Captain Video

I’ve started working with video. It’s a real learning and challenging experience for me. My first attempts range from downright horrible to just barely OK. Among other things, the question of what app to use for processing the videos has been a trip also.

My first thought about this was ‘live streaming’ Ha. Overlooked a significant number of things about doing that; little things like data rate, etc. The app I found was OBS – Open Broadcast System. It’s free(that’s going to be a recurring theme here) and has some nice features. If I ever get to live streaming, it would be the way to go, I think.

So, dropping live streaming, I went with iMovie. Comes with the Mac, it’s free and not bad for a beginner. I ran into some problems because I didn’t understand what settings to use on my camera and came up with some real challenging problems. Hint – don’t use auto white balance. Check this video out for more details.

In an effort to fix the problems, I went on to what might have been the obvious choice – Photoshop. I subscribe so there wasn’t an additional cost involved with the decision. For processing the video, it’s fine. It doesn’t have any audio capability so processing the audio involved a round trip to Audacity. Also, making sure the audio is synced with stuff like people speaking isn’t extremely difficult but you do have to take care doing it. One other point – on my old Mac, rendering a video took a very long time.

I then discovered Shotcut, another free app with lots of features including audio processing. I liked it but ran into a problem; still not clear if is me or the app. The problem was that while the video looked good in Shotcut, when I rendered it the result looked terrible – washed out would be the best description I could give you. I did one pass at “guessing” what I’d get and making adjustments but realized that was a losing game and quit.

I learned of DaVinci Resolve early in this process and downloaded it. Didn’t have a clue where to begin with it. New terminology and a different look. After a brief look I moved on. Since I was having problems with both Photoshop and Shotcut, I decided to take another look at DaVinci Resolve. There is a free version and a paid version. I – obviously – have the free version. The free version is fully functional; there are some additional features in the paid version but the free version works for me.

One intimidating thing to start is the manual – it’s 3000 pages long! I decided to join the youtube generation and found several good videos on how to use the app – this one I found very helpful – be aware, it’s two hours long. The performance is good on my old Mac and editing a video is a much better process – once I learned more – than the other apps I used. DaVinci Resolve started as a “color grading” app so, as you might expect, that’s a strong area. But the other things – audio, management, and so on are good also.

Two features that I use in Resolve that I didn’t see coming. One, it’s useful to be able to grab a frame from the video. Photoshop can do that but I found it to be a painful process. Resolve makes that simple. I’m shooting 4K video so I can get 8MP images to use.

The other feature is multiple timelines. For the videos, I might have several takes to put together plus a still slide show. I process each of these in a separate timeline, then merge them into one final timeline. The useful part is if I edit one of the timelines that comprise the total, the changes are reflected in the final. You do have to move things if you shorten a segment…I think.

Bottom line – go with DaVinci Resolve. There’s a learning curve but it’s worth the effort.