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So, you want to create a video, but you have no clue how to get started. You’ve got a few computer skills and you’re confident you can pull it off. You think “how hard can it be?” Well, it can be tough because learning any new skill takes some time, usually because we make so many mistakes when learning something new. I will try to minimize your mistake making with this video editing post.
The first thing you need to know about video editing is that it takes quite a bit time and can be quite laborious. The more organized you are before you even shoot the video for your project, the easier it will be to edit and save you a bunch of time (or money). You always want to shoot your footage with the edit in mind. This isn’t an easy thing to do if you are a beginner because it’s difficult to see the finished video in your minds eye since most of us don’t have any experience or practice seeing a finished product before you even start the process of creating it. We have to build a mental picture of what our video will look like.
The best way to create that mental picture is to create a script. I refer to a script over and over before I shoot a single frame of video and I’ve been doing this work for almost 15 years. I always have the script at the shoot no matter what kind of video it is…Commercial, info video, documentary, corporate video or a talking head video that some footage (B-roll) will be placed over the top of.
I like to start with a sheet of paper with 3 columns on it. In the first column I write what the shot will look like and match it with the 3rd column where the actual script resides. What goes in the 2nd column? I use the second column for graphics that are superimposed over the video if necessary.
Once you have your script written do not part with it. Use it before the shoot to get familiar with what you will be shooting, to figure out what lighting you may need, or any kind of extra equipment like microphones and tripods that will be used during the shoot. Like I said before, I refer to a script many times during the shoot and during the video editing process.
When setting up the shots for your video the script is indispensable. It can tell you where to set up, what to shoot and whether or not the timing of a shot fits with a narration. Again, shoot for the edit. I overshoot everything so I have some choices during the editing process. Shooting some extra footage from different points of view with the camera is always good practice and can spice up an edit quite a bit.
Now comes the fun! Once you’ve shot and captured all the video and have it in a computer you are ready to edit. Most video editing programs are quite similar these days so I’m not going to be too specific about any particular program. Most editing programs have a timeline where you lay all your clips into in the order you have mapped out in your script. Basically you line up your clips over a narration track, whether it be from a narrator or a talking head. You then roughly put your clips where they need to go and move on down the timeline until you have followed your script and have all the shots you need inserted. At this point just use simple cuts because you want to make sure everything fits as your script dictates the timing of the shots.
Next you can add (or not add) the transitions between your clips. This can really add to the look and feel of the piece you are creating. Some transitions can smooth out some rough spots that a cut can create. Try a dissolve or a wipe in between your shots, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Try making the transitions shorter or longer, it can make a huge difference on how the piece feels.
Most videos don’t need flashy transitions so don’t make the whole piece about the transitions between shots. That stuff can be pretty distracting and might take away from your message, then again it might make it more exciting and give the piece some energy. This is what editing is all about – finding out what serves the piece you are creating to make it more engaging, beautiful and/or to fit into a certain time frame. After the cuts and transitions have been added you can move on to the graphics which can be applied to the timeline before, after and during your video.
One thing I hope I’ve made clear is that video editing starts before you even pick up a camera or sit down at the computer to edit your video. Always being able to see what your finished product will look like will make your video much better in the long run.Leslie McCandless is a videographer, Sedona video editor and owner of SedonaVideos.com, a production company that does video production, editing, videography.