Free Tutorial - Using Flash to Edit Videos for YouTube
Flash can be used to edit your videos before uploading to YouTube or other sites such as FaceBook etc. In this tutorial you will learn how to take one or several digital files from your camera, edit them in Flash, including the sound. While you are in Flash you have the option to add animation or text. You then re-export ready to upload to YouTube.
Click by Click: If you would like to view this tutorial without all the notes: Click by Click
Step One: The Camera
YouTube is not high quality you can use any camera that has a digital video facility. I am going to use my standard stills camera. This, like many modern cameras, has an option to record video.
Example: Download Sample Videos Int 103
My Digital Camera
Optional: Your camera may have settings that you can adjust. If you want you can set your camera so that the film image matches the size of the YouTube image: 480 X 360. This is quite a small setting and you will find it reduces your file sizes considerably.
Example: Download Sample Videos Int 103
Note: At present YouTube will only let you upload films that are less than 10 minutes long. So don't make a feature film. Keep it short. Also film files tend to be very big and your computer may take forever to import, export and edit the films. For the point of learning 5 or 10 second clips are best.
I took a series of very short clips of my silly dog:
Note: Normally you can just double click on the files and they will open in the default Video Viewer.
My Clips open in Quick Time.
Decide which clips you want to use and in which order you want to view them. You do not need to use a complete clips, you can use a sections or several sections of one or more clips.
Note: Planning your movie is important because the file sizes tend to be very large and it takes the computer a lot of processing power to do even simple edits. So the more thinking you can do before you get to Flash the better.
Note: The length of my little movie clips listed below are between 3 seconds and 6 seconds, yet the file sizes are very large. My camera (on the default setting) stores films at 2MB per second! So a 60 second film would be 120MB and 10 minute film would be over a Gigabyte!
My renamed Files copied to a new folder.
My files are AVI format. You may find that your files are a different file format. It does not matter what format your camera saves in. The dimensions of my movie clips is 640 x 480 pixels. This is bigger than the default YouTube size and at this stage is not important.
Step Two: Compressing the Movie Clips
I find that if I try and import the above movie clips into Flash CS3 it crashes!! And they are only a few seconds long! I find that Flash 8 is actually more stable but it can take a very long time to import a Movie. For example it could take half an hour to import a video that is a couple of minutes long. You can see that that is not very practical!
Note: This tutorial only covers Flash CS3 & 8.
The answer is to reduce the size of the file before you open Flash. Remember you are putting the Movie online and it is to be viewed on a small screen so quality is not important. It is size that matters - not quality (where have I heard that before?) and in this case small is beautiful.
In order to achieve this I use a program called Ultra Video To Flash Converter. I downloaded this for free from Tucows. The version that I have is free to use as long as you use it to convert one file at a time (if you want to do bulk conversion there is a small licence fee). I am sure there are other similar programs. If you already have a video converter use that.
Alternative: If you wish go to Tucows or Shareware.com and search.
The first thing to do is to set the default options.
Note: The Output Directory (save location) can be the same as the source folder.
Note: My originals are AVG so it is easy to see the new files as the names are now: Original-File-Name.MPG
If yours originals were already MPGs your new files will be named something like this: Original-File-Name_1.MPG
Important Note: I have set the sound quality very low and the video quality to medium. Once you have tested your Movie. if you find that either the video or sound is not too low, come back to these options and reset the Video and or Audio bit rate up or down as appropriate to your needs.
Step Three: Reducing the File Sizes
Now it is time to put the Flash Video Converter into action and reduce the files sizes right down.
The File will appear in the Window:
Note: The program will ask you to register and pay a small licence fee. If you wish to please feel free to do so but you don't have to as you are entitled to use the program for single files transfers for free.
Note: It should just take a few moments to convert the file. If you have a look in your Video Edit Folder you will see a new file. You will see that the new MPG file is only 768KB. That is a remarkable reduction in file size!! If you want to compromise on quality you can squash it even more by setting your Video Bit Rate even lower.
Tip: In your Video Edit Folder double click on the new file to view the new Movie. If you find that the quality is too low (or too high) go back to the options section of the Flash Video Converter and change the video and or audio bit rate values and try again. Repeat until you are happy with the sound and visual quality.
Note: Clearing the list does not delete the file only remove it from the list in the program.
All the videos have been converted.
Step Four: Setting up the Flash File
Note: You can use ActionScript 3.0 if you want.
Note: In the options from the Flash Video Converter program we set the frame rate to 24 frames per second. If you do not set Flash to match but leave it at the default 12 then you get a Movie which plays in slow motion. In you increase it above 24 your Movie will play at high speed. For example I created this movie in slow motion: Fluorescent Body Art in Slow Motion (half speed).
Note: Flash files with embedded videos can get very big and may cause the program to become unstable and crash. Although using the method described here reduces the risk of this, I still recommend regular saving.
Step Five: Setting up the Timeline
You will need two layers in the Timeline, one is for the video image and the other is for the sound.
Frame 1 on the Video Layer is selected.
Step Six: Importing the Video
Now that the video file size have been reduced importing the videos should be easy.
The Import Video box appears:
Note: If you cannot tell which is the small file open select the 'Details' view (in Windows) by clicking on the View Menu Icon:
You can then see the files sizes in the Size column:
You can then see you file in the Flash dialogue box.
Note: This audio track option is very important. It means that you are going to split the file into two, the video file and the audio file. You cannot upload Flash Movies to YouTube so you will need to convert the file back into an Mpeg or Avi file and there seems to be a bug with Flash (or some other obscure reason) that causes embedded videos to drop the sound track when exporting, leaving you with only visuals. This 'separation' method resolves this sound loss problem.
In this section you have the option to edit the clip.
Use the Playhead to preview a portion of the clip. Use the two triangles to trim the clip. Important: Use the plus to add the clips. Otherwise the edit will not be imported to Flash!
Note: The quality of the movie is already medium to low so you will not gain anything by selecting a high quality settings. Higher settings will mean larger Flash files so keep things low, it will save time when Flash is importing.
Flash will then tell you that it is going to import:
Note: It may take sometime for Flash to import the video. This will depend on the speed of you computer, the length of the movie and the quality settings. Be prepared to wait!
You may find that the Movie is not located on the correct location on the stage. It maybe offset to one side instead of being located on correctly.
Note: The Movie should now be sitting correctly right on top of the stage and not off set to one side.
Step Seven: Adding the Sound to the Timeline
Although the video will have automatically gone into the Timeline the sound does not!
The video is visible in the Video Layer.
You will find that the sound is in the Library. If you want to check press F11 to open the Library.
The sound file is visible in the Library.
Note: You don't need the Library open so if you want close it: F11
Frame 1 of the Audio layer is selected.
The sync setting is set to Stream.
Note: If you find that your video and sound get out of sync it is probably because this setting is incorrect.
Note: Have a look in the Timeline. You will see that the sound file is now embedded in Frame 1. You can tell this from the small black line that appears in the frame: (subtle or what!!)
If you play your Movie you will still not actually hear any sound!! That's because the sound only exists in frame 1 and not through the whole timeline:
Sound is only in Frame 1.
The answer is to extend the frames to the same place in the Timeline as the Video Layer.
End of the Video Timeline.
Select just above the last frame of the Video Layer.
The Audio will now be visible:
The squiggly line represents the audio track.
Step Eight: Importing Additional Videos into Flash
There is one thing that you need to do before importing your next video clip. That is to prepare the Timeline. You need to make sure that there are Blank Keyframes in both the video and audio layers.
Select the next blank Frame in the Audio Layer.
Select the next blank Frame in the Video Layer.
You are now ready to import the next video clip, which is of course just a repeat of what you did in the previous section: Step Seven
Note: Flash does not appear to remember the Import Video settings that you select, so each time you import a video you will need to reselect the various options as described in Step Seven of this tutorial.
The most important of these settings is to ensure the following:
Step Nine: Flash Additions
Once you have finished importing your video clips it is easy to add additional MP3 sound tracks, captions, animation, photos, logos or other features available in Flash. I am not going to describe how to do this as these types of effects are detailed in many of the other tutorials on this site. But I would suggest that you lock the two layers that you have already created and do additional effects in new layers.
One other point to remember is that on sites like youTube you cannot upload the Flash Movie as you normally would on your own site - you need to convert the file back to a Movie. So there is no point in adding anything interactive, like buttons or forms as these will not work.
Step Ten: Exporting the Movie from Flash
The next step is to get the Movie out of Flash. Ordinarily you would do this by publishing the Flash Movie as described in other tutorials on this site. But in this case this will not work. Website's like YouTube and Facebook will not let you upload Flash Movies (swf files). You can only upload a video format movie. To achieve this you export rather than publish.
This is similar to saving a file and Flash will need to know where to save the movie file and what it is to be called.
Give the Movie a name and select a file type.
Macs: I am not sure if a Mac has an equivalent to Windows AVI format? If not, you can always use QuickTime [*.Mov].
Mac's & Quick Time [*.Mov] When exporting as a QuickTime Movie Flash tends to create really big files which are hundreds of megabytes or even gigabytes. These large files sizes tend to take a lot of processing power to create. There must be a way to save smaller files but I have not found the right compression option?
Export Windows AVI settings.
In the Video Compression section accept the defaults:
Video compression defaults.
Flash Vs Other Compression Tools: Flash has very complex compression tools which maybe good if you you can figure them out! Personally I don't bother. I use the default compression from Flash and then if needed - do a real squash with easy to use software like Ultra Video To Flash Converter.
Note: It may take a while to create the Video file.
Step Eleven: Final Compression
Depending on how long your Video is, it maybe necessary to further compress the Video. You should be able to see the file size by looking in your video Folder.
My video is only 15 seconds long so the file size is ok at 6MB. But you can imagine that if is was a few minutes long the file size would become problematic. So further compression would be necessary.
The File will appear in the Window of the compression program.
The program will ask you to register and pay a small licence fee. If you wish to please feel free to do so but you don't have to as you are entitled to use the program for single files transfers for free.
Your file is now ready to be uploaded. If you look in your Video Folder you will see the Mpeg file:
Step Twelve: Uploading a Movie to YouTube
You are now ready to upload to YouTube. For this you will need to go to YouTube.
Note: If you don't have an account you will need to create an account. Look for the Sign Up button at the top of their home page and fill in the form.
When you are logged-in look for the Upload button at the top of the YouTube pages:
Follow the YouTube instructions.
I hope you have found this useful. If so perhaps you could recommend this site to others and link to webwasp!
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