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As suggested elsewhere, I'm starting a new thread to discuss technical questions, etc. related to making videos. Alamy has recently imported over six million clips that they are promoting on their homepage, so I think its fair to assume that they are back in the game, even if it is indirectly. Best not to name or discuss any other stock agencies here, though.

 

My first question is about free video editing software. There is plenty of it out there. However, I haven't found a program that I like yet. I don't have any ambitions beyond making video clips of "normal" subjects, so I'm looking for something with a user-friendly interface (i.e. simple and intuitive) that I can use to trim my clips and perhaps make a few corrections if necessary. I'm using a very basic editor right now. It does the job, but I'd like a few more options to play with. Any suggestions?

 

 

Edited by John Mitchell
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DaVinci Resolve seems to be the software of choice for a lot of professional video editors, particularly for colour grading. The basic version is free and apparently it is far from basic but it is probably overkill unless one is taking video editing very seriously. I use Final Cut Pro which is Mac only.

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Thanks for the suggestions. Hadn't heard of Shotcut or Nero. Shall check them out. DaVinci does look as if it would be overkill for me, but it does seem to be very popular. One of the shortcomings I've discovered with free editing programs is that some can't open Sony's AVCHD file-format, which I've been using, and you don't find that out until you download and install them.

 

BTW, this is a handy online file converter that I came across. It works really well if you need to convert to .mov.

 

 

Edited by John Mitchell
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9 hours ago, Phil Robinson said:

I use Shotcut. It's free and surprisingly useful and versatile when you get the hang of it.

 

 

Thanks for this, Phil. I downloaded Shotcut, and I think I might actually be able to figure it out. All the basic adjustment filters I was looking for appear to be there, and the interface is manageable. Shotcut also opens Sony AVCHD files without any problems.

 

 

Edited by John Mitchell
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3 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Thanks for this, Phil. I downloaded Shotcut, and I think I might actually be able to figure it out. All the basic adjustment filters I was looking for appear to be there, and the interface is manageable. Shotcut also opens Sony AVCHD files without any problems.

 

 

I found it a bit daunting at first, never having having dealt with video before, but I'm comfortable with it now and keep finding new things it can do.
 

 

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DaVinci is very demanding on hardware- it won't run on my older machine. I use Lightworks, which runs easily, but you can only export 720p SD H264 mp4 unless you subscribe or buy outright.

It's very powerful, but it's really a film editor's tool, with quite a lot to learn. That said simple top-and-tail is quick to do and the rendering is quite fast.

Edited by spacecadet
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Thanks Phil for the introduction to Shotcut, I hadn't seen it before. I've installed it and had a brief firtle around. It looks almost as complex as Davinci Resolve as a video editor and under the bonnet there is a geat amount of capability available. My reservations are probably coloured by the fact that I'm now familiar with Resolve, but I think some are genuine reservations. It wouldn't play clips smoothly for me, in either the editor or the player. Resolve has that limitation on my hardware too, but it handles it elegantly with slower but very smooth playback. Overall, even though I've been editing video on and off for 15 years now, I didn't find Shotcut intuitive to use. For the newcomer just navigating which of the many export options to use may prove a challenge. I think that the most telling point was when using Shotcut put me in mind of my dalliance ten years ago with GIMP as a still image editor. It did the job but it was hard work at times and I never regretted going to Lightroom in its place.

 

For me, looking at Shotcut has reminded me that it's actually quite demanding to learn how to contribute good quality stock video. You may find an editor which enables you to do the basic trimming of in and out point, and save the file, but that puts you on a level with the still image contributor who shoots jpeg in the camera and submits a cropped version of the image with no other post-processing. Few people here would regard that as a viable way forward for still images at Alamy. With video clips I regard the minimum as trimming to length together with some colour grading and sharpening. Frequently I use a graded filter to even out over-exposed sky and under exposed subjects and stabilisation to cut out camera shake where I've been forced to shoot handheld. The one thing Resolve does not supply in the free version is noise reduction (which Shotcut does have, though I haven't tried it out).

 

Resolve provides all the facilities I need.  I won't pretend that its easy to learn but the essentials can be grasped with a little effort. It is very demanding on hardware, espeically the latest versions. However earlier full versions are downloadable from Davinci themselves and these may be a better starting point for older hardware (make note espcially of the video card and RAM specs required to run each version). I'm now on version 14 (current version is 17) but I worked happily with the three prior versions for several years.

Edited by Joseph Clemson
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51 minutes ago, Joseph Clemson said:

It wouldn't play clips smoothly for me, in either the editor or the player. Resolve has that limitation on my hardware too, but it handles it elegantly with slower but very smooth playback.

I also have trouble playing back high quality 4K clips, but if you press F4 it converts playback to lower quality so you get a more realistic view without changing the original

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I use what was originally known as Sony Vegas, nowadays calls itself Magix Vegas Movie Studio. Not free, but not massively expensive.
Handles pretty much anything and runs on both my newer (2020) PC and an older one running Windows 7 perfectly well.

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I make the video briefly, I use the VideoPad editor. It's free, but after the trial version he wants a registration code. I will uninstall it and reinstall it. The time starts counting down again. But I'm not an everyday user. It's easy for me because I'm also simple.

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6 hours ago, Joseph Clemson said:

Thanks Phil for the introduction to Shotcut, I hadn't seen it before. I've installed it and had a brief firtle around. It looks almost as complex as Davinci Resolve as a video editor and under the bonnet there is a geat amount of capability available. My reservations are probably coloured by the fact that I'm now familiar with Resolve, but I think some are genuine reservations. It wouldn't play clips smoothly for me, in either the editor or the player. Resolve has that limitation on my hardware too, but it handles it elegantly with slower but very smooth playback. Overall, even though I've been editing video on and off for 15 years now, I didn't find Shotcut intuitive to use. For the newcomer just navigating which of the many export options to use may prove a challenge. I think that the most telling point was when using Shotcut put me in mind of my dalliance ten years ago with GIMP as a still image editor. It did the job but it was hard work at times and I never regretted going to Lightroom in its place.

 

For me, looking at Shotcut has reminded me that it's actually quite demanding to learn how to contribute good quality stock video. You may find an editor which enables you to do the basic trimming of in and out point, and save the file, but that puts you on a level with the still image contributor who shoots jpeg in the camera and submits a cropped version of the image with no other post-processing. Few people here would regard that as a viable way forward for still images at Alamy. With video clips I regard the minimum as trimming to length together with some colour grading and sharpening. Frequently I use a graded filter to even out over-exposed sky and under exposed subjects and stabilisation to cut out camera shake where I've been forced to shoot handheld. The one thing Resolve does not supply in the free version is noise reduction (which Shotcut does have, though I haven't tried it out).

 

Resolve provides all the facilities I need.  I won't pretend that its easy to learn but the essentials can be grasped with a little effort. It is very demanding on hardware, espeically the latest versions. However earlier full versions are downloadable from Davinci themselves and these may be a better starting point for older hardware (make note espcially of the video card and RAM specs required to run each version). I'm now on version 14 (current version is 17) but I worked happily with the three prior versions for several years.

 

Interesting. I'm new to video, but my understanding is that most post-processing -- e.g. colour grading -- is best left to the end-user  -- i.e. that it's best to upload uncorrected files even if they look flat. At least that's what P5 recommends in their guidelines. How much post-processing do you do?

 

UPDATE: Rereading your post, I see the answer to my question. Sorry about that.

Edited by John Mitchell
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9 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Interesting. I'm new to video, but my understanding is that most post-processing -- e.g. colour grading -- is best left to the end-user  -- i.e. that it's best to upload uncorrected files even if they look flat. At least that's what P5 recommends in their guidelines. How much post-processing do you do?

Unless you have a grading monitor (and the prices of those can make our kit look like toys) I think you're better off leaving it flat. Baking-in a grade also narrows the end-user's options for post-processing, especially for broadcast.

Edited by spacecadet
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1 hour ago, spacecadet said:

Unless you have a grading monitor (and the prices of those can make our kit look like toys) I think you're better off leaving it flat. Baking-in a grade also narrows the end-user's options for post-processing, especially for broadcast.

 

That is my limited understanding as well -- best to use a "neutral" style setting when shooting and leave things at that, even if the results look bland. This gives the end-user plenty of leeway. That said, you see plenty of heavily corrected clips on offer at stock agencies. I try to get the basics right in-camera, but sometimes the white balance and brightness need some adjustment later on. I try to keep post-processing corrections at that. But perhaps I'm missing something...

 

 

Edited by John Mitchell
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6 hours ago, Phil Robinson said:

I also have trouble playing back high quality 4K clips, but if you press F4 it converts playback to lower quality so you get a more realistic view without changing the original

 

For editing 8K/4K clips one commonly used technique for smoother playback is to use Davinci Resolv's "Optimized Media" feature.  Works transparently once optimized.  Lots of info on YouTube.

 

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1 hour ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Interesting. I'm new to video, but my understanding is that most post-processing -- e.g. colour grading -- is best left to the end-user  -- i.e. that it's best to upload uncorrected files even if they look flat. At least that's what P5 recommends in their guidelines. How much post-processing do you do?

 

UPDATE: Rereading your post, I see the answer to my question. Sorry about that.

 

To know what to do for the best I would have to be a colourist or video production specialist and I am neither. I find myself leaning towards what I have learned as a photographer, where some degree of exposure adustment, contrast, saturation etc. will help a photo to sell where a bland image may not.

 

I shoot using my Canon 60D with a neutral  picture style, including zero in-camera sharpening. My basic processing procedure is to try to compensate for any significant over or under exposure (though badly exposed footage goes to the waste bin). Sometimes getting the overall exposure right involves using a graduated filter to bring down highlights or lift shadows in particular areas of the image. I then use the colour scopes parade view to adjust colour balance and overall range in each of the three colour channels (in the same way that as a photographer I try to get the histogram within about 5% of the white and black points on the histogram, depending on the nature of the image). Lastly I add a little sharpening if the image is particularly soft. As this is a moving image, occasionally it is necessary to use keyframes to move the graduated mask(s) and/or adjust different values as the scene changes.

 

My method is something I have developed over many years learning from tutorials on the web. My aim is to end up with a clip that could be bought by a non-professional customer and dropped unchanged into some production or other, but also a clip so little-processed that a professional colourist could work with it to meet their own requirements. I'll not put a link to my P5 portfolio, but if you search the Alamy video collection for 'East Lancashire Railway' you find all the clips, except one drone shot, are mine. I have never had my procedure peer-reviewed, so if anyone who knows about these things has any comments (or indeed anyone at all), I would be glad to hear from them.

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1 hour ago, Joseph Clemson said:

 

To know what to do for the best I would have to be a colourist or video production specialist and I am neither. I find myself leaning towards what I have learned as a photographer, where some degree of exposure adustment, contrast, saturation etc. will help a photo to sell where a bland image may not.

 

I shoot using my Canon 60D with a neutral  picture style, including zero in-camera sharpening. My basic processing procedure is to try to compensate for any significant over or under exposure (though badly exposed footage goes to the waste bin). Sometimes getting the overall exposure right involves using a graduated filter to bring down highlights or lift shadows in particular areas of the image. I then use the colour scopes parade view to adjust colour balance and overall range in each of the three colour channels (in the same way that as a photographer I try to get the histogram within about 5% of the white and black points on the histogram, depending on the nature of the image). Lastly I add a little sharpening if the image is particularly soft. As this is a moving image, occasionally it is necessary to use keyframes to move the graduated mask(s) and/or adjust different values as the scene changes.

 

My method is something I have developed over many years learning from tutorials on the web. My aim is to end up with a clip that could be bought by a non-professional customer and dropped unchanged into some production or other, but also a clip so little-processed that a professional colourist could work with it to meet their own requirements. I'll not put a link to my P5 portfolio, but if you search the Alamy video collection for 'East Lancashire Railway' you find all the clips, except one drone shot, are mine. I have never had my procedure peer-reviewed, so if anyone who knows about these things has any comments (or indeed anyone at all), I would be glad to hear from them.

 

 

Thanks. It makes sense to seek some kind of balance. I find that some of the clips that I've uploaded lately look TOO bland. They would have benefited from a bit of livening up. Back to the drawing board...

 

Your clips look good to my untrained eye, not too processed but still attractive enough to catch some attention.

Edited by John Mitchell
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On 08/08/2021 at 03:17, Phil Robinson said:

I found it a bit daunting at first, never having having dealt with video before, but I'm comfortable with it now and keep finding new things it can do.
 

 

 

Have you found a way to recover detail in highlights using Shotcut? The only option seems to be the "Brightness" filter, which helps a bit, but not much.

 

 

Edited by John Mitchell
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23 hours ago, Joseph Clemson said:

 

To know what to do for the best I would have to be a colourist or video production specialist and I am neither. I find myself leaning towards what I have learned as a photographer, where some degree of exposure adustment, contrast, saturation etc. will help a photo to sell where a bland image may not.

 

I shoot using my Canon 60D with a neutral  picture style, including zero in-camera sharpening. My basic processing procedure is to try to compensate for any significant over or under exposure (though badly exposed footage goes to the waste bin). Sometimes getting the overall exposure right involves using a graduated filter to bring down highlights or lift shadows in particular areas of the image. I then use the colour scopes parade view to adjust colour balance and overall range in each of the three colour channels (in the same way that as a photographer I try to get the histogram within about 5% of the white and black points on the histogram, depending on the nature of the image). Lastly I add a little sharpening if the image is particularly soft. As this is a moving image, occasionally it is necessary to use keyframes to move the graduated mask(s) and/or adjust different values as the scene changes.

 

My method is something I have developed over many years learning from tutorials on the web. My aim is to end up with a clip that could be bought by a non-professional customer and dropped unchanged into some production or other, but also a clip so little-processed that a professional colourist could work with it to meet their own requirements. I'll not put a link to my P5 portfolio, but if you search the Alamy video collection for 'East Lancashire Railway' you find all the clips, except one drone shot, are mine. I have never had my procedure peer-reviewed, so if anyone who knows about these things has any comments (or indeed anyone at all), I would be glad to hear from them.

 

Do you ever upload two or more versions of the same clip -- e.g. one with no corrections and another with basic saturation, contrast, etc. adjustments?

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Just now, John Mitchell said:

 

Have you found a way to recover highlights in Shotcut? The only option seems to be the "Brightness" filter, which helps a bit, but not much.

The only other way I know is in 'Levels' by reducing 'Output White' but if the detail isn't there it's never going to come back

 

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9 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Do you ever upload two or more versions of the same clip -- e.g. one with no corrections and another with basic saturation, contrast, etc. adjustments?

 

Two versions of the same clip is not an approach I've ever tried and in some agencies may fall foul of a reluctance to accept similars.. To the extent that one can see what sells on video stock sites, I don't get the impression that minimal processed bland clips sell especially well, though I can see their attractiveness to the professional colourist. I also have a feeling that unprocessed video is of most benefit when it comes from high end speciaist video cameras and terms I barely understand like uncompresed, raw and logging are bandied about. Such as this is far above my level of knowledge or experience and seems likely to remain so. 

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On 08/08/2021 at 12:06, spacecadet said:

Unless you have a grading monitor (and the prices of those can make our kit look like toys) I think you're better off leaving it flat. Baking-in a grade also narrows the end-user's options for post-processing, especially for broadcast.

+1

 

Here's what P5 says -

 

"Moderate color correction and effects are okay; however, please remember that many buyers will color correct or otherwise modify the look of the footage after purchase, and will therefore desire a high-quality, minimally manipulated, or RAW image to work with. We will evaluate videos with filters applied on a case-by-case basis."

 

I think a key takeaway is if we make color correction "improvements" to our clips that make the footage look better to us then that clip's look may then restrict what a buyer can do with it color grade wise and they'll look elsewhere.

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1 hour ago, Phil said:

+1

 

Here's what P5 says -

 

"Moderate color correction and effects are okay; however, please remember that many buyers will color correct or otherwise modify the look of the footage after purchase, and will therefore desire a high-quality, minimally manipulated, or RAW image to work with. We will evaluate videos with filters applied on a case-by-case basis."

 

I think a key takeaway is if we make color correction "improvements" to our clips that make the footage look better to us then that clip's look may then restrict what a buyer can do with it color grade wise and they'll look elsewhere.

 

I read this on P5 too, which led me to recently start uploading unprocessed clips. However, as Joseph suggested above, bland-looking clips may not be too appealing to some customers, especially if they are of "normal" subjects. Also, the vast majority of clips on sale look to have been processed, some more than others. It's a bit of a quandary. I guess the key is to keep adjustments as "minimally manipulated" as possible.

 

 

 

 

Edited by John Mitchell
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1 hour ago, Phil Robinson said:

The only other way I know is in 'Levels' by reducing 'Output White' but if the detail isn't there it's never going to come back

 

 

Thanks. I'll give that a try. Shooting "stills" in RAW has made me a bit lazy about exposure, which I'm discovering has to be right on with videos or you get some unsightly results that can't be corrected. I'm slowly getting the hang of Shotcut. So far, so good...

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