They tend to offer timeline or both timeline and story board formats. In a timeline (as in the photo above) you add clips one after the other, represented by rectangles of different length corresponding to the number of seconds each one lasts. You can add clips to more than one track, to apply effects like transparency or to have one set of images replace another for a period of time, or to add titles and mattes. Multiple layers of audio are also available, and volumes adjustable, so that captured audio can be faded out to bring in narration or music, for example. What software you need depends upon what you want to accomplish. There is even one application today that performs the editing function automatically, according to the video style you choose.
Once again the
Video Guys have a few pages that answer many of the questions anyone new to non-linear editing has.
Larry Johnson at Digital Video Solutions makes available an exhaustive collection of material on the subject in general, although without much specific reference to editing software choices, at "The Ultimate Guide to Digital Video Editing". Another, and extensive resource on DV editing is available
here. It takes some work to get what you want but it is thorough.
Hardware vs Software
One of the biggest choices a newcomer has to make is between hardware and software solutions to editing. The hardware solution involves purchasing a proprietary capture card like those sold by Canopus, Matrox and Pinnacle. Each of these works with editing software like Adobe Premiere, to accelerate certain special effects, transitions and multi-layer segments so that you see them in real time rather than having to wait for them to render before appreciating whether or not what you did worked as you wanted it to. Software approaches, like Vegas Video do the work through their code and don't depend on any help from hardware. Used with an inexpensive firewire capture card they still provide many render-free effects, and the more powerful your PC, the faster they work.
Charlie White has a column at DigitalVideoEditing.com that explores
the difference in one quick page.
Editing Your Soundtrack
Creating video in any editing software naturally involves audio too, whether from the camera microphone, imported background music or voice-over. When you hear the howling wind distracting attention from your great shot of the snow capped mountain peaks you will want to filter it out. If you don't have a clue how to do that, several tutorials from StreamingMedia.com are helpful in describing working with sound. You'll apparently have to register to reach the specific tutorials, but the list is available here.
Jay Rose maintains a helpful tutorial site on working with audio in digital video, and has written a book on the subject. Incidentally, for anyone with audio editing capability (ie Adobe Premiere 6), removing wind noise uses the highpass filter while high frequency noise is removed with the lowpass filter. Using the highpass filter I have completely removed wind noise from clips shot on a boat, leaving only the soothing sound of water lapping against the gunnels. Not all audio with wind noise cleans up that easily, and the best solution is microphone protection to avoid it in the first place.
If you're an Adobe Premiere user already, and still learning the ropes, like me you want tutorial material to add techniques to the tools available to you. I am likely to add a separate page for this subject but let's get started with a site that offers streaming windows media files on a number of useful Premiere tricks. That would be the Glacier Lily site, operated by Mike Gunter, who also offers an email alert whenever a new tutorial is posted. And here is a directory site where you can download up to a dozen (last time I looked) Adobe Premiere tutorials in the portable document file (PDF) format. A recent and excellent addition is the Wrigley Video Productions site where demo videos show what a technique can do and link to how-to videos showing the steps in detail. The one on Premiere's colour pass filter gives a great demonstration of how to most easily use the motion effect, something that helped me out immediately.
Preparing Stills for Import
Sooner or later you will want to bring still images (scans, downloads or digital still camera images) into your video project. This article from the LA Final Cut Pro Users Group covers the basics of still preparation quite well, using Photoshop as the image editor. Another informative piece on stills in Premiere is available from Adobe, in pdf format HERE. Thanks to Steven Gotz for this link, whose web site is a great resource for Premiere users.