A ‘video short’ is short film featurette, generally less than 10 minutes long. They are sometimes professionally produced, but with the increasing number of video competitions on the internet, we are seeing more and more talented amateur videos.
It’s easier than you might think to create a video short for your own personal use or to enter in a competition.
- Outline your plan of attack. Use a good quality camera that shoots high resolution video. If you have friends who can help, ask a friend to bring a backup camera and shoot the same scenes from a different angle. Know what kind of shots you want to have before you begin shooting. An outline or even a storyboard is a good idea. Scout out your locations and pick areas that either have interesting backgrounds, or bland backgrounds like grass, trees, or water. If you are using speaking lines, write the script in advance and have your ‘actors’ practice their lines.
- Keep your footage clean. Be aware of things going on in the background that will detract from your story or your point. Watch for things like passing people, cars, dogs, and even shadows cast by onlookers. Keep away from noise-it’s amazing what your camera will pick up! Ask people around you not to talk. If they won’t comply, you should move to a quieter area. Other background noises that will ruin your footage are things like diesel buses, heavy traffic, angry blue jays, planes, shrieking kids, squeaking doors, and furniture rumble.
- Keep the energy up! If you are using people in your video, keep them smiling and laughing and try to help them relax. Crack jokes, and promise to save the humiliating outtakes for a joke reel. Let them ad lib a little if they like. In general, keep your video cast relaxed and make sure they’re having fun. Keep your eyes open for little moments and vignettes that are unexpected but that might be sweet, touching or funny when included in your finished reel.
- Shoot at least three times as much footage as you need. If you are planning to produce a three minute video, you should have at least 10 minutes, preferably 20 minutes, of video clips.
- Do you need to convert your files? Many current cameras store videos as .mp4 files, but the most common video editors can only handle .mp3 files. Never fear, there are shareware and freeware programs that will convert .mp4 files to .mp3 or .avi files so that you can work with them in simple editors like Windows Movie Maker.
- Edit, edit, edit. Now begins the process of putting it all together. The steps I’m about to describe apply to Windows Movie Maker, but may apply to other video editors as well. Upload all your video clips into your video editing program. Every time you turned your camera on and off, that footage was saved as a separate clip, so you’ll probably have quite a few separate files. The files will be displayed as icons on a whiteboard.
- Drag your clips onto the video story line at the bottom of the screen, in the order you want them to appear. To remove footage you don’t want from the beginning or end of a clip, use the cut function to trim ends of clips. To remove footage from the middle of a clip, just split it in half and trim the ends. You can also delete an entire clip by simply hitting the delete button.
- Once you have edited and trimmed your footage down to a workable timeline, you can provide graceful screen transitions by simply sliding each clip over the next one about a quarter-inch. This will create a ‘fade’ into the next scene.
- Add music by uploading a sound file into WMM, and dragging it to the audio track timeline. You can slide it backward and forward on the track to adjust when it starts on your video. Be sure you own the rights to any music you use, or download music clips from a site that allows personal use.
- Add your titles, end credits, and any title overlays that you want to place along the timeline. You can change the background, font, time, and overall appearance of your print titles. The title pages also go on their own track and you will be able to slide them back and forth to position them exactly where you want them in your footage.
- Review and fine tune your final draft. There may be spots you can adjust slightly so that the action matches the music closely-try trimming a little more, or varying the length of a scene fade. WMM can also mask background noises so the music and voice overs are clear-unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to apply to individual clips, you can only mask the whole video for background sound.