Computer Guide

Creating home movies

by George Skarbek - 11 September 2007

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Creating home movies

Q: I have been given a video camera for my birthday in order to make files of my grandkids. Although I have used an 8 mm movie camera in the past I have no experience in digital movies and would appreciate some steps necessary in order to produce a DVD that can be shown on a TV.

A: This is a very big topic and there are entire books written on this subject therefore all that I can do is to give you some guidelines to get you started.

The first and very important point to keep in mind that even to produce your first three minute DVD it will probably take you some hours and involve you in a lot of learning.

The second important point is that if you wish to produce longer movies you will need a lot of computing power. The main criteria, if you are considering a new computer, is that you will need a fast dual core CPU, a minimum of 1 GB of RAM, and you should consider having two hard drives so that you can have your operating system and programs on one drive and keep the large video files on the other. As a bonus, the second hard drive can be used to backup your mail, documents etc. Depending on the camera you may need a capture card in order to transfer the movie from your camera to the hard disk. If your camera has a USB port then no additional hardware should be required.

Naturally you will need video editing software and this is the area where most of your learning will be required. You will need to learn the basics of how to edit, cut out unwanted sections, add transitions between scenes, add titles and possibly background music to make the movie more interesting. Then when you are ready to burn a DVD there will be some more learning on how to create the menus for the scenes, but this is relatively easy.

There are many programs that allow you to edit movies but one program that has been rated highly by several independent reviewers is Adobe’s Premier Elements which has a balance between ease of use, functionality and purchase cost. It can also burn the DVDs.

Creating your movie can be a satisfying job but also a time consuming one, especially when starting and then there is more learning to create the more interesting effects.


Converting to NTFS

Q: Having installed Windows XP on an 80 GB hard drive using FAT 32 I am told that if I try to convert it to NTFS I may lose a lot of content on the hard drive. How likely is this?

A: I would say that this is very unlikely. If your hard drive is absolutely full then the conversion will not be able to proceed, but you will be informed of this before the process begins. I have converted many drives with 100% success.

The only real danger is if there is a power failure in the middle of the process as this may cause problems. I recommend that anyone who is using their computer for a few hours each day should consider purchasing an UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and powering the computer and modem from this. Then if the power fails the computer should run for at least 15 minutes and during this time most processes will have completed and mail sent or received.

Even with batteries up to five years old the computer will probably run for about a minute or so which is adequate to overcome most power fluctuations which usually last only a few seconds. However, with very old UPS’s you should consider installing new batteries.


Wireless printing

Q: I was wondering if you could, please help me with setting up my printer to work wirelessly with my laptop. I am using XP pro on both the laptop and desktop. Is this a big process? And also do I have to install the printer software on to the laptop.

A: Setting up network printing is not difficult if your existing network enables you to see the other computer. The first step is to Share the printer to allow access to your printer otherwise the laptop will not find it. To Share it you have to go to the Control Panel, Printers and right-click on that printer then click on Sharing and tick Share this printer and accept the default name, or give it a more meaningful name.

Having shared the printer, go to the laptop and Add a Printer and select Network printer. It may take many seconds for the laptop to find the desktop computer and then it will display the shared printer. Just click on it and all is done. You will not have to load any software as all the printer drivers will be installed on the desktop computer which will need to be running whenever printing.

In case of problems the first step is to temporarily disable the firewall as this can block access.


To look at the e-book in PDF format, Computer Guide, based on these columns click here