Getting Video Material

Often video projects will require you to use or piece together clips from other video sources — and you’ll definitely needs clips for your video essay assignment this week. Here are some tips for getting your hand on digital clips.

Downloading from the Web

You can obviously find clips on video sharing sites like YouTube, etc. Keep in mind that quality varies greatly, and terrible quality videos will detract from your final project. The following tools should be a great help in downloading them:

Recording Clips from DVD with VLC

Check out this tutorial for recording from a DVD using the free program VLC. Keep in mind that this requires a computer with a DVD drive — harder to come by these days!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I haven’t had a DVD-equipped computer in years, so I haven’t tried this technique in a while. Report back how things go if you do this!

Ripping DVDs

This technique also requires a DVD-equipped computer. Here are a few useful tools you can use:

  • MacTheRipper (Mac) – Allows you to rip entire DVDs as well as extract particular chapters
  • Mac DVDRipper Pro ($10) –Not sure you’ll need the pro version, but just in case.
  • Handbrake (Mac/PC)

Creating Your Own Video with HCC Resources

Of course, the other way to get video material is to record it yourself. Avail yourself of the video production resources in the Hurley Convergence Center! You can get trained by the DKC in using the Advanced Video Production Studio. There is also equipment to be checked out from the Info Desk: cameras, microphones, etc.


Editing Software

Mac computer come with the free video editor iMovie. Unfortunately, Windows no longer includes a similarly-featured video editing application. If you want to use iMovie but don’t have a Mac, check out the computers in the HCC. Some of them are also equipped with Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere, which are higher-end editors.

You may also be interested in Media Composer | First — a new free video editor from Avid. Another option is OpenShot Editor, a free open-source cross-platform video editing application.

Getting Help

You can find tons of online tutorial resources for iMovie. OpenShot and Media Computer are newer and likely to not have as many online resources, but they both have online guides/tutorials: OpenShot Guide and Media Composer | First (you’ll need a free account to access the MC resources)

In addition, we highly recommend you make use of the Digital Knowledge Center. The Basic Video editing tutorial covers iMovie. We also have an Advanced Video Editing tutorial for those who want to work with Final Cut Pro.


If your project requires you to add narration over a video (like the video essay), there are options.

Adding VoiceOver to iMovie

Adding VoiceOver to OpenShot

If you’re using Media Composer | First, check the online guide for information about the “Punch-In” tool for guidance about adding narration to your videos!


When you’re ready to share your video, you should upload it to your YouTube or Vimeo account and then embed it on your Web site in your blog post. Your Domain of One’s Own Web site isn’t designed for hosting and streaming video, so it’s better to rely on media sharing services.

A Note about Copyright, Creative Commons, and Finding Sources

As you’re working on your video assignments, you may be assembling and editing together various source materials (images, audio, and video). Be aware that using someone else’s material can be considered a copyright violation. If you post and host something that is in violation of copyright, the original owner has the right to contact you and issue a “takedown” request. You should take down any material that could be in copyright violation if the owner contacts you and requests that you do so.

In addition, if you share copyrighted material using a service like YouTube or Vimeo, you may find the services either deny your upload, remove your upload, or attach/embed ads on your upload.

Copyright is murky territory when it comes to digital media. In some ways, modern laws haven’t caught up with the reality of digital technologies which leaves creators in a conundrum when it comes to figuring out how to stay within the law. For example, some uses of media might be considered “fair use” (particularly when you’re engaging in commentary or satire), but the fair use doctrine hasn’t been fully tested in a court of law.

So, what’s a 21st century digital storyteller to do? Here’s some general guidance:

  • Whenever possible, try to use material that is available in the public domain or under a Creative Commons (CC) license. Copyright doesn’t apply to public domain works, and CC works have been pre-emptively licensed by their creators so that others can reuse them, within certain guidelines. If you use CC works, make sure you follow the rules of  the license!
  • If possible, request permission before using copyrighted material.
  • If you do use copyrighted material, be respectful: don’t upload full films to YouTube! Use only what you need and credit what you use!
  • If you do use copyrighted material, and you’re asked to take it down, take those requests seriously.

There are lots of online resources for finding public domain and Creative Commons media. Google for “creative commons video” or “public domain audio,” for example, and see what you find.