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TUTORIAL • January 3, 2001

Post Render Video Production

by Doug Sahlin

Rendering a 3D image is processor intensive, taking anywhere from several minutes to several hours depending upon the complexity of your creation, the power of your computer, and the speed of your 3D application's rendering engine. Animated scenes increase the rendering time exponentially, requiring several hours, even days of computer processing for a few seconds of final product. If you aren't able to devote a computer solely to rendering, your best option may be to render your scene in pieces and assemble them in a video editing program. The video editing software may even enable you to create a finished production, complete with title, trailers, and soundtrack. Ulead Media Studio Pro is just such an application. While it does not import 3D formats, it imports rendered animations in MPEG, QuickTime, and Windows AVI format. It also imports image sequences.

Creating the rendered 3D videos

To start things off, when you create a 3D animation with the intention of splicing it into a full-fledged production, add an extra second of footage at the start and end of each sequence. The extra footage lets you use the video editing program's transition effects to segue from one clip to the next without losing any critical scene animation. Use the best rendering engine your software has to offer and save the rendered video uncompressed. The finished production is compressed in the video editing program.

Figure 1

Creating the production

MediaStudio Pro has multiple timelines (see Figure 1), which are very similar to the timelines found in most 3D applications. The timeline window is divided into video and audio timelines, with an extra timeline in the video section for transitional effects that you use to move from one clip to the next. To begin creating the production, assemble your individual video clips and place them on the timeline.

Figure 2

  1. Choose Video File from the Insert menu to open the Insert Video File dialog box.
  2. Locate the video clip and then click Open to import it.
  3. Drag your cursor towards the first video timeline (Va). As you move along the timeline, the cursor becomes a hand and a vertical line extends from the hand indicating the clip's position on the timeline as shown in Figure 2. Drag the clip to the beginning of the Va timeline.
  4. Insert the second video clip into your production following the same procedure outlined in Step 1.
  5. Drag the clip towards Vb (the second video timeline). By default, MediaStudio Pro will snap the video clip to time markers along the timeline. Drag the clip until it overlaps the first clip by 1/2 a second or more as shown in Figure 3.
  6. Continue adding the clips you will use in your production, alternating between the Va timeline and the Vb timeline, overlapping each video clip with the previous video clip by 1/2 a second or more.

Figure 3

Creating the transitions between clips

After you arrange the clips on the timeline, add effects to create the transition from one clip to the next. To create the transitions for your production:

  1. Select the Time Selection tool (it's the 10th button on the toolbar).
  2. Drag the tool and create a selection where the first two clips overlap. You can use MediaStudio Pro's snapping feature to align the selection to the start of the clip on the Va timeline and the end of the clip on the Vb timeline.
  3. From the Production Library, select the Transition Effect you want to use and then drag it towards the selection.
  4. Click inside the selection to paste the effect on the FX timeline and open the effect's dialog box as shown in Figure 4.
  5. Accept the effect's default settings or tweak them to suit your individual taste. Each effect has its own unique set of options.
  6. Continue making selections where the clips overlap and apply the desired Transition Effect.
  7. To preview your production choose Preview from the View menu. MediaStudio Pro will render the production and play it in the Preview Window.

Figure 4

Creating the title clip

No production is complete without a title clip. Here's where you get the chance to toot your own horn as the production's creator. To create the title clip with MediaStudio Pro:

Figure 5

Figure 6

  1. From the Edit menu, choose Multi-Track Ripple, which is found in the Ripple Editing submenu. When you enable Multi-Track Ripple editing, you can insert a clip in the production and MediaStudio Pro will reposition the clips in the other timelines to make room for the inserted track.
  2. Choose Title Clip from the Insert menu to open the Insert Title Clip dialog box shown in Figure 5.
  3. Enter the title for your production in the Title Text window. Adjust the font style and font size to suit your taste.
  4. Click the Fill color swatch to the right of the Opaque Text checkbox and choose a text color from the palette.
  5. Click the Fill color swatch to the right of the Opaque Background checkbox and choose a background color.
  6. Click the Rolling tab to reveal the dialog box shown in Figure 6. You can adjust the parameters in this section to animate the title text.
  7. Select the direction, text placement options, and set the duration for the title clip.
  8. To preview the title clip, click the VCR control beneath the Preview Window.
  9. Click OK to finish creating the title clip.
  10. Drag the title clip to the beginning of the production on timeline Va and click to place the clip. MediaStudio Pro will reposition the other clips and maintain the timing of the production.
  11. To create a trailer for the movie, follow steps 1-9 and drag the title clip to the end of the production.

Adding the soundtrack

Music clips can be found on the Internet, or you can create your own using programs like Sonic Foundry Acid Music or Beatnik Mixman to assemble sampled music into a soundtrack. To add a soundtrack to your video:

  1. From the Edit menu, choose No Ripple from the Ripple Editing submenu. This will prevent the repositioning of your video clips when you insert the audio soundtrack clip.
  2. Choose Audio File from the Insert menu to open the Insert Audio File dialog box, select the desired audio file from your hard drive or CD ROM and click Open. MediaStudio Pro accepts Audio Interchange Files (.aiff), Windows Wave files (.wav), and MPEG Audio Files (.mp3).
  3. Drag your cursor towards the first audio timeline (Aa), position the audio clip at the beginning of the production and click to place the audio track.
  4. To trim the length of the audio track, click the Scissors tool (the eighth tool on the toolbar) and position the tool over the audio clip at the point where you want the clip to stop. Click to trim the clip.
  5. Select the Clip Selection tool (the seventh tool on the toolbar), click the unwanted section of the trimmed clip and press Delete to remove it.
  6. To decrease the volume (amplitude) at the end of the audio clip, move the cursor toward the line in the center of the audio clip. As you move the cursor closer to the line, it becomes a hand.
  7. Click the spot where you want the volume of the clip to start decreasing and MediaStudio Pro adds a rectangular handle to the audio clip's timeline.
  8. Click the rectangular handle at the end of the audio clip's timeline and drag it down to decrease the volume at the end of the audio clip. Figure 7 shows the completed timeline for the video that accompanies this tutorial.
  9. To preview the production with the audio clip, choose Preview from the View menu.

Figure 7

If you want, you can add an audio clip and trim it for each video clip in the production. By decreasing the volume at the end of one audio clip and gradually increasing it when the next audio clip begins, you create a smooth transition from one audio clip to the next. You can also take advantage of MediaStudio Pro's multiple audio timelines to add sound effects and voiceovers to your production.

Rendering the video

After you've arranged the video clips, created the transitions, and added the audio track, it's time to render the video. MediaStudio Pro gives you many rendering options in most of the popular video formats, such as QuickTime, MPEG, Windows AVI, and RealVideo. The rendering option you choose will depend upon where your video production will be viewed. If you're creating a video for the Web, MPEG-1 is a good choice. If the video will be viewed as part of a multimedia production, MPEG-2 is a good choice. However not all computers are powerful enough to view a video in the MPEG-2 format. To complete the production of your video:

  1. From the File menu, choose Video File from the Create submenu to open the Create Video File dialog box.
  2. Choose the export file format, enter a name for the video, and then select the settings for the video.
  3. Click Save to render the video.
  4. After MediaStudio Pro renders the video, choose Save from the File menu. This saves the entire production complete with the timeline and transition effects in case you ever need to edit it again.

View the finished video.

QuickTime movie version.

MPEG large version.

MPEG small version.

Sources

Ulead Systems has a 30-day trial version of MediaStudio Pro that you can download from their Web site.

Doug Sahlin is a digital artist, Web site designer, and writer living in Central Florida. He is the author of Carrara 1 Bible (IDG Books Worldwide), Carrara 1 for Dummies (IDG Books Worldwide), and the soon to be released Flash 5 Virtual Classroom (Osborne/McGraw-Hill).