Half-an-hour video edit with QuickTime Pro 7

Aren’t videos awesome? Even low res, bad quality videos of great moments are a little piece of special, because they can take you back to a time and place you were happy, surrounded by crazy, drunk friends and singing Adele at the top of your good times. Unfortunately, not all video looks great, and you often end up sitting through whole minutes of rubbish footage just to see the good bits. But it doesn’t have to be that way! You don’t want to be Steven Spielberg, you just want to edit out the part where Brian loses his shit because he’s lost another round of strip Singstar and doesn’t want to take off his underwear. Or maybe you want to add that in. Whatever your twisted creativity demands, I’m here to help you achieve your goal.

Enter QuickTime Pro 7. Cheap, easy, effective, and you won’t be stuck with obscure movie file formats no-one else can view (Windows Movie Maker I’m looking at you). It runs on both PC and Mac (can you tell I have a theme?), it’s light, and creates small files. As I’ve mentioned, it’s not meant for intense feature films or portfolio pieces, but if you just need to chop and change some footage, add music and be done with it, QuickTime Pro 7 is the thing you need.

Please note, this is QuickTime Pro 7 only – subsequent versions of QuickTime pro DON’T have this awesome editing capability. Who can say why. So don’t get caught buying the wrong version – you have to actively search for the right one. Or follow this link, because I did it for you 🙂

It costs less than £20, and considering what’s out there, and what’s inside it, it’s a good deal. The controls are intuitive and allow for very detailed editing. So, without further ado, let’s crack open your video.

Starting off
Videos come from so many places, in so many formats. Most of the time you’ll be able to open your video in QuickTime, and bam! it will just work. However, if your video is in a format QT doesn’t recognise, you will need to try and convert it to the QT native format (.mov), or to mp4, m4v (or any other mpg format). If you’re working on a PC, you can open Windows movie files (wmv). If you’re on a mac and you need to open a Windows movie, you can purchase the Flip4mac add-on for QT. If your video is on a DVD, check out my post on ripping footage.

Open your video in QT. The screen will open at full size. If your movie dimensions are physically larger that your computer screen, you will only see some of the display. Go to View > Half size (Ctrl+0 for short) to fit your video on screen. If its too small, you can click and drag the bottom right corner to the size you need.

Below your video you will see a narrow timeline bar.

The Timeline

This represents the length of your video. Clicking anywhere on it will move the playhead (a line with an arrow on the timeline)  to that time code in the video.

Pressing Spacebar, or clicking on the Play button at the bottom, will play your movie. You will see the playhead moving along to indicate the frame your movie is currently at. Pressing Spacebar again will pause the movie and the playhead will stay at the current position. This will be valuable for editing. While the movie is paused, press the left or right arrow key. The playhead will move forward or backward exactly one frame for each keystroke. This is even more valuable for editing!

Ok! Basic controls sorted – now let’s cut and paste. Let’s say at the end of your clip there’s a whole bunch of nothing happening. The rest of your clip is awesome, so you just want to get rid of that.

Timeline selection with IN marker on the left and OUT marker on the right

Move the playhead to the point before the excitement goes downhill, either by clicking on the timeline close to the right position, or playing the video until you get there, and then stepping back or forth with the arrow keys to get to the spot exactly between great cinema and a 1 star review. Now press ‘I‘ (for ‘IN‘). You will see the IN marker appear at the play head. The OUT marker is still at the end of the clip because it hasn’t been set yet. Press Spacebar to play, or click on the timeline on the appropriate part you want to end your edit. If that happens to be at the end of your timeline, place your playhead there. Now press ‘O‘ for OUT. You will see the second marker now appears at the playhead, and the section of timeline in-between the two arrow markers is darker grey. This area is essentially a selection that you can copy or cut. Do this now by pressing Ctrl+X, or simply pressing Delete or Backspace.

The timeline will look the same length to you now, but it will be missing the part that you’ve just cut out. If you play your whole clip, by going to the beginning of the timeline and pressing play, you will see the part that has been edited out is no longer there, and the footage on either side of your selection will have been merged together.

To save your masterpiece, press Ctrl+S and choose ‘Self-contained movie‘. This produces a QuickTime (.mov) video file. To create other file types, use the Export function.

Now, let’s say we have two clips, and we want to add the two together, or part of the one to the other, or parts of both to a new clip. Open both clips in QT and have them both visible to you so you can switch between them easily.

Add two clips together
On the first video, press Ctrl+A for ‘All‘ to select the entire clip. Press Ctrl+C to Copy, and switch to the second video. Place your play head either at the beginning of the second clip if you want the first one to play first, or at the end, if you want it to play after the second clip. Press Ctrl+V to Paste. You will see the selection as a darker band that now appears where you’ve pasted it.

Needless to say, you can paste this selection anywhere on the timeline, and it will simply move everything up and fit it in. Save or export, and you’re done.

Add part of one clip to another clip
In the first movie, select the section you want to copy over using the technique in the very beginning. Instead of using Ctrl+X (cut), however, use Ctrl+C to Copy. Switch to the second video, place your playhead at the point where you want to add your selection, and Paste (Ctrl+V). Save or export!

Adding parts of two or more clips together in a new movie clip
Now you’re on a roll, and you want to move onto full-length feature films. Or just putting together clips from various videos. Select the bits you want as before, copy (Ctrl+C) and then open a new file (Ctrl+N). It will open a new timeline with no video.

New, untitled QT video

Simply Paste the first clip (Ctrl+V). Then select the next bit of video from any other source, copy and paste it into the new video, making sure the playhead is in the right place (It will automatically be at the end of the last clip you pasted). You can add as many clips as you like.

When you’re done, save or export.

Adding Audio
Yep, you can even add audio. Open the track you want to add, select all (Ctrl+A), copy it and switch to your completed edit.

Select the whole timeline, and then choose Edit, Add to Selection & Scale… when you play your movie, you should have a soundtrack!

You can export from QT 7 Pro into a number of formats, including video for iPhone and iPad, streaming for the internet or full HD DVD quality (obviously depending on your original footage).


It’s a wrap!