Filmmaking is a specialised skill that requires patience, persistence, a creative eye and the right resources. Capturing the shots is one thing, but the real magic happens in the editing studio when the shots are sewn together with cinematic effect create a story.
If you want to learn more about how to become a better video editor and perhaps turn your skills into a career, we have 5 top tips for you.
1. Choose your software
When it comes to video production there are a lot of tools and programs out there to choose from. Before you invest in one software or program you should consider your intention behind video editing – do you want to make short and fun videos to share on social media? Do you want to create high-quality videos for YouTube? Do you want to create feature-length cinematic-style films? Or, are you making informative videos as part of a digital marketing campaign?
There are different programs and software for different needs. For example, there are apps that are designed to make simple edits out of clips that have been taken on a smartphone, but on the other end of the scale, there is software like Final Cut Pro and Adobe Creative Cloud’s Premiere Pro which is used by professionals.
Professional software isn’t cheap, so before you make a purchase consider how much you will use it and whether or not it will benefit your career.
2. Organise and back up your files
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when it comes to editing videos is to always back up your files – twice, if possible. You don’t want to learn this lesson the hard way and lose all of your files thanks to a technical glitch, so back everything up in at least two places. The Cloud is a good bet, but you should also save files onto an external hard drive and keep it in a safe place.
You should also organise your files to make the editing process easier. Do whatever works for you – create folders, colour-code, label, etc. – then when it comes to piecing together clips, you’ll know where to find what you’re looking for.
3. Tell a story
All good videos tell a story. This doesn’t mean the story has to be linear, bold or make sense; it can be abstract, subtle and complex.
Before you even start filming clips, you should have a story in mind. It doesn’t need to have a clear narrative arc, but it does need to have a message or an intention. And don’t be discouraged if the message alters as the creative process evolves – films oftentimes change creative direction between pre-production and post-production.
4. Keep it varied and dynamic
Another top tip to heed when creating and editing videos is to keep it varied. Experiment with different styles and play around with contrasting shots and sounds.
You should also experiment with layering cuts, especially when it comes to sound. For example, if you’re editing an interview and there is a lot of “um” and “uh”, instead of cutting the clip and risk it looking clumsy, you can use cutaways as a distraction.
You should also use sounds from multiple sources to give it depth and texture and to ensure it stays dynamic.
5. Be objective and open minded
The most important tip of all for editing videos is to be objective. You may have a clear vision in your mind, and you may have mapped out an edit of your shot list, but until you see it come to life in front of you, you can’t know how effective it will be.
Be open-minded and willing to see how things evolve. This is the beauty of the creative process – you might think it’s headed in one direction, but it could end up somewhere so much better. What’s more, the more skilled you become at editing, the more creative and risk-taking you will be.
You’re the editor now – good luck!