The Cutting Room: Video

Here's how to turn raw data into finished files that will wow your friends and preserve trip memories better than any photo album.

GPS | Photos | Video | Software and Storage

Build Your Perfect Video System

Choose Settings and Save

1. Save finished movies as .mov or .mpeg4 files, which can be viewed on Apple's QuickTime player ( on both Macs and PCs, and are easily uploaded to the web.

2. Preserve a master copy by choosing the highest-possible video quality and size settings in your editing software.

3. Downgrade video resolution to create lower-res copies to show on a computer screen (640x480) or share on the web (320x240). Note that YouTube limits clip uploads to 100MB and 10 minutes.

Video Editing 101

1. Organize and name all clips before importing them to editing software.

2. Use the Trim tool to cut clips to 4 seconds or less to keep viewers' attention. Focus on the key action.

3. Insert clips into your movie.

4. Add transitions to connect clips–but stick with basic black-and-white fades.

Video Editing 201

Add sound Open the audio toolbar to manipulate dialogue and music tracks. You can raise or lower volume at specific spots, remove distortion, and add voice-overs. Create captions Use the Title tool to overlay text on your clips, such as location, names, times/dates, and credits.

4 Elements of a Great Movie

Timing Begin near the story's climax; mix up chronology.

Dialogue Replace bad audio with voice-over.

Mood Build tension with short clips, jerky transitions, and close-ups.

Humor End with blooper outtakes or extra B-roll.

*AVCHD High-definition video format used by newer, high-end camcorders from Sony and Canon. Check compatibility: It's not supported by all video editing programs.