One of these avenues of self expression is online video. Hosting services like YouTube.com have made the ability to connect to a world audience really easy. We also have at our fingertips a large amount of free, shareware, and purchasable applications that can turn our desktop into our very own production studio.
It is essential to remember that although some of these video editing applications look intimidating, you only need to learn the necessary features to create your video project.
The IMVU client is an open stage, ready for you to populate with performers who you can dress from a catalog containing 200,000 items, and thousands of virtual backdrops.
Each environment includes its own setting, lighting, and in the case of Furniture Rooms, props.
The IMVU camera gives you 360 degree movement, and don't forget avatar animations, both individual and cooperative. Now all you need to do is find a way to grab that movement and get it into a form you can edit together.
We use a program called Camtasia Studio. This is a PC application that combines both video grabbing and editing capabilities. With Camtasia we are able to make my IMVU 3D window any size, choose just the region we want to capture, and then select Record.
By selecting a region (in Camtasia), we can capture just the area of the IMVU 3D window that we need. The green brackets indicate the area we are grabbing from.
Video Grabbing Tips:
If your video grabs are choppy, your computer may be having trouble both rendering the video frames and running the IMVU 3D client. Certainly a more powerful computer, or 3D Card would help, but also try minimizing your IMVU 3D window to a smaller size. The smaller the window, the less pixels there are to capture. Remember that YouTube is going to reduce the size of your video anyway, so there would be little lost by capturing video from a smaller screen.
When we grab source material for our own videos we really only need to do it one little chunk at a time. In the world of music videos and commercials, 4 seconds is a long time.
We find that grabbing about 5 seconds and cutting it down to a more manageable 2 or 3 seconds is quite enough.
In grabbing video examples we simply found some nice angles to film our avatar from, then record a few seconds. In the end we had four clips to play with:
Using a third-party video capture program we are able to grab four clips and edit them together to make a video. We added a soundtrack and some simple transitions and we are finished.
Basic video editing programs are available on the web (check resources at the end of this tutorial), but the real secret is to edit sparingly. Just because there are a lot of available effects it doesn't mean you need to use them all. Where you choose to cut is often better than the effects you apply to a clip.
In this example we chose to cut when the soundtrack hit a beat, allowing the music to help us decide where the best transitions might be.
Just as we had grabbed video of my avatar against the default white background, we can do the same with my avatar interacting within other 3D scenes.
For this example we did the same thing. We recorded short clips of our avatar in action, then shortened the clips in an editing program, taking the opportunity to make our transitions whenever there was an appropriate beat in the music.
Note: The intro animation was done in a more advanced program, which we will discuss later on. We also used a grainy filter to give it that aged film effect.
As you can see, creating videos out of IMVU content can be as easy or as complex as you are willing to invest your time and energy. Most important to remember is that these programs are tools for you to express yourself with. Remember you only need to understand a few functions to get what you need out of them, and if you are short on pocket money, there are inexpensive and even free alternatives. You may need to deal with some limited functionality, but you can easily make up for that in creativity.
Even more exciting are the array of tools that can allow you to create videos using the same techniques Hollywood special effects houses use all the time. These often include the need to use higher priced applications, but compared to the ‘old days’, gone are the times when only a specialist could use high end film editing tools. Today we can use IMVU to generate the raw materials for making our own special effects master pieces.
Using a green screen scene, like those offered by Keef and Jinx, gives you the perfect backdrop for compositing your own images, graphics, or footage behind your avatar. Here we grabbed some footage of an avatar dancing inside of a green screen scene. Later we can use this clip to cut out the background color; this is called Color Keying.
Here we used Adobe After Effects to composite my green screen footage with a graphic element, in this case the IMVU logo. The reflection on the floor, as well as the camera movement were all done by saving each element as its own 3D layer then moving it over the course of time.
Although Adobe After Effects is a higher priced application, it offers professional tools at a reasonable price. If you are looking to try higher end tools but are under a tight budget, try Jahshaka, a shareware After Effects-like program.
Another option is by animating still images that you have taken within IMVU, and then use a program like Adobe Photoshop to cut out and save these as separate layers. In this example we used separate shots of IMVU avatars, each cut out and saved as a layer on a transparent background.
After importing these layers into an editing program like After Effects, Flash, or Director, we can animate these over time to create depth and movement in a manor that can't be achieved in IMVU alone.
Another, more affordable application for Flash-like animations, but includes the 3D component of more expensive programs like After Effects is Toon Boom.
Additional effects, like film grain, lens flare, various blurs (and more) can be added to your edited videos to create mood. One affordable option is Apple's Quicktime Pro, which allows exporting videos in various formats as well as giving you an array of effects to add to your video during export.
The most important thing to remember is that these tools have been created to aid you in your creative endeavors. Although their price and complexities do vary, there is bound to be something out there to help you get up and running quickly. Be sure to check out the Resource page for links to potential tools to get you started on your own IMVU video.
With IMVU as your canvas you can create all manner of exciting videos to share with your friends. Here are a few of the tools I use while creating videos, as well as free and shareware applications that can help you get the job done. Check them out, and don’t be afraid to try a trial version. In 30 days you can do some amazing things, without having to be a world expert in any one of these applications. Most important of all… have fun!
CamStudio - free
CamStudio is a free, stripped down version of Camtasia which allows easy video grabbing but lacks editing tools
Although more expensive than the previous offerings, Camtasia is a on-stop-shop if you wish to grab and edit your video within one application
Adobe After Effects -
Although expensive, Adobe After Effects is a favorite in the compositing and motion graphics industry for its ability to seamlessly work with files created in both Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
For those computer users that have both a Mac and a PC, there are some Apple alternatives that exist to help you with your editing needs.