Tips for Beginner Video Editors

There are many joys to creating video content for your audience and business. The thrill of generating new ideas and actually recording the content. But next comes the other half to the video: editing.

Like with the production of featured films, a lot of the work stems from behind the scenes. Not only that, the editing process requires us to have a balance of creativity as well as technical knowledge.

While I can’t guide you on how to be a creative editor, my hope is to provide some pointers and techniques to help you improve your editing skills. These tips should help in producing better results and reduce editing time.

Software Does Matter

When starting out as an editor, most will turn to the default editor that is on every computer. iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. While these are decent free options to start out with, it’s important to note that what you pick makes a difference.

If you ever look around at various editors, you’ll find each one offers a range of features. While there is nothing wrong with going with the free versions, consider your own needs and what you want to do with those videos. Before making a switch to an editor or picking it, make sure it can do what you want to do.

Another way to explain this is to find your editing style and find the software that best supports that.

If you’re looking for paid editing software, your options include:

  • After Effects
  • Premiere Pro
  • Final Cut Pro
  • DaVinci Resolve

These software packages often offer free Lite versions you can experiment with.

Make sure your Computer has Speed

Regardless of what computer you have, know that uploading and rendering videos takes a lot of power. These are relatively large file sizes so you want to make sure your computer can handle them.

While computer speed is not a sign of a good video, this is important because it determines waiting time. If you have a slow computer that struggles to render a video, it could take hours while you’re waiting for your computer to have the video finished. On the other hand, a faster computer will take minutes.

Of course this is keeping in mind how long your video is as well.

Nevertheless, one other item I’d suggest is to get a storage drive. This will allow you faster access to files and software and speed up the rendering, loading and export process.

Some other areas to shorten editing time is boosting computer’s memory – known as RAM – to at least 8 GB. It also pays to get a solid video card and processor for your editing software too.

Always Edit as if it’s a Story

Content these days has changed dramatically. One of those big shifts is people hoping that they are consuming more stories than just plain videos. This makes sense since audiences are clamouring for authenticity, transparency, and crave that interaction.

With this in mind, the content that you’re editing should be telling a story. To do this, consider the basics, but try to go beyond them:

  • Cut extra footage that waters down the story
  • Correct the order of clips
  • Make the video aesthetically pleasing
  • Ensure the video evokes the right emotions

Another approach to this is prior to recording, create and apply a storyboard once filming starts. Of course not everything will be by the book, but at the very least, you’ve got a process and can determine when and where everything should fit.

Have a good Workflow

Even if you have a fast computer and decent software, it’s important that you yourself have good pacing as well. What this means is that you need to be organized and have a process to have a good workflow as well.

There are various ways to improve workflow, but here are some suggestions:

  • Organize files and projects into reusable folders
  • Have folders for audio files, images, and graphics too
  • Invest in an external hard drive to store footage
  • You can also get a gaming mouse – the extra buttons allow editing functionality making it easier for you to edit

Leverage Shortcuts

On the note of mouse buttons, one other thing you can do to boost your work flow is using shortcuts on your keyboard. A lot of the editing programs have hot keys associated to some of the basic functions. This can save you a lot, as manually doing those functions is more time consuming and can break your flow.

And speaking of keyboards, another option you can explore is to get an editing keyboard. What’s nice about these is that they have shortcut icons on them making easy for you to see what does what. Of course, these are going to be software-specific, so make sure your editing keyboard is compatible with your software.

Know Editing Terms

There may be times where you need to talk to other editors or perhaps clients who have some editing knowledge. Whatever the case is, it pays to know some of the lingo of the industry. Not only for communication, but perhaps explanation as well for those unfamiliar with the editing industry.

In many cases, the terms that are used in the industry require you to do some research. To save you some time, here are some to keep in mind:

  • Jump Cuts – This means cutting our portions in order to skip boring or predictable moments. This is to preserve visual interest.
  • J Cut – Audio is ahead of the video.
  • L Cut – Video is ahead of the audio.
  • Montage – A series of clips that show the passage of time. Examples are transformation or character development.
  • Cutting on Action – Cutting while someone or something is moving rather than when they’re stopped. This creates a more fluid scene.
  • Match Cut/Match Action – Cutting two visually similar shots or scenes.
  • Cutaways – Having a transition that doesn’t have the main subject or action. This is used to set a mood and show the surrounding environment. It can also add meaning to scenes or create dramatic tension.

Correct Colours in Clips

Colour is one of the largest design elements that we can manipulate. It can be used to draw out specific emotions, highlight subjects, and set moods for scenes. Thankfully, even the free video editors have a wide variety of colouring options too.

In many cases, the software will have two things:

  • Colour correction – Ensures colours of your footage are consistent in each scene.
  • Colour grading – Allows you to give video a different look.

Both of them are important as these will influence the tone of your video and to make scenes as realistic as possible. You can also use these tools to differentiate various scenes from the others. Examples are distinguishing between current events and “flashback” scenes.

Music is Key

The last tip I want to provide is to remember music. While the visuals are important, you also want your music to be solid too. Depending on the type of video you’re making, you may be calling for different music.

Music sets the tone of the video as much as all the other visual aspects as well. Thankfully with video being so popular, there are plenty of music options. You can go down the free route, but you may have a hard time finding the right music.

You are better off looking for a music scorer to guide you, or do your own hunting and pay for the right music.

You too can become a Great Editor

Editors have a lot of considerations to keep in mind of and are the most crucial part of production. As you can tell, everything happens behind the scenes. Keep these tips in mind and apply them in your next video project. You’d be surprised how much your videos improve when you keep these in mind.