First Video Assignment: Return to the Silent Era

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This is the first movie I’ve ever made.  As such, the main challenge I faced was in learning how to edit video.  It didn’t start out so well.  I didn’t know there was a difference between Movie Maker and Windows Live Movie Maker.  As it happens, there is a very big difference between the two.   Lesson learned.  Anyway, I started with the Windows Live version, which is about as useless as MS Paint.  I think it’s actually impossible to give a movie an old-time feel with that program.  Not realizing that I wasn’t working with Movie Maker, I set out to find other options.  After a long time (longer than I’d care to mention), I finally realized that Movie Maker 2.6 was the program for me.  Once I had the right program, things were peachy.  Mostly.

Movie Maker made making this movie pretty simple.  The only problem was that my computer couldn’t quite handle it, so there was a delay of a few seconds after every action.  Also, freezing.  Thankfully it has an autosave feature.  Seriously, thank you Microsoft.  These problems aside, it was really easy to break up my original clip and add effects to it.  I started with a clip I downloaded from youtube, and from there added the “film age, old” video effect by dragging and dropping.  Really basic.  I made the clip grayscale using the same technique.  At this point, the movie looked old.  I was thrilled, because I expected that to be the hardest part.  My next step was adding bit cards.

I found the template for a blank bit card by doing a basic google search.  I then googled “free silent film font” and downloaded the first result.  I opened the blank card in Paint.NET, and added the font in a new layer.  I did this for each bit card.  It was reallly easy.  To determine what to put on the cards, I watched the clip in its entirety and wrote down the times/cards that jumped out at me.  I then broke up the clip at those points, and imported and added the cards by dragging and dropping.  In Movie Maker you can drag the cards to make them bigger (i.e. last longer), or you can set a default picture length under options.  The starting default is 5 seconds, which is way too long in many cases.  The hardest part about adding bit cards was making them fit between scenes.  In some cases you can see a frame before/after the card that you’re not supposed to.  I had trouble editing these out, as I couldn’t find a way to select and delete individual portions of clips.  That said, I tried to minimize the issue as much as I could by breaking the clips up as close to the cut between scenes as possible.  Overall I don’t think it’s too much of an annoyance when viewing the video, but I would still like to learn how to avoid the issue altogether.

The last thing I did was add audio, which was actually the hardest part of the whole assignment.  Having just finished the audio section of the course, I’m in the mindset of using programs like Audacity, which have all kinds of fun features.  As it turns out, Movie Maker is primarily a video editor, not an audio editor.  Who knew.  Anyway, this made it difficult to blend the different audio segments together.  You can hear some jumps, but I tried to match up tracks at sections where they naturally blend.  I also wanted to add some sound effects, but I couldn’t find a way to layer audio.  As far as getting the tracks was concerned, I just googled “silent film soundtrack” and found some free options that matched well with the content of the movie.  The upbeat music that’s playing during most of the movie is all from one track.  I broke this track up to add the villainous music.  The transition there could have been a bit smoother, but given the resources available I was happy with it.

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