Basic video editing with QuickTime on a Mac
by Joseph in General / 06.04.10
These days video has really taken to the forefront of the web. While the cost of video editing software isn’t an insurmountable obstacle for most people, the complexity of software applications like Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere can be daunting if you only need to accomplish simple tasks. So, if you’re tired of trying to learn about containers, scratch disks and multiple timelines to get basic editing tasks done, try QuickTime.
QuickTime is installed by default on Macs but just incase you don’t have it installed you can download it here: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/.
From here there are a few easy steps to follow to get editing.
First of all you’re going to want to make sure that your video clip can be opened by QuickTime. At MindBites since we deal with web video content and want our content to be viewable on iPhone and iPad platforms, we regularly deal with and recommend using h.264 encoded MP4 or M4V files. If your files aren’t currently in a format supported by QuickTime we will have a blog post up in the near future that will cover video ripping and encoding using free software called Handbrake.
When you first open your video if your file is an M4V iTunes might be the default program set to open that file type so you may have to right click and select open with -> QuickTime.
Once you have your video open in QuickTime I want to point out a few different features that you will want to be aware of for the next few steps.
The first thing you will see on the bottom left corner of your QuickTime window, next to your timeline is the place where QuickTime will display the time code or current frame number of the video you’re editing. You just click on the number to switch between the two outputs. You can manually input a time code or frame number to fine tune where your scrubber will jump to.
The scrubber is the marker on your timeline that will tell you exactly where you are in your video’s playback. This triangles location correlates with the time code or frame number.
Alright, now that you have your bearings in QuickTime lets start editing. Again let me emphasize that this is basic editing best used to remove, combine, or rearrange existing video segments. Open up your video in QuickTime. Once your video is open, you can start navigating by dragging your scrubber to where in your video you want to start cutting. The easiest way to think about editing in QuickTime is think of your video like a document that you are just cutting and pasting from to create a new (shorter) document from some subset of the original content.
So, if you want to cut out some introductory music from the beginning of your video, you would just play your video until the point where you want to start (after the music, perhaps) and pause the video there. This will be where we will set your in point by hitting the letter ‘i’, for in point. You will want to do your best to try to fine tune exactly where this starts to make sure you don’t accidentally miss any audio or video frames. You can check exactly where your in point is by clicking the little triangle that should have snapped to your scrubbers position. If you can’t seem to get your in point where you want it by dragging the scrubber or playing and pausing you can switch your time code counter to the frame number on the left that I talked about earlier. You can manually input a frame number here to move the scrubber in single frame increments. Once you get it exactly where you want it, be sure to hit ‘i’ again to set your new in point, you can do this as many times as you want without issue.
Now that we have our in point we need to decide on an out point. If you have credits or chapters at the end of a video you want to edit out for size or length constraints just drag your scrubber to where you want your video to end and press ‘o’, for out point. You can use the same technique for fine tuning your outpoint if you are having trouble getting it just right.
Now you should see a dark gray bar between your in point and out point markers. Think of this like having a paragraph of a document selected. To copy your selection just click on edit and then copy or use the Apple + C shortcut. So, now all we need to do is open up a new video player and copy the video over. To do this just go to ‘File’ and then click ‘New.’ With your new window open, just paste your video into the player. You should have your edited video ready to be saved and sitting in front of you. Save your video under whatever file name and location you like. Be sure to save your file as a self contained video, though. Congratulations, you just learned some basic editing in QuickTime!
Have multiple videos you want combined? Need to remove multiple sections in a larger video? This section will give you a little more advice on how best to utilize the basics covered previously. The fundamentals of copying video sections and pasting them into a player are the same so this just takes those concepts farther.
As an example, if you have an introduction on a DVD but want this introduction to lead into several different clips you created from the DVD, it is not a complicated process. The best way to approach this problem would be to have the video with your intro open, your video with content, and a new empty video player open. First, select your intro and paste it into the empty player, then copy your content from your other window and paste that into the player that has the intro. The two clips should then be able to be saved as one seamless video which you can save.
You can use this technique to paste together video from a number of sources, but you should be careful to make sure your videos are of similar aspect ratio. QuickTime is also technically able to handle the transitions, but I think it tends to look a little strange and thus isn’t ideal. You can definitely pull clips from the middle of other videos or combine multiple clips into mega compilations with QuickTime, though.
Go forth an edit with your new QuickTime skills!