Cathy Swain's Digital Video Journal

Week 1 - First video: using still images

The assignment: Create a short montage video sequence using still images based on a single color. Try and make the exported video 15 seconds exactly.

I had fun playing with Premiere Pro this week. I'm so glad I'm taking the Adobe class because there are so many buttons and settings in the program. I know I would find it overwhelming without the class to lead me through. However, I feel pretty confident with working with still images now. The videos and the live class were such a big help. I enjoyed the assignment too; it was fun to work with color and focus on that in images. The only thing I didn't feel terribly confident with was putting a title on the video. I couldn't figure out how to put the lettering exactly where I wanted it. So I cheated a bit: I pulled one of the images into Photoshop and put a title on it there and then added that image to the end of the video. Here is the result:

I'm looking forward to the upcoming weeks to learn how to work with sound and moving images.

Week 2 - Working with found video clips and adding audio

The assignment: Create video montage sequence based on found video content that follows a theme of your choice. Like assignment 1 this project should show an escalation of intensity. This escalation can be through shot type, shot length, subject matter, movement, sound or some combination of these elements. 20 seconds exactly. MP4 only.

I decided to use found video content rather than shooting my own because I wanted to concentrate on learning how to edit with Premiere Pro. I chose "rain" as my theme. I looked at a number of video clips on pexels and figured which ones appealed most to me. I made notes about which order I wanted to put them in, starting with clips that involved rain in spaces created by humans and ending with natural spaces. I downloaded the clips and imported them to Premiere Pro. I used the "i" and "o" keys to select the in point and out point for each clip and then dragged just the video (not the audio) clips over to lower right hand panel. I added a few transitions and once I had everything the way I wanted it, I searched for an audio "rain" file. I found one on soundbible, but it wasn't quite long enough so I played with it in Audacity to make it 20 seconds long. I imported the audio file into Premiere Pro and added it to the project. The last step was to add a title. I'm still not entirely sure how to work with the titles. I found a video that showed how to add a title in this latest edition of Premiere Pro, and that was fairly helpful. However, I couldn't figure out how to move the title after creating it (even though the person in the video moved his title around on the screen). I finally decided that the title was good enough where it was.

Week 3 - Shot reverse shot

The assignment: Create a video sequence utilizing the shot reverse shot technique (and obeying the 180 degree line rule) to present a knock knock joke. Use your own video content. 30 seconds maximum.

This week's assignment was a great learning experience and a lot of fun to work through. My husband loves telling knock-knock jokes, especially ones that his sister created. So I asked him to tell me several jokes, and I picked one from there. I spent some time trying to figure out where to film the shots. I would have liked to film it outdoors because I like natural lighting, but I was afraid that it would be difficult to blend the opening piece (with one clip laid over the other) if the leaves and grass were moving from the breeze. I was afraid it wouldn't be possible to line up the 2 clips, even with feathering the edge. So I tried a number of places in the house and finally settled on the dining room.

I followed the suggestion (from this week's class) to film a lot more footage than I needed in order to have lots of shots to choose from. I asked my husband to be my actor and also enlisted our chihuahua, Lily, as a prop. I filmed many medium range and close up shots, both with and without Lily. I also followed the advice from this week's live class to film the opening sequence without stopping the camera so that it would be easier to lay one clip over the other later. So the camera kept rolling as we filmed the opening clips over and over again, including a clothing change. Once all the filming was done, I found that I had to rewatch some of the week 2 lecture as well as the week 3 lecture and the week 3 live class in order to remember how to do everything. I loved the trick of putting one clip on top of another and then cropping the top one. The edge feathering worked really well to get rid of the hard crop line that showed up between the two clips.

Week 4 - Motion: Cutting on action

The assignment: Create a short video sequence that utilizes cutting on action to establish pacing and fluid movement in a scene. Film your own footage to use in the edit. 20 seconds maximum.

There was a lot of trial and error involved in figuring out exactly where to place my “cutting” action for everything to flow properly. I realized that I had to pay close attention to exactly where to make my cuts; if it was off by even a frame or two, it made the action appear either jumpy or laggy (depending on where the cut was).

Besides paying attention to the timing, I also had to pay attention to the camera angle. I had a closing shot that I liked better than the one I ended up using (because the lilacs were places more artistically into the vase), but that shot didn’t flow with the rest because the camera angle was a little off.

When I finally got the action to flow the way I wanted it to, I imported an audio file of birds that I found from public domain through Soundbible. I couldn’t seem to make it fade out at the end because the sound effects controls wouldn’t work on that audio file. (I must have done something to the file inadvertently.) So I imported the file into Audacity and added the fade out there, and then imported the edited sound file back into Premiere Pro. I used the "audio gain" feature in Premiere Pro to adjust the volume of the birds down a bit to make sure that the sound of the clippers snipping the lilac could be heard clearly.

Week 5 - Instructional Video

The Assignment: Create a video sequence that can be used in a learning situation to teach a skill, an idea or a concept, include screen capture and a simple title.

My students are going to do a project where they create a slideshow in Google slides and then use Adobe Spark to create a narrated presentation using those slides. I decided that creating a “how to” video for that process would be the perfect project for this week’s video.

I had thought that this week’s video would be the easiest to make because I have made a number of instructional videos over the last couple of years for my work (using something other than Premiere Pro). However, I found that this week’s video was my most challenging one. The good news, however, is that I ended up learning a lot more about Premiere Pro through creating this video. I did an awful lot of cutting both video and audio clips, detaching audio, adding freeze frames, etc.

The part of the project that was the most difficult for me to work through was using key frames to zoom in and out. I ended up watching the week 5 lecture a number of times. Still it took a number of trial and error attempts before I got it. But the end result is that I have a pretty solid idea of how the key frames work. I made another video on Premiere Pro at work today and used the zoom feature successfully. So working through this video was worth it.

Final Reflection:

I loved this course! I’ve taken a lot of online courses in the past, and this was definitely my favorite one. I work as an instructional designer and the structure of this course has made me think about ways to improve some of the online classes that I work with.

Prior to this course, I had never worked with Premiere Pro. I had opened it up once or twice and had no idea where to even begin. As soon as I saw that this course was being offered I jumped at the chance to take it.

Each week I learned so much. I knew that I would learn a lot about Premiere Pro, but I hadn’t realized how much I would learn about filmmaking in general in this course. I find that I am looking at all types of film (movies, tv shows, advertisements) differently now than before taking this class. I was a pretty passive viewer of films before, but now I find myself thinking about how the filmmakers created different scenes.

I finished up my last video for the course, the instructional video, at the beginning of this week. Then it turned out that this week at work I had to make 4 or 5 instructional videos. In the past I’ve used iMovie and I knew that I could do them pretty quickly if I used that method again (because I was still having to go back and rethink how to do things in Premiere). However, I decided that it would be worth the extra time for me to do the videos this week in Premiere so that I could cement some of the learning from the past 5 weeks. What a great idea that was. Not only did I get quicker each time I made a video, but I also got a better understanding of the underlying way that Premiere is structured (for example, I finally "got it" that I have to click on either the audio or video track and then drag the effect I want onto the track before I can adjust with the "effect controls"). I’m still a long way from being an expert with Premiere, but I know enough now that I feel confident using it and know that I can always look at videos or help files to figure out how to do the things that I haven’t yet tried.

I’m really looking forward to the “Train the Trainer” Adobe course that starts up in a few days. I’m also hoping to take a Photoshop course when one is offered again.


Created with images by jarmoluk - "cat video photo"

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