Whether it’s a feature film or a Youtube video, video editing is a crucial part of the development process. Once the cameras are packed away and the crew has gone home, the post-production process begins! This stage is often more difficult and can take longer than the actual filming, so if you want some tips for video editing you’ve come to the right place!
To start your career in video editing, we recommend you read our 10 tips for video editing to get you started on the right foot! We’ve included tips for every stage of your video editing process, as well as useful suggestions that will save you a ton of time.
Best of all, our professional video editing tips don’t require you to have a data science degree, just a fiery passion to learn and weave a story from your footage. Let’s not waste any more time and hop right into it!
Use A Powerful PC
Before we can give you any tips, we need to cover the hardware and software that you’ll need to have to edit your videos with ease. While the decision between Mac and PC isn’t relevant anymore for the editing process, since both brands offer excellent laptops under $600 for you to use, the specs of the laptops do matter.
Video files are big! A lot bigger than you’d expect so it’s highly recommended that you own a PC or laptop that has a generous SSD size. This will not only help in storing videos but speed up your exporting and rendering too. RAM is also another important spec to focus on for video editing PCs, and you’ll want a device that boasts at least 8GB RAM for work – with some additional video processors and external storage in the case as well.
There are plenty of PCs and laptops that fill these requirements that aren’t expensive, although we do recommend staying away from 2-in-1 laptops for video editing unless you also plan on drawing as well.
Find the Best Software
Once you’ve sorted out the hardware, you’ll need to decide what video editing software you’ll need to use. Choosing the right software depends on what works for you, and there is plenty for you to test and try out before deciding.
We recommend you choose video editing software that is easy and intuitive, offers a wide range of tools, and is used by the industry. We highly recommend that you go for one of the following:
Adobe Premiere Pro
When you think of industry-leading video editing software, there’s a high chance that you think of Adobe Premiere Pro! This editing software is from, you guessed it, Adobe and offers video editors with all the features, tools, and effects that you could ever want.
You can use the application on any device that you have, whether it’s a Mac or Windows. In terms of payment, Adobe Premiere Pro allows for a monthly subscription that is debited each month. It’s about $35 each month if you choose to pay monthly, although this monthly price decreases if you opt to pay yearly.
Final Cut Pro
Our Apple exclusive, Final Cut Pro is the go-to application for Macbook and iMac users for their software programs. Like Premiere Pro, you expect a wealth of tools and features with Final Cut Pro and explore the modern interface including a “trackless” timeline.
This software is great for both amateurs and professionals and is the right software for you once you get to grips with the timeline used by the application. Final Cut Pro also wins in terms of cost, as it only requires you to pay a once-off payment of $299 as opposed to Premiere Pro’s accumulative subscription service.
Our final pick for the right software is Davinci Resolve. It’s the only one of the three software programs that we’ve mentioned that comes with a free version that allows users to utilize the full capabilities of the video editing software.
This appeal comes with all the features that you’d expect from video editing software, including keyframing, color correcting, and more! And with the money you save using Davinci Resolve, you can purchase a dual monitor instead.
Learn Tools of the Trade
Like any skill set, certain actions and terms are prevalent in the video editing industry. No matter if you’re editing your own Youtube video or a film for Hollywood, you’re going to need to know how to do it all. Here are some video editing cuts that you’ll find extremely useful along your video editing journey:
Jump cuts allow the editor to cut large portions of time within the film so that viewers aren’t bored. No one is interested in how the protagonists arrive at the scene unless a major story beat occurred along the way.
L Cut & J Cut
These paired cuts are used to describe whether the scene after a cut begins with the video or audio element. They’re named after how the cut looks in a video editor’s application.
The L Cut is when the video precedes the audio, and the audio comes in afterward. The J Cut on the other hand is the exact opposite – with the audio coming first and then the video. To put this in an example, a J Cut is like seeing a train and hearing the horn afterward, and an L Cut is the opposite.
Whereas a jump cut cuts between two scenes without including any of the time in between, a montage quickly jumps between shots to show a series of progression or growth for the characters. It is also a fun way to compile a journey into a short series of shots.
Match Cut/Match Action
If you want to draw parallels between two different things, then you’ll want to employ the use of a match cut. A match cut is a cut between two shots that share an element, such as a match cut between your villain and protagonist to show off a moment of turning to the dark side.
Match action is similar but is done as a series of motions instead, such as a knife being thrown into the air matched to an axe of another character coming down. It completes the motion of the previous action but puts it into a different context.
Cut on Action
Cut-on action is a fairly simple concept and more of a philosophy for video editors rather than anything else. The Cut on Action concept is that if you’re making any hard cuts, you should also try and put them into a place where there is action occurring.
From a visual perspective, the audience will always notice a cut that is happening on a fairly still scene but won’t notice it as much when you’re using a cut on a very quick action-packed scene.
We recommend that you edit your video on a laptop that has a wide monitor, at least 17 inches so you can see the raw footage without missing anything. Also, while gaming laptops may work for video clips, your video editing process will be smoother is a professional laptop.
Cut the Fluff
When you’re presented with a mass of raw footage, the most important to remember as a video editor is that unnecessary footage needs to go. Cutting the fluff so your narrative is placed at the forefront isn’t easy, but once you hone your video editing skills you’ll slowly learn what can stay and what has to go.
Watching all the footage is a task on its own, and we recommend you ensure that you have a laptop with at least an i7 processor, a budget laptop will only hinder you. Some tips we have for finding the narrative are to search for key moments in the story and trace a line through your footage to see what makes sense to keep.
Otherwise, make sure to preserve visual interest by removing two visually similar shots and keeping the best one. You’ll learn your editing style as you navigate the various visual elements of your video footage.
Create an Atmosphere with Music
Audio mixing is a necessary skill for you and other video editors to get right because music is one of the best ways to introduce atmosphere into the scene. Think about the most iconic movie scenes you know, were there any sound effects or subtle music elements in them?
Good music adds to the scene rather than dominates it. And thankfully, there are resources you can use, no matter if you have a Chromebook or a Macbook. You can find sound effects in the right video editing software, but there are plenty of places to find royalty-free music online – Epidemic sound is one of the most popular choices in the industry.
The atmosphere and the video’s pace are elements that you need to remember to include in your project, they can elevate your project to its full potential. We also recommend you purchase a laptop with more storage size, as audio file formats are also big and use a lot of space.
Remember to Color Correct
Color correcting and color grading are two post-production processes that can be daunting task once your start but comes easily with practice. The footage you initially receive will have different color baselines depending on the time of day, the camera settings, and even changes in lighting.
Color correction is creating consistency between shots, especially in the same scene by setting your color baseline. Color correction is usually one of the edits you complete to your final video, so you’ll have plenty of time to learn about it.
Another element of color correction is color grading, which is more about editing your video content to give it a certain style or look. An Antarctic movie could be graded slightly blue to immerse viewers into this freezing landscape, for example.
Balance your Audio
Keeping tabs on your audio is crucial while working on your video editing project, as the way your audio is balanced can make or break your final product. Audio balancing is removing audio from your project to ensure the dialogue and other audio elements are crisp and clear.
The audio you’d want to remove from your video editing project is the background noise, any potential crew interference, and strange inflections or noises in dialogue that take away from the meaning. Besides removing audio, you also need to balance it – balancing is a fine art, where you need to ensure that your dialogue is consistent throughout scenes and there’s room to increase and decrease in volume for emphasis.
There are plenty of nuanced issues you’ll come across when balancing audio, but rest assured that you’ll be able to handle them with practice.
Organization is Key
A huge time saver for video editing is basic consistency and organization. The last thing that you need when editing a video is to waste editing time by trying to find that one bit of B-roll footage you want to use for this scene – avoid the future headache you’ll cause yourself by ensuring that all your files are easily accessible and neatly labeled onto your hard drive.
If you want a cheat sheet on how to organize your files properly, here’s a standard industry file organizational trick to help you out!
Start with making a single folder, and put all your footage into it. Within that same folder create a sub-folder that has your project files, and then do the same for your titles, your audio, and finally your images. This way, you’ll have everything you need to be placed intuitively.
Back Everything Up
Following up from the organization, we stress that you back up everything you have and save regularly. It’s no secret that editing can take long hours, so losing your progress or ongoing work folder is a tragedy waiting to happen without a backup.
We recommend you store your edited video files in at least 3 separate places, with at least one of those being located outside your computer, like on your external storage or using online storage. Also, ensure that the files you plan to upload are in the recommended export settings of the platform you plan to upload them to.
Double Check your Rights
Finally, as you’re rewatching and finalizing your project, always double-check that the content you’ve used from third-party sources is within your right to use. It’s very easy to assume that a sound effect, piece of music, or external B-roll is free to use but copyright laws are extremely strict.
On platforms like Youtube, your video can very easily be suppressed and flagged for using content that isn’t your own. Don’t make beginner video editors the mistake of using content without permission in your project, always double-check your rights.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully, that’s covered some of the essential tips, tricks, and plenty more for you to sink your teeth into when you’re video editing. With all the software tips, the breakdowns about the industry lingo, and other secrets for making your next video project a success, what more do you need to get started?
In case you are looking for more, we’ve compiled the top most frequently asked questions and answered them here for you. Otherwise, take a look at our other articles regarding how to use a laptop as a monitor for your Ps4 and the best laptops for homeschooling.
How can I get better at video editing?
Honestly, practice makes perfect. Video editing is an art that excels with experience. Even if you have the best video editing software, followed the best video editing tips, and have the basic concepts down, it’ll still take you a few attempts to become comfortable.
The steps we’ve highlighted in this post, how to balance speech and visual effects, and tips for editing videos all take separate skill sets so doing as much as you can is the best way to become a better video editor.
What is the 321 rule in video editing?
The 3-2-1 rule is a rule for video makers about keeping their main footage and tertiary footage safe. Specifically, it talks about making at least three copies of everything that you have and keeping it in at least two separate places.
We’ve briefly covered how important it is to keep multiple copies of your files, and how devastating it can be to lose hours and hours of work because of a careless mistake.
What to avoid in video editing?
A general rule of thumb for video editing is to avoid any decision that conflicts with the story or narrative you are trying to create. The music you choose should fit with the scene you’re making, create consistency throughout your project in tone and pacing, and you should keep only the most engaging shots.
On the more technical aspect, we’d recommend overusing jump cuts – they can be quite jarring to the audience’s senses when used repeatedly. Ensure your audio is consistent throughout, and remove any technical issues when you edit video and audio.
Being a video creator is a lot of trial and error, so keep these in mind when you create videos or are editing a film.
Our biggest tip for editing is this: just start! Whether you’re planning to edit an entire video or just help edit a section, the best way to become a great video editor isn’t having the right editing software, it’s the time you sink into it.
But with our tips, tricks, and suggestions we bet that you’ll have plenty to fall back on when you begin!
Interested in reading more of Holy Tech’s best articles, check out our top picks for the cheapest laptops to use with Cricut Explore Air 2 or learn how to remove stickers from your laptop!
Writer Graham Grieve brings two decades of technical communications experience to The Holy Tech coverage. Isaac contributes articles on laptops, tablets and PCs, alongside various software and hardware guides. Isaac is a former newspaper journalist who also worked in tech communications for some of the country’s biggest corporations. He also counsels and creates material for other technology publications and hosts a podcast.
Isaac’s in-depth reporting and knowledge of hardware and software issues helps The Holy Tech’s readers learn how to choose the right products, or solve tricky problems.