Everyone makes videos these days. But how many people make great quality videos? At best, a badly edited video won’t be engaging, won’t get its message across effectively, and will quickly be forgotten. At worst, it could do real damage to the intended message or the reputation of an organization or individual.
With so much at stake, and constantly changing trends to keep up with, it can be daunting for newcomers to getting into video editing and difficult for intermediate editors to know how to upgrade their skills. The good news is, with the number of tools and resources, it’s never been easier to improve your video editing skills!
In this article, we’ll share some basic techniques and ideas to help you improve the way you shoot your videos and some editing tips to help you enhance them.
Basic Video Editing Rules
Although creating a captivating video is a creative endeavor, there are a few rules that you should observe, at least when starting out. Here are three to kick off with:
Rule no. 1: Get Your Setup Right
Before editing a great video, you have to make a great video. It’s always better to avoid a problem than to have to try to fix it later, so spend some time thinking about your setup, and you’ll save a lot of frustration during editing.
Good lighting is essential for an effective video. If it’s too dark or too bright, you’ll lose detail and put viewers off. Natural, diffused light is best for starting out. Ensure there are no distracting reflections in the shot and pay attention to the direction that the light is shining.
Before filming, work out how you’re going to frame your shot. Avoid having unnecessary objects in view, and aim for balance. A shot is unbalanced if everything is happening on one side of the screen, so unless you’re going for that effect, try to keep the action centered and harmonious.
Beginner video editors often overlook color, but it has an enormous effect on the mood and tone of your video. Blues give a somber, moody tone, greens have a sickly, unreal feeling, and warmer colors encourage positive feelings.
Bad audio is distracting and turns audiences off. Think about how you’re going to record the dialogue in your video and whether you’re going to use a soundtrack. If possible, use an external microphone to record, rather than one built into your camera or phone.
Rule no. 2: Don’t Jump, B-Roll!
Jumps are the hallmark of a badly edited video. A ‘jump’ is when two shots using the same camera setup occur side by side, with no intervening footage or effect. You’ve seen this in interviews that have had parts cut out – the transition looks unnatural and, well, jumpy.
Avoid this by using a B-roll between shots. A B-roll is a piece of footage that provides background or extra detail to the story. For example, a B-roll of childhood footage inserted between cuts in an interview. Using this technique will immediately make your video look more professional.
Rule no. 3: Know Your Motivation
What are you trying to achieve with your video? Do you want to make people laugh? Inform them about an issue? Sell your product? And where are people going to view your video? In cinemas? On their phones? Having a clear goal in mind makes it a lot easier to decide on aspects of your setup like lighting, color, and framing, so before you film anything, work out the ‘why.’
Avoid having anything in your video that doesn’t need to be there – pointless shots, cuts, objects, or characters will confuse the audience and detract from your message. If something doesn’t fit with your motivation, leave it out!
How it used to be done. Credit – Archives New Zealand, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Editing Tips for Improving Video Quality
Once you know the rules, it’s time to master the techniques. There are a lot of them, so here are four simple tips and tricks to help you get started with enhancing your video quality.
- Cut in Movement or Between Similar Elements
To create an immersive viewing experience, you need to cut at the right time. Cutting during movement distracts from cuts and provides a much smoother effect than cutting between two still objects. Motion can also be a great way to link shots. This works even better if you use similar elements – for example, a shot of helicopter blades rotating then a shot of a ceiling fan turning.
- The 45 Degree Rule
When using multiple camera angles for a scene, make sure that each shot views the subject from a difference of at least 45 degrees. Otherwise, the similarity between the shots will feel to the viewer more like a jump cut than a well-considered change of view.
- Get to Know Your Software
All video editors have a suite of tools to help you make the highest quality video you can make. However, some are more complex than others, and it’s well worth using online tutorials or at least reading the FAQs before diving in.
- Understand File Types and Codecs
Codecs and file types are responsible for the compression and storage of your video and audio track. Different codecs and file types have different strengths and weaknesses, which are best for your project depends on several elements, like how you want to share your video, what video quality and resolution you need, and whether you want to collaborate with others while editing. Spending a bit of time getting your head around these elements will reduce problems later, so it’s well worth the effort.
Online Video Editing Software for Beginners
It’s easier than ever to produce professional-quality videos. But with so many options out there, it can be hard to know where to start. If you’re a complete beginner to the world of video editing, get started with one of these online editors – they’re all free (some have other price plans or optional paid features), accept numerous file types, and work on a variety of platforms, without the need to download software. All you need is a PC and an internet connection.
Canva makes it simple to produce eye-catching videos in a variety of formats and provides a huge array of stock footage and animations, as well as templates and music. It’s a great choice if you’re making videos to share on social media and works great on mobile devices.
Have Google Chrome browser? Then Clipchamp video editor is only one click away. This simple video editor is packed with practical features like trimming, looping, text overlays, transitions, and well-designed video templates which make it super fast to create professional-looking videos in a few minutes. It’s ideal for creators, social media marketers and even YouTubers who are just starting out. You can download or export your video with 480p resolution without a watermark.
Movie Maker Online requires no registration, provides access to royalty-free stock video and audio, and has step-by-step instructions on using each feature. Just drag and drop your footage and start editing. It’s not the most powerful or full-featured editor out there, but it is super simple to use and has plenty of features for you to produce a great video.
Fastreel Video Maker is a full-featured yet simple-to-use video editor with a beautifully clear layout, dark theme, and lots of video templates. Each tool has step-by-step instructions to help you, and many of the processes are automated. It’s an excellent choice for making content for social media, as well as for larger projects.
Other Useful Tools
There are a lot of options out there for budding video editors. If you have some time to learn and want to use professional quality software to enhance your video output, here are a couple of the best:
Lightworks has a ton of powerful features, an impressive suite of templates and royalty-free music and stock footage, and comprehensive video tutorials to help you get to grips with the software. In addition, the intuitive interface makes it easy to produce high-quality video in a wide variety of formats. It’s available on Linux, Mac OS, and Windows and has a free version and several paid options.
Blender is a free, immensely powerful open source 3D creation suite. The video editing capabilities are just one tool in Blender’s enormous toolbox, but they include all the features you could ever need. If you’re interested in incorporating 3D modeling or animation into your videos, this is the program for you. The learning curve with Blender is a little steep, so be prepared to do your homework! It’s available on Linux, Mac OS, and Windows and is completely free.
How To Come Up With Interesting Ideas
So now you know the basics, what kind of videos are you going to make? If you already have an idea in mind, great! If you’re still working on ideas, there are many ways to encourage your creative juices to flow and lots of resources out there to help you.
Get Some Inspiration, Then Create!
Now, you’re ready to go film. But before you do, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the best video examples out there. Whether you’re looking to make an explainer video for your product, a promo reel for your band, or just a fun clip for social media, there is so much out there to inspire you!
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