Destinations: Beyond jerky film and captive audiences

Wednesday, October 11th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

With the focus on shooting, editing and storing our life stories on digital video discs, our editors wanted to see how to pull off a production without seeking investment capitalists or hiring a film crew. Thanks to our intrepid staff and a local video festival producer, we were able to call up sites that offer plenty of how-tos and advice on making the next family reunion a home box office hit. Fade to black.

Lycos VideoCenter

For the home movie producer – you know, Junior's first steps, stupid pet tricks, Dad's golf swing – VideoCenter may be one of the friendliest places to learn how to edit and upload clips on the Net. The site offers a free download of editing software, 10 megabytes of free storage space to post clips online and the most basic of pointers on shooting. If you don't want to post your clips here, the hosts will show you how to get clips up and running on your own site. Maybe the best part of posting home movies this way is that all parties concerned (including certain snotty in-laws) don't have to fret over spoiling tender family moments by making offhand comments during the viewing.

Granted, Apple's Macintosh computers tend to get short shrift in this space from time to time, but for a change, here are the basics of shooting, capturing and editing video for "that other computer" system. The hosts offer posts from Mac users who've already made their initial forays into the software and hardware for home movies. They also include sporadic but detailed features that dive step by step into creating movies for online viewing and editing basics on a budget, as well as the latest flashy equipment to turn that funny-looking desktop box into a veritable production studio.


At first, Videonics may appear geared toward serious – and financially independent – hobbyists and professionals, but the page also offers solid advice about making better videos on a shoestring. The Articles section posts details on how to edit a video with nothing more than a camera and a VCR (they term this selective copying), with loads of details on every step of the process to turn shelves of unwatched tapes into full-fledged documentaries of your so-called life. Of course, Videonics is just as happy to point out what a little extra equipment can do to make results a lot more inviting. And they'll sell you all the cables, switches or software you could ever need to produce a TV miniseries.


2-pop's resource library is the best place to start on this site because the opener was a bit heavy on foreign jargon and left us dazed. After all, we were just trying to get a leg up on how to do an online Christmas revue for the grandparents. There are how-to features here, but don't expect the writers to slow down the rest of the class because you didn't do your homework in Video Lingo 101. The hosts plan to post a remedial video section soon, so beginners might want to try another page first. For those who can already talk the talk and walk the video production walk, you'll feel right at home.

Videomaker Magazine

Make a right at the Lobby of this magazine's Resources section for some basic training on shooting, editing and posting streaming videos on the Net. This site also has samples of its annual contest winners, plus a glossary and message board to help visitors work through that first project. Naturally, these folks want you to subscribe to the magazine or buy some of their detailed instructional videos. But there was enough free advice to make the visit worthwhile – even ideas on how to lease access on cable TV for that season premiere.


Last of all, when you're ready to put your summer vacation – er, masterpiece – up against the big boys, check into the Dallas Video Festival's Web site for an application to its celebration of grass-roots productions. Last spring, organizer Bart Weiss screened more than 250 works from around town and the world for this four-day event. Now, we were hoping to see some of the contestants' work posted here, but you know how temperamental some artistes can be. Fortunately, last year's festival schedule provided links to creators' Web sites, where some samples of their work can be found, plus a link to the Video Association of Dallas home page.