Editing video is as much of a time consuming task as I expected it to be. And by editing I mean that all I did was stick the bits of video together. No fancy dissolves of transitions. Just this piece of video next to that one. All told it took me about eight hours to edit a three minute and thirty second video. No wonder movies cost so much to make. I’m sure it will take less time as I learn more but it’ll still take a lot of time.

I’ve been wanting to do some sort of work in video for years. The problem has always been what to do. Movies and TV are a collaborative thing. They take a lot of people to make them and all I have is myself. No actors and no film crew. I though about making some sort of music video but I’m not a musician. That’s where the app Garage Band came in. I’m no musician but I’m good at patterns. I can use the various short loops of music that Garage Band provides to put together a song that’s not half bad. That takes a lot of time too but believe me it’s the only way I’ll ever be able to make a piece of music.

Having just learned Garage Band to make a ten minute song for one of my drawing videos I was all set to make a three and a half minute song to build a video around. And so I did. It ended up being a good choice to make the music first since I wasn’t filming a narrative of any kind I could build the visual coherency of the video around the music. That was my plan as I left the house for a day of shooting street photos in Manhattan in and around Bryant Park.

I like to shoot street photos. I like people living their everyday lives. I like capturing ephemeral moments that disappear instantly. Bryant Park is a good place to do that. There is a big wide open area in the center that’s full of sunlight and a shaded area all around the sides with chairs and tables to sit at. It affords more photo opportunities than most of the NYC parks I’ve been it. At least if you want to photograph people. Plus it’s near Times Square and the Midtown library with its famous lion statues so it attracts a lot of tourists and people in general who pass through.

As I was walking around the park and shooting my street photos I was trying to think of what video I wanted to shoot. Let me tell you I had nothing. No ideas. I like to shoot video and have shot plenty of it but never edited that video into a finished piece. This was a whole other ballgame. After a couple of hours I finally decided on shooting ten shots. Five stationary shots where I stand still and let the people on the street or in the park move around me and five shots where I move though the crowd. That’s not what I ended up doing but it was the notion that got me started.

I finished with about fifty pieces of video. It didn’t seem like that much at the time since each was only from thirty seconds to two minutes long but it surprised me how many pieces I had at the end of the day. Like I said I like shooting video and kept doing it as I thought about the shots that I wanted to get. It was fun.

Y’know what wasn’t as much fun? Looking at all that video. That’s where the time suck starts. I now have fifty files of short video and I have to watch them all to get an idea of what I want to do with them. At first I watched them cluelessly but I was sure some sort of idea would form in my head eventually. It was the only way I could go on. I sure was glad I had the song all ready to go because that gave me a direction to aim in. After not too long I got an eye for what I was doing and started to note the parts of the video that I wanted to use. Sometimes it amazes me when a plan starts to come together.

As I said before the song was the key. I was already used to working with music loops and piecing them together in patterns I liked so I did the same thing with the video. I picked little snippets of the video that I liked and made them came in and out with the starlings and ending of the music loops. I used static shoots with the quieter parts and faster moving shots as the music picked up. I played with the compositions of the videos and their directions of movement. I tried to keep things interesting.

Learning the two programs, iMovie and Garage Band, was generally easy but could be frustrating at times. Such as when I couldn’t import my song into iMovie. Why? I have no idea. Apple’s iLife programs are all supposed to work together but I guess they don’t. Even the internet had no good answer for me. I had to export my song to iTunes first where it consistently cut off the last ten seconds of the song? Why? Again I wave no idea but I had to add a useless piece of music at the end of the song, export it, and them cut off that piece of music in iMovie to get my whole song. Crazy.

I mostly dragged and dropped my video files and took short segments of them to build up my video. Nothing hard but I had to watch and listen to it over and over again to figure out what comes next. With the video clips I was using being from two to eight seconds long that makes for a lot of figuring in even a short video. But I got it done. And I have to say that feels pretty cool.