Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fun with Lightworks, the Canon 5D Mark II, and little Bro

A few weeks ago, an exciting opportunity came up.

I had the chance to publically record a nationally-winning high-school student’s (re)performance of his work under controlled settings.

So out came the Canon EOS 5D-Mark II, lenses, and a solid tripod.

My brother had just moved back in town so he got an invite too.

He set up from a different angle with his own amazing Canon EOS 60D.

Someone yelled “action” and we both started shooting HD video on our Canons.

Side note: I am continually surprised and amazed when I learn of feature movies and video productions being shot with the Canon 5D Mark II/III.  I am humbled that I am carrying such a amazing piece of hardware in my camera bag now. Thanks bro! It’s inspiring!

There was one minor flub in the performance so I shot a tight retake of that section with the actor.

Data video files were downloaded and shared. It was grand fun.

A week or two later I sat down at my laptop and faced the daunting task of somehow editing the video from two different camera angles, and the two different audio tracks into a single video performance.

I had a lot of options, both new software and old ones.

In the end I decided to jump off the proverbial cliff and went with the free community version of Lightworks.

The learning curve was very, very high, but I had done due-diligence by spending a few days re-reading the PDF manuals downloaded earlier, I then watched (with full attention) the official Video Tutorials. Peter Bridgman did a bang-up job showing all the core features and things to know to quickly get grounded in the application.

From there I just jumped in (with significant text-messaging support from my brother throughout the day), imported the multiple 4 GB MOV files each of the Canons had captured and started working away.

I had planned on using some of the audio/video syncing features it carries, but in the end the time codes were not quite perfect between the cameras so it took a bit of trial-and-error to manually make all the angle cuts sync smoothly. IU

The different angles and lenses also caused some differences in the color. I was able to edit the color in both to match very closely for continuity.  Even the section of performance “retake” slipped in seamlessly.

The final challenge was exporting the video. My first attempt resulted in almost a 80GB AVI file. Wow!

Another go with some different export settings knocked it down to a more manageable 40 GB size. I still had to run it through a secondary audio/video re-coder app to bring it down to a final 127 MB video file size so that it could play on a DVD format without stuttering.

The end result was a pretty awesome HD video production shot with my bro, after at least 12 hours of learn-as-you-go video editing and post processing. The family of the student we shot the video for were blown away with the results, as were my brother and other family who got to share in the final production.

Through it all Lightworks (x64 bit build 11.1) never choked or had any problems. My Intel i7 processor with 8 GB system RAM kept up with the workload as well.  I’m super glad I made that investment at the time of purchase. It hardly broke a sweat!

For being an amateur videographer on a first foray into HD video recording and editing, it was a lot of fun and I’ll definitely have much more confidence the next time we roll into the field.

Not soon after I was done, I spotted news about Adobe Premiere Pro’s own features and multi-video sync support:

Adobe Premiere Pro CC Hands-On: Multi-GPU Support and More - Windows Extreme Blog

While Lightworks isn’t probably going to win most home users away from more friendly video-editing apps, it is a truly professional-grade video editing platform…and the free version will probably be way beyond most average users’ ability to exceed it’s options.


And the New Lightworks Version 11.1.1.e Now Available as Public Beta looks even more amazing!

Lightworks NLE free edition - Highly Valca Recommended!

--Claus Valca


Phyo Maw said...

I just started using Lightworks and pretty lost with exporting...
The output file is 15 GB and would like to know how did you work around to make it 127 Mb. Otherwise i won't be able to upload it to any video hosting....

Claus said...

@ Phyo May - As I wrote in the post, the trick for me was the following:

"Another go with some different export settings knocked it down to a more manageable 40 GB size. I still had to run it through a secondary audio/video re-coder app to bring it down to a final 127 MB video file size so that it could play on a DVD format without stuttering."

Experimentation with Lightworks had shown to me the output file was going to be massive big from the get-go.

I settled on the following approach;

1) Export the final cut to a format I could work with in other applications,
2) Try to export it in the highest quality but at a more reasonable resolution level...since it was going to a standard DVD media that was OK,
3) Run a 2nd pass conversion one I got it exported from Lightroom.

For my Lightroom settings I ended up choosing AVI format, using YUYV compression, a frame-rate that was 29.97 fps, and set the size to HD 720, 1280x720.

Other settings probably could have gotten it smaller but this was the sweet spot for my needs.

That exported file was still a whopping 40 GB.

Next I ran that 40 GB AVI file though a second AV recoding application to get it to the manageable final size.

I don't recall specifically which application I used to post-process the 40 GB size, but it was one of these:

Format Factory
TEncoder Video Converter

Whichever, I imported the super-big AVI file and exported it as a (still) AVI file format again, but the application processed it to a much smaller file size.

Again, since my final usage was lower quality DVD (same concept may hold with a YouTube video) the additional reprocessing didn't hurt it overall and it still looks pretty spectacular. If you were uploading to YouTube, then you might want to try a FLV or MP4 output rather than AVI like I used.

Sometimes people can get super-extreme when it comes to picking a favorite video-recoding app. I just look for one that can run muli-threads, x64 bit, and results in a smooth, high-quality playing output. All of those three mentioned above fit my needs very well and having some options allows me to try it in several to see which one provides the best final output.

Hope this helps.


--Claus V.