I am the New Media Consultant a new multi-media musical Talking to Devon. This means I either create, advise and/or oversee the choices and implementation for web hosting and web-design, signature image, internet-based connectivity and social media presence , and most exciting for me…digital storytelling! This is a hat with many brims, and one that I enjoy deeply.
The playwright, Leisha Lashawn wrote Talking to Devon to encourage audience members to commit one random act of kindness each day. I signed onto this project because the play’s premise is a jewel within in our current entertainment climate of explosions, and xenophobic apocalyptic scenarios.
Talking to Devon is a musical about kindness between strangers; it is set in the Department of Motor Vehicles, where three characters, Passion, Honesty and Balance serendipitously meet for the first time while standing in line. The show begins with a simple act of kindness that compels the women to connect and discuss a range of topics, including the L’il Black Taoist, the profound character whom they have in common.
As the New Media Consultant, I am responsible for creating and maintaining the social network, launching the initial website design, filming and editing all web-based publicity materials, and composing digital stories such as the video and copy for the IndieGoGo fundraiser. There will be six characters onstage during Talking to Devon: the three women, their costumes, the set and the digital stories that I will create. My role is to create engaging visuals that interweave with the dialogue to convey ideas only touched upon. At times the digital stories will serve as the know-all omnipotent character that can convey any idea within the play, while at other times it will communicate with the audience to actively engage them in the story.
If the IndieGoGo fundraiser is successful, it will give us the means to purchase key tools such as a MacBook Pro with Final Cut Express (along with liability insurance, plywood, and a down payment to secure the theater space). In the interim, I used Windows MovieMaker, (often standard with your windows package), to edit the video for the fundraising campaign. I have many hours under my belt using Final Cut Express and Final Cut Pro, (hereafter collectively referred to as Final Cut), but this was my first chance to meaningfully engage with MovieMaker.
I was pleased to learn that Moviemaker, like Final Cut operates on the premise of non-destructive video editing. Simply put, this means that you do not need to splice your digital film into pieces before you import into MovieMaker. Instead, you can import the entire film and create clips within MovieMaker, without affecting your original video file. MovieMaker has similar keyboard commands, such as the spacebar to control the playback, however MovieMaker has limitations that make it somewhat incomparable to Final Cut. I’ve come to conceptualize it as an early step along the spectrum of film editing software.
If you require even moderately advanced functionality, you would do well to use Final Cut Express. For example, MovieMaker gives you two audio tracks, and only allows you to edit the total track volume. Final Cut gives you 99 audio tracks (see below), and allows you allows you to edit the audio levels at specific points without affecting the entire track.
This means that you can decrease the volume on louder sections without also affecting the levels of the quieter sections. If the track in question happens to be a video clip, then your main option would be to create shortened clips of the track, in order to then adjust the volume for each. If you chose this path, then you’d need to create transitions between the clips to ensure a smooth flow. This approach poses its own challenges because of the limited transition functionality of MovieMaker. It does not allow you to adjust the length of the transition on as fine a scale as in Final Cut, so you risk creating a discontinuous clip. In general, your results tend to appear and sound less polished than if the clip were edited in Final Cut Express.
One last point of contrast between Windows MovieMaker and Final Cut is that Moviemaker offers only one video track (I consider the titles and slides as an extension of the main video track), and two audio tracks, one of which is the audio that accompanies any video that you import. This means that you cannot layer video and photo within the same frame, they can only follow each other consecutively. Also, you cannot truly interlace audio tracks for varied effects as is possible in Final Cut. In Moviemaker, the form of the program confines your storytelling to a linear format. In contrast, Final Cut allows up to 8 video and audio tracks each, so that you can place video and photos in conversation with each other.
Apple indicates that they allow 99- audio tracks with 8 available for realtime playback. This means that you can create 99 different tracks, but only 8 of those tracks can be played at any given moment. Imagine you wanted to record a 99 seat orchestra; for best results you would need to group the musicians in (up to) 8 sections, then reserve the remaining 91 tracks for solos and flourishes that you wish to highlight or layer at different times. The inclusion of one of the 91 one tracks would preclude one of the 8-sections for that measure of time. Said differently, you can layer to your heart’s conent, but you can only play 8 of those 99 tracks at any one time.
|Windows MovieMaker||Final Cut (Express or Pro)|
|Beginner||Intermediate to Advanced|
|2 Audio Tracks||8 real time audio tracks (99 tracks total)|
|1 Video Track (used for video and photo)||8 real time audio tracks (99 tracks total)|
|No Layering of images except for titles and slides||Layering, movement within frames,|
|Audio / Video transition effects are by predetermined increments||Can fine tune Audio / Video transitions effects by frames or seconds|
|Basic Volume Controls||Advanced audio controls; isolate sounds as needed;|
|Moderate Control of elements and effects.||Pending your orientation toward detail, you can assume complete control over elements and effects|
|Good for family movies, academic presentations beyond Powerpoint or Additions to your Website||Moviemaking software for emerging professionals that can do almost anything you want it to do.|
|Neatly saves your projects and finished movies in logical places like most applications.1||Unclear where to save working files. Good luck figuring this one out. Email me if you do! J|
In the past, when I’d tried to experiment with MovieMaker, using the same VISTA OS (operating system) and computer, the application would often freeze. However, this time around, MovieMaker did not crash once. It seems the updates and bug fixes over the years, have stabilized the program. Good job Microsoft.
If you are a novice storyteller, I would suggest that you begin with MovieMaker to get a sense of what these movie editing programs can do. Then I suggest you visit the Center for Digital Storytelling website (tell them I sent you!) to search for videos with interesting effects. After you’ve tried all of the MovieMaker functions, you can promote yourself to Final Cut Express; Some of the functions from Express do not directly translate to Pro, however it prepares you for many tools that a digital storyteller is likely to use, and introduces you to the visual logic of the program.