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8 Video Editing Tips for Beginners

Video editing is an essential part of the filmmaking process, whether you are creating YouTube videos, independent short films, corporate commercials, or major motion pictures. Editing allows you to take raw footage and turn it into a compelling story.

Whether you’re considering a career in video editing or have been editing for a while and are ready to take your career to the next level, read on to discover some great video editing tips for beginners.

1. Take the Time to Learn

There are a couple of schools of thought when it comes to a skill like editing. Some suggest spending time studying the craft, while others say jump right in and start practicing. Why not do a mixture? Read informational texts, take a course, watch videos with great editing techniques, and start working on your own stuff. If you want to get better, it’s best to approach your education from all angles.

2. Picking the Proper Software

While good editing is largely about your talents and intuition, having the appropriate movie editing software can help you take your work from the amateur to the professional level. A program like Adobe Premiere Pro can help you create a professional-quality video. There is a learning curve to use the program, but it’s a valuable investment to spend some time going through an online course to help you learn the ins and outs of the software.

3. Learn the Terminology

If you want others to hire you to edit their videos, it’s important that you understand all of the technical jargon involved in video editing. A client will assume that as a professional, you will know these terms.

Here are a few terms you should know:

  • B-Roll: footage taken of an area to be used for cutaways or to smooth over issues
  • Compositing: another term for editing, usually with digital footage and software
  • Foley: creating sound for a scene
  • J-cut and L-cutIn a J-cut, the audio from the next shot overlaps with the previous shot. For an L-cut, the audio from a shot overlaps into the following shot.

4. Get a Good Computer

Editing high quantities of video, especially high-definition video, takes up a lot of storage space and a lot of processing power. You’ll need a good computer to handle this type of work. If you want an Apple computer, the iMac is a good option. If you prefer Windows, the Surface Studio is a solid choice. If you plan to do a lot of editing, it may be wise to have a computer dedicated to editing and have another laptop or tablet for your other work.

5. Learn the Keyboard Shortcuts

Editing can be long and arduous work. The more shortcuts you can learn, the more time you can save yourself. By learning the basic shortcuts now, you can work quickly and add more shortcuts as you go.

Basic Shortcuts

  • J = go back, one press for regular speed, multiple presses for faster speeds
  • L = go forward, one press for regular speed, multiple presses for faster speeds
  • K = stop

6. Learn to Manage Your Workflow

In addition to learning keyboard shortcuts, you can also develop a system that will speed up your workflow. For many editors, this involves batching tasks so that you can focus on one type of task before moving to another.

7. Think of the Story First

No matter what type of video you are editing, there is some kind of story there. It’s important to consider the story as you edit. Before every editing decision, ask yourself if you’re helping to tell the story or detracting from it. Remember, in most cases, subtle choices will often have the bigger impact.

8. Sound Is Essential

Never forget sound while you’re editing. Bad sound can ruin an otherwise quality video. Likewise, great sound can elevate a mediocre video. A great way to understand the power of sound is to watch a clip of Jaws featuring the infamous theme by John Williams. Watch the clip first with no sound and then again with sound. You can easily see the effect sound has on this film.

Editing is a rewarding and valuable skill to learn. In the past several years, video has become an integral part of many businesses, and the editing industry is booming. With the right skills, you can position yourself to have a successful video editing career.


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