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How To Prepare Content for Video Editing

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How To Prepare Content for Video Editing

“Film editing is now something almost everyone can do at a simple level and enjoy it, but to take it to a higher level requires the same dedication and persistence that any art form does.” -Walter Murch

Okay Hotshot DIYer, let’s get back to basics. You just test-drove your new DSLR camera on the first episode of your awards-bound web series. En route to your acceptance speech at the Webbys, what are the next steps for all of that priceless footage?

In this article, I’ll walk you through the process of prepping your content for the edit. I know there are lot of options when it comes to video editing software, but for the sake of efficiency, I’ve chosen Final Cut Pro (7, not X!) as the soup du jour for our Apple-addicted society. (Sadly, there are no endorsement checks are in my mailbox. Maybe one day.)

Back it up, Shawty!
All of the footage collected throughout the shoot needs to be backed up immediately onto a hard drive (via a memory card reader) during or at the end of each day, depending on the amount of available storage. Then back it up again on a second external hard drive. No, I didn’t stutter. Do it TWICE! This stuff is solid gold. Don’t risk losing all of your hard work. After transfer is complete, keep the drives separate. The 2nd copy is a secure backup that should be stored “offsite,” in a completely different location until your project is finalized. If your editor’s studio burns down – God forbid! – you can thank me later.

You don’t need Nicolas Cage to crack this code...
...but some software will help (like Compressor in Final Cut Studio). Once you’ve copied all of the files over to your hard drive, you might discover that your computer cannot play them back smoothly. These high-resolution, highly compressed “h.264” movie files unfortunately aren’t well suited (coded) for editing. But don’t be intimidated by all of this techy mumbo jumbo. There are plenty of resources out there like this step-by-step video from the smart dudes at B&H to guide you through the process.

Move over Art Vandelay!
Becoming an “Importer/Exporter” is super easy, especially in FCP7. Literally, open a new project, click "File," scroll down to "Import," and you’ll have the option for "Files" or "Folder." Select your footage and it’ll pop up in your project. Short and sweet. If you need further assistance, I’ll defer to another nerd video.

“Good love and protection, make me your selection.”
Watch and review all of your clips. Which take had the best performance? It’s all up to you Orson Wells! This is the really fun part where you get to make your “selects.” Keep an eye out for those pesky boom shadows... UGH!

Matthew Perkins is a filmmaker living in New York City. His first feature, "The Little Tin Man," hits the festival circuit this year. Follow him on Twitter @_MatthewPerkins.

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