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The Visual QuickProject Guide you're reading offers a unique way to learn new skills. Instead of drowning you in long text descriptions, this Visual QuickProject Guide uses color screen shots with clear, concise step-by-step instructions to show you how to complete a project in a matter of hours.

In this book, I'll be creating a movie and DVD from the video and digital pictures my wife and I shot of my eldest daughter's last birthday. You'll be working with your own video, which may be a birthday video, but could be video from a vacation, graduation, or any other occasion. Though the events may be different, the process of editing the video footage and digital pictures into a finished movie will be almost identical. Thus, you can apply the principles you learn here to your own movies—just replace “birthday movie” with the occasion of your choice.

We'll be working with Adobe's new video editor, Premiere Elements. Why Premiere Elements? Because for under $100, it offers an excellent suite of editing tools plus the ability to produce great looking DVDs.

What You Will Learn

You will learn to create a movie using Premiere Elements.

You'll start by capturing video from your DV camcorder using simple, VCR-like controls.

Sometimes your video will be too dark or too light, or perhaps a bit off tint. You'll learn how to adjust the brightness and contrast of your videos, as well as correct color imbalances.

Premiere Elements makes it easy to add background music to your movies.

You'll learn how to add these audio elements and how to make them work smoothly with the audio captured with your camcorder.

My wife is a digital camera fanatic, and I like adding her pictures to the movie, which is a snap in Premiere Elements. Here I'm creating a slide show from my wife's digital pictures with background music. You'll learn how to create a slide show and set options, such as picture and transition duration, to your liking, and even add pan and zoom effects.

Here's Premiere Elements' Timeline view, showing the digital pictures with transitions sitting atop the music track. Though we're using only two tracks here, Premiere Elements can add up to 99 video and audio tracks, sufficient for even the most complex projects. Though you probably won't use more than four tracks anytime soon, it's nice to know that Premiere Elements can grow with you.

After completing your movie, you'll learn how to create DVDs that look great and allow your viewers to access specific scenes, just like DVDs from Hollywood.

In addition to producing DVDs, you'll learn how to save a video file for viewing on your computer, create files for sharing via CD or over the Internet and how to send your movie back to your DV camera to archive the footage.

How this Book Works

Tools You Will Need

Here's what you need to complete the project in this book:

An Intel® Pentium® III 800MHz or AMD Athlon XP processor, Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional, Home Edition, or Media Center Edition with Service Pack 1, 256MB of RAM, 1.2GB of available hard-disk space for installation, 1024x768 16-bit (XGA) display, Microsoft DirectX 9 compatible sound and display drivers, DV/i.LINK/FireWire/IEEE 1394 interface to connect a Digital 8 or DV camcorder.

If you produce lots of movies, you'll run out of disk space quickly. If you think you may not have enough space, consider adding another drive to your computer; contact your local computer dealer to find out how.

You'll also need some interesting video to work with and some digital photographs and songs.

(Used with permission of Sony Electronics, Inc.)

A FireWire cable to connect the camcorder to the computer.

Blank DVD-Recordable discs (to produce a DVD).

Premiere Elements installed.

Either a DVD player connected to a TV set or a DVD-ROM drive with DVD player software for your computer.

Video Production Terms

To make your work in Premiere Elements easier, I've defined some of the key terms you'll encounter as you build your movie and DVD. We'll be using these terms throughout this book.

  • Video: The footage you shoot with your camcorder. It includes both images and audio.

  • Movie: The final result that Premiere Elements produces when you've finished editing and are ready to share your production.

  • Capture: The process of transferring video from your camera to your computer.

  • Import: The process of inserting an audio, video, or picture file already on your hard drive into Premiere Elements.

  • Render: The process Premiere Elements goes through in producing a movie.

  • Video clip: Video captured or imported into Premiere Elements. Video clips include the audio originally shot with the video.

  • Audio clip: Separate audio files (usually music) imported into Premiere Elements.

  • Picture: A still image you shoot with your digital camera and import into Premiere Elements.

  • Project: The file where Premiere Elements stores your work while you're working on a movie. The project file references the video clips, audio clips, and pictures (often collectively referred to as content or assets) you're including in your movie, but Premiere Elements doesn't actually copy them into the project file. This keeps the project file small, but it also means that you must be sure not to delete the captured files until after you produce your final movie.

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