Here's the tale of how I took 7 hours of PAL DV tape and digital video, two CD's worth of music, 322 photos that totaled 105 gigs of digital assets and turned it into a DVD of my brother in law's wedding. The result was 66 min, 364 cuts and included music, overlays (who's that cousin?) and some nice transitions, as well as a DVD menu.
I know next to nothing about digital video and I'm sure all of you who will comment on this will say stuff like "Dude, why didn't you use Adobe Premiere/Avid/iMovie/an IPad" or whatever. You'll also say that you have created much more interesting/complex/impressive projects. Poop on you, I say. I'm feeling pretty darned proud of myself here because I just made a DVD that my family will love. ;)
OK, here's what my amateur self did.
My wife went to South Africa for a month last year to her brother's wedding. I stayed home with the kids. She returned with five hours of digital video on a bunch of PAL Digital Video Cassettes. PAL is essentially the non-US format. We use NTSC here. PAL is 576 lines interlaced. She also brought over 300 photos across a half dozen digital cameras as well as an other two hours of 720p video shot with our little Canon S95.
Importing/Ripping Video from Tapes
First, I needed to get the PAL video off the mini-DV tapes. If you want to rip PAL DV tapes you really need a PAL DV player, then you can just hook up a Firewire (IEEE 1394) cable and import the video directly.
I decide to use Windows Movie Maker because it was free. I have a Mac around here somewhere but it's a few years old and I really wanted to edit this as fast as possible so I used my more powerful machine which is my Windows Desktop.
Back in the Windows XP days I remember this experience sucking badly. There were Firewire drivers to find, and most machines were too slow and too small to import video without dropping frames. In this case I just plugged in the cable to the camera, then to the PC and got a dialog.
I selected import and it even chopped up the scenes into separate files. About 60 gigs and 5 hours later I had all my PAL mini DVD tapes in an uncompressed AVI format.
Getting Assets Organized
Cool. I also had some CDs and music we bought I knew I wanted to use, as well as all the other AVIs from digital cameras, some DVDs of other video and all those photos. I put them each into folders like this:
This is as far as I went for "asset management," although we did go through the video and give them descriptive filenames like this (yes, that's an actual filename):
"17A - Ceremony Begins; MC, Pastor Arthur prayer & welcome; Choir sings; Mbusi, Fatty & other girl arrive; Mbux & Groomsmen Bridesmaids Phili waiting in car Vusi4 2011-09-27 08.23.20.avi"
That file name might seem silly, but the gamble paid off later. It's totally unambiguous. At this point we're organized and have 105 gigs of files on an external drive.
Editing in Windows Live Movie Maker
As I recall around the Windows XP times Windows Movie Maker wasn't very good, but I thought I'd give it a try, because it's free, sure, but also because I didn't want to do lot of multi-layered super complex editing, I just wanted to make a wedding DVD. I did want to do some reasonable interesting editing though because I had multiple camera angles on the same event. I also had the source music that was playing the background.
This meant I would/should be able to, for example, take three angles on the ring along with the music in the background and assemble a series of quick cuts in order on the same event while cleaning up the music using the original source. That was about the trickiest thing I'd want to do.
Here's an example sequence. The bride is coming in, I've got cross fades between some (indicated by the white triangle in the corner of each segment) and tight cuts between others. There's music coming in as she walks up, that fades out, the ring, then another song starts up and some photos come in.
You can mix photos and videos and get a "Ken Burns effect" automatically with pans and zooms around the stills. I mixed and matched video and photos along with audio and didn't have any trouble. I ended up with 364 scenes/cuts in the end, about 80% video and 20% photos.
Each box there is a segment of video. You can split, trim, set starts and ends and move them around. The green lines are audio files that I brought in of the music that was playing at the time. That made the audio a lot nicer when it was just music playing and allowed for fun dance sequences like this excerpt video below. I really like the crazy color effect starting at 10 seconds in. It really works with the bridesmaids dresses.
I even published that segment above directly from within Windows Live Movie Maker with the built-in YouTube Plugin.
I can zoom in to make the segments lengths expand which makes their size more representative of their length in seconds I can also hover over a segment and see how long it is, the filename it came from (see now why I used big filenames?) as well as it's speed, effects, etc all in a tooltip. This segment is about 8 seconds long.
The whole video ended up being 66 minutes and 35 seconds long. It rendered into a 10Mb/s5 gig HD WMV file and fit nicely on a 480p DVD. I may do a 25Mb/s or 50Mb/s Blu-Ray also. Remember that the PAL tapes were 576i and the HD video from the digital cameras were 720p so there isn't really a reason to do a Blu-Ray, but the still photos are all >5 Megabits so they'd be improved by a 1080p treatment. I was pleasantly surprised to see 1080p as an option in Windows Live Movie Maker:
Size of Videos
I was a little concerned that maybe Windows Live Movie Maker (WLM) couldn't do large videos or long videos or complex videos. With 105 gigs over 5 hours turning into an hour of video I figured I'd be taking a chance. Turned out it worked fine. I kept all the videos in their folders and the WLM file is just pointers to all the things I wanted done. The final video editing file from WLM was about 500k. It looks like an XML file with a bunch of time codes.
NOTE: I did have one technical issue where I was getting all black video previews in Windows Live Movie Maker. It turned out to be an NVidia Display Driver issue. Mine was old, and when I upgraded to the latest drivers I was all set.
It took two sessions of four hours each to edit the video and about an hour to render. I rendered into a large WMV file that was about 5 gigs. I did have three 'hang' crashes in Windows Live Movie Maker over the 8 hours, although I'd been saving every few minutes the whole time. The hangs seemed to be related to me moving audio around too fast then right clicking immediately, but I need to check on that.
Then I ran Windows DVD Maker and dragged the final file in. It automatically created scenes and a DVD menu. The opening title also includes a music background and the menu moves (it's not static) which is nice.
One of my other obscure requirements was that I needed to be able to make both NTSC and PAL versions of the DVD. I didn't see any options for this in Windows Live Movie Maker, but there are options in Windows DVD Maker. I was able to burn two master DVDs, one PAL and one NTSC. I'll then make copies and send 20 of these home to South Africa knowing they will play in their DVD player.
The couple of crashes were irritating but I crash Adobe Premiere a lot too. Overall, I was impressed. Windows Live Movie Maker was easy to use, had hot-keys for things like Split that sped me up once I got a rhythm going and handled a VERY large amount of high quality video without any issues. I'll use it again for family stuff, weddings and the like.