I have always been a pushover for special effects in the movies, always wanted to be the guy behind the scenes doing the miniatures and blowing up things. Who wouldn’t? Well, I have been given the opportunity to be the guy behind the scenes for my church, New Colony Baptist. Actually, I have used my work with the church to test out new technologies and software. For example, I used it for my first live test of iWeb, Apple’s website creation tool (show me). I also used it for trying phpBB2 forum software (show me), Flash (show me), Podcasts (show me) and even video editing with iMovie and Final Cut Express HD (show me).

What’s been the fun part of the video editing is playing with sound and transition effects as well as titling. Titling can be used for opening and end credits, but also can be used within the context of a video for transitions between scenes, or to convey info, set a tone, etc. Final Cut comes with both sound and titling apps, Soundtrack and LiveType. LiveType reminds me a bit of Flash and Director with a dash of Typestyler thrown in (remember that app?). It has a large number of built in effects that you can mix, match, layer and adjust to your liking. You build it as a timeline and then render it as a .mov file that you can import into iMovie HD or Final Cut Express HD. From there it acts just like any other video clip.

For the text portions of this sample video, I created a nebula background in Photoshop (who would’ve thought I could do that?) and then placed it as a background in LiveType. Then I added the Portal object on top which gives the strobing light effect. Lastly, I added the type, using the Stargate font I found online and a size and transparency effect starting from behind the camera and then shrinking it into place. Well, that’s the order I would have done it in, if I knew what I was doing. The interface is oddly non-Mac-like, especially for an Apple product, which is maybe why it’s not promoted too much. So I had to fiddle with the commands until I figured out what I was doing. Then I rendered them to video and imported them into iMovie. Splice and dice and voila! – a promo for our church.

You can usually get Final Cut Express with LiveType and Soundtrack included for $99 with the purchase of a new machine or $299 off-the-shelf. Think about the next time you buy hardware, it does much more than iMovie and with these other apps thrown in, it’s a bargain price. They are great fun to play with and effects render fast on the Intel Macs. You might even end up doing something productive with them…