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Postproduction: Special techniques in Movie Edit Pro (1/4)

Postproduction: Special techniques in Movie Edit Pro (1/4)

Postproduction, or editing of video material, is one of the most important, exciting, but also demanding tasks of your film production. Your camera provides you with the raw footage, but the movie itself is created on your computer. The possibilities are immense!
The most important step of postproduction is editing.
We’ve already devoted many words to this topic in this article. In the three articles that follow, we’d like to closer examine special techniques. These are important because they come in handy time and again, and it’s important to understand how they work. This article will explain effects. Starting from image optimization, to optimization with keyframes and effect masks, to Chroma Keying, you’ll find everything you need in our tutorial.
In the articles that will follow, we’ll explain more about soundtracks, dubbing, commentary, music and sound optimization as well as everything about titles for your videos.

Using effects properly

Effects have the potential to tremendously improve your video. However, used wrong, they can have the opposite effect, appearing out of place and immediately labeling the video as amateurish. As a rule, it’s a good idea to keep things inconspicuous. Effects should be used in such a way, that they stay unnoticed. This way your viewers can concentrate on the plot without being distracted by them. This is especially relevant for visual presentation. All image anomalies such as underexposures, abnormal tint and blurry focus should be removed. Of course, you should still follow through with your vision and depend on your own aesthetic preferences.

Optimize brightness, contrast, color, and sharpness

It’s hardly necessary to explain that optimizing videos is much more complicated than doing so for still images. In general, you should make sure that scenes that belong together convey the same atmosphere. The most useful workflow is the following: Optimize the first selected scene, then copy the effect settings, select all scenes that go together and paste the settings there. And that’s all there is to it.
But, just what this means in detail, you’ll find out here:

Brightness and contrast:

Brightness and contrast are two values that should always be changed in parallel. Brightness makes your videos lighter or darker. Contrast determines how far apart from each other different brightness levels are. To change these settings, go to EFFECTS > VIDEO EFFECTS in the Media Pool under BRIGHTNESS/CONTRAST. Move the BRIGHTNESS and CONTRAST sliders in the opposite direction from each other, until the image appears like you imagined.

Color correction:

COLOR CORRECTION offers a special type of color editing. Here you can separate two areas of the video (foreground and background) and edit them separately. Often, only a section of the video frame is displayed correctly, and the rest appears wrong. In this case, you have to switch to the COLOR CORRECTION section. Under FOREGROUND SELECTION MODE, select ADD. Now you can click on the area that you’d like to correct. This area will then appear crosshatched. Using the color wheel in the Media Pool, you can set the right color tone. 

Sharpness:

In case of sharpness, every filmmaker walks the thin line between improvement and too much of a good thing. Images that were focused too much will have noise. In the Media Pool, you’ll find a SHARPNESS slider. Get comfortable with it and try playing around.

Once you’re finished editing a video object with the brightness, contrast, color, color correction and sharpness effects, it is recommended to save the changes as a new file. Otherwise, MAGIX Movie Edit Pro will recalculate all effects in realtime each time you play back the object. Especially in case of HD material, this will lead to performance problems, even on powerful systems. If you think you might want to change the effects parameters at a later time, we recommend the START PREVIEW RENDERING function in the EDIT. To compile, proceed as follows:

  • Set an In and Out point in the timeline above the object.

  • In the EDIT menu, select COMPILE AUDIO AND VIDEO.

  • Make sure you’ve selected EXPORT ONLY SELECTED AREA.

  • Click OK. 

The compiled video will now play back much more flawlessly than before.

Implement effects dynamically: Keyframe animation // Dynamic optimization with keyframes

“Keyframe” is self-explanatory. It simply means that effects are applied only to some images, and Movie Edit Pro automatically calculates their levels for the footage between the keyframes. Say, for example, if you make different brightness settings in two images, the software will change these values for the intermediate frames so that a soft transition results. This method is helpful if you’d like to apply different settings to different areas without the viewer noticing the change.

Here’s how it works:

  • Set the playback cursor at the start of the sequence

  • Open the BRIGHTNESS tab in the Media Pool under VIDEO EFFECTS > BRIGHTNESS/CONTRAST

  • Change the brightness values as you like

  • Click on the Keyframe button below the effects window (this sets the value of this position)

  • To change the settings at a different position, move the cursor to a different location

Effect masks: Editing image areas

The principle behind effect masks is that the effect isn’t applied to the entire image, but just a part of it. You can, for example, make faces or license plates in a moving image unrecognizable by pixelating them.

Here’s how it works:

  • Set the effect that should be applied in the image section (e.g. VIDEO EFFECT > DISTORTION > SAND EFFECT)

  • Now you have to load the effect mask: Click the small triangle in the effect dialog and select LOAD EFFECT MASK

  • Select a mask in the effect mask directory

  • The effect mask will appear as an object below the video object and will reveal its effect immediately.

  • Select the effect mask object and open the POSITION/SIZE effect in MOVING EFFECTS

  • Move the effect mask in the preview monitor to the right position

  • Set a keyframe at the start of the video and synchronize it with the camera movement using the keyframe animation effect

  • Move the playback cursor slowly through the video and constantly adjust the effects mask on the video monitor

You’ll find a similar function in the context menu of the effect masks (PIN TO POSITION IN VIDEO). This function is an automation of the workflow described above. This automation is especially well suited for image elements that stand out from the background thanks to high contrast values. If this contrast isn’t as high as you’d like it to be, it is recommended to do some manual adjustment.

Swap backgrounds: Chroma Keying

You already know Chroma Keying from TV, for example as the blue box effect used in news programs. The announcer is filmed in a studio in front of a blue background, and all blue surfaces are swapped by the director with clips, which make it look as if the reporter sits in front a changing, flickering set. It is important that the person filmed doesn’t wear the color blue. Otherwise the clothes will also be replaced by the video! If you have something in the foreground that must remain blue, you can theoretically use any other color for your background. For example, green. All you need to replicate this effect at home is a monotone wall. Now, place yourself or another object in front of this wall. High contrast to the background wall is essential. Simply put, the higher the contrast is, the easier it is to separate.

Here’s how it works:

  • Place the foreground video on the track below the video that should appear in the background

  • Select the lower object

  • In the Media Pool under the EFFECTS tab, select VIDEO EFFECTS > CHROMA KEY

  • Click on the color that you would like to make transparent (in case of a white wall, this will be white)

  • Set the transition and the THRESHOLD VALUE and the TRANSITION RANGE in the Chroma Key dialog

Try it out for yourself!
Take the first step and download the free trial version of Movie Edit Pro and get started!

Author

This part time member of the MAGIX team is originally from Berlin and has been with us since August 2014. In her free time she attempts, among other things, to photograph the various apects of the people around her which have been characterized by the big city.

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