Sic Transition Gloria

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CyberLink PowerDirector 9 comes with a boatload of transitions — effects used to shift from one video clip or still picture to the next. There are folds, flips, fades, dissolves, dominos, and many, many more to choose from in what CyberLink calls the Transition Room. Transitions help move your story forward, and they’re an essential element in Hollywood productions, television shows, and home videos.

Most professional productions rely heavily on two simple types of transitions: cuts and crossfades. A cut is when one clip ends and the next begins immediately. A crossfade — a.k.a. dissolve — is when one clip gradually fades out while the next slowly fades in. Wipes, where one shot replaces another in some kind of geometric pattern (used to great effect in Star Wars ) and transitions in which images swirl, shatter, and do other crazy stuff are less common in pro productions, but they can definitely add pizzazz to footage of your latest vacation or birthday party.

When it comes to transitions, less is usually more, so when I first contemplated writing this post, I resolved to concentrate on cuts and crossfades. But then I caught an E! Network special on pop singer Katy Perry that used a combination of crossfades, cuts, and some fast-paced transitions I’d never seen before. I was inspired to step outside my comfort zone and experiment with PowerDirector’s huge library of transitions.

The Transition Room’s default view is an alphabetical list that’s great for browsing, but not so great when you know what you’re looking for. For quick recall, PowerDirector lets you save specific transitions as “Favorites.” Slick! A pull-down menu filters transitions by type, including the ones you tagged as favorites. As you’re browsing, clicking on a transition displays an animation of its effect in the preview monitor on the right side of the screen.

PowerDirector’s Transition Room gives you lots of transition types to choose from. Clicking on a transition displays an animated preview in the window on the right.

PowerDirector makes it equally easy to go transition crazy or keep it simple. If you’re a nervous novice or want something in a hurry, applying a single transition such as a crossfade (a.k.a. dissolve) to your entire project is a simple push-button operation.

I wanted a mix of transition types, so I dragged them one at a time onto my clips in the timeline, hitting the spacebar to play the transition and see how it looked applied to the clips. This is another place where PowerDirector is designed to take advantage of the Intel Quick Sync Video technology built into the latest generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors. Intel QSV speeds the editing process, letting you see the results of your changes in real time. And that takes the guesswork out of working with transitions. Trés cool.

After trying out a few unusual transitions, I went with Blur for moving between my still shot of a pier and my video clip of the adjacent boardwalk’s pirate ship ride.

Blur gradually transitions one clip (my shot of a pier, at top) to another by performing a dissolve-like blurring of focus (middle) that finally resolves into a sharp picture (the pirate ship, bottom).

Riffing on the Katy Perry video, I used the Blur Left transition to rapidly move between my pirate ship clip and the next clip in the timeline, a merry-go-round shot.

Blur Left is a wipe-like transition, where one shot (top) blurs as it gets pushed from right to left off the screen (middle) and gets progressively replaced by the second shot (bottom).

Finally, I used Blur Up to transition from the merry-go-round to a clip of a Wheel of Fortune game.

Blur Up transitions my merry-go-round clip to a Wheel of Fortune clip by pushing the end of the merry-go-round clip up and off the screen while blurring its colors.

Too many animated transitions can distract viewers and disrupt flow, so I went with straight cuts for three clips of bumper cars. Ultimately, choosing a transition style that fits your content is a call only you can make. PowerDirector has a bevy of them to choose from, so remember, with transitions less is usually more than enough – unless, of course, you’ve just been inspired by Katy Perry.

Next: Adding titles and graphics.

This story, "Sic Transition Gloria" was originally published by BrandPost.

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