For just under 6 years I did my video editing on a PC. PC’s are cheap, customisable and pretty much everyone owns one. The software I used initially was equally cheap – Ulead Video Studio 8, for a mere £25 from WH Smith. You know, back when they used to sell more than books, magazines and stationery. Video Studio was a nice entry level package that helped myself and a group of friends “remaster” a sketch show we’d started when we were 16, to transfer the footage to the PC, add title slides where necessary and, so we thought, make it look a bit more professional. One of these remastered episodes was previously available on YouTube until I realised that it wasn’t particularly good and the general public deserved better. I’ll be writing about these early days of video making another time.
From 2005 until 2009 I was using the various iterations of Video Studio and slowly learning how to edit videos having had no previous training or experience in the area. The best I’d managed before 2005 was to put a 30 minute sketch show episode together using a VHS player and adding music to the sketch “live” as it recorded onto the tape, no small feat in itself. Bearing in mind how easy it is to do NLE (non linear editing) on a computer, it still amazes me that we were able to edit together three sketch show episodes using the VHS method. Admittedly the very first episode we put together was actually shot in sketch order on the master tape – there’s no “raw” footage from this episode as a result – so technically we made 2 episodes and edited them using VHS. Either way, the move to PC editing was something we’d had on the cards for a while, so it was all the more disappointing when the newly built PC I used kept crashing – I said it overheated with the full “Soviet attack!” alarm after 30 minutes of using the computer, the shop said it was fine (no, it wasn’t) – and was further aggravated as the first few edits had audio that gradually went out of synch with the video. Rather annoying and there was apparently no cause for it. Suffice to say, I struggled through with this PC until 2007 when I built a new system myself. Literally by myself. It took a whole day to put together, install software etc, but I built it with my own two hands. That system was the most stable I’ve ever owned and it lasted until early this year when I built a super-gaming PC to sit alongside my newly purchased iMac. But… I’m getting ahead of myself.
From around 2009 I started using Sony Vegas. The timeline was easier to use and I had more options for transitions and basic effects than those available in Video Studio. It was quite a leap forward in learning new shortcuts and the process of video editing, but after a few weeks of playing around with the software I knew it was a step forward compared to Video Studio and soon all of my projects were done in Vegas – 60 Second Gamer was launched in late 2009 after I’d spent more than a year not doing any video editing at all. Shocking, I know. I’d learned enough by October 2009 to start using Vegas on a regular basis, but looking back on those early episodes of 60SG you can tell I was still learning how the software worked.Check out the first video below (the rest are all available on www.youtube.com/randomstoat)So if you took the time to watch that video you’ll see how basic everything looks. My thought process at the time was “If I wait until it looks good, it will never get done”, and you can tell by watching through the videos that it was a work in progress from the very beginning. Long evenings were spent tinkering with the look of the episodes, although the format has remained pretty much unchanged for almost 2 years. Now, moving to the present day and 84 episodes of 60SG later, I’ve started editing on an iMac I bought earlier this year.
I’ve never found it easier to make videos and create audio productions and that’s all thanks to the intuitive way a Mac is designed. These days if I have all the elements I need for a 60 Second Gamer video I can have a basic edit finished in about an hour, including audio balancing (video game audio and the voiceover) adding clips to the timeline and having the edit ready to upload. Obviously more complicated intro sketches will need some more time to complete, but the rest of the video can be finished rather quickly.
And it doesn’t end with video editing – I’ve been able to work more intuitively with scripts and audio projects, and Ant (of 60 Second Gamer fame) has been able to use Garageband to write some pretty awesome music (a page of his tracks will be going on the Random Stoat website in the near future). Editing podcasts is a much simpler process, again thanks to Garageband, so rather than spending three hours putting a video together or an hour editing a podcast we’re now talking mere minutes. A RAM upgrade has certainly helped rendering, but the actual physical process of editing has become that much simpler and enjoyable.
If you’re a creative person you don’t need me to recommend owning a Mac – you probably already know that it’s worth owning one. That’s not to say a PC can’t do exactly the same thing if you have the right software, and in many respects a PC is much better for other things (video games for one – I doubt I’ll be using the Mac for gaming any time soon). Despite what some people might say I’m not a devout Apple supporter despite owning and regularly using four of their main products, but I know for certain that having a Mac has helped me with improving my projects and making them look better than I could ever have imagined. And the best part is, I’m still learning, there’s so much more for me to discover it boggles the mind. Like a game of Boggle.
To wrap up and show just to show how far we’ve come, here’s our latest 60 Second Gamer video:The template has been tinkered with again since that review was uploaded in September, which is what my work has always involved – constantly evolving as I learn. Darwin would be proud. Maybe.