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Not so simple video editing question

Post date: 2019-06-17 13:09:07
Views: 34
I need to create a video that shows excerpts from two videos side-by-side. What seems like it should be a simple task is looking impossible due to limitations of the tools I have available. How to proceed?

I have two videos: A and B. I would like to create a new video that shows a side-by-side comparison of material from A and B.

The new video should have what I'll call a display area that will show a title and maybe some captions. Inside this display area would be two framed squares. The square on the left would show footage from video A. The square on the right would show footage from video B.

If video editors worked liked photo editors, this would be trivial. Unfortunately, they don't.

I have iMovie and a fair amount of experience using it. I could afford to get Adobe Premiere Elements if it will make it significantly easier to do this task. Unfortunately I don't think it will. I suspect I'll need Final Cut Pro or Premiere Pro to get the job done.

There are several problems with iMovie. The first is that it only allows you to work with clips in 16:9 aspect ratio. If you want to crop a clip, you can crop it down to a portion as long as that portion is still 16:9. It will fill in the borders with black as needed. Great. I can export the movie and then reprocess it with handbrake to remove the black border, but that adds another generation.

The second problem with iMovie is that when you do a picture-in-picture, you can't trim the picture that you're inserting. It shows the whole thing.

The third problem with iMovie that you can only do one picture-in-picture at a time.

So, I believe the workflow in iMovie would be:


  1. Crop Video A in iMovie to contain only the portion I want.

  2. Export the cropped Video A from iMovie

  3. Use handbrake to trim the unwanted borders from Video A

  4. Do the same thing with Video B

  5. Create a movie with the frame area, captions, and squares to show the cropped portions of Video A and B.

  6. Add Video A to the frame area, using Picture-in-Picture.

  7. Export the partially finished video from iMovie.

  8. Create a new iMovie project with this partially finished video as the main clip.

  9. Add Video B to its square using Picture-in-Picture.

  10. Export the final video from iMovie


I'm done. But who knows what the quality will be like after the various clips have been re-rasterized over and over again so many times.

I haven't used Premiere Elements, so I don't know exactly how it would be done with that tool. I gather it is also limited to one Picture-in-Picture at a time. I don't know whether it lets me crop the picture that I'm dropping in to an arbitrary aspect ratio.

So, I guess the question is whether there's a straightforward way to do this in Premiere Elements, in iMovie, or in some other consumer-priced tool for the Mac (or the iPad, I guess).

Secondary question is whether this would indeed be straightforward with Final Cut Pro and/or Premiere Pro.

Many thanks!
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