So, you want
to make a Farscape music video, or are at least thinking about it.
Before I got into Farscape, I had no idea people made fan videos.
One day, I found a site that had one music video, I downloaded it,
and was hooked. At the time I lacked the technical expertise, equipment
and software to make a video of my own. Learning how to make videos
has been an odyssey, filled with frustration and great satisfaction.
I'll try to save you some time and a few of the mistakes I made.
This page isn't a technical guide to making videos, but a starting
point. There are links to the right that you will definitely want
to check out. Some of the sites are quite technical, so don't worry
if it all seems a bit overwhelming. I suggest sticking to the basics
and let your own skills lead you from there. Who knows, this could
lead you to a whole new career or lifelong passion.
are at least five parts to making a basic fan music video:
1: Choosing the right music
1. Choosing the right song for Farscape can be difficult, or not.
What's difficult is finding lyrics that match what's happening on
the video. Is your video meant to be a literal expression of the
song, is it metaphorical, or will you ignore the lyrics entirely
and allow the music to lead the video? In the summer of 2001, I
was driving home from work and an old song I had never heard before
played on the radio that left me stunned. The song, Sail
Away by Styx, amazed me because the lyrics were perfect for
John Crichton's early experiences in the Uncharted Territories.
I got home, downloaded the song, and played it again and again.
The lyrics were so perfect, I had the video edited in a matter of
hours, but only in my head. Needless to say, Sail Away is pretty
close to being a literal translation of the song. My personal preference
is to find songs containing lyrics that work with the video. Other
people choose songs based on the music only, with little consideration
of the lyrics and how they work with subject matter. It's your video,
so the choice is yours.
I find myself listening to songs on the radio or at work and considering
each and every one as a potential Farscape video. Obviously, most
songs aren't right and I simply wait for the next contender. To
my advantage, is that I work near other people with taste in music
very different from my own. Listening to their songs of choice exposes
me to music that I would never have discovered otherwise.
If your taste in music is narrow, so is the pool of material you
are limiting yourself to use.
2: Capturing the video I think is the toughest part for some people
to grasp, at least until they realize it's not difficult at all.
As far as I know, there are two popular way of capturing the video
to modern computers: a video capture card or external device, and
high speed data connection such as USB2 or Firewire
(also known as IEEE1394 or iLink.)
and USB2 are two popular standards for transferring video to your
computer hard drive. If you own a relatively modern Macintosh or
Sony computer, you already have Firewire. Most new Windows PCs ship
already equipped with USB2. Expansion cards for both Firewire and
USB2 are available and are fairly cheap. Basically, Firewire allows
you connect your digital camcorder or VCR to your PC. However, most
VCRs don't have Firewire or USB2 data ports, so it may be necessary
to use a data converter, which acts as a bridge between the two
machines. Most digital camcorders will work as a bridge just fine.
Use the RCA jacks (the red, white, and yellow plugs) to connect
the camcorder to your VCR. Then use Firewire or USB2 to connect
your camcorder to your PC. Just like that your analog video is converted
to digital and is ready for capture.
choice, the one I prefer, is to use a video capture card. Probably
the most popular line of consumer cards are manufactured by ATI.
My card is the ATI All-In-Wonder Radeon 7500, which costs around
$150. The ATI comes with all kinds of features I never use, so a
less expense card will probably work fine. Pro capture cards can
cost thousands of dollars, in case you were wondering. A nice feature
of the ATI card is its ability to export back to VCR without any
special equipment. You can capture from a DVD with the ATI card
as well. Note, capturing DVD works for me only when I use the S-Video
cable that came with the DVD player, not the cable supplied by ATI.
I have no idea why.
couple of tips for capturing video:
is better. 7500 RPM hard drive is better than 5400 RPM. Faster processors
are better than slower ones. I captured video on a 233 MHz Pentium
2 for a while, but the machine was limited to 320 x 240 size video
and 15 frames-per-second. Oh, and it took hours to compress a five-minute
video. Faster is better.
3: Editing the video is the fun part. The only problem is choosing
you have no money:
ME and XP have a built in program called Windows Movie Maker. This
program isn't great, but you can make a decent video with it. Note,
WMM isn't designed for exporting to VCR, so the vids made with it
are best viewed on the web. Start > Programs > Accessories
> Windows Movie Maker.
you own a modern Macintosh, you are in luck. Your machine already
has a great little editor called iMovie.
Far more sophisticated than its Windows counterpart, iMovie
has all kinds of transitions, effects and so-forth. iMovie can export
to your VCR via a digital camcorder or digital bridge device. The
only downside to iMovie is that it works with digital video only.
nice little program good enough to make online videos is QuickEditor.
Available in both Windows and Mac versions, this editor is free
to use and never expires. For around $30 you get expanded features.
It is required that you have QuickTime (free
download) installed on your system for the editor to work. If
the QuickEditor link isn't working, you can download the program
I made the following videos with this editor: Boogie
or Die (original version) | My
Heart Will Go On | Bed
you have less than US$100:
you have a Mac, but not iMovie, you can buy it from Apple for US$49
Windows, the program I use and enthusiastically recommend is Video
Factory 2. For $69, you get a complete video editor with over
170 transitions and effects, two video tracks, a text track, three
audio tacks, and all the export options you could possibly want.
Download the free trial (can't export) and give it a try. I made
the following videos with this software: Boogie
or Die 2 | Hey
Jude | 1812
Away | A
Day in the Life | Smooth
recently released a trimmed down version of its professional editor
Cut Express. I personally have never used this software, but
from the many reviews I've read, there's nothing "express"
about this program. Full-featured, including most of what you will
find on Final Cut Pro, this program has been called a "bargain"
at $299. I'm planning to replace my old iMac with a new Mac soon,
which means a more detailed review of this software posted to this
site is on the horizon.
Video 3 (Windows): Made by the same people who make Video Factory
2, this software definitely worth a look. $419
Premiere 6 (Windows & Mac): Probably the best consumer grade
editor out there. $549
Final Cut Pro (Mac): If you have a Mac and take your editing
very seriously, this is the best there is. $999
Xpress DV (Windows & Mac OS X): If you are a pro and use
Avid at work, this is for you. $1699
software can be downloaded from www.download.com
few hints on editing:
the most common mistake made by new editors (myself included) is
using clips that are too long. Thinking back to my first couple
of vids, I used clips that were way too long because I felt they
were important for the video. As if to make sure you didn't miss
my point, I included virtually the entire scene. What I didn't realized
back then, is that a succession of brief, yet related clips are
far more effective in conveying a thought than a really long clip.
Keep the clips short, absolutely no more than 8 seconds for slow
moving videos, 1 or 2 seconds (or less) for fast moving vids.
matter how many fancy transitions your software may offer, keep
the transitions simple. Simple is better, and try to use no more
than two types of transitions through the entire video.
from using clips of people talking, particularly if there is only
instrumental music playing. Seeing an actor's lips moving can be
distracting. Unless of course, you are able to synchronize their
lips to words in the music - that is very cool.
about the clips you are using and why you want to use them. Watching
a video with clips that seem to have been placed in a random order
and make no sense to the music can be a big turnoff.
4: Exporting the video.
you just made your video, now what? Choosing the right export option
depends on how you plan to share your video. Here are some of the
options to consider:
rate. Video and film are viewed at about 30 frames-per-second. High
quality vids will use 29.97, 30, or 24 fps. Lower quality vids will
use 15 or 8 fps.
Less means higher. As in, higher quality and file size. If you plan
to export to a VCR, .AVI (or raw video) with little or no compression
will provide the best quality, particularly if you used a DVD as
your original video source. However, the file will be quite large.
The raw video of my Sail Away vid, which is about 5 1/2 minutes
long, is 1.2 gigabytes in size. However, Windows Media encoder brought
the vid down to less than 20 megs, which works fine for the web.
Here's an example of a QuickTime video I made a while back:
Bed of Roses export settings:
Sorenson Video 3
Frame Rate: 24
Key Frame Rate: 20
Data Rate: 35 Kbytes/sec.
Sound: QDesign Music 2
Sample Rate: 48 kHz ; bit rate of 40; 16 bit stereo sound
editing software will use templates that offer few custom settings.
You simply choose the overall quality of the video and the software
does the rest. Unless you are really into video, using templates
is the best option.
possible, I will post at least two versions of the same video to
my site. A large file for people with broadband, and a smaller file
for dial-up modem users.
5: Share your video.
is the easiest part, and you probably already know what to do. Farscape
Fantasy is home to the largest collection of Farscape music videos
anywhere. Most fan sites contain few, if any, music videos because
video is expensive to host. This site exists on its own dedicated
server, which allows about 2000 gigs of data transfer per month.
Yes, it costs some bucks, but adding a new video (or thirty) to
the site archive every month seems to be working fine. Click
here for more info on submitting your video.
to the Music Video Page