When I was growing up, you could tell an event was a special occasion because my dad would haul out the giant camcorder, which sat like an insect on long tripod legs or, in a pinch, rested on his shoulder like a great black bird. He has shelves and shelves of tapes of birthday parties, band concerts, ballet recitals, and the annual chaos of Christmas morning, but not too much footage of our family doing regular things like hanging out in the backyard on a summer day eating popsicles we made out of Kool-Aid.
These days, it couldn't be easier to record everyday life; digital cameras, phones, even our computers and tablets can capture video, and I bet we all have more hours of mundane snippets of the kids slurping spaghetti than we do of life's more significant events, like family reunions or kindergarten performances.
But it's precisely because recording video has become so quick and easy that it's also lost some of its specialness. I want to bring that specialness back.
Aside from confining your video recordings to only official "special occasions," how can you give even the most mundane moments a little more emphasis and polish? Editing!
Raw video is great on its own, but processed video--say, long (and sometimes boring!) clips cut down and set to music--can make a really wonderful something out of a whole lot of nothing. I filmed some footage of my son walking down the street in a ridiculous little dandy outfit, and although the original clip alone is nothing to write home about, once I isolated the best part, applied some filters in iMovie, and added the perfect music, I suddenly had a scene. I just love it.
Here's another short I put together of footage filmed on a regular old rainy day.
And here's my artsy interpretation of my son's first tea party.
Basic video editing software either comes with your computer (iMovie on Macs) or can be downloaded for free (Windows Movie Maker for PCs), and the type of program you work with will determine what effects you can apply and how much control you have over the final product. If you have a smartphone, definitely look into apps that will apply effects as you're shooting. If you love Instagram, for instance, you'll love the vintage look of the Super 8 app (iPhone) or the RetroMoviePlayer (Android). (I like to have a lot of control over my projects, and in a perfect world I'd shoot all my video straight and unaffected and then apply my filters later in software, but I also know that the more control I have the longer I'll spend endlessly tweaking details, so this summer I'm trying to do more processing up front so I have time to make more movies overall.)
Have you done any video editing? Do you have favorite apps, software programs, or tricks for turning regular old video footage into something special? Tell me what you love, and post links to any projects you want to share!