Becoming Spielberg

Regular readers will remember late last year that I had difficulties with a video camera which did not seem to offer a way to get video shot with it onto a computer for editing.

A number of readers wrote in to say that you can import the video from the DVD disc the camera recorded it on if you have the right software and a DVD drive on your computer. One of the recommended packages was Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0, which is free to try and is available for download from the Adobe website at www.adobe.com.

I have a very high opinion of Adobe software in general and I nipped over to the site to download a copy and check it out. I must warn you that Premiere Elements is a 700Mb monster and will take you a while to download even if everything should go smoothly and you have broadband.

On the third attempt, I managed to download the program and found that it took quite a long time to install itself on my machine, which is a 2.8Ghz Pentium 4 with 1.25GB of RAM. It took so long, in fact,that I wasn’t all that optimistic that my computer would be able to run it properly.

Once installation was complete, however, I found that the program ran at a very decent speed and I was able plunge in and explore. Working with Premiere is pretty simple and involves the creation of a project into which you import all the media you’re going to use in your movie.

I plugged a DVD disc from the camera into the computer and then hit the Get Media button. Premiere Elements allows you to import video, stills and music from just about any source you can imagine.

Once you’ve got your media safely imported, you can then add it to your movie by dragging it from the Media window onto the Sceneline or Timeline. Either of these two modes allows you to view and rearrange the order that the various elements will show up in your movie.

The Sceneline is probably the best for getting your movie into the rough shape you want it, and then the Timeline can used for more precise arrangement so that, for example, the narration starts at exactly the right time.

You can easily add transitions, such as dissolves and fades, between the scenes and, once the project is complete, you can export it to a DVD disc or in Windows Media, Apple QuickTime or MPEG formats.

The Help feature is pretty good and, using it frequently, I soon had my first movie done and dusted. A manual would probably help to speed up the learning process and it won’t be long before you’re making like Spielberg and, even if you don’t get the same sort of money he does, you will still have a lot of fun putting your movies together.

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