Video Editing Tutorials


Videography for Educators

This exhibit in the Apple Learning Interchange features a large collection of tips and techniques for creating a video starting with the planning process. Although the site assumes you are using iMovie or Final Cut (both Apple products), the concepts and ideas for planning, equipment and editing apply no matter what computer you’re using.

A Short Course in Digital Video

Another great tutorial from


Apple’s iMovie Tutorial

The focus is on the most current version of the software (iMovie HD 6), but most of the information here will apply to one or two versions back. Appropriately, the lessons are done in a series of ten videos that clearly explain the basics of creating your movie.

iMovie HD Tutorial

An excellent guide to every phase of editing your movie from the University of Texas School of Information. The guide also has sections on exporting the video to DVD using iDVD. The authors also offer the whole thing in a 24-page pdf document.


A few years ago, this monthly magazine published an excellent four part tutorial on using iMovie, plus a later article about putting your movie into different media. Although these articles were written using iMovie 2, the basic concepts are the same. However, you will find some buttons and menu items in different locations if you have a newer version.

iMovie Lesson One: Importing Video and Sound
iMovie Lesson Two: Adventures in Editing
iMovie Lesson Three: Editing Music and Sound
iMovie Lesson Four: Using Audio and Video Transitions
Wrap Up Your iMovie: How to Share Your Movies on the Web, CD-ROM, or Videotape

The Unofficial iMovie FAQ

A huge and excellent collection of information and tips for using iMovie along with a page detailing the bugs in the program with suggestions for working around them.


MovieMaker Home Page

This section on the Microsoft web site offers tutorial, troubleshooting tips and video ideas for their free (part of Windows XP Service Pack 2) video editing software.

MovieMaker 2 Tutorial

The University of Texas School of Information, which produced the excellent iMovie tutorial mentioned above, also offers this guide to using Microsoft’s free MovieMaker 2. The whole thing is also available in a printable pdf document.

Digital Cameras in the Classroom

Digital cameras, both still and video, have been around for many years (anyone remember the Apple Quicktake 100?). Today, however, the still cameras take much better pictures, are very reasonably priced (and getting cheaper), and are very easy to use. And digital video is more accessible than every before.

The stuff in this section should help you make better pictures and video and use both in the classroom.

Digital Photography

Choosing a Digital Camera for Your Classroom

A short list of questions to ask in the process of buying a digital camera to use with your students. If you need a more comprehensive guide, take a look at A Short Course in Choosing a Digital Camera, one of several excellent tutorials on digital cameras from

Digital Camera Resource

Once you know the features you want in a digital camera visit this site for extremely detailed reviews of different cameras (complete with sample pictures) and support equipment.

Using a Digital Camera in the Elementary Classroom

A collection of 26 ideas for using your digital camera to enhance teaching and learning. Even in kindergarten classrooms.

Using a Digital Camera in the Classroom

Another collection of wonderful idea covering all grade levels.

Digital Video

Choosing a Digital Video Camera for Your Classroom

In choosing a digital video camera you have a large number of features to wade through and decide on. This short article should help you make some decisions on what you need.

Tips for Making Better Video

My own collection of suggestions to help make your video project an award winning success – or at least good enough to show people.

Video Editing Tutorials and Help

There are many sites on the web offering assistance with planning, shooting and editing your video project, no matter the hardware and software you’re using.

Video in the Classroom

From KQED, the public television station in San Francision, comes this site on using video for teaching and learning. It includes a good list of curriculum ideas for using video to teach in many subject areas and at many levels.

Suggestions for Creating Great Video

(and avoiding some headaches)

Making movies is easy, right? All you need is a camera, plenty of tape – and start shooting!!

That may work for an avant guard documentary filmmaker (with two years to work) aiming for the feature prize at Sundance. But we know that when working with kids, any project that starts that way will either turn out to be a disaster or will take forever to finish.

Based on experience, suggestions from teachers who are successfully working with video in their classroom, and a touch of common sense, here are some suggestions that will make your video project easier to manage and produce a better result.


In creating a video or any multimedia presentation for that matter, a solid plan will save time, minimize frustration, and produce a better final product. Students need to spend the necessary time to research their subject, write the script and layout a production plan before a second of video is recorded.

  • Begin at the end: what do you plan to do with this video when all the work is done? Are you going to show it on TV from a tape? Will it be “burned” to a CD or DVD? Will you want to post it to your school’s web site? Each of these formats require different considerations when shooting and editing your production.
  • Create a storyboard before you shoot your video so that you have a good idea of the kinds of shots you need. The only exception might be a social event where you want some spontaneity but even in that case you’ll need a plan.
  • Clean off your hard drive. Video take up huge amounts of space. Depending on several factors, 1 minute of video could require 100 mb or more on your hard drive. The more room you have the more flexibility you will have in the editing process. For large projects or multiple projects, consider getting an external FireWire hard drive.

Recording the Video

With a good plan in hand, the “shoot” should go smoothly and result in plenty of good raw materials for the editing process.

  • The better the quality of your original material, the better your final product. Use a digital camcorder if you can but no matter the camera, use a fresh tape.
  • Use a real video camera. That may sound like a stupid suggestion but many digital still cameras, and even some cell phones, claim that they will take movies and people believe it. These devices take short, very small videos which will not be of high enough quality to show anywhere but in a postage-stamp sized window on your computer screen. Hopefully, you want something better.
  • Turn off the date/time display on your camera. Those features and other messages that appear in the viewfinder could become part of your video.
  • Plan a variety of wide, medium and closeup shots. Include some establishing shots which tell the viewer where they are.
  • Always take more video than you’ll need. It can often be difficult to go back and take additional shots later.
  • Keep a written log of your shots so you have some guide when looking for the scene you want during the editing process. It also helps when you are planning titles or captions for a scene. (This is a good job to give to an assistant cameraman.)
  • Hold a shot longer for subjects that may be unfamiliar to your audience and shorter for subjects which are easily understood.
  • Avoid zooming around. Using the zoom on your camera frequently or suddenly can distract from the message of the program itself. In addition, if your video is destined for the web, your sudden movements will look terrible due to the slow frame rate and small size.
  • Use a tripod to get a steady shot. While the “jiggly” look works for Cops or “The Blair Witch Project”, it probably won’t work for you. And even the best digital stabilization software in your camera won’t compensate for an unsteady hand.
  • Make sure the subject is well lit. Although the higher end video editing software (Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid DV Express or Adobe Premiere) can adjust for brightness and contrast, the process takes time. And it can never fully compensate for a bad picture.

Editing The Video

If you’ve done a good job of planning your project and recording the video, the editing part will be both easy and fun. Having a good computer with lots of hard drive space and great software (iMovie is the best of the inexpensive programs) will also help.

  • Most editing programs will allow you to name each individual clip, either as it’s brought in or after it’s in the clip library. Do it! If you don’t you will have dozens of “Untitled” shots making it difficult to sort things out later.
  • Unless you have a small hard drive or don’t have much space left, be generous as to what you import to the computer. Remember, you can throw clips away much easier than importing them in the first place.
  • Bring in a little “padding” at the start and end of each shot to allow for transitions and effects.
  • Follow the “30-3 rule” of video editing: keep your shots under 30 seconds and your scenes under 3 minutes. This helps to set a fast pace and keep your audience interested.
  • Make sure your clips are in the right order in the Timeline. If you need to rearrange, you can just click and drag them to the correct place in most editing software.
  • Adjust the amount of footage showing at the start and end of each clip to create a smooth transition between scenes. Try inserting some black space between sections and use a fade transition.

Transitions and Special Effects

As you may have noticed in the movies running at your local theater, special effects can make a good production even better – or completely ruin it. Don’t get caught in the SFX trap.

  • Try to use the same one or two transitions consistently throughout the video. Using a different transition for each clip will distract from the story you’re trying to tell.
  • Don’t use a transition if the start or end of a scene contains an important scene. Transitions will make it hard to see details in your film and your audience will miss the point.
  • Keep the transitions short. Although transitions can run six seconds or more in most programs, long changes between scenes can slow down the pace of your story.
  • Don’t go effects crazy. All video editing software and many digital cameras allow you to apply a variety of special effects to your video (turn your color video into black and white film noir) but using these features should be part of your planning.
  • Never use the effects built into your camera. Most are difficult to use and you can’t undo them after the video has been transfered to the computer.

Titles and Captions

As with special effects, the way you use titles and captions can do a lot to enhance or ruin your project.

  • Use titles and captions sparingly. Let the video and sound tell the story.
  • Make your text large enough to be seen and choose a color which can be easily viewed on the background of your video.
  • Leave the text on the screen long enough for your viewers to read it.
  • Titles (text on a blank background) can sometimes be more effective than captions (text superimposed on the video).
  • Although most editing software allow text to be scrolled in and out of the screen, use this sparingly since it can distract from your story.

Music and Sound

Think about this: even silent movies (and Mel Brooks’ “Silent Movie”) were not silent. They were usually accompanied by background music which was designed to enhance the mood. The right music and well placed narration can make your video project even better.

  • Make the addition of sounds part of the planning process. As you are working on the storyboard and recording the video, think about music that might enhance your production.
  • Don’t count on the built-in microphone on your camcorder. It will do a fair to good job of picking up general sounds but will do a lousy job of recording individual voices. If you need to hear a single person, most cameras will allow you to plug in a microphone, a wireless mic would be even better. You may also want to record what the person has to say and add it as a narration.
  • If you’re serious about sound, use headphones plugged into your camcorder while you are recording the video. In that way you can get a good idea of the sound you are actually getting on the tape.
  • Music should be brought in directly from the CD based on start and stop times rather than trying to record the track.
  • If your video has sounds, you will need to take this into account and adjust that volume to balance with music and narration.
  • Fade music clips in and out to make a more dramatic effect.
  • Remember the copyright laws! Adding music from the Star Wars CD to your vacation video will probably not get you into trouble. Adding it to a student project that is displayed at parent’s night could.

Publishing Your Movie

The final step in your project is to put the video in a form that your audience can actually see.

  • Before exporting your final product, preview it to make sure it really is finished. In most inexpensive video editing software this preview will be a little jerky around transitions and captions but you should be able to get an overall impression of your film.
  • Make sure all the cables are connected correctly and that you understand how to work the recording equipment (VCR, camcorder, DVD burner). For tape, run a short test of your connections by digitizing and recording a short (30 second) movie and then play it back.
  • Record two (or even three) copies of your film. That way you can remove the movie and all its video clips from your hard drive to make room for the next video production.
  • If you ever plan to return to this project and do any additional editing, don’t throw away the original files. Move them to an external hard drive or server. Editing the edited version of the video will result in a loss of quality and it will be more difficult to get what you want.

Web 101: Searching The World Wide Web

“The world wide web is said to be the world’s largest library – except that the books are scattered all over the floor.” – Anonymous

One of the advantages of the world wide web is that it is very easy and inexpensive to “publish” material, that is to create a web page. It is estimated that the web contains more than 500 million pages of information and that the number of pages is growing by 5000 pages per day.When you combine the sheer size of the web with the seeming lack of organization, you may be asking yourself how does anyone find anything. And when do they find the time!

There are many web search tools to choose from but often that doesn’t make the process any easier. Often each will return hundreds of thousands of pages, which, while smaller than the total number of pages, still leaves you with a large task. Hopefully, the following suggestions and reference points will help you find what you need.

Step 1 – Plan Your Search

Before you can find anything, you have to know what you’re looking for. A rather simplistic statement but essential to any web search. Think about your topic and about the question you’re trying to answer.

Think about the people, terms, organizations, places, objects, etc. that might be mentioned in any web page that would contain the answer to your question. Write down a short list of these terms as you think of them.

Next create what the WebQuest people call a “3M list” of keywords. Divide the list into words that Must appear in the pages, Might appear in the pages and that Must Not appear in the pages.

In the MUST column, write any terms that would surely appear on a web page that’s relevant. You want to be sure that every page that the search engine points you to includes these words.

In the MIGHT column, put words that are synonyms for relevant terms, any of which might appear on a page of interest to you.

In the MUST NOT column, put words that would exclude pages that use some of the same words you’re after, but which you aren’t interested in.

For example, suppose that you’re putting together an activity in which students will look at the idea of “revolution” as portrayed in different countries. Their task is to examine a number of postage stamps issued by countries celebrating a successful revolution, to find common themes and images, and to draw some general conclusions about how history gets written by the victors.

So, you need to round up some appropriate pictures and descriptions of stamps. Accordingly, you generate a list of terms that are relevant to the topic and then put them into the 3M columns.

You decide that any appropriate page would have the words stamp, revolution, and commemorative on it, and that other relevant words would be postage, postal, and first day cover. You aren’t interested in coins depicting revolution, nor in rubber stamps, nor in the Beatles song Revolution, so you put those in the MUSTN’T column.

Step 2 – See If Someone Has Found The Information For You

With your 3M list in hand, you might be tempted to head for your favorite search engine. However, you may not have to do all the work. Many teachers have already searched the web and found a lot of the curriculum materials you could use. Before you look yourself…

  • Ask your colleagues.
  • Check your professional journals.
  • Check the web site of your professional organizations.
  • Use one of these education-specific directories:

General Directories for Education


Subject Specific Directories

An additional list of specialized web directories can be found at the WebQuest Training Materials pages.

Step 3 – Use A Web Directory (like Yahoo)

While Yahoo has a search tool, it also features a categorized directory of web site – and that can work to your advantage. Unlike most web search engines, the Yahoo Directory indexes web sites and not pages. So use Yahoo if…

  • you are looking for web sites (as opposed to specific pages) for your students to use and
  • you didn’t find the ones you needed in the subject-specific directories

Yahoo’s home page shows all of their major categories down the left side along with some feature information chosen by the Yahoo editors. Clicking on a category leads to a list (sometimes a long one) of subcategories which may lead to even more subcategories.

One of the problems with browsing through Yahoo categories is that you may have to run through five or six pages before you find an appropriate site (or find that there isn’t one). One of the benefits is that you may stumble across categories or sites that you never knew existed.

Yahoo also allows you to search for keywords in the site names and descriptions (make sure you are searching the directory). Start by typing one or more of your keywords in the box next to the button marked Search and then click on that button. If you type more than one word, Yahoo will list only those sites with all the words in the name or description. Keep in mind that the search is only looking through the descriptions written by Yahoo’s people.

Most of the time this will give you a good start on your search but it can also produce surprising results. For example, suppose you need information on the planet Saturn. Type Saturn in the box and click Search. The resulting list will include lots of car dealers but no astronomical sites.

Step 4 – Use A True Search Engine

Unlike Yahoo’s directory, a general web search engine (such as the ones listed below), searches for your keywords in a database made up of words gathered from millions of web pages. The result of your search is a list of individual web pages which contain your words, listed in order of relevance.

“Relevance”, of course, is based on the criteria established by the people who created the search tools you are using. Most search engines give higher significance to pages which have your keywords in the title of the page or which use your words frequently. Pages in which your words are grouped closely together also tend to rise to the top of the search results.

My current favorite search engine is Google because it seems to provide the most relevant links and just plain seems to work better. Besides, any site with an “I Feel Lucky” button is worth a look!

If you can’t find what you need on Google, you may need to try a different or more specialized web search tool such as one of these engines.

MSN Search Live

To get the best results from a search engine you must learn to use the features and, while all of them use the same basic tools, they also have their unique way of doing things. The best idea for web searching is to pick one of the major search tools and learn to use it well.Here are some of the basic tools common to most search engines:

Include and Exclude (+ and -)

+ and – signs are used to tell the search engine to include or exclude words. For example, if you wanted to find sites about backgammon tournaments, you’d type both words into the query box. However, this would find you sites that mentioned backgammon OR tournament. You want to find sites that use BOTH terms, so by putting a + before each term you force them to be included in all sites found.

Note: There’s no space between the + and the word, but there is a space between words. e.g.: +backgammon +tournament

Here’s another example. Suppose you wanted to find sites about the lost continent of Atlantis, not the shuttle Atlantis and not the movie of the same name. This search would look like: +atlantis +continent -shuttle -movie
As you do each search, take note of what kinds of things turn up. Notice that the more specific the terms you include and exclude, the more focused your search.

Wildcard Characters (*)

A common mistake people make is to inadvertently narrow their search too much by excluding variations on a word they’re looking for. For example, if you typed in +mushrooms, you’d miss all those pages that just had the singular word mushroom on them.
In most search sites, the * wildcard stands for any letter(s). The wildcard is also useful for catching other variations on a word such as different forms of a verb. In general, never search for the plural of a word. Use the wildcard and get both the singular and plural forms.

“Quotes” = Phrase

If you type a sequence of words in as a query, most search sites will look for documents that contain any of those words (default to a boolean OR). If you want the words to hang together as a phrase, you should put double quotes around them.

If you leave out the quotation marks, most of the major engines will usually give higher priority to pages in which your words appear together. If you type a few words in, and those words are commonly found hanging together in its index, it will assume that you’re searching for them as a phrase even if you don’t put quotes around them. If you’re looking for a phrase that is not common, though, you’ll need the quotes.

Avoid Using Upper Case

If you use capital letters, most search engines assume you only want to match words with that specific pattern. For example, if you search for paris, you will find pages referring to the city but also some about plaster of paris. Paris with a capital P, however, will lead you to the city faster.

Step 5 – Give Up!

Although some people will try to tell you anything can be found on the Internet, it’s just not true. If, at this point you have not found the information you need, it is very possible that it has not been posted to a web page. Or it is available but only if you are willing to pay for it. Now is the time to head to the library and use some good old fashioned books.

Avoiding the Potholes: Some Ideas for Managing the Internet in Your Classroom

When talking about the web, some news organizations just love to dwell on the bad stuff out there and many people, especially teachers, are concerned about students visiting those sites from their classrooms, labs and libraries. While there certainly are Web sites featuring the kinds of materials featured in the news stories, the larger problem will be students using the Internet for recreation by visiting relatively harmless but educationally useless sites (the site for the latest big movie release, for example).

Unfortunately, there is no 100% sure way to keep students from going where you don’t want them to go (probably a universal truth). However, teachers who take a positive, active approach toward the use of the Internet, will have a good foundation for keeping their students moving in the right direction.

Supervise the Use of the Net

  • Arrange your room so you can see the computer screens. Many teachers, especially in elementary classrooms, set up computer work areas where the screens are hidden from someone standing in the middle of the room. If you are able to scan the picture on the computer screen easily, it will head off many problems by discouraging students from trying to visit non educational sites.
  • Lay out the ground rules (and enforce them). Many schools and school systems have written their own Acceptable Use Policies (AUP), the rules covering use of the Internet in school. Make sure your students understand these rules by putting them into words they will understand. For younger children, a short list of simple rules will usually suffice while older students may need more detail. In any case, make sure they know that there are penalties for violating the rules and that the ultimate penalty is the loss of access to the Internet.
  • Never allow students to “surf”. If you were taking your kids on a field trip to Washington, DC, would you just let them off in front of the White House and tell them to explore? While it’s possible to find many good places within walking distance of that particular point, most students won’t find them by wandering around. Unlike a CD-ROM or other computer programs with some built-in organization, the web is a completely open-ended experience. That is part of what makes it an exciting tool for your classroom but that also makes it necessary for you to closely monitor what your students are doing with that tool.
  • Don’t rely on Internet filtering software. If you think that an Internet filter is going to block out all the nasty stuff on the web, then you (and Congress, who passed a law requiring it in schools and libraries) are very much mistaken. The software will stop only the part that the filtering software company and you know about. The web grows much too fast to stay ahead of that. Besides, there is an awful lot of perfectly acceptable sites which have absolutely not instructional value. Even if you use a filter, that doesn’t mean you should stop managing the Web in your classroom.
  • In the words of Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic!”. The first time one of your students pulls up a picture of a naked woman you may be tempted to throw him (and it probably will be a boy!) out the window. First, keep in mind that it takes a lot of work to find the absolutely bad stuff on the internet and much of it is now hidden behind pages that ask for a credit card. But it may also have been just an accident as the student claims. The bottom line is, however, that when something unexpected happen (and it will), stay calm and refer to your rules.

Direct the Use of the Internet

  • Always have a plan for what you want to do with the web. One of the best ways to keep kids out of trouble is to have a specific purpose for them to be online. Make sure they have a specific assignment and a clear idea of what they are supposed to learn on the web. With good planning, you can even give your students some flexibility in their internet experience and still keep them out of trouble.
  • Use the Bookmarks or Favorites features of your Browser. Whether it is under a menu, on the desktop of the computer or on a web page you create, it is easy to assemble and use a list of web addresses that you have approved for student use. Especially for younger children who don’t have the skills to effectively use a web search site, bookmarks are one of your best organizational tools. The added advantage of using bookmarks is that students don’t have to type in addresses and make errors which result in cryptic messages.
  • Never let students open an address without clearing it first. You will have students who will come to class with the address to a great new site and want to show it to you and their friends. While it is probably harmless, establish the rule that students must first clear everything with you. Even if the the address looks harmless, check out the site completely before allowing the students to use it.
  • Always plan for change. The one constant on the Web is that things change. It’s not likely that the address for the Smithsonian will change one day to the Bevis and Butthead fan club but it is possible that the address for a great page on the rain forest may now feature pictures from the Hubble space telescope. Always check out the sites you want your kids to use ahead of time. As you get used to using the web you will also get a feel for how often pages at a particular site will change, but the best advise is to plan ahead.

Take the Offense to Prevent Misuse

  • Private information stays private. The Internet is a powerful communications medium, one that can easily be abused. To avoid these problems, train your students to never give personal information, about themselves or others, while on line. This means first names only, no phone numbers, no addresses and no chats about private details. And never allow students to use “handles” or nicknames while online.
  • Teach your students how to go Home. It is very easy to create simple web pages with your lists of acceptable sites. Your browser allows you to direct the home page your page. This is a powerful combination that gives you many options in directing student Internet use. Now, when students finish at a site, or if they access a site that is inappropriate, they can always “go home” by clicking on the home button.
  • Learn to use the features of your browser. All web browsers have many features which allow you to configure them to make best use of them. For example, you can get rid of the extra buttons that connect the browser to the company’s home pages, and give your students one fewer distraction. Both also have a history feature which records the sites that have been visited.
  • Don’t let students access their private mail or instant messaging without a specific purpose. A growing number of students, especially in middle and high schools, have signed up for one of the free, web-based email systems (Yahoo Mail and Google Mail are two popular examples). Most, if not all, of the messages they send have nothing to do with class activities and take up valuable class and computer time. Remind students that school computers are for educational purposes, not for their private communications.

Teach Digital Literacy

  • Teach students to be critical users. Many articles in magazines and newspapers have compared the World Wide Web to television. It is, however, completely different from television. TV is a passive, one-way medium over which the viewer has little control. The World Wide Web and the various communications that travel over the Internet, are tools – powerful, unique, growing tools for learning. And we must teach our students to use these tools with a critical (and sometimes a skeptical) eye to everything they find.

For another variation on this theme – one of teaching students how to safely use the web – take a look at this article from Classroom Connect.