Making your own digital video is pretty easy. Most new computers come with software for editing video, so you don’t have to go buy anything. People using machines with Windows XP can see whether they have Windows Movie Maker by clicking on the “start” button, then mousing over the “All Programs” button. Windows Movie Maker usually shows up toward the end of the list (since it is in alphabetical order). If you are using a Mac from OS9 or greater, then you most likely have iMovie on your computer. In your icon tray at the bottom middle of your screen you should see an icon that looks like a little chalkboard with the drop strip used in the movies for denoting the scene. The first step is to check and see if that you do have the software on your computer.
The next step is to make sure that you have something for shooting video. For good quality you can shoot with a MiniDV camera, or if you don’t care about the quality and want to save money, you can use the digital camera you already have (see below.) If you want to buy a decent MiniDV camcorder, they will start at about $300 if you shop around. If you buy a MiniDV camcorder, you will need to make sure that your computer can take a FireWire (IEEE-1394) cable to allow you to get your video footage from the camera to the computer. If you have a MAC, odds are you already have a FireWire port built-in. Many newer Windows laptops have a port that takes the FireWire cable. They are usually labeled IEEE-1394. If you do not know what this port looks like, just do a Google Image search for the term “FireWire” and you can see all kinds of examples of what they look like. There are two different sizes, as you will notice, so you might have one or the other. If you have a Windows desktop computer and don’t have a FireWire port you can buy a FireWire card to have installed in your computer. They start around $20 (if you shop around).
Using your digital camera. If you are using a Mac, then you should be able to use footage from almost any camera that you have. Some cameras shoot footage in QuickTime format, which is fine for viewing on a Windows machine, but Windows Movie Maker may not be able to edit QuickTime (.mov or .mpeg) files. If your camera shoots .AVI files then you will have no problem editing the footage on either a MAC of a Windows machine. If you are thinking about buying a camera and using it (at least part of the time) for shooting video, I would recommend getting a camera that shoots in .AVI format, since you will be able to use it on just about any computer. When it comes to resolution, the higher the number (most digital cameras resolution start at 320 x 240) the better. As for getting the video onto your computer, all you do is use the same method that you use for getting your photos onto your computer (usually through a USB port).
Read Part II
by Cameron Hatch
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