Vidding on any computer has three steps:
You'll learn all the necessary steps to import and export—for the creative, artistic part of the process (editing), you're on your own!
Let's start out by getting familiar with the programs you might be using, and some of the issues you will be encountering when you learn to make your own fan videos . . .
In order to make your fan video, you've got to get clips from your movie or TV show of choice. This usually involves "ripping" (extracting) the movie files from a DVD and saving them to your hard drive.
Probably the easiest and best DVD ripper is Mac the Ripper. (That link was current as of this writing, but may go down at any time.) I really love Mac The Ripper—it's pretty brainless. Just choose the whole disk to rip (or specific titles and chapters) and it does a fantastic job.
Another good DVD ripper is Handbrake, and it differs from Mac the Ripper in a significant way. With Mac the Ripper, copying DVDs is a two step process. You rip the VOB (DVD files) from the DVD, and then use a program like DVDxDV, MPEG Streamclip or ffmpegX to convert these files to AVI or Quicktime files, which then can be imported into your video editing program. With Handbrake, ripping a DVD is a one-step process. It takes the DVD and converts it into an AVI or MP4 video file (which can then be edited in iMovie, for instance).
It's good to have both Mac the Ripper and Handbrake on hand, since they each have their own unique specialties and strengths. And have comfort—even if you can't find a copy of Mac the Ripper, Handbrake can do the job.
If your Mac cannot run iLife 09 (which has more demanding system requirements than iLife 6) then you can buy the iLife 6 suite (which includes iMovie, iDVD, Garageband, iWeb and iPhoto) for about $80. (To run iMovie 6, you need at least a G4 with 256 MB of RAM.) An older version of iLife can be had for much less on eBay, Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
If possible, it is highly recommended that you use iMovie 6 or iMovie 09. Older versions of iMovie are okay as well, but will not have as many functions and features.
iMovie is fun and intuitive. It has many more features (and much more flexibility) than Windows Movie Maker, and is sinfully easy to use. It'll serve you well and allow you to make lots of great fan videos. There are many plug-ins (add-on features) available for iMovie 6, as well as a multitude of instructional books and online tutorials. iMovie is designed so that polished-looking details are very easy to add to your video—many video enthusiasts swear by iMovie and are able to make amazing movies with it.
IMovie 09 was redesigned from the ground up and uses a completely unique interface which is vastly different from iMovie 6 (and below). At first Mac fans were upset by the change, but many have now embraced iMovie 09's qualities. It has many features that are excellent for vidders, like music beat markers (a wonderful convenience for vidding) and more sophisticated color correction tools. I personally call iMovie 09 "crack for vidders" because there's something so unique about its interface, which makes making a fanvid very fast and easy to do.
If you're interested in delving deeper into video editing, then Final Cut is the way to go. The "Pro" version of Final Cut (part of the Final Cut Studio package) is for professionals and is very pricey. But Final Cut Express (which has about 90% of what the Pro version and more than enough for the fan vidder) is $200 (£129 in the UK). If want to save some money (like I did) it's possible to get an older version and then upgrade. But since Final Cut Express's price is pretty low (considering all that it does) sometimes your best deal is simply to buy it new.
If you can't afford the $200 now, consider an older version of Final Cut Express, through vendors like MegaMacs.com. NOTE: If you get an error message when trying to install or open an older version of Final Cut Express (something about an AGP graphics card), press the "Esc" key (top left corner of keyboard) and usually it'll continue to work.
Final Cut Express has an almost identical interface to the Pro version, so if you find that you "outgrow" FCE, you can graduate to the Pro version and catch up very quickly. So, learning FCE is a "marketable skill" (if you ever wanted to carry it that far) since you're familiarizing yourself with a pro-level video editing application. However, there is a learning curve (but the plentiful amount of online tutorials, books and message boards really can help).
Another Mac-only video app that is intriguing is HyperEngine AV, which is free. But for these tutorials, let's just stick with iMovie and Final Cut.
A good app for any Mac vidder to purchase is good old Quicktime Pro. You'll want it if you work in Final Cut Express, and it's also invaluable if you want to convert files to other formats. (Quicktime Pro is bundled at no extra cost in Final Cut Pro.)
Flip4Mac is a free plug-in for Quicktime which will allow you to play WMV (Windows Media) files within QT. For $50 or above, it will allow you to encode WMV files on your Mac.
MPEG StreamClip, has proven invaluable to all of the Mac vidders I know. It'll play heavily in many of the tutorials here. In order to get MPEG Streamclip to convert VOB (DVD files) you'll need to purchase the MPEG-2 Quicktime Playback Component from Apple. Unless you're on a strict budget, do it. If you can't justify the purchase at this time, there are other acceptable alternatives.
VisualHub [sadly now defunct] will also convert VOB files to other formats. It's an extremely versatile program which will quickly convert one format to another. I love it, but it is definitely a "work in progress" and is continually being updated. There's enough going for it to make it a worthwhile purchase, but be careful and keep copies of previous versions, in case an "updated" version no longer does something properly! (The software developer has a great sense of humor, though. When you click on the "Advanced Settings" button, the first thing the new menu says is "Don't! You'll screw it all up!" The whole application has funny little touches like that.) Update: VisualHub has now been discontinued by its developer, but will live on in various forms via open source development. Long live VisualHub!
It's a good idea to have an external firewire hard drive if you're going to get really deep into vidding. However, if your budget won't allow that, your main drive will suffice. Keep in mind that iMovie can make some HUGE files (several GBs at times!). Allow yourself plenty of disk space. Also, plenty of RAM is good. I got by with 512 MBs of RAM when I made my first videos, but 1 GB or more is a lot better.
All the tutorials on this site are done with a Mac Mini G4, 1.25 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM. (Update, July 2010—I now have an Intel Core 2 Duo Mac Mini with 4 GB of RAM.) I got this little Mini a few days after the first Mac Minis were released (January 2005). It's been a wonderful little workhorse, but definitely not the fastest Mac out there. But . . . I've also made modest little video projects on my old G4 533 MHz tower. Things take a little longer, but everything stil works!
Don't feel discouraged if you have an older Mac. As long as you have a version of iMovie (I recommend iMovie 6, but older versions will do) and can get Mac the Ripper or Handbrake to run on your computer, you should be fine. Things might take longer to finish, but you'll get there.
You're always better off making your own video footage by ripping clips from a commercial DVD. But sometimes (like when you're waiting for the DVD to be available for sale), you have to make do with downloaded video clips (usually in the XviD or DivX AVI format). Your video will take a big quality hit when you use these clips, but if you feel you have no choice, convert them to an iMovie/Final Cut format by following the tutorial for converting VOB files (use the .DV format for iMovie 09, or create a high quality H.264 MOV file for iMovie 6, since "reconverts" it to DV anyway, etc.).
One of the things you'll see emphasized in these tutorials is ASPECT RATIO. Aspect ratio is the proportions (frame dimensions) of a video. I admit it, I am a freak about aspect ratio (I am called the "Aspect Ratio Diva" on one of my favorite message boards). But I'm not wrong—there's nothing trivial about keeping the aspect ratio correct on your fan videos. Too many fan videos have "squished" aspect ratio, which means that the picture is either too long and narrow (giving everyone an unflattering and unnaturally skinny appearance) or too squat and flat (also unflattering and distorted). Who wants to see their favorite hottie movie star with a freaky too-skinny face? Yuk.
Even if you aren't especially tuned in to aspect ratio and are not sure what I'm talking about, don't worry. The tutorials will help you avoid aspect ratio problems, as well as assist you in identifying them early so you can fix them.
Now that you've read an overview of what you'll need to get started in Mac vidding, let's start making videos!
Tutorial #1: "Practice" clips in iMovie. (Also contains info for Final Cut users.)