If you have a digital camera or want to convert your VCR tapes over to DVD format you will be looking at video editing programs. PowerProducer is an easy to use program with the ability to capture, edit, create an author menu, and burn the final project onto a disk. Besides DVDís it can also support and burn VCD, SVCD and MiniDVD. VCD is a Video CD, a SVCD stands for Super Video CD conceived in China it is between a CD and a DVD. A MiniDVD on the other hand is like a DVD, but burned onto CD media for which they warn you it may not be playable in many DVD players.
Now-a-days there are a lot of video editing programs on the market. The high end programs will cost hundreds of dollars and take a hundred hours to learn them. I did not have either of them. Yes, PowerProducer is on the low end side at only $50, but it does everything I need to do, and with ease so I donít have to spend a lot of time to learn it. I actually donít have a digital video camera but like most parent have lots of video from when the kids were young, and a few now. The idea of converting them over to DVD so they could have a copy also appealed to me.
So I brought in my VCR and put a tape in. With PowerProducer I just clicked on starting a new project, what type of disk it was to go to and then I was on the Capture/Import page. I clicked the VCR button and started the VCR and the video appeared in a window within PowerProducer which works like a VCR itself. It will show the length of the time recording and size so you know if it will fit.
That done you can add other films, and then click on the Editing Titles. Once there you can change titles for each film you imported. You can split, merge or trim the films. It is very easy for you to simply watch the film and mark off where you want the film to start or end. Thus removing those embarrassing moments where you put your hand into the punch bowl. Heck, donít show the finished product for another month and people might forget about your tripping over your own feet. There is also a slider-bar on this page so if you can quickly move to a certain spot without having to watch the whole tape.
This is where you could really have some fun with certain events that could have more than one camera filming. You could actually bring in both sets of the film and slice/split your film to get another angle. For example, bringing in one film you would split it. Then bring another film in and merge it with the first. Trim where you want that to end and remerge with your first and wow, youíre a movie editor. FYI, when you merge it does bring both together and you wonít see a pause. So if you want one you will have to split the files.
From the Internet I downloaded some funny commercials to see how that would work. They were very easy to work with. From the import page I just clicked on the ones to bring in. In the editing mode I could also edit them, marking where to start and stop before burning the final project. I could also rename them and reorder them very easily. They have a drag-and-drop storyboard approach to arrange the clips.
Once youíre done with the editing you go onto the preview mode to see how it will look. Click on the authoring in the upper left and you get to add special effects. You can add special effects to your titles and chapters. If your title only contains one chapter, you may add an effect to this chapter (i.e. the title). PowerProducer choices for special effects are Emboss, Inverse, Focus, Find Edges. One I had fun with was the TV effect which will make the video appear in 9 different small screens. You can also correct color from this menu. Lastly in here you choose the menu background. Choose different pictures style from business to vacation.
PowerProducer can separate your video file into chapters while you are capturing it. You can have it look for breaking it into a set number of chapters by differences in the video, or put the breaks where you want them.
After all that you can then preview how it will look on the disk. After you are satisfied with the preview, click Next to go to the burning stage. PowerProducer will burn the finished project onto the type of disk you told it to at the start. If you included more material than will fit on the disk, it will have you burn a second to finish. When done you will have a disk that you can pop right into a CD-ROM drive and will autorun with a CyberLink viewer complete with the pause, fast forward, start over or go to the end functions.
Finally if you have a lot of digital pictures PowerProducer makes it easy to create a slideshow album to present them. Click on Create Slideshow then Create an Album. A dialog box will appear for you to select your photos. When you create an album the pictures again are arrange in the storyboard. You can drag and drop in whatever order you want. If you want you can also add background music for a slideshow, select a album and then click Background Music. You can have the music (MP3 or wav file) fade in or fade out. The music can be Auto Repeat or Play only once. You can also trim your audio file, drag the Mark In and Mark Out sliders in order to trim the unwanted portions out.
After working with PowerDirector if you want to move up look at PowerDirector which has the same features however, but greater ability to grab footage and jazz it up with the help of motion effects, transitions and titles.
Requires: 450-MHz CPU 128MB RAM 1GB hard drive space Microsoft Windows 98 SE, Me, 2000, or XP
Company Info: CyberLink USA, 510-668-0118, www.gocyberlink.com
From our October 2003 newsletter
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