Create an Animated Travel Map Route with Pinnacle Studio

In this tutorial, I will explain how to create an animated travel map route from point A to point B using Pinnacle Studio.

1. Create two map images

We’re going to need to create 2 images.

  1. an image without a route
  2. an image with a route

This tutorial assumes you know how to create such images. I took a screenshot of Google Maps for the map background and used Photoshop to add balloon markers and location labels and to create the smooth route curves.


2. Add images to video tracks

  • Open Pinnacle Studio
  • Click the Edit tab
  • Click the Library tab
  • Drag the two images to the library pane

Then, drag

  • the image with the line to AV track 1
  • the image without the line to AV track 2

By default, the clips will be 3 seconds long. I prefer to drag them so they are 10 seconds long.

3. Create the animation

  • Drag the playhead to the beginning of the image clips
  • Double-click on the image on AV track 1
  • Click the “Effect” tab
  • Click the “2D-3D” tab
  • Double-click “2D Editor Advanced”
  • For “Select Preset”, choose “No Preset”

Scroll down. Under “Cropping, we’re going to edit the cropping properties as follows:

  • if the line will mostly animate toward the bottom, drag the Top % slider until the line first completely disappears.
  • if the line will mostly animate toward the top, drag the Bottom % slider until the line first completely disappears.
  • if the line will mostly animate toward the right, drag the Left % slider until the line first completely disappears.
  • if the line will mostly animate toward the left, drag the Right % slider until the line first completely disappears.

The clip in AV track 1 shows a black mask partially covering the image as you drag the slider.

Drag the slider, you’ll notice the line starts to disappear in the preview window.

Scroll back up in the 2D Editor Advanced pane and click on the diamond icon to turn on keyframing.

  • Drag the playhead to the point on the clip where you want the line to be finished. This will also change the speed of the “animation” as the cropping will go quicker if you end it earlier. I just dragged it to near the end of the clip.
  • Scroll back down and drag the slider to the left until the line first appears in full
  • Preview the animation in the preview window.
  • If the animation looks good, you can export it.

One idea is to partially overlay a video clip of you driving while describing your trip.

Another idea is to overlay the map route animation at 50% opacity over a video of the trip.

In the example above, I used the following two images.


To create the composite video, I used Corel VideoStudio and put the route animation video on an overlay track.

Double-clicking the overlay clip opens the clip’s settings. I clicked the “Blending” tab and then set the opacity to 50%.

I then had to slow down the speed of the route animation so its duration would be close to or match that of the airplane clips.

  • Right-click on the route animation clip
  • Speed > Speed/Time-lapse…
  • Change duration (in my case, I chose 20 seconds)


It’s actually easier to create the route animation on a Mac using Keynote. See these video tutorials.

Map Resources

Screen Record and Resize a YouTube Video (Or Any Video on Screen)

Sometimes, you can download a YouTube video using a tool like YouTube-DLG or an online YouTube to MP4 converter. However, this doesn’t always work. One workaround is to use a screen recorder to record the video as it’s playing on YouTube in a browser. However, if you do this, then depending on various factors including the original video and your screen’s resolution, YouTube may show black bars around the video, like this

This tutorial for Windows will explain how to

  1. screen record a YouTube video
  2. resize the recorded video to remove the black bars

Screen Record a YouTube Video

There are many tools you can use to record your screen. I’m going to use the Xbox Game Bar that comes included with Windows. We’ll need to update our video settings to not record the mouse cursor.

  1. Open the Gaming > Captures settings and turn off “Capture mouse cursor when recording a game”
  1. Open a browser, go to YouTube, and go to the video you want to record
  2. Open Xbox Game Bar and click the record button
  1. Play the video
  2. Click to stop recording when you want to stop recording.

My screen resolution is set to 1920 x 1200.

Therefore, if you open the video recording’s properties, you’ll notice that the resolution is 1920 x 1200 instead of the standard 1920 x 1080 size for 1080p resolution. We’ll need to resize this and remove the black bars.

Resize a video and remove the black bars

  1. On Windows, open ClipChamp video editor
  2. Import your video file
  3. Drag it to the preview window
  4. Make sure the aspect ratio is set to 16:9
  5. Double-click the “Fill” icon

Notice how the video content fills the preview window and gets rid of the black bars.

Export the video (usually as 1080p).

NOTE: A simpler way is to temporarily change your screen’s resolution to match that of the video, e.g. 1920 x 1080, before recording the video.

Rooftop Solar Panel Considerations

The information below is primarily for California. However, much of it still applies nationwide.

Interesting Fact

The sun essentially provides an endless supply of energy. In fact, with the amount of sunlight that hits the earth in 90 minutes, we could supply the entire world with electricity for a year — all we have to do is catch it!

The Cost of Grid Electricity

The price of electricity is measured in cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average price for electricity in July 2022 was $0.166 per kWh.

Seattle had the lowest price of any major metro area at $0.118 per kWh while San Diego, Houston, Urban Hawaii, and San Francisco all had electricity rates above $0.311 per kWh.

In January 2023, my PG&E energy bill was $461.04. The electricity portion alone was about $300. Looking at the bill below, the electricity portion is divided into two:

  • Delivery charges: This is the cost PG&E charges to just deliver electricity to my house.
  • Generation charges: This is the cost to generate electricity, e.g. by solar, wind, etc.

The delivery rate averages $0.38 / kWh.

The generation rate averages $0.14 / kWh.

The cost to deliver electricity is way more than the cost to generate it. Adding the two rates up, we get $0.38 + $0.14 = $0.52 / kWh.

According to the California Energy Commission, 66.4% of California’s energy comes from non-renewable sources and 33.6% comes from renewable sources. 14.2% comes from solar.

Factoring in discounts and the 30% federal solar tax credit, the average price of solar is between $0.06 and $0.08 per kWh.


In the last 20 years, the price of grid energy has increased by 2.79% per year on average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). And the EIA is projecting a 2.54% increase from 2022 to 2023.

Cost of electricity in California

The cost of solar panels has gone down over the last decade.

How Home Solar Works

  1. Your solar panels convert sunlight to DC electricity.
  2. Your inverter converts DC electricity to AC.
  3. Electricity is used to power your home.
  4. Extra electricity is sent to the utility grid for a credit, or to your battery if you have one.

Solar Panels

Solar panels are modular pieces, usually rectangular in shape – approximately 3’ by 5’ long.

Initial CostHighestHighMiddleHighest to lowest:
EfficiencyHighest (5% more than monocrystalline)20% and up15-17%CIGS: 13-15%
CdTe: 9-11%
a-Si: 6-8%
AppearanceBlack with rounded edgesBlack with rounded edgesBlue with square edgesDepends on the thin-film variant
AdvantagesRequires least space. Most efficient. Highest power capacityLess expensive alternative to PERC panels without the passivating layerMiddle option in terms of cost, efficiency and power capacityLowest cost, Easier to install
DisadvantagesMost expensive initially. Some earlier panels suffered from light and elevated temperature induced degradationHigh initial cost. Low yield in the manufacturing process Low heat tolerance, not suitable in hot environmentsShorter lifespan than crystalline panels, requires more space, Least efficient

Learn more

Most Popular Solar Panels of 2022

From January to December 2022, manufacturers REC and Hanwha Q CELLS had the most popular panels for residential solar.


There are nearly 50 REC models and 80 Q CELLS models available through the network, ranging in wattage from 265W to 450W (although 400W is now considered the norm, and anything under 365W is considered rare).

REC and Q CELLS back their panels with a 25 year product warranty.

Best solar panels manufactured in the US

Silfab – CanadaSIL Mono seriesBellingham, WashingtonDurable, >20% efficient
Q Cells – KoreaQ. Peak Duo SeriesDalton, GeorgiaDurable, >20% efficient
Mission Solar – USMSE PERC seriesSan Antonio, TexasQualifies for Buy American Act
Solaria – USPower XT seriesFremont, California>20% efficient, superior shade performance

Best solar panels made overseas by US-based companies

Sunpower – San Jose, CAA-seriesUp to 22.8% efficiency, 25-year warranty, built-in AC inverter
Sunpower – San Jose, CAX-SeriesUp to 22,7% efficient, extremely low degradation rate, 25-year warranty
SEG – Pleasanton, CASEG-410-BMD-HV21.25% efficiency, 25-year warranty
Aptos Solar – Santa Clara, CADNA-120-MF26-370W20.29% efficiency, durable, 30-year warranty

Top 3 solar panels by degration rate

SunPower X-Series0.2% to 0.25% per year92% of minimum peak power after 25 years
Panasonic EverVolt® Photovoltaic series (EVPV)No more than 0.25% per year92% of maximum power after 25 years
REC Alpha seriesNo more than 0.25% per year92% of nameplate power output after 25 years

Best solar panels for efficiency

Residential solar panels typically range between 15% and 20%, with the industry leading panels pushing 23%.

SunPowerA-seriesUp to 22.8%
SunPowerX-seriesUp to 22.7%
PanasonicEverVolt® Photovoltaic seriesUp to 22.2%
SunPowerM-seriesUp to 22%
RECAlpha seriesUp to 21.9%
SilfabElite seriesUp to 21.4%
SEGSIV AC Module SeriesUp to 21.25%
SilfabX seriesUp to 21.1%
Solar WorldSunmodule seriesUp to 21.1%

Solar Panel Efficiency

There are a number of factors that influence solar panel efficiency. They include:

  • Temperature — Solar panels operate best in temperatures between 59 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Type of solar panel — Solar panels typically range from 15-20% efficient, with the best panels pushing 23%.
  • Shading — Solar panels perform best in wide-open sun. Even partial shading can substantially reduce the efficiency of a panel
  • Orientation and angle — Solar panels perform best when they are directly facing the sun and are often tilted to increase efficiency

Cloudy Days

Solar panels still generate electricity on cloudy days, although not as effectively as sunny days. Solar panels can capture both direct and indirect light (light that shines through clouds), but perform at around 10-25% of their normal efficiency when it’s cloudy.

Cloudy days can be beneficial, however, as rain washes the panels and increases their overall efficiency.


If you’ll have solar panels that are visible, e.g. from the street, you may want to pick ones that look good. Most solar panel frames are anodized aluminum and come in silver or black. Choosing a black frame can enhance the look of your system greatly. You may be interested in getting “all black” panels, where the frame, backsheet, and cells are all the same black color.


Most inverters have warranties ranging from anywhere between 5 and 10 years, though some can be extended to 25 years.

There are 2 types of inverters.

String inverter


  • Lowest cost
  • Standard inverter
  • Performs well with no shade


  • Overall production decreases if one panel is damaged or shaded
  • No ability to monitor each panel individually
  • Not optimal if your solar panels are facing different ways
  • Increasing power needs are more difficult and may require second central inverter installation



  • Shade from a nearby tree won’t reduce the whole solar panel system power output
  • Individual panel monitoring available
  • Increasing power needs are easier and less expensive than installing a second central inverter
  • Good for rooftops where solar panels may face different directions


  • Higher initial cost
  • Not necessary if all panels face the same way and are not shaded

Power Optimizers

Power optimizers can optimize the power before sending it to a central string inverter.


  • More efficient than string inverters
  • Less expensive than micro-inverters
  • Individual panel monitoring available


  • Higher initial cost
  • Not necessary if all panels face the same way and are not shaded

Solar Inverter Efficiency

Peak (max) efficiency and weighted (average) efficiency


If the solar panel DC output exceeds the max power rating of the inverter, the excess power is clipped (wasted).

It’s normal for the DC system size to be about 1.2x greater than the inverter system’s max AC power rating. For example, a 12 kW solar PV array paired with a 10 kW inverter is said to have a DC:AC ratio — or “Inverter Load Ratio” — of 1.2.

Solar Monitoring System

In order to ensure your solar system is producing energy normally, it’s important to make sure your solar panels are paired with an energy production monitoring system.

Solar Mounting and Racking System

It’s important to make sure your racking system, if roof-mounted, is properly flashed and sealed to ensure your roof is well-protected against the elements.

Roof Type

Roof MaterialNote
Composite shinglesMost common roof material. Easy and cheap to install solar panels on them.
Clay TilesMore expensive to install than all other roof types.
Concrete TilesCheaper to install than clay tile roofs but more expensive than shingles.
Metal Standing SeamEasy and cheap to install.
Tar and GravelMore expensive to install than clay tiles.
WoodNot recommended for installing solar panels


Most major solar manufacturers including REC, SunPower, and Panasonic offer warranties that guarantee a certain level of output over 25 years, and some companies are beginning to offer 30-year warranties. The performance warranty guarantees that a panel’s output capacity will not drop by more than 0.7% per year, or less than 20% over 25 years.

Solar panels don’t disappear when they reach the end of their warranty, their production capacity just slowly degrades over time.

Solar Equation

The average energy needs of a U.S. household is a 6.62-kW solar system to match the 9,000 kWh of average energy usage by U.S. households each year. And, the typical solar panel makes 320 watts of electricity in ideal sunny conditions. Here’s how many solar panels that equals.

Divide 6.62 kW (the system size) by .320 kW (the wattage per panel) = 20.69—rounded up that’s 21 panels. While your home is far from average, this is how you can calculate your own rough estimate.

Solar Panel Wattage VS Efficiency

Solar panels are rated based on the watts they generate. The higher the wattage rating, the greater amount of power your solar installation will produce. Most residential solar panels have power output ratings from 250 to 400 watts, depending on panel size and how well they convert sunlight into energy. While higher power ratings are considered preferable, power output is not the sole factor in judging a solar panel’s performance.

For instance, two solar panels may each have a 15% efficiency rating, yet the power output rating of one is 250 watts and the other is 300 watts.4 The higher output may simply be due to the 300 watt panel’s larger physical size–rather than having a high efficiency or more advanced technology. Therefore, panel efficiency is a better indicator of solar panel performance than just power output for meeting your energy needs.


The solar investment tax credit (ITC) is a 30% tax credit that you are allowed to claim in the form of a deduction from your income taxes (after any available rebates) off the overall gross system cost, including any necessary upgrades to the main panel box upgrades in order to go solar.

In August 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act increased the tax credit from 26% to 30% and extended it until 2032. It also renamed it the Residential Clean Energy Credit (although most people still call it the ITC or solar tax credit).

So if you purchased a solar system worth $25,000 in 2022, you can claim a $7,500 deduction on your 2022 taxes that you file in early 2023.

The new and improved solar tax credit also applies to battery storage, whether or not it’s connected to solar. So you can claim the tax credit for adding battery storage to an existing solar system or for battery storage that’s not connected to solar at all.

Learn how to get your federal solar tax credit.

Net Energy Metering (NEM)

Net Energy Metering (NEM) is the policy that allows you to push and pull energy to and from the grid through your electrical meter. Traditional utility users pull energy from the main grid, use the energy in their home, and the meter counts how much is used. With solar, you will push your excess energy into the grid during the day and pull it out at night to use for lights, TV, A/Cm or anything else you may need. The grid functions as a bank storing your energy from your solar panels until you are ready to use it. With a battery backup system and secure power supply, you can use the energy from your system when the grid goes down.

Net Energy Metering Credits

If you don’t use all the energy your system produces in a day, that energy will roll over to the next day and so on. This happens day after day, month after month. This allows you to use all the energy you produce with your solar system. If you have higher usage months (AC, guests, holidays, etc) you draw from the extra energy credits you earned earlier in the year.

Solar True-Up

Once a year you “true up” with your utility where you settle the balance on your energy credit. If you consume more than you produce then you’ll pay the utility for the excess energy you pulled from the grid. If you produce more energy than you consume, the utility will compensate you for your excess energy at a below-retail rate.

NEM 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0

In most cases, 1 kWh of electricity pushed onto the grid offsets 1 kWh of electricity pulled off the grid.

However, energy utilities are making a nationwide push to weaken net metering by paying less than retail prices for solar exports. Most notably, California’s NEM 3.0 reduces the export rates by over 75%.

NEM 3.0 Final Decision: The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously voted to approve NEM 3.0. Under NEM 3.0, customers of PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E with solar systems will receive an average of 8 cents per kWh for the excess power they push onto the grid. This is roughly 75% less than the average export rate of 30 cents per kWh under NEM 2.0. IOU customers have until April 13, 2023 to grandfather a new solar system into NEM 2.0 by submitting a complete interconnection application.

NEM 3.0 key takeaways:

  • Current solar owners will remain under their existing net metering policy
  • Solar owners under NEM 3.0 will earn around 75% less for the excess electricity they push onto the grid
  • Under NEM 3.0, the payback period for solar and battery storage systems will be roughly equal to the payback period of solar only systems
  • Californians can be grandfathered into NEM 2.0 by submitting an Interconnection Application for a new solar system by April 13, 2023

Payback period and savings under NEM 2.0 vs NEM 3.0

Scenario 1: Cash purchase of an average 7.6 kW system with 100% offset

Monthly energy bill (previously $250)$18$96
Payback period4.6 years6.5 years
Lifetime savings$116,680$73,620

Scenario 2: 12-year loan for an average 7.6 kW system with 100% offset

Monthly energy bill (previously $250)$162$239
Down payment$0$0
Lifetime Savings$110,308$67,248

Scenario 2: 20-year loan for an average 7.6 kW system with 100% offset

Monthly energy bill (previously $250)$123$200
Down payment$0$0
Lifetime Savings$105,844$62,784


How to grandfather a solar system into NEM 2.0

There are two steps required to grandfather a solar system into NEM 2.0.

  1. Submit a solar interconnection application to your utility before April 13, 2023
  2. Install and receive permission to operate (PTO) within three years of submitting your interconnection application

Quick Note: NEM 3.0 is not retroactive. Existing solar systems will remain under their current net metering policy for 20 years from their interconnection date.

According to the final NEM 3.0 proposal, a valid solar interconnection application includes:

  • Complete application
  • Signed contract
  • Single-line diagram
  • CSLB Disclosure Document
  • Signed consumer protection guide
  • Oversizing attestations (if applicable)

Typically, solar installers submit the interconnection application after the system has been installed. However, in response to NEM 3.0, many – but not all – companies are changing their operations process to submit as early as possible.

Since solar installations typically take 3-5 months to line up, it’s important to find an installer that has changed their process to submit interconnection applications early.

Beginning in January, you should be able to get emailed proof that you have been grandfathered within 2-3 weeks of signing the contract.

Learn more

Solar Increases Your Home Value

According to Zillow, nationally, homes with solar-energy systems sold for 4.1% more on average than comparable homes without solar power. For the median-valued home, that translates to an additional $9,274.

A 10-year study concluding in 2015 by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that solar panels add around $4 per watt of capacity installed – or $4,000 per kW. Here’s how that adds up based on the size of your system:

4 kW$16,000
5 kW$20,000
6 kW$24,000
8 kW$32,000
10 kW$40,000

Solar Installation Company

Factors to consider when choosing an installation company are

  • their number of installations,
  • their locations,
  • their bankability,
  • their online reviews,
  • their certification,
  • length of their workmanship warranty covering
    • roofing penetrations,
    • water damage,
    • electrical work, and
    • anything related to their installation for the time period described

Installers who are NABCEP-certified are knowledgable and have solar experience. North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification requires installers to

  • Pass an exam
  • Sign a code of ethics
  • Possess at least one year of installation experience

Solar Panel Maintenance

Solar PV systems require almost zero maintenance. Be wary of these ‘maintenance packages’ as they are often overpriced.

System Size

To determine the size of your solar system and the number of panels you’ll need, you need to know how much electricity you use on average per day.

Looking at my PG&E electricity usage and cost over the last 12 months below, we find that my average monthly electricity usage was 527 kWh. But, since I bought a plug-in hybrid and started charging my car in October, I’ll take my average to be from the last 3 months, which is 709 kWh. Of course, the last 3 months of the year were cold and daylight ended early at around 5 PM, so my electricity usage went up for other reasons as well. We’ll assume my average monthly electricity needs is 700 kWh and my annual usage would be 700 x 12 = 8400 kWh / year.

Start DateEnd DatekWhCostNote
2022-10-172022-11-15604.61$136.73Includes charging EV
2022-11-162022-12-14695.44$162.45Includes charging EV
2022-12-152023-01-16824.89$185.42Includes charging EV
AverageLast 12 months527 kWh$122
AverageLast 3 months709 kWh$161

To continue this analysis, we’ll need the peak sunlight hours where I live. According to the map below, my peak sun hours is 5.

AMonthly electricity usage700 kWh / month
BDaily electricity usage24 kWh / dayA/30
CHourly electricity usage (kWh)1 kWh / hourB/24
ESolar panel system output needed per day5 kWh / dayF * peak sun hours (5)

So, the solar panel system size I would need is a 5 kW system. But, since solar panels don’t operate at maximum efficiency 24 hours a day, we’ll add a cushion of 25%. That brings the system size to 5 kW x 1.25 = 6.25 kW.

The average solar panel produces 400 W. So, the number of panels I would need is 6250 / 400 = 15.6 panels.

For a 6 kW size, I was quoted $25,820. If I apply the 30% federal tax credit, I’d get $7,746, which brings the effective cost to $18,074. Since the minimum lifetime of the solar system is 25 hours, then we can calculate the cost per kWh as $18,074 / 25 years / 365 days / 24 hours = $0.08 / kWh. That’s a lot cheaper than my current electricity rate of $0.52 / kWh (PG&E generation + delivery rate).

Since my monthly electricity needs are 700 kWh. Then we can compare costs as follows:

Cost / monthCost / 25 years
Solar with 30% tax credit700 kWh * $0.08$56$16,800
Grid700 kWh * $52$364$109,200

As you can see, going solar saves a ton of money. And that doesn’t even include the rising cost of electricity from the grid, which averages 2.2% per year.

Cost Breakdown


“Same as cash” option

This means that the lender will fund the full amount of the loan, but only collect payments based on 70% of the outstanding balance during the first year or so. This amounts to a 30% discount on your payments for the first 12-18 months and makes Day One savings greater than on a traditional loan.

After the 12-18 months is over, the homeowner is expected to pay down the loan balance by the amount of the tax credit.

In the example used earlier, the homeowner would receive a $20,000 loan but only pay interest on $14,000. If at the end of the 12 month grace period the homeowner fails to pay back the tax credit amount, then the lender will start charging interest on the $6,000 portion from that point forward.

Combo Loan

Combo loans are independently financed. There are two separate loans.

The first loan is for 70% of the contract price, which has an interest rate (for which the homeowner qualifies). The second loan covers the remaining 30% of the contract price.

This second loan is meant to equal the federal tax credit amount and typically lasts for 18 months with 0% interest. If this amount is not paid off in that allotted time frame, the balance adopts the same APR as the first loan, whatever that may be.

Examples of combo loan financiers:

  1. Energy Loan Network 
  2. Mosaic
  3. Sunlight

Interest Rates

Some lenders tout extremely low nominal rates (some as low as 1.89%). They don’t tell you is that there is something known as a ‘dealer fee’ that can run as high as 17%.

Make sure you check the following:

  • True APR
  • Monthly payments
  • No dealer fees
  • No prepayment penalty

Loan Term

The table below compares monthly payments and lifetime interest paid for a $20,000 loan at different terms and APRs.

The most popular loan with customers has a 12-year term, no pre-payment penalties, and interest rates of 2.99-4.99% depending on your credit score. The 12-year term is common because for most customers, their monthly loan payment is equal to or less than their current utility bill.

Sun Exposure

The more sun your solar panels get, the more money they can save you.

Comparison Shopping Checklist

Solar Panel

  • Brand
  • Type
  • Number of panels
  • Wattage per panel
  • Efficiency
  • Color
  • Warranty (fine print)
  • Company bankability

Solar System

  • Size (kW)
  • energy monitoring system
  • All-inclusive total cost (permits, materials, warranties, taxes, financing costs, etc)


  • Type
  • Max power input
  • Peak efficiency
  • Weighted efficiency
  • Warranty (fine print)

Installation Company

  • number of installations,
  • their locations,
  • their bankability,
  • their online reviews,
  • their certification (NABCEP),
  • length of their workmanship warranty covering
    • roofing penetrations,
    • water damage,
    • electrical work, and
    • anything related to their installation for the time period described
    • do they guarantee minimum daily energy production?

NEM 2.0 Grandfathering

  • Is the company prepared to submit the documents needed for NEM 2 grandfathering early in the process?


  • Length of loan
  • True APR
  • Monthly payments
  • No dealer fees
  • No prepayment penalty

Editing Home Improvement Videos

There are many different ways you can edit home improvement videos. Here are some:

Make a Video From Photos

This is pretty simple to do. You can just add a bunch of photos to the video track of your video editor, animate each photo (many video editors can do this automatically), add some music to the music/audio track, and render the video. The result can be pretty good but it doesn’t really give a sense of the amount of effort or process involved. Here’s an example clip.

Regular 1x Speed Video

If you have a short video, leaving the speed at normal 1x speed might be okay. But, if your video is long, people will get bored very quickly. Since most home improvement projects take longer than 30 seconds, I don’t recommend this option, unless you are maybe adding a voiceover that explains what you are doing in the video.

Fast Speed (Timelapse) Video

Another option is to just timelapse the entire video. Some home improvement projects can take all day. Many people, including myself, will just leave a camera somewhere that will take many still photos at a set interval to create a timelapse video. You can also record an entire day’s worth of video, which I’ve also done using a WyzeCam mounted on a wall. Timelapsing an entire video is as easy as speeding up the video clip. The downside is the audio is also sped up and often doesn’t sound good so you usually mute the audio and optionally add some background music. Here’s an example.

Mixed-Speed Video

Another option is to timelapse (speed up) certain parts of the video and leave the other parts at regular 1x speed. This is definitely more work but I personally find this better than just speeding up the entire video. However, I find the best effect is when the regular speed segments are ones that have a high volume, e.g. when you’re using a tool that makes a lot of noise (drilling, jackhammering, cutting, etc). Here’s an example.

I normally use Corel VideoStudio to edit videos but for this purpose, I find Shotcut to be easier to use. Shotcut, which is free, shows the waveform very clearly, runs faster and hasn’t crashed on me yet. The UI takes some getting used to but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty simple to us. Here are the steps I follow in Shotcut to create this type of video:

  1. Open the original video in Shotcut
  2. Drag it from the player to the timeline
  3. Zoom in, if necessary, so that you can see the audio waveform
  4. Choose some or all segments where the waveform is high (high volume)
  5. Scrub the playhead until you find a segment where the waveform is high (high volume) and the segment is interesting to show at 1x speed
  6. Split the video at that playhead position.
  7. Move the playhead by where you want to end the segment. For 1x speed segments, I choose a duration of 1 second. You can advance the playhead by 1 second by going to “Player” > “Forward One Second”.
  8. Delete any segments you don’t want to keep (choose Ripple Delete to remove empty space as well)
  9. Click on a segment you want to speed up, click Properties, and change the speed. I choose 5x.
  10. Click the Export button, select “Timeline” in the From field, and click “Export File”.
I changed the speed of this segment to 5x.

Video Showing Only Selection of 1-second Segments

Another option is to create a video from a selection of 1-second segments. Some segments will probably have high volume, e.g. drilling, jackhammering, cutting, etc. , Others may not, e.g. lifting, cleaning, drawing lines, etc. Again, I find this much easier to do in Shotcut than in Corel VideoStudio. Here’s an example.

Here’s how I do it in Shotcut:

  1. Open the original video in Shotcut
  2. Drag it from the player to the timeline
  3. Zoom in, if necessary, so that you can see the audio waveform
  4. Scrub the playhead until you find an interesting segment
  5. Split the video at that position
  6. Move the playhead forward or backward by 1 second (“Player” > “Forward One Second” or “Backward One Second”.)
  7. Split the video again to create a one-second clip
  8. Repeat steps 4-7
  9. Delete all other segments (choose Ripple Delete to remove empty space as well)
  10. Click the Export button, select “Timeline” in the From field, and click “Export File”
I reduced this 3-minute long video to 3 seconds (each segment is 1-second long) where the volume was high.

Merging Clips

If you end up with a bunch of video clips that you want to merge and you don’t need to apply any transitions or effects, you can merge them almost instantly with LosslessCut.

Export Multiple Video Clips From a Single Clip Using Shotcut

Download Shotcut (free) and open it

  • Click the Editing mode (1)
  • Click “Open file” (2) and open a file (the video will play in the player)
  • Drag the video in the player (3) to the Timeline (4)
  • Make sure the “Source” or “Project” tab (5) is selected in the player
  • Move the playhead to the point where you want to start a clip
  • Click the Create/Edit Marker button (M)
  • Click the Split at Playhead button (S)
  • Repeat the above two steps to create as many clips as you want
  • Click on a clip in the timeline (6) (it gets outlined in red) and copy it (CTRL+C)
  • Open the playlist pane (7) and click the + button (8)
  • Repeat adding as many clips as you want to the timeline
  • Click the Export button (9) and choose “Each Playlist Item” in the From select menu
  • Enter a prefix for each video clip that will be exported

LosslessCut: Join/Merge Multiple Video Clips Almost Instantly

Let’s say you have a bunch of video clips and you want to simply join them together without any fancy transitions or anything. The clips could be from a bunch of short videos you took on your phone, action cam, or maybe even your security camera. In my case, I had 2 Wyze cam security cameras that recorded 24/7 footage to an SD card. Each video clip was one-minute long grouped by folder indicating the hour of the day and then grouped by day of the year.

Your first thought might be to drag all video clips to a video editing tool like Adobe Premiere or Corel VideoStudio and render one combined video. I tried that using VideoStudio but it had to reencode all clips which took a long time. Also, the resulting file size was huge because the lowest encoding settings available were much higher than the source audio and video settings.


LosslessCut describes itself as the swiss army knife of lossless video/audio editing.

 The main feature is lossless trimming and cutting of video and audio files, which is great for saving space by rough-cutting your large video files taken from a video camera, GoPro, drone, etc. It lets you quickly extract the good parts from your videos and discard many gigabytes of data without doing a slow re-encode and thereby losing quality. Or you can add a music or subtitle track to your video without needing to encode. Everything is extremely fast because it does an almost direct data copy.

Download LosslessCut

The thing I hate the most about video editing is how long it takes. I tried LosslessCut to join 60 video clips and it completed almost instantly. Drag the files to the window.

LosslessCut will allow you to sort the files. Just drag a file to the position where you want it to go. Check the “Include all streams?” checkbox and click “Merge!”

Missing Audio

In my case, I couldn’t use LosslessCut directly with the mp4 files from Wyze Cam. I would get this error.

I then converted each file to MOV and then I was able to merge each MOV file. But, when I imported the MOV file into Corel VideoStudio, there was no sound. This seems to be a common issue for many people. Apparently, the audio codec used by Wyze Cam is some unknown one. To remedy this, I first batch converted all video clips using HandBrake while keeping the audio and video quality almost the same. In the screenshot below, you can see the audio is being converted from “1 Unknown” to “160 kbps AAC).

After batch encoding all video clips, I was able to merge them instantly using LosslessCut.

How to Draw a 3D Closet Frame Using 2×4 Objects in SketchUp

Let’s say you want to make a closet in your garage and you want to create the frame using 2×4 lumber. It’s helpful to draw this in 3D to visualize the design. This post will show you how to do it using the free web version of SketchUp.

Set length units and precision

First, under Model Info, we set the length format and precision. Since a 2×4 piece of wood is actually 1.5″ x 3.5″, let’s set the length and precision to 1/2″.

Create 2×4 objects that represent stock lumber

To simplify creating the closet frame out of 2x4s in 3D, we’ll first create 2×4 objects that are any length, e.g. 12 inches long, along each axis (x, y, and z). To do this, we’ll first create a 2×4 rectangle as follows:

Choose the rectangle tool.

Click and drag anywhere until you see a rectangle.

Before clicking a second time, type “1.5,3.5” (without quotes) to manually specify the dimensions and then hit Enter. What you type will show up in the Dimensions field in the bottom right corner.

You will see the rectangle as shown below.

Now, we want to pull the rectangle to create a 12-inch long object representing a piece of wood. Click the Push / Pull tool.

Zoom in, if necessary. Then, click on the face of the rectangle and drag up. Do not click as doing so will set the length. Instead, type “12” (without quotes) to specify the length in inches to pull the rectangle to create a 12″ long 2×4. Then, hit Enter.

Now that we have one piece of 2×4 in one direction. Let’s copy and paste it twice to create two more pieces in the other two directions. Click the “Select” tool.

Drag a rectangle around the entire object you just created to select all of it. The object will turn blue as shown below.

Click Copy / Ctrl+C and then Paste / Ctrl+V to paste a clone of that object. Do this twice.

Now, select the 2nd object and then click the Rotate tool.

Click somewhere on the object and then click again to start rotating the object. Don’t click a third time since doing so would set the rotation angle. Instead, type “90” (without quotes) to rotate the object by 90 degrees.

Do the same with the 3rd copy of the object but rotate it in a different direction.

Come to think of it, we should make 3 more copies of the object and rotate them so we can have 2x4s in all 6 perpendicular directions. If you’re having a hard time selecting one entire object using the “Select” tool because it’s too close to another object, try using the “Lasso” selection tool.

Now we’ve got our 2×4 building blocks which we can move to the side and clone to create the closet frame. I’ll select all 6 objects and move them as shown below.

Now, we’ll create a closet frame by first cloning one of the building blocks, moving the clone, and pulling it to change its length. I’ll start with the back left corner of the closet frame. When I copied and pasted one of the 2×4 objects, I clicked on the origin to position the object there.

Let’s say we want our closet frame to be 80 inches tall. I’ll switch to the Push / Pull tool, click on the face of the object that I want to pull, drag up, and then type 80 to set the length to 80 inches.

Since we want all corners to be 80 inches tall, we can clone the first 80-inch tall object three more times and position them as far as we want from each other. When you paste a copy of an object, you will see tooltips that help you align the object relative to the axes and to other objects.

Above, we see a copy of the 80-inch tall 2×4 but we don’t know how far it is from the first 80-inch 2×4. Click the Dimensions tool.

Then, click on each of the two endpoints of the distance you want to measure. In this example, the distance is 2′ 8.5″.

Let’s select the 2nd object and then click the Move tool so we can move the object to be 2 feet away from the other object.

Click on one corner / endpoint and then drag such that the distance becomes 2 feet.

When dragging, you’ll see tips such as “On Red Axis” which will help you stay on the same plane and only move in one direction. Below, we now see the distance between both objects is 2 feet.

Repeat the above steps for the remaining parts.

To learn more, including how to move and align objects relatively and absolutely, read my other SketchUp article.

Make a Video Tour Using Google Earth Pro

I just came back from Istanbul and wanted to make a video using my new Insta360 ONE X2 360-degree camera. To make viewers feel like they’re joining me on the trip, I wanted to include video clips showing movement from one place to another. This was easy to do using Google Earth Pro on desktop. Here’s are some examples.

In the video below, there are 4 “places”

  • San Francisco (zoomed in)
  • San Francisco (zoomed out to space)
  • Istanbul (zoomed out to space)
  • Istanbul (zoomed in)

Here’s how to make the video.

Add “Places”

To add a place, you can search for the place using the Search field. Then, zoom in or out to your desired elevation. When you like the view of the place, click the “Add Placemark” button to add a yellow pin to the place. If you want the place label to appear in the map, check the checkbox beside the place name.

If you right click on a place under “My Places” and click on “Properties”, you can rename the place, change the camera elevation (range), etc.

Record a Tour

When you’re done adding places, click the Record a Tour button in the toolbar.

This will open a record.

Click on the first place (San Francisco) and then click the red Record button. Then, click on each place in the order you want them to appear in the video. Google Earth 3D will animate from one place to another as you are recording in real time. When you are done, click the Record button again to stop recording. You’ll then see a video player control bar.

Click the Play button to play the video. If you are happy with it, click the floppy disk (seriously, Google?) button to save the video. It will add a video item to the list of places.

Export the Video

To export the video, click Tools > Movie Maker. If it is grayed out, close the video player control bar.

Specify a file path and name, choose video parameters (e.g. 1080p), and an output file type (e.g. H.264), and then click the “Create Movie” button.

Convert Video

The video will be exported but you may not be able to open it in certain applications like Corel VideoStudio even though it opens in VLC. To fix this, install Handbrake and convert the video to MP4 format.

Other Examples

You can make videos from other angles and elevations as well. For example, if you hold the Shift key and drag, you can rotate your view. Then, add a place marker at the view you want to save. Google Earth Pro will animation smoothly from each place marker. For example, here’s a video going from the Sulemaniye mosque to the Grand Bazaar.

Easily Create a House Tour Video Using a 360° Camera

This article is based on using the Insta360 ONE X2. Let’s say you want to make a video tour of your house. You’re not a pro, you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you don’t really know what you’re doing, but you do want a video tour of each room of your house for marketing purposes, for example. Here’s an example of a house tour but only showing one room (area) – the backyard.

Here’s one easy way to do it using the Insta 360 ONE X2.

Put the camera on a tripod in a room

For this example, I put the camera in the backyard as shown below.

Start recording and leave the room

In post editing, we’ll trim the beginning of the video so you’re not in it.

Wait a while, e.g. 40 seconds

It’s up to you how long you want to wait. In the video above, the duration is 18 seconds. If you mess up and the video is too short, you can slow it down in post editing to twice the duration or 4 times the duration. In the example backyard video above, the duration is 37 seconds.

Go back into the room and stop recording

In post editing, we’ll trim the end of the video so you’re not in it.

Transfer the video to your computer

I just use a USB-C cable to transfer the video. Note that each video has 3 files because the video is unstitched and has the proprietary .insv (Insta360 Video) file extension.

Edit the video in Insta360 Studio

Open the video (you can just open one of the 3 insv files) and start editing.

  1. Enable Flowstate Stabilization (although maybe that’s not necessary since the camera is static on a tripod)
  2. Move the left trim marker to where you want the video to begin (the point after you’ve left the room)
  3. Move the right trim marker to where you want the video to end (the point before you reenter the room)
  4. Set the aspect ratio to 16:9 (standard TV screen size)
  5. Add 5 keyframes (indicated in yellow circles) on the timeline with the following specs

Keyframe 1

Timestamp = beginning of video in timeline
Pan angle = 0°
View = Natural view

Keyframe 2

Timestamp = 25% of the duration of the video from the beginning
Pan angle = 90°
View = Natural view

Keyframe 3

Timestamp = 50% of the duration of the video from the beginning
Pan angle = 180°
View = Natural view

Keyframe 4

Timestamp = 75% of the duration of the video from the beginning
Pan angle = 270°
View = Natural view

Keyframe 5

Timestamp = end of the video in the timeline
Pan angle = 360°
View = Natural view

Insta360 Studio converts 360° to 1×0°.

Choose a transition

Between each keyframe, you can click on the yellow line to pick a transition type. The default is “Smooth Dissolve” which is recommended.

Adjust video speed

If the video is too short or too long, you can slow it down (2x or 4x) or speed it up (2x, 4x, 6x, 8x, 16x, 32x, 64x). Just click the lightning icon and drag from the beginning to the end of the clip. Then click on the pink bar to change the speed.

Export the video

In the dialog box, you can choose either H.264 or H.265.

H.265 produces a smaller file size but takes longer to render compared to H.264 for the same level of video quality.

For example, for an 18 second video

  • H.264 – 85 MB
  • H.265 – 55 MB

If you’re just going to upload the video to YouTube, then you might want to just pick H.264 since the time to upload a larger file may be quicker than the extra time to render in H.265. Rendering the video will stitch the video together and produce a mp4 file which can be opened and viewed in most video applications.

Repeat for each room or area of the house

Once you’ve editing the videos for each room and exported them as MP4s, you can use any regular non-360 video editor to combine the clips together, add background music, text overlays, etc.

Here’s an example of the master bathroom with additional rotation to show the ceiling.

Again, the camera was just placed in the center of the room.

Take Pictures of Things By Pointing at Other Things Using a 360° Camera

Have you ever wanted to take a picture of something but weren’t sure if it was allowed or felt unsure if people would be offended if they saw you point your camera at them? If so, one way around this is by taking pictures using a 360° camera like the Insta360 ONE X2.

Since the camera can take a picture of everything around you, you can point the camera at a 90° angle or 180° away from the object you want to take a picture of. Then, in post editing, just drag the picture around to face the object of interest and click the snapshot button to export a regular, flat picture. By pointing your camera away and looking away from your object of interest, no one would know that you’re actually taking a picture of something else.