Making And Editing Video (2018) Fun & Interesting

In 2014 I wrote an article on how I edit video. As so much of how I do that and the other parts of making the videos that I put on YouTube has changed, I thought I’d do an update.

First up is the equipment that I primarily use. Since the majority of my videos take place in the shop, I have a fairly involved setup out there that is more or less permanent. It starts with my big camera gantry that I made a few years ago. That replaces a tripod and is much more versatile. Mounted on it is my camera rig:

The camera is a Sony A6300 that I’ve had for about two years. The lens in a Rokinon 21mm with a 1 stop ND filter. The filter protects the lens and makes it possible to open the aperture up for a more shallow depth of field, which is good for separating the subject that is in focus from the background.
Under the camera is the monitor / recorder. It’s connected to the camera’s HDMI out and records the 4k video directly to a 250GB SSD. The codec it records in is DNxHR at SQ (standard quality) settings. The SQ settings are a fair compromise on quality vs file size, which can be huge. This video codec is much less compressed and a lot easier to edit than the codec that the camera records internally.
Mounted on top of the camera is the audio interface. It works with a mic that is mounted above on a boom. And since it works with the battery that’s in the camera to power the microphone, I never have a problem with losing audio from a dead battery.

Speaking of the mic, it’s a Sennheiser MKE 600. Just a bit dusty in this picture:

Not inexpensive, but it works well and sounds good. Like I said above, it’s mounted on a telescoping boom arm that I made from wood.

This might not seem like equipment, but light and sound treatment are probably more important than the camera you use. The drop ceiling that I installed makes a huge improvement to the sound quality, and the evenly spaced fixtures provide ample light:

I recently added this LED spot light to fill in darker areas, especially on my miter saw station:

My camera gantry also has a DIY LED light panel that is powered by a 12 volt battery, but I rarely use it now. Since I’m recording the video in a much less compressed codec, I’m able to push up the brightness while editing it, and that makes up for not using the light. Biggest drawback with anything that is battery powered is you need to keep the battery charged, and that can be difficult to remember to do before leaving the shop.

The last piece of equipment is my Focus Master:

Just a piece of plywood on a stick that can stand in for me and allows me to manually focus the camera for the talking head stuff. Auto focus has really improved over the last few years, but it still not as reliable as locking it in manually. And the lens I’m using is manual focus only, anyway.

Editing

I made a video a year ago showing how I edit one of my less detailed videos:

Not a lot has changed since then, other than the addition of some new computer hardware that lets me have a full screen view on my second monitor while editing. I also don’t convert to optimized media, since the files I’m using now are perfect for editing. also, Resolve upgraded how it handles the H264 codecs to play and edit smoother.

One thing that I didn’t go over is how I do a voice over. In general, I try to avoid voice overs as much as possible, but for some types of videos that’s not really an option.
I go through how I do that in this video:

And I’ll break it down here a bit more and talk about the software that I use.
I edit with Davinci Resolve and I switched over to that from Cyberlink Power Director roughly 2 years ago. The difference between these two programs is massive, and just changing to the better software has greatly reduced the amount of time it takes me to edit a video.

Here’s my editing page where I’m working on the video above. It’s a video about editing a voice over, and if you look at the beginning of the timeline you’ll see the cuts where I’m editing some of the voice over for it. It’s the voice over of the voice over video!

I keep the preview window on top small like that to open more editing space in the timeline. Besides, I rarely look at it with the full screen preview. The monitors I’m using are 4k, but I have the resolution set to 3200 x 1800, and that makes smaller things a bit easier to see. Click the image above for a full size view if you want a better look.

After I’m finished with the editing on the clips, I work on the audio. And for this video, there’s not a lot to do other than to equalize the voice track and lower the volume on the background tracks. Resolve has some built in audio functionality now, but I prefer to use a VST plugin call NOVA which is free from Tokyo Dawn Records. It has a a powerful parametric equalizer that’s tied to a dynamic compressor to really fine tune the sound. It’s not especially easy to learn but well worth the time. Besides, like I said, it is free:

A major benefit is that once you have the settings dialed in, you can save it as a preset and just apply it to the next edit. Since most of what I film is in the shop using the same mic, there’s not much need to adjust the settings.

After the audio, it’s on to the colour page. This is the most powerful part of Resolve and what really distinguishes it from other video editing programs. That said, I really don’t use it to even a percentage of its full potential, since the videos I make generally don’t need a lot of work to make them look “pretty”.
The colour page:

Much of what I’ll do is to correct the white balance and brighten and sharpen the image. I have the camera’s sharpness settings turned way down, since I’ve found that it is better to sharpen while editing, if needed. It does a better job, especially on the less compressed DNxHR files.

Like the audio plugin, there’s definitely a learning curve to using this effectively, but again it’s very much worth it.
I happen it have a preset that I made and can apply to this video, and just do a minor tweak or two to get it looking the way I want it:

Here’s the difference it makes:

Nothing major, just takes away the yellowish colour-cast and brightens it up some.
Something else worth mentioning is that Resolve does a great job of capturing stills. Before this, I had been using VLC media player to grab screen shots, but they always looked less than stellar.

I can then apply the same settings to the rest of the clips by selecting them all and centre-clicking on the modified preset:

While on the colour page, I decided to go back to the edit page and adjust the clips lower. I’m blanking out the top and bottom of the screen to make the video a different aspect ratio, so I can move the clips down to fit better and not show all of the clutter on my desk:

Reasons for using the different aspect ratio is to make the video look more “cinematic”, but in this instance it focuses the attention¬† right where it needs to be. As an added bonus, it will also reduce the final file size that I upload to YouTube. My internet is expensive and every megabyte saved helps.

With everything done, it’s time to export the video. I render to QuickTime .mov with an unrestricted bit rate:

Even though I record in 4k, I export my videos at 1080p. Again, to reduce upload bandwidth, and I don’t think 4k is needed for the type of videos I make. In general, videos shot in 4k and then down-scaled to 1080p look cleaner and more detailed. Also, you can crop in on 4k up to 2x without losing quality when the output is 1080p, which gives a lot of options for framing and shot composition.

Fully rendered, the file size is 1.7 GB and that is much bigger than I’d want to upload:

So I use a free program called Handbrake to compress it even further:

Handbrake is a very efficient rendering engine and will compress the video without any apparent loss in quality. It does this much better than the editing program can (I’ve tried it).

The final file size is much smaller:

Nearly a 10x reduction. I save the full size video, but delete these reduced ones after I’ve uploaded them to YouTube.

So, quite a difference four years makes. I’m sure that in another four, I will be doing things differently again. That is, if I’m still doing this at that time.