Generally, when an application is available for Windows as well as the Macintosh—Photoshop Express or Microsoft Word, for example—there's some difference in the functionality and appearance of the application on the two computer platforms. That's not the case with FlipShare. Oh, sure, the Windows version places the Preferences command in the Edit menu (as is typical), and the Mac version shifts that same command to the FlipShare menu (as is just as typical), but otherwise, the two versions are identical. For this reason, I can dispense with the usual "If you're using Windows" this and "But on a Mac" that. It's all good.
With that out of the way, now I'll show you around FlipShare's interface: the filing structure on the left side of the FlipShare window; the play and edit views on the right side of the window; and the various buttons for editing and sharing your movies, located at the bottom of the window.
To the left
If you look at my résumé on the back of this book, you'll see that I'm a Mac guy (but I strive to not be a jerk about it). Having spent so many years mucking around with Apple's stuff, I have a pretty good sense of when a software designer has been influenced by Apple's work. FlipShare definitely bears signs of that influence. When you first open the application, you can't help but notice its similarity to iPhoto, Apple's photo management and editing application that's part of the iLife suite. Similar to iPhoto, the left side of the FlipShare window displays Camcorder and Computer headings (Figure 4.1, on the next page).
Figure 4.1 The FlipShare window.
If you have a Flip camera plugged into your computer, the Camcorder heading is black and displays the number of video clips on the camera. Next to that heading is a blue Eject symbol; click it to unmount the camera safely. If no Flip camera is plugged into the computer, or you've unmounted a camera but left it plugged in to charge, the Camcorder heading is gray. (You can remount the camera easily by disconnecting it from your computer's USB port and then reconnecting it.)
When you first jack your Flip camera into your computer, the only thing that appears below the Computer heading is a My Movies folder. As I've hinted, you can edit movies in FlipShare, and when you do, those edited movies appear in this folder.
After you import movies from the camera to your computer (I'll tell you how very shortly), they appear in folders below the Computer heading. These folders are dated, reflecting the month in which you shot each clip (September 2009, for example).
"How does the software know?", you may ask. When you first set the date and time on your Flip (see Chapter 2), you set up the camera to date- and time-stamp your movies correctly. When FlipShare imports movies from a Flip camera, it looks at the date and time stamps; then it files movies by the months in which they were shot (creating dated folders in the process, if necessary).
You're welcome to create folders of your own to make it easier to file and find the movies you make. To do so, just click the Add New Folder button below the list of folders (or choose File > New Folder). You can add a folder called Family, another called Friends, and a final one called Complete Strangers Doing Stupid Things. (If you later regret creating such a folder, just click the Trash icon that appears next to it when you mouse over its name.)
If you feel like visiting the Flip Video Store to purchase another camera for yourself or for a friend, click the Visit the Flip Store link in the top-left corner of the FlipShare window.
To the right
Again, as in iPhoto, the right-central part of the interface is devoted to the play and edit views. You have three viewing options here.
When you select a folder and choose List format (which you can do by choosing View > List or by clicking the List icon in the top-right corner of the FlipShare window), all clips in that folder are displayed in the order in which they were saved to your computer (Figure 4.2). No, not when shot, when saved. (And yes, I would have sorted these things by when they were shot.)
Figure 4.2 List format.
To the left of each clip is a thumbnail picture of the video's first frame, with a Play button and timeline below. Click the right-pointing Play triangle, and the clip plays in that small thumbnail window.
To the right of the thumbnail is information about the clip—when it was shot, its length, its file size, and its history (which can include such information as when it was copied to the computer, edited in FlipShare, and moved from another folder). Atop this information is a title field marked Unsaved if you're viewing a clip on the camcorder that hasn't been saved or Untitled if it's a video you've imported but not named. To give the clip a more interesting title, just click Untitled and type a name of your choosing.
Double-click a thumbnail, and it opens in Large format view (discussed later in this chapter).
If you'd like to make a copy of a clip and save it somewhere on your computer, click the blue Export To link. When you do, an About Exporting Videos window appears, informing you that you now have the option to make an exact copy of the clip and save it somewhere on your computer. Click the Export button, and a navigation window (Windows) or sheet (Mac) appears. Select a location to save your movie, and click Choose to make the copy and save. To forget the whole thing instead, click the Don't Export button in the About Exporting Videos window.
You can delete clips from these folders by selecting their thumbnails and choosing Edit > Delete. You can also choose Delete from the contextual menu that appears when you right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac) the thumbnail. This contextual menu also includes Copy, Paste, Rename, Play Full Screen, and Export To commands. Right- or Control-click anything in the window except a thumbnail, and the contextual menu offers Paste, Select All, and Select None commands.
You'll find All and None buttons in the Select section at the bottom of this portion of the window. A volume slider appears here, too, allowing you to adjust the volume of a playing clip.
The next item in the View menu (and the icon next to List in the top-right corner of the FlipShare window) is Thumbnail (Figure 4.3). Thumbnail format gives you the option to see your movies in a larger view (click and hold the Thumbnail icon, and you'll find you can view thumbnails in four views ranging from "really pretty big" to "eensy-weensy"). You'll also discover a new icon at the end of the timeline: the scissorslike Trim Video button. Click this icon, and the Trim window appears (which I'll get to when I discuss editing with FlipShare).
Figure 4.3 Thumbnail format.
As in List format, you can play your clips by using the Play button and timeline. You can also change the title by clicking the current title and typing a new name. Finally, you can change the clip's date. Yes, strange as it seems, when you click the date above the clip—08/09/09, for example—a small calendar window appears, where you can alter the clip's date and time.
If the "really pretty big" Thumbnail format isn't big enough for you, you can always live large by choosing View > Large or clicking the Large icon at the top of the FlipShare window (Figure 4.4). Just as you can with clips in Thumbnail format, you can edit a clip's name, time, and date, as well as change its playing volume. The Trim Video button also appears at the far-right end of the timeline.
Figure 4.4 Large format.
The area at the bottom of the FlipShare window houses buttons for importing video from the camera to your computer; saving videos to the camcorder; playing video full-screen; sharing your video with the world; and creating movies, snapshots, and DVDs (Figure 4.5). It's also where the software displays messages about what it's currently doing, such as FlipShare is working. Do not unplug camcorder! Saving. Here are the basics.
Figure 4.5 FlipShare's buttons for transferring, sharing, and creating movies.
Save to Computer/Camcorder
The state of this button changes depending on whether you've selected the Flip camcorder or a folder or movie.
Save to Computer
Select Camcorder and click Save to Computer, and a window appears that asks, "Do you want to save all unsaved video to your computer?" Click Yes, and another window appears, telling you into which folders the videos will be saved and offering two options: Remove Videos from Camcorder After Saving and Don't Ask Me Again. Select that first option to strip the movies from the camcorder after they're imported (a good idea if you need to clear some space). Then click the Yes button to accept or the No button to back out.
You can also save individual movies by selecting those you want to save (by Command-clicking them on the Mac and Control-clicking them on a Windows PC) and then clicking the Save to Computer button. In this case, you get to skip one window. The only window that appears tells you which folder(s) the videos will be saved to, offers the option to remove videos from the camcorder after saving, provides the "stop bugging me about this" option, and displays the Yes and No buttons.
Save to Camcorder
If you'd like to place a favorite video back on your Flip camcorder, just select one or more videos in FlipShare and click the Save to Camcorder button. If the movies are compatible with the camera, they'll be copied to it, where they're viewable just like any other clips you've shot.
Play Full Screen
If even the Large format isn't large enough for you, you can fill your computer screen by selecting a clip and clicking the Play Full Screen button. As the resulting window tells you, you can exit Full Screen mode (and stop playing the clip in the process) by clicking the mouse or pressing your computer's Escape key. You can pause/resume playback by pressing the keyboard's spacebar.
The Share buttons
I'm going to deal with sharing your videos with the world in Chapter 7. For now, I'll just say that with the Email, Greeting Card, and Online buttons gathered together under the Share heading, you can e-mail a video, e-mail a link to a video greeting card that the recipient can watch on Pure Digital's Web site, and upload your videos to Web sites of your choosing, respectively.
The Create buttons
Using the buttons in the Create section, you can piece together movies and add titles, capture single frames from a video to create a snapshot, and prepare videos for burning to a DVD. I look at these options in the following section.