Monday, May 4, 2009

Using Picasa 3 for Basic Video Editing

The newest version of Google's Picasa photo management software has some new tricks up it's sleeve. Picasa 3 (beta) now includes the ability to perform some basic video editing and publishing. This article will walk you through some of the basics of this new feature.


I am a long-time user and big fan of Google's Picasa photo management software. Using Picasa totally changed the way I manage, organize and share my personal photos. For a long time now I have struggled with how to manage my growing library of digital video. With the newest version of Picasa I may have found what I have been looking for. Picasa now integrates digital photos and video much more seamlessly and adds some extremely useful features that make it a potential powerhouse for managing your personal video library.
For those of you following along at home, you may want to gather a few things before we get started. First of all, you will want to install the newest version of Picasa by going here: . As of right now this version only supports Windows XP and Vista. For my demonstration I will be using the 64-bit version of Windows Vista.

A Few Notes on Digital Video

Until very recently, digital video was still very cumbersome to manage. Most camcorders still use some sort of physical media like a digital tape or optical disk. This made things hard to manage on your computer. You couldn't easily plug in your camera and just "copy" video off your camera. Times are changing and camcorders are starting to catch up to digital cameras. The most notable camera that is helping get digital video on your computer more easily is the Flip Video Camera. The Flip Video Camera is a small point-and-shoot digital camcorder that does not use any tape or disks. It uses it's own internal memory to store your digital video. The camera has a built-in USB connection so you just plug it into your computer when you are ready to view or transfer your video. Best of all the Flip Video Camera can be purchased for around $150. Far more less expensive than older style camcorders. For this article I will be using video clips from my Flip Video Camera. For more information on the Flip Video camera you can go here: Flip Video Ultra Series Camcorder, 60-Minutes (Black).

Picasa 3 Video Editing Walkthough

For this walkthrough I will assume you already have Picasa 3 installed and running with some video files already in the application ready for editing.

1. Select your video files.
Find and select the video files you want to edit. For my example I am going to take 3 individual video files that I took using my Flip Video Camera . The three video files I am going to use are all in the same folder or album so I can just select the album. Once you have selected the files or album you want to use click on the new Movie icon at the bottom right part of your Picasa screen.

2. Edit Your Movie (Movie Tab)
Once you are loaded up in the Movie Maker sub-application in Picasa you will be taken to the Movie tab. On the left-hand side you will be presented with some basic settings to configure your movie. This is where you can load an audio track so you can add music to your video. This also where you will set your transition style for how the video will look in between your clips. I have selected Wipe for my transition style. This is also where you will set the video Dimensions. I have left my dimensions to be same as the original 640x480 resolution. But, if you want to reduce your file size or make your video ready for YouTube upload this is where is where you would do that.

3. Edit Your Slide (Slide Tab)
The slide tab is where you can edit your title or other text only slides. Picasa creates a title slide for you when you go into the Movie Maker mode. By default the title of your movie is the title of your folder or album in Picasa where the video clips came from. If you want to edit your movie title this is where you can do it. Just type in the text on the left-hand side. You can also adjust the color of the text and background. You can also change the font style and size from here.

4. Adding More Clips To Your Movie (Clips Tab)
The third tab on the left-hand side in the Movie Maker mode is called Clips. This is where you will go if you want to add additional video clips to the movie you are working on. The "Get More..." button will take you back to the Picasa Library where you can search for more video or photos to add to your project. Once you find one and select it you can move back to the Movie Maker mode by clicking on the Movie Maker tab at the top. Back on the clips tab you select or highlight the clip you want and click on the "+ Add" button. This will add the clip to the end of the project. You can move your clips around just by clicking on a clip and dragging it to the desired position in the movie. Also, you can remove a clip from your movie by selecting it with a left-mouse-click and performing a right-mouse-click action and selecting "Remove" from the menu.

5. Create Your Movie
Once you are done adding video and editing your setting you can view your movie by click on the green arrow "Play" button that sits below the video preview window. When you are happy with your end result you now need to publish your movie or "Create Movie." The "Create Movie" button is found on the lower left-hand side of the screen. Simply click the button to initiate the process. A progress bar will appear and a new window will show that your draft movie is "In Progress..."

The time it takes to make your movie will depend on several factors. The speed of your system and how long the movie is are two of the most important. Once your movie it complete the screen will refresh and your new movie will begin to play. From this screen you will have a few new options for actions you can do to your completed movie.

  • Take Snapshot: Allows you to take screen captures of specific frames in your move. You can then save your screen captures as images in Picasa.
  • Upload to YouTube: Does as described. A windows will pop-up where you can enter specific information about your movie so it can be uploaded to YouTube.
  • Export Clip: This function allows you to export or save a clip of the current movie. You can move the sliders under the video to export a specific scene.


Well, that was a very short walkthough of the basic video editing and publishing features of the new Picasa 3 (beta) software. Now that you have made your movie you can most of the things you can do with pictures, like email it to a friend or family or blog about it. Looks like you even can Geo-Tag the movie. I am very happy to see these video editing features creeping into Picasa. As digital video cameras like the Flip become more pervasive the need to do basic editing and sharing is a must. Google is smart to being getting into this sooner than later. Finding a good, cheap, and easy video editing software can be hard. Window Movie Maker that comes with Vista is not bad but Windows Movie Maker doesn't work with my Flip Video files. Picasa 3 had no problem reading and editing my video files. That is a huge plus. Funny thing is that the resulting video file made by Picasa is a Windows Media Video file *.WMV. The details on that I plan to look into. Well, thanks for your attention and I hope this was informative. Please feel free to comment about his article and I will try to also field any additional questions that may come up about Picasa 3. Thanks.