Video transitions: How to use them

Video Transitions and effects are amateurs’ favourite! They tend to use a number of transitions and effects, often not realising that each one of them has a meaning and purpose. Let’s discuss transitions this time.

Transitions are changeovers from one shot/scene/sequence to another. A Cut is an instantaneous shift from one shot to another is the most commonly used transition. ADissolve is when two shots overlap each other, with the first gradually disappearing while the next one appears and then remains on the screen. The fade is like the putting on/off of lights in a theatre. Fade-in is the transition from black to the image. Fade-out is the transition from the image to black. When one shot is replaced by another in a geometric pattern, it is called a Wipe.

Each of these transitions have a purpose and meaning and are to be used accordingly. Here’s an attempt to summarise when these transitions are to be used.

Transition Is similar to Is used
Cut Space between two words or a blink When change is instantaneous, shows continuity of action, creates impact, to shows new information
Dissolve Space between two paragraphs To show brief passage of time or change in space. Also used in flash-back and flash-forward
Wipe Shifting from an idea to another To show brief passage of time or change in space. Also used in flash-back and flash-forward
Fade-in Putting on lights in a play to indicate its beginning At the beginning of a sequence or a film
Fade-out Putting off lights in a play to indicate a major break or the end of the play At the end of a sequence or a film

If you are interested in making good videos, purchase the second edition of Video Production, Oxford University Press.



How to make ‘HOW TO’ videos?

How to videos are a fantastic way of explaining to the world about how things can be put together, demonstrate, teach and even impart soft skills. They’re increasingly being used in e-learning & instructional design.

Youtube has an entire channel dedicated to How To videos on a range of topics–from How to Meditate to How to Sleep Quickly! Yet another popular online portal Howcastfeatures thousands of short videos on a variety of topics that one can barely imagine. They’ve even built a nice business model around it! These short, crisp videos really make learning very simple.

Our experience in making How To Videos was when Sriram Bharatam, founder ofKuzabiashara wanted us to produce short videos that could be hosted online for the benefit of Small & Medium Enterprises in Kenya. We produced over 200 videos which have been hosted online and have been received quite well. SMEs in Kenya watch these videos on their mobiles too. Watch this video to get an idea of the kind of videos we produced in 2011.

But then, how does one go about producing a HOW TO video? Here are some tips:

To make a How to Video you will need:

  • An idea & research
  • A script
  • Video Camera & Audio Recorder
  • Video Editing Software
  • Video Hosting Service

If you are producing a video for a client, get a very clear picture of the basic idea. Brainstorm on the idea with your client. Next, knowing a lot about the topic helps. Research a lot. Make sure your research hasn’t left out crucial points. It helps if you are making several such videos. One can also crosslink these videos so they can learn from one and move on to another related video. Have the script written in the popular AV format. When you write the script, make sure you explain the process in steps. Add tips where necessary to add value to your video. Check this video to get an idea. This will give you an idea of where you’d like to shoot and the properties needed for the shoot.

I’d also suggest bunching scripts that can be shot in one place for easier production management.

Based on your research, develop a script. Keep the script short and simple to understand. Keep the video short. People don’t like long winding explanations. Introducing a bit of humour isn’t harmful. But not in all cases!

For shooting, although we used a Panasonic P-2, there are smaller and cost-effective camcorders that can record full HD video–some even in low light conditions. If you have a DSLR that can shoot video, brilliant! Go ahead & shoot with it. You’ll probably thrown in a couple of CFL lamp-based lights to keep it light and portable. Remember to record the ambience sound along with the video. You can always remove it during editing.

You will need an audio recorder to record the narration. I used the Zoom H4N and I must say, it recorded brilliant audio! While recording the narration, remember not to speak very fast. Speak clearly and yes, remember to record the narration in a silent place. No fans, no air-conditioners.

If you are making videos on how to use software, I’d recommend a screencapturing software Mac (free) and Windows (free & paid licenses)

Get hold of an editing software that will do simple transitions, effects and graphics. There are a number of options available. Only ensure that the editing software supports the video format you’ve shot your footage on. Edit your video to the script/ audio narration. Don’t go overboard with transitions and effects. Remember, keep the video to a max of 2-3 minutes.

Once you have edited the video, upload the video onto a hosting service like Youtube. You may want to choose a paid service for better control and analytics (although Youtube too offers many of these features).

The videos can also be outputted in mp4 format and used on memory cards/DVDs and distributed among interested clients.

Of course, don’t forget to share it with the world using social media!

Watch this video for a step-wise tutorial on how to produce HOW TO videos:

Happy producing!

What are some of the popular video formats?

The most popular video format is perhaps mp4, given its flexibility and versatility in playing well across platforms. Also does very well in terms of streaming.

The digital media world can leave us bewildered, particularly when dealing with video. If you have tried uploading a video to youtube, you will know that there a number of formats that the service can accept to show off to the world.

Listed below are some of the most popular video file formats.  Remember that each format has a particular utility. We would do well to

3g2: An audio, video format to be delivered over 3G or the next generation phones. It is designed to deliver audio, video files over the internet and was derived fromQuickTime.

AVI: Stands for Audio Video Interleave. Files of this format have an ‘.avi’ extension. It was developed by Microsoft and has become a popular format. It runs on a number of different systems like Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix and is supported by all of the most popular web-browsers.

flv: Video format developed by Adobe Systems. Flash Video has been accepted as the default online video format by many sites. Notable users of it include YouTube,metacafe, etc.

m4v: A file format developed by Apple for its iTunes. Requires QuickTime for playback.

mov: Commonly associated with Apple and the QuickTime. It was developed by Apple which also developed the QuickTime Player, it is compatible with both the Microsoft and Mac platforms. MOV files are capable of storing two or more tracks which can be video, audio, text, graphics or effects. This is also a popular format for editing video.

mpeg-2: Yet another very popular file format that is used for DVDs and satellite and cable broadcast purposes. Such files are denoted by a ‘.mpg’ extension.

mp4: Is an abbreviation of MPEG-4. This is perhaps the most popular format these days. Can play on several platforms including mobiles, desktops, tabs etc and is the most sought after since it requires lesser bandwidth, particularly when using with internet. Follows that this can be quite useful when streaming video. mp4 is also popular since most media players in the market today can play this format.

wmv: These video files contain audio developed by Microsoft. These files can be played on a variety of video players on both Mac and PC machines.

(Video courtesy: Tuts+ Motion Graphics on 

For more details on other file formats and video compression techniques, look out for the second edition of Video Production, Oxford University Press.

Would be delighted to get your feedback!