by Elizabeth Blessing
Adding visual effects from your video editing software can be a fun and simple way to enhance your videos. Knowing which effects to add and when is the key to making sure you're adding a professional flair to your video project.
There are a variety of software packages which include effects that are easy to use and well within the budget of most video novices.
Many techniques that were once only available to TV and movie studios are now routinely included in these packages. In fact, you might feel overwhelmed the first time you open up your video editing program and see the long list of effects at your disposal.
Let's get started by first discussing how visual effects might help your video project and then listing some examples of effects and when you might use them in your videos.
First, some quick definitions . . .
Some professionals consider visual effects a sub-category under special effects while others consider visual effects to be their own unique specialty. Special effects generally refers to visual and audio illusions used in movies, commercials and videos. Among the methods used to create these illusions are camera techniques, mechanical effects, props or computer generated imagery (CGI).
The visual effects we're discussing here are the ones you add in digital post production using your video editing software.
There are many reasons why you might want to add visual effects to your videos. Here are just a few:
Depending on your software package, you'll find a multitude of effects in a variety of categories. Most of the effect names give you a good idea of what the effect is all about.
For example, Cyberlink Power Director includes the following among its many effects: old camera, mirror, quake (yes, really does give an "earthquake" effect to your video!), oil painting, pop art wall, snow, smoke, fire, waterfall, etc.
TIP: Go ahead and experiment with adding visual effects to some practice footage you import into your video editing software. If possible, do this well before you have an actual project with a deadline.
Play around and have some fun. Get crazy and add a funhouse mirror effect to Aunt Martha's birthday video or toss in some rain and lightning effects to last summer's family picnic video.
However, at some point play time will be over and you'll want to produce a video you'll be proud to show the world. Using too many visual effects or the wrong ones might will make your video look amateurish.
Just because your editing package comes with a hundred effects doesn't mean they'll look good when added to your specific footage. In fact, you'll find that some of the effects might end up making your video look pretty cheesy (dare we say downright ugly?) when compared to the effects we're all used to in high-end movies.
Start out by using a few visual effects in your videos and asking some trusted friends for their honest reaction. Did the effects add anything to your video or were they simply distracting?
Before you start filming, a crucial question to ask is what is the goal of your video and will it be enhanced by using visual effects?
For example, if you're creating a music video to put on your YouTube channel to promote your rock band, good post-production effects -- everything from smoke rising from the floor to flashing lights to distorted camera angles --might add to your video's entertainment value.
However, these same effects probably won't work for your how-to cooking video or the interview video with the boss of your company. For these, you might want more subtle effects, such as adding in a pleasant backdrop.
Here are some good examples of when to add effects to your videos:
Knowing when to use visual effects is great, but there's still a lot more you can do to improve your video -- think about adding music, video editing and adding transitions, for example.
Check out these Groovy Videos' articles to get you headed in the right direction:
TIP: Now that you've read about visual effects, take a look at our great articles on video editing. Or, check out our Groovy Videos' Home Page or Blog for many more articles on how to improve your videos.
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