Monday, 19 August 2013

6 Things You Need to Know about Video Editing

During my editing experience I’ve been discovering and collecting tips, habits and advice that has helped me along the way, leading me to communicate better through visual media. If you’re a veteran editor you may laugh at these beginner's recommendations, but you may likely also agree with me. If you’re not an expert, welcome to the club!

The most exciting thing about a creative process like this one is that everyone can develop their own list of tips and share it with others. That’s exactly what I intend to do with this. Enjoy!

1.    Project prep is KEY
You need to make sure every file is organized in its respective folder (footage, graphics, audio, assets, etc.), labeled if needed. You can even rate your shots so you can easily locate the best ones while editing. In order to do this, you should go through your entire footage before starting, just to make sure you have everything you need to work with. For this entire organizational task I would recommend Adobe Bridge. (Unfamiliar with Adobe Bridge? Let Michael tell you why you should be using it!)

After you have your footage well organized, open your editing software (either Final Cut, Adobe Premiere, Avid, or the one you prefer) and prepare your project.

CAUTION: Pay attention to your sequence settings. It is extremely important that you set every detail correctly (frame rate, aspect ratio, compressor, location folder, etc.), just to avoid long renders or unnecessary changes afterwards. Remember, taking time in your project prep will save you LOTS of time in the future, especially if you want to return to that specific project.

2.    Sync audio first
If you are editing interviews, a short film, or any video that requires on-camera audio, the first process you’ll want to get over with will be audio syncing. I know it’s boring and tedious, but it has to be done.

My recommendation: Open a different sequence and sync your audio there (open as many sequences as you like, especially if you’re working with a bunch of different scenes). Then duplicate that sequence and start cutting over the new one, so you can keep a back-up of that sync just in case. You can also cut your first desired clips in the sync sequence, duplicate it, and then just get rid of what you don’t need in the new one. Whatever works best for you, only make sure you don’t leave this process for last.

3.    “Cut after 3 seconds”
That’s the typical film school rule: cut to another clip after 3 seconds (approximately) of the same shot. I agree that it applies to most videos, but like every rule, it has exceptions. Keep in mind that editing is supposed to be dynamic and smooth, and those perfect timing cuts (either after 3, 4 or 7 seconds) will help you get there. Just aim for that.

4.    Key frames are your best friends
I know that software like After Effects could help you animate the most amazing graphics and clips, but it’s also nice to get to know all those little tricks and tools that editing software provide.

You could really put some cool motion into pictures, clips and graphics, only by taking advantage of those tiny diamonds called key frames. Get creative with your point A and point B (and even C, D, E, F…), and you could work out some vibrant movements and transitions.

My advice would be: do some research on all the possibilities that your editing software have, look for tutorials if needed, play around with it and apply that knowledge into your workflow. You’ll get some nice results. 

5.    Commit to your style
Every editor has his/her own style. Some are traditional; some are more extreme than others… I particularly am a split screen lover (or freak), but I’ve recently learned that no matter what style you have, you need to commit to it, really apply it, go all the way in giving the project your own trademark, your own signature. Own it.

6.    Look for some inspiration
We all get creative crises sometimes during editing sessions. I love to look for ideas and inspiration in videos that I like, editors I admire, or maybe my favorite movie scenes and short films. Whenever you feel stuck, stop for a moment and try to open your mind to new ideas and references. They can help you develop the greatest concepts.

Do you have another recommendation, compulsive habit or tip that you think you can add to this list? What are your 'musts' during editing?

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