Sunday, January 31, 2010


This is a further development in video editing from my multi-cam blog below. It's always fascinating to run a split screen with wildlife videos to show the subject up close and simultaneously show the same subject from further back in its environment:

Sparrows in split screen from David Rilstone on Vimeo.

As with everything else I'm finding in Adobe's Premiere Pro CS4, it's easy once you know's the gettin' to know how that's difficult! For anyone who just wants to run a video camera and get it up on the screen/TV/Internet as quickly as possible, I'd strongly recommend either Sony's Vegas Platinum Studio 9.0c or Adobe's Premiere Elements 7.0: both cost about $100 and can do a ton of things with a lot less fuss. Obviously, there won't be as many features or special effects you will find in the more elaborate (and expensive!!!) Premiere Pro, but I've found these two programs offer a ton of stuff and are TONS more intuitive than Premiere Pro. As a bonus, the techniques you learn in Vegas or Elements give you a better idea of how things work, to a point, with Premiere Pro if you should ever decide to enter The Dark Side.

Once I understood what was involved with split screen editing, the technique itself was really easy. All you're doing is running both videos, together, at the same time. Premiere Pro simply has you place one video clip ("Video 1) on the time line on "Video Track 1", then place Video 2 on the time line's "Video Track 2" immediately above it. Then, using the Premiere Pro's "Video Effects" you simply apply the "Four-Point Garbage Matte" to first Video 1, then Video 2. What you have the Four-Point Garbage Matte do is simply block off (ie using the "matte") one half (or so - you can adjust how much) of Video 1, then do the same with Video 2 and block off the other half. That way when you run the two overlapping videos together you only see the unblocked halves of each video track running.....the split screen!

An important thing to mind is that when shooting the videos to produce a split screen effect is that you have to remember to keep the subject in Camera 1 in the left side of the frame the whole time, and in Camera 2 the subject has to be in right side. This is because this particular technique does not allow you to shrink down the video in any way to "get 'em to fit" on one side or the other. The split screen technique can also be done top/bottom, or even with 4, 6, or even 8 split screens running. Same principle, just a bigger headache!

I spent quite a bit of time in post processing getting everything sync'd up: the two videos and the Zoom H4N audio recorder. Practice makes perfect and I've found that expanding the tracks to absolute maximum helps with dragging each track the tiny little bit needed to get perfectly aligned with the other is so much easier.

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