Making a Video Clip with Vegas Video 3 – Part 2

In part one of this tutorial we went through the basics of loading and trimming audio and video clips. During this process, we used five windows of the Vegas Video interface. The Explorer window was used to browse for files, the media pool to collect our project files together, the Trimmer window to create regions from which to make clips, the Timeline, where our clips are brought together, and last but not least, the Preview window, where we can view the composition.

At the end of part one, it was suggested that you explore the transitions window while you waited for part two. Now, we’ll revisit transitions in greater depth, as well as investigating some of Vegas Video’s visual effects, text overlays, and compositing features.

Step 1 – using transitions

If you haven’t already, drag some video clip regions onto the timeline and make sure they overlap a little. An overlap section will be coloured grey and contain two curved lines, representing a cross-fade between the two. If you play back a section with a cross fade, you will clearly see the result in the preview window. The cross fade transition is the default, but just one of many possible transition effects available in Vegas.

[Figure 1 – cross fade transitions in the timeline.jpg ]

Activate the Transition window in the bottom left corner of the Vegas window, and browse through the categories until you find a transition you like. You can preview the transition by rolling the mouse over the thumbnail. If you’re not sure, try “Cross Zoom A/B” from the Cross Effect section.

[Figure 2 - browsing the Transitions window.jpg ]

Click the transition and drag it onto the cross fade area in the timeline that you want it to replace. When you do this, a new window will pop up, giving you access to the options available for the current transition. These include fade range, zoom amount, centre point and a few others. Note that the parameters will be different for each type of transition.

[Figure 3 - the Transition options window.jpg ]

Step 2 – advanced transitions

For more complicated transitions, you can try using the key frame window in the bottom half of the transition pop-up window. This may be disconcerting if you are unfamiliar with the concept of key frames, but it is a feature worth getting to know, as it is useful in the effects section as well. You can think of key frames as snapshots in time. As the playback head moves from one key frame to the next, it slides between the configurations at each point.

[Figure 4 - check the position of the transition in the timeline ]

To set up transition key frames, first check the position in the timeline where your transition occurs. Mine is between the 20 second mark and the 22 second mark. Then, in the transition configuration window, put three key frames in at the beginning, middle, and end of your transition. Mine are at 20, 21, and 22 seconds. A key frame is added by clicking in the key frame timeline and then clicking the diamond marked with a “+”. Once you have three key frames, select the first and modify the source and destination centre points in the effect settings area. Do the same for the remaining two key frames. Now, if you preview the transition, you will see that the zooming effect seems to pan across each of the images as the cross fade occurs.

[Figure 5 - using key frames to customise transitions ]

Step 3 – visual effects

Switch to the Visual FX window in the lower left of the screen and browse through the various effects available. Go to the Colour Curves section and drag the infrared preset onto one of the video clips in the timeline. This will open the Video Event FX window, which is much the same as the transition settings window. Here, you can modify the RGB (Red, Green and Blue) values of the image. You can do this one at a time using the select box menu and then dragging the points around in the display. You will be able to preview the results as you change these settings by leaving the playback position marker in the timeline within the clip you are tweaking.

[Figure 6 - using video effects.jpg ]

You can use key frames in the effects window to gradually or abruptly modify effect settings over time.

Step 4 – panning and zooming clips

Each clip in the timeline has two small icons at its right edge, which provide easy access to that clip’s parameters. The bottom one will open the effect window we were just using, while the top one will access the Event Pan/Crop window, which is also accessible via the right-click menu. Here, you can zoom in or out on a clip as well as position the “virtual camera” to display a chosen section of a clip. It is also possible to rotate the image. All of these parameters can also be controlled with key frames, allowing for smooth camera movements over existing footage or still images.

[Figure 7 - using key frames to control pan, zoom and rotation parameters ]

Step 5 – adding text clips

In Vegas, text can easily be added without the need to create bitmaps in external image editing software. All you need to do is right click in the timeline and select “Insert text Media”. This will open the text editor window, letting you type in your text and set up the font, size, colour and any effects such as drop shadows or outlining. Once in the timeline, text clips can be manipulated just like any other still image or piece of video.

[Figure 8 – adding text clips ]

Step 6 – compositing effects

By creating multiple video tracks, it is easy to create various compositing effects in Vegas. The most basic is to add text media to a video track “above” your other video track(s), making instant title effects very easily.

[Figure 9 - layering video channels.jpg ]

Simple overlays in Vegas can be achieved by layering two or more video tracks and selecting the “compositing mode” from the menu next to the Level slider in the track controls (on the left hand side of the timeline). Getting to know these compositing modes is really a matter of experience- experience that is quickly gained by using the preview window while you check them out!

More advanced compositing features are available by making what are called “Compositing Child Tracks”. You will notice all but the top video track will have an upward pointing arrow to the far left of the channel controls in the timeline. Clicking this arrow will link the track to the one above it. Using the compositing options window that pops up when you do this, you can adjust the various compositing parameters to get the desired effect. Again, key frames can be used to create motion effects and fading between compositing settings.

[Figure 10 - using composing child tracks.jpg ]

Being possibly the most complicated aspect of Vegas Video, it can take some time and experimentation to understand fully how the compositing system works. By the same token, you can create complete video clips and movies without ever delving into compositing at all, and this is one of the reasons why Vegas is such a great video tool.

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