker and NCH Software’s VideoPad. I’ll also discuss Avi to Dvd Free Converter, a simple tool for burning a video file to DVD — and a useful companion for VideoPad.