Video Sequence Editor (The Main Dish)
Since we’ve been always using Blender’s default screen for modeling, setting up materials, or node compositing, let’s try to deviate for a moment and make use of Blender’s screen features to jump from one preset to another, which is a very useful tool in my opinion. Moving your attention over to Blender’s main menu (located at the very top of the window, below the header), you’ll notice the drop-down menu with a prefix of SR: at the beginning. This is Blender’s screen system which can come in handy anytime you want to switch to any preset view or customized view, quickly! You can click on the box itself with the text to edit the name of the screen you currently have, or you can use the dropdown button to either add a new screen or to choose between the selection. Right now we don’t have the diligence to create a new and customized screen since the presets are already of best use. Clicking the drop-down button, you’ll be presented with different screen names, of which, we will be selecting the fourth one labeled 4-Sequence. Instantaneously, after confirming your selection, your Blender screen will be warped to yet another spaceship-like interface, don’t worry though, we’ll get used to it pretty much soon.
Changing Screen Layouts
On the upper left hand corner, we have our IPO window which is used to add refined and custom controls over the behavior of our strips/inputs, on its right is the preview window, on the middle part is the VSE editor, below it is the Timeline, and lastly at the bottom part is the buttons window.
For this part of the article, we’ll only be delving into some of these parts, namely the Preview, VSE Editor, Timeline, and the Buttons Window. I could’ve just said “except the IPO Window.
So before we actually try and add in our videos, there are things we need to do: hover your mouse pointer over to the Timeline Window and press SHIFT+T to bring up the Time Value option and choose Seconds. This will help us later on to recognize our video lengths with seconds as the unit and not frames, which can become clearer as we go on. And next is to click the Sequencer button under the Scene(F10) menu. This will enable us to see options for our video later on.
Timeline and Button Options
Next thing we need to do is to add our videos (at long last) into the VSE Editor and finally to editing on them. To do this, move your mouse pointer over to the VSE Editor and press spacebar > Movie or Movie + Audio (HD) or you can click Add > Movie or Movie + Audio (HD) on the menu header. This will then lead you into Blender’s file browser where you can locate your videos. If you want to load your videos simultaneously, you can right click, hold, and drag on the videos to select them, and click the load button. They will then be automatically concatenated, each having its own individual video strip. But right now, I only want to load them one at a time so we could focus on editing them separately and not worry about the other strips floating around and messing around with our view.
Once the video/s are loaded into the VSE window and are selected, you’ll notice the Sequencer Buttons Window populated with options. Normally, we will see four (4) tabs, namely: Edit, Input, Filter, and Proxy. Let’s leave the default settings now as they work great as they are (but you can always doodle around the buttons and settings and see how they work, try to experiment!)
Basically, I will introduce you to some of Blender’s video editing capabilities such as: cutting, duplicating, transition effects, artistic glows, and speed controls. Discussing the extents and features of this editor might take me a whole new set of article or two so right now, I’ll only lead you to the basic concepts and have you and your imagination with a lot of experimentation lead you to where you want.
First off, Cutting video strips. Often, you want to delete parts of your video or move a section of it on a certain time on your collection, this is where cutting comes in handy. In Blender VSE world, you can cut a video by clicking over or scrubbing on the frame where you want to start your cut and press K for hard-cut, SHIFT+K for soft-cut. Once this operation is successful, you’ll notice your strip change appearance as a result of the cut, and depending on the number of cuts you made, that’s how much sub-strips you have which can individually be moved (G) or deleted X or delete key.
Cutting, Moving, and Deleting Strips
Once you have made the necessary cuts, you can always arrange your strips by moving them beside each other or with gaps, depending on what you want to achieve. Additionally, you can scrub your videos by click and dragging your mouse over to the VSE window (with the green vertical line as your current frame marker) or you could also click and drag over to the Timeline Window. As you scrub your videos, you’ll notice a live preview of what’s happening on the Preview Window on the upper right hand corner of your screen.
Another cool trick with the VSE is adding markers to label parts of your animation or videos. Markers are also a way of identifying events in your timeline as they happen so you won’t lose track of what has occurred on that frame in time. You can add markers to your VSE Window where your current frame marker (vertical green line) by pressing CTRL+ALT+M or by clicking Marker > Add Marker on the menu, and add a label to it by pressing CTRL+M or by clicking Marker > (Re)Name Marker. These markers would also appear on your Timeline Window.
Adding and (Re)Naming Markers
Next is duplicating strips. Sometimes in your video editing endeavors, you wanted to repeat parts of the video for more emphasis or even just for artistic purposes. Luckily, duplicating strips in Blender’s VSE is just as easy as selecting the strips(s) you wish to duplicate and press SHIFT+D or clicking Strip > Duplicate in the menu.
Now we discuss transition effects, which are one of the nicest things video editing has ever offered. In this part, we’ll try adding some simple transition effects from within the VSE to add subtlety and variation to our strips. Like any other video editing application, it requires you to have at least two strips of video/image to create the transition. We do this in Blender by selecting two strips by first selecting the first strip with right click, then adding to it a second strip by shift right clicking. This way you’re telling Blender from what video to what will the transition occur. Say, you have selected video A first then shift selected video B next, if we’ll now try to add the transition effect, it will happen from video A to video B and not vice versa.
The simplest transition that we could add now is the Gamma Cross which simply takes the first strip and fades it into the second one and so on. Do this by selecting two strips and press spacebar then click Gamma Cross or click Add > Effect > Gamma Cross. With its default settings, when you now scrub your strips or use the timeline, you’ll notice that in between the two strips is a blend of both. Moving any of the video strips will update automatically the length of the Gamma Cross that’s present.