Everyone wants to be in a Hollywood movie. You probably won’t get that chance, but you can edit a movie for the silver screen.
More than 67,000 Americans work as video editors. By 2029, that number will expand to more than 80,000. Video editing provides a good salary and a lot of creative freedom.
Most people want to learn how to start making videos. Yet they don’t know basic video editing tips. They throw their clips all together and assume that’s all they need to do.
Thankfully, you can learn the essentials on how to edit videos in little time. Here is your quick guide.
1. Find the Right Software
Many beginning editors start with Windows Movie Maker and iMovie. These are okay tools to edit informal projects and learn the basics.
When you are making a full-length movie or working on a professional project, you will need advanced video editing software. Adobe After Effects provides advanced tools at an affordable price. You can also use Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro, though both of these programs cost money.
You should also have a fast computer with good storage. You should increase your RAM capacity to eight gigabytes at a minimum. If you’re comfortable with your current computer, you can buy a storage drive to do this.
2. Organize Your Files
Take time putting your files into clear categories. Sort raw footage from edited clips and B-roll. You should also find audio tracks, sound effects, and music.
Then take those files and put them into folders. Write labels describing what each folder contains, but don’t get too detailed. “Raw Footage” is all you need.
You should label each file with clear visual details. “Sam and Max in the park” is good.
In the raw footage and edited clips folders, create sub-folders for each scene. You may have multiple clips that take place in one location. Organizing by scenes will give you a clear sense of where they should go.
You should not delete footage you do not plan on using. A botched take may have bad audio, but you could use it for a scene transition. Place those bits of footage in their own folder.
3. Make a Plan Before You Edit
Look through the footage and audio as you’re organizing them. Take notes of what you’re seeing and what could go well together.
Touch base with the director. Get a good sense of what they want. If the two of you can meet, meet with them and let them supervise your editing process.
Proceed scene-by-scene through your movie. You do not have to start at the beginning, but you should complete a scene before moving onto a new one.
You will not be able to complete your movie before the end of the day. Set a goal for yourself to reach, and think over what you will do the next day.
Prepare to go through your video multiple times before finalizing it. Allocate at least one day for you to do this.
4. Adopt the 321 Rule
Computers can crash and editing software can delete projects in progress. To keep this from disrupting your video production, you should adopt the 321 rule.
You should make three copies of everything you create. At the end of the day, download what you’ve done. Then duplicate the file on your hard drive.
You should place what you’ve done in two separate locations. You can place one copy of your work on Google Drive. You can send it in an email to someone else.
One of those locations should be off-site. You can upload it onto a second hard drive and then store it in the office.
5. Use the Different Cuts
Learning when to cut takes time. Familiarizing yourself with the cuts you can use is an important first step.
A match cut occurs when the composition of two shots is matched by something in each shot. Both shots can have the same object or the same person in similar parts of the frame. This is best for a smooth transition between two accompanying shots.
A jump cut is abrupt. A single shot is broken into two parts, with a piece of footage removed to jump the narrative forward in time.
Shot/reverse shot involves cutting back and forth between two characters having a conversation. It is important to cut at ideal moments, like a natural break in the dialogue. It is a good opportunity to show how one character is feeling about another character’s remarks.
A cut is separate from a crop, which trims a frame down to remove unnecessary details. You can read about cropping on a Mac here: https://setapp.com/how-to/crop-video-on-mac.
6. Be Careful With Audio
Many amateur editors focus on video, only to neglect audio. Choose the right music to match a piece of film.
You can complement the mood of the visuals with music, or you can select music that creates a jarring effect. This is great for horror movies and thrillers.
Pay attention to the audio tracks of the actors. Make sure that what they’re saying lines up with their lip movements.
Mix the audio so that the audience can hear everything that is being said. Keep the audio levels consistent from scene to scene. You can change them to make a point or create an environment, but make sure the audience can still hear everything.
7. Keep It Simple
Your editing does not need to be elaborate. Flashy transitions may come across as desperate or distracting. A crossfade or a cut works fine for most movies.
Color correction is important so that the visuals are clear. But you do not need to make a scene too dark or too much of one color. Even if you are doing so for an effect, it may be excessive.
Think about what the audience wants. They want a good story told to them with visuals that complement the action.
Edit to tell a story, not to show off your style. Have everything speak back to what is going on and what the characters are doing. You do not need to do anything else.
Master the Essential Video Editing Tips
Basic video editing tips are easy to follow. Get the right software to put everything together.
Get organized, putting your files in clear folders, and conceiving a plan to edit your work. Make three copies of your work and store them in off-site locations.
Use different cuts in your video. Pay attention to the audio and make sure everything sounds right. You don’t have to get complicated to tell a good story.
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