So now you’ve shot your movie. You have all your footage on a hard drive. You’re ready to actually turn all your hard work into something. What do you do next?
Tip 1 – Organization
Organize your footage. Just like pre-producing makes your shoot smoother, organizing all of your footage will make your life as a video editor a lot easier. Set up folders for each of the following:
- Still Images
Within these folders you can organize a level deeper. In the Audio folder make folders for music, voice over, interview, etc. depending on what you have. Within the Video folder you can organize your footage into the days you shot it or the different scenes. If you have any still images you can organize them by subject or by date shot. The way you organize is up to you.
The key is to organize everything so you know where everything is.
When you import all of your assets (video, audio, photos, etc.) into your video editing program, keep it organized in the same manner that your documents are saved on your computer. This way you’ll know exactly where your items are on your hard drive.
Once you start exporting versions of the video, make sure you add a version number so you know what your latest version was. For example, I use the format projecttitle_version# (baseballdocumentary_v1). When I export an updated version, I just change the version number. This way I can easily find the latest cut.
Tip 2 – Quick Tips
It is hard to give one tip to make you a better video editor. And rather than try to teach you everything there is to know about video editing, I’m going to assume that you have a grasp on editing videos. If you don’t, check out my Video Editing 101 course by clicking here. It is a great course for anyone new to video editing.
With this tip, I am going to list out some things to watch out for when video editing:
- Transitions with a purpose. Different transitions should be used for different purposes. Don’t always fade in and fade out of everything. Don’t use that crazy 3d spin transition or whatever latest gimmicky transition is included in your editing program. Subtlety is the key.
- Editing should be invisible. An editor’s job is to seamlessly put together a video that is enjoyable to watch. If your viewer is thinking about the editing, it probably means something was jarring. So keep in mind the goal of trying to be invisible.
- Use audio fades. Audio fades can decrease those sound jumps and jarring audio cuts that tend to happen. Just add a 5-10 frame audio fade to smooth this out.
- Use titles but don’t go overboard. Adding titles to the front and back of your videos can add a higher production value to your videos. Keep them short though, especially for web videos. People don’t want to sit through 30 seconds of titles to get to the video. Seriously, 5 seconds is long enough. Or just use end titles and get straight into the content of your videos.
- Add lower third titles to your subjects. These titles, shown at the bottom part of the screen when someone is talking, give more information about that person and qualify them as someone the viewer should be listening to.
- Pick the right music. Using the latest hit might make your video seem cool, but it probably isn’t the right choice. Music without lyrics is the best because if your song has a singer, their voice will compete with the video audio. Make sure the audio level of your music isn’t too loud. It’s hard to watch videos if you can’t hear the people talking over Justin Beiber’s latest hit.
- Think about why you are using this shot. Each shot you put on your timeline should have a purpose. Make sure that whatever is being talked about is shown on the screen with broll footage. If what is being heard doesn’t match what is being seen, fix it. Only use the best shots.
- Be patient. Editing takes a while and sometimes you have to go through 4, 5, 6+ versions (a.k.a. cuts) of your video before you have a great piece worth sharing.
Remember that it is your job as an editor to fix anything that went wrong while shooting. Whether it is camerawork, lighting, or audio, there are bound to be problems that you will need to fix. So be patient and do the best you can. With practice, you’ll be able to fix most problems.
Tip 3 – Get Critiques
Have your friends watch and critique your video. You may think your video is done and perfect but sometimes we get so closely attached to our projects that we miss small things that should be changed. Having a friend or colleague watch your video and give you notes is a great way to improve your final product. Be open to any criticism they may have. I know this is hard. I’m a stubborn person in general and having to listen to someone else critique my projects is sometimes very hard. But I know it is always for the best. You don’t have to take everyone’s notes and make changes. But having them is better than not.
If you think about it, this is how all businesses are run. Ice cream makers don’t just send out new flavors without testing them and having many other people test them. This goes for major films too. After any Hollywood film is finished, they usually do screenings for private audiences to give feedback. This is crucial for production companies who want to make a great film for their target audience. Sometimes entire scenes can be cut out or endings can be changed because of these screenings.
Awesome! I hope you enjoyed these quick video-editing tips. I’m sure you’re a better video editor because of them. Check back next week for the last tip in this series about how to better market your video and get more views!