Blender, the open-source 3D creation suite, as we all know, has been on great heights lately, and with the astounding amount of work and dedication that is being put into the current development, there’s no doubt it is already a state-of-the-art software. From the time I was introduced to Blender, I was pretty amazed at the amount of features it has and the myriad of possibilities you can achieve with it. Features like modeling, shading, texturing, rendering are already a given fact, but what’s much more impressive with Blender is it’s “side features” that come along with it, one great example would be the “Video Sequence Editor”, popularly called VSE is the Blender universe. From the name alone, you can already figure out what it is used for, yup – video editing! Pretty cool, eh? With the right amount of knowledge, strategy, and workarounds, there’s much more leeway than it is really used for.
I’ll share with you some tips and guidelines as to how you could start along and begin using Blender itself for editing your videos and not keep jumping from application to application, which can become really troublesome at times.
Without further ado, let’s get on with it!
Before we begin, there are a couple of things we need to have:
- Blender 2.49b
- Skill level: Beginner to Intermediate
- a little bit of patience
- lots of coffee to keep you awake (and a comfortable couch?)!
This might sound odd to you as this came first before anything else in the article. The reason for this is that we don’t want to mess up with a lot of things, and create more trouble later (you’ll see that shortly during the process). But if you already are satisfied with the way your videos look and feel, then you can skip this step and move on to the main one.
Partly, we will deal on how to enhance your videos, making them look better than they were originally shot. This part could also dictate how you want the mood of your videos to be (depending on the way you shot it). Just like how we post-process and add more feel to our still images, the same thing goes with our videos, thus using the Composite Nodes to achieve this. And later, use these processed videos into the sequence editor for final editing.
To begin with, open up Blender and depending on your default layout, you will see something like this (see screenshot below):
Let’s change our current 3D viewport into the Node Editor window and under the Scene Button(F10), set the render size to 100%, enable Do Composite under the Anim panel, set the Size/Resolution and the video format under the Format panel, and lastly set your output path under the Output panel on the same window. That was quite a lengthy instruction to pack into one paragraph though, so check out the screenshot below for a clearer picture.
Now that we’re already in the Node Editor window, by default, we see nothing but grid and a new header (which apparently gives us a clue what to do next). Since we’re not dealing with Material Nodes and Texture Nodes, we’re safe to ignore some other things that comprise the node editor for now and instead, we’ll use the Composite Nodes, which is represented by a face icon on the header. Click and enable that button. But then, you’ll notice that nothing has happened yet, that’s because we still have to indicate to Blender that, it’s actually going to be using the nodes. So, go ahead and click the Use Nodes and you’ll notice something came up on your node editor window, being the Render Layer Node and the Composite Node respectively.The render layer node is an input node which takes data from our current Blender scene as specified through of render layer options under the scene window, which is often useful in general purpose node compositing direct from our 3d scene or if you wanted to layer your renders into passes. But since, we are not doing that now, we won’t be needing this node right now, go ahead and select the Render Layer Node by right clicking on it and press X or Delete on your keyboard and automatically, without any popups shown, the render layer node is now gone from our composite window.
Next step is to load our videos into the node compositor and actually begin the process. To load the videos into our compositor, we use the Image Input Node to call our videos from wherever it is stored. To do this, press spacebar on your keyboard while your mouse cursor is on the node editor window, choose Add < Input > Image. With our Image Node loaded in the compositor, click the Load New button and browse to the directory where the file is loaded.
Loading the Video via the Image Input Node
After successfully loading the video, you’ll notice the Image Input Node change its appearance, now having a thumbnail preview and some buttons and inputs we can experiment with. The most important setting we have to specify here is the number of frames our video has or else Blender wouldn’t know which ranges to composite.
Specifying the Number of Frames in the Image Node
Often, this can be a difficult task to deal with and I’ve had so much trouble with this before as I wanted the exact frame count that would precisely match that of my original video without even missing a single glitch. There are a couple of ways to do this, and if you’re smart enough to calculate the number of frames based on the time your video consumes, that’s fair enough, or you could open up a separate application to see how many frames it got, but if you’re like me who likes to make it simple and still within Blender’s grasp, then there’s still hope to this.
Right now, we’re off to a tiny part of the main course here which is Blender’s VSE, but this time we’ll only use it to know how many frames our video has. But don’t worry because it’s the main dish and we’ll get to that shortly.