Article by Aldene Fredenburg

Advances in digital cameras and computer hardware and software technology are democratizing filmmaking. Every year, digital video cameras are getting sharper, faster, and more complex, while computers with super-fast operating systems and phenomenal storage capacity are putting advanced editing tools in the hands of aspiring filmmakers at record-low costs.

Single-chip digital cameras, available for under 00, can produce sharp, high-quality images and are perfect for creating home movies, documentaries and training films suitable for local distribution. Videos of exceptional quality can be transferred directly to CDs or DVDs and, if used solely for viewing on a TV screen, produce beautiful, crisp video. For producing a film with more versatility, for instance for projection onto a large screen in a theater or for broadcast purposes, entry-level professional three-chip cameras offer more control over color balance and broadcast quality beginning at around 00.

Editing software allows the filmmaker to take raw digital images and process them into a final product. For years the Avid editing system was the standard in video editing, and has been used extensively in Hollywood to edit motion pictures: raw 35 mm film footage was transferred to video and edited, then the final cuts were made to the film footage. Now there are several computer based software programs giving Avid a run for its money. Anyone who has Windows XP on their PC, for instance, has MovieMaker, a simple digital editing system with some powerful capabilities. Beyond that, Adobe Premiere and Final Cut both offer professional level video and audio editing tools, Premiere for PCs and Final Cut for Mac computers. Many other editing software systems also offer digital editing capability.

With powerful editing software comes the need for more operating memory and lots of storage capacity; audio and video data require a tremendous amount of memory. While computers, both desktops and laptops, come with more storage capacity all the time – some systems routinely provide 60 to 80 gigabytes of storage memory – it’s wise, at the very least, to back up your raw footage and your edited product elsewhere, on CD Roms, DVDs, or on an external drive. A better arrangement might be to store both raw data and final edited movies on an external drive, backed up by DVDs, and import your work as you need it only for the purpose of editing.

Make sure you take into consideration the rest of the filmmaking process when you choose your software; Final Cut, for instance, is compatible with Final Draft, a screenwriting program which makes screenwriting easy and can generate all kinds of production lists which make organization a movie project easier. So if you think you’ve decided on an editing software program, see what else the software company creates and how it interfaces with the program you’ve chosen.

So if you’ve always wanted to be a filmmaker, take the plunge! With all the digital video equipment and software available these days, the only limitation is your creativity.

Aldene Fredenburg is a freelance writer living in southwestern New Hampshire. She has written numerous articles for the Internet and for local and regional publications. She can be reached at

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