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Do’s and Don’ts of Video Editing

Often when you’re recording a video the most important mission is getting the shot. Regardless of the situation – a commercial, a scene in a short film, or an unboxing for your followers, a lot of filming comes down to the perfect moment, and in that moment, editing is the furthest thing from your mind. Thankfully, once you’ve captured what you need, there are plenty of opportunities to whittle away what you don’t and enhance the best aspects of your video. Be sure to follow these helpful do’s and don’ts for your next video editing project.

DO Remember that Consistency is Key

We’ve all watched a movie or a TV show and had that “Wait, what?” moment when a character is wearing a different shirt from one shot to the next. While most continuity issues aren’t as glaring as this, it is essential to maintain coherence throughout your video across audio, visual, and graphic elements.

  • –  Visual​ consistency factors may include location, set design, wardrobe, and make-up. For continuity, these must be kept consistent within scenes, even a stray hair can ruin the continuity and distract the viewer.
  • –  Audio​ consistency typically consists of voice, music, and clips, and the harmony among these three elements is crucial to provide clarity to your viewer. If you’re using all three, make sure to balance them appropriately, so that the music doesn’t overpower the spoken lines and vice versa. Luckily these levels can be customized in post-production.
  • –  Graphic consistency is usually across design elements such as fonts, animations, and other visual effects. At the most basic level, ensure that your colors, themes, and sizes are cohesive throughout your video.
  • DON’T Forget About Transitions Whether you’re making a commercial or artistic video (or both!) transitions between clips are key to producing a seamless narrative. While what comes between the transitions is the actual meat of the video, if the transition is off, your viewer will be distracted and taken out of the moment. The biggest mistake to avoid is the dead air or blank space that results from an incomplete transition, when the length of the transition is longer than the previous clip. In order to fix this issue while editing, simply trim your video clip length before dragging and dropping the transition.

DO Look Up Some New Tricks

There are some tried and true editing methods that every new film director or editor is introduced to, and might get a little overzealous with. While this is part of the learning process and completely understandable, the next step is to branch out and add different skills to your toolbox to avoid your films coming off amateur.

Given that one of the most ubiquitous skills needed from an editor is cutting, here are a few popular and lesser-known types of cuts to choose from:

  • –  Cross-cut, or Parallel Editing:​ This involves cutting between two different scenes that are happening simultaneously, but in different locations
  • –  Cutting on Action:​ If your subject matter includes a lot of activity, whether it’s an action film or simply a commercial set against a crowded backdrop, this means cutting while the action is still occuring, not waiting for pauses or for a motion to end.
  • –  Jump Cut – T​his is the classic technique if you need to show that time has passed, hence the name for jumping forward in time.
  • DON’T Be Too Precious This is a great piece of advice for all editors regardless of your medium, whether film, visual art, or writing. What it means is don’t go into any editing process thinking that something is safe or essential, because sometimes you have to “kill your darlings.” A good editor knows that the end result is created for an audience, not themselves, and sometimes the take or scene you thought was your favorite isn’t what’s best for the final product, and it needs to be left on the cutting room floor. This could mean the music you envisioned using for a particular scene doesn’t actually fit with the overall mood, or that a certain monologue doesn’t in fact tie the plot together. As you move through the process, question the things you may be assuming are set in stone, it will make you a better editor.


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