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Video Editing, at its most basic, is the process of taking video clips and putting them together to tell a story. There’s a bunch of different parts of video editing: planning, cutting the clips, color grading, VFX, sound design, music, text and titles, and so on. There’s also a bunch of different things you can do with editing, from making documentaries, to movies, to long-form content on YouTube, to short-form content on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.
There's an idea that the hardest part of video editing is the VFX, or the audio, or the color grading, or even the transitions. But it isn't-- the hardest thing about video editing, and the difference between a good versus a great editor, is all about where you place your clips, and how long each clip is on-screen. This is called pacing, and if the pacing is messed up, it can ruin whatever you're creating, no matter how good all the other pieces are. To improve your pacing, you should make a plan before you start editing.
The Planning Process[edit | edit source]
Before you start any edit, you should have a plan. Wether you're making a tiny YouTube Short, or a full-length documentary film, there has to be some sort of planning or thought process behind what you are creating. There are two main things you should be thinking about: the concept, and the story. The story is a linear progression of events inside your video. If you're making a film, the story is your script (obviously). If you have a story in your video, the viewer is taken from point A to point B. It's simple enough to create a story. But what if your video doesn't necessarily have a story? Then you're going to need a concept. A concept is the meaning behind your video. Why are you making it? What is the meaning? This is even more important than the story, because there needs to be a reason to why you're putting in all the effort to create your video. In most movies, the concept is the "moral of the story." After you watch a movie, you leave with a message that stays in your head. Sometimes its about love, about trust or even about family (shoutout to the Fast and Furious franchise). If you're making a commercial, maybe the concept is trying to get the viewer to buy your car. A lot of commercials try to base the concept around humor, because if the viewer finds the advertisement funny, they're more likely to engage and become a customer. Concepts in commercials come back to brand identity a lot of the time.
Words You Should Know[edit | edit source]
Capture - Digitizing raw footage onto your computer for use digitally in editing.
Batch Capture - Capturing a number of clips all at one time using in and out marks from a log sheet.
Logging - Marking a series of In and Out points in a clip to signify which parts should be captured.
Cutting - The act of editing video.
Splice in (Insert) - A type of edit that moves over clips to allow space for a new clip to be added.
Overwrite - A type of edit that erases a clip with a new clip in its place.
Slide (Slip) - A type of edit which keeps the same length of the clip but changes the in and out points to make it start and end earlier or later.
Roll (Trim) - A type of edit that changes just the in point or the out point and also makes the clip longer or shorter.
Frame - A measurement of time, and also the smallest amount a video can be cut to.
Frame Rate - The number of frames that will make one second of video this can range to any number. Common frame rates are 60, 30, 29.97, 25, 24, 23.98, 16.
Mark In - Placing a marker at the beginning of where you want your clip to start.
Mark Out - Placing a marker at the beginning of where you want your clip to end.
Edit - To make a cut in a clip making it a separate clip.
Transition - An effect which visually moves your video from one clip to another. There are many types of transitions.
Keyframe - A marker that locks in a Parameter for a specific property. Changing keyframes over time will animate the video or change properties over time.
Sequence (Timeline) - Where all the cuts take place, a place to lay out clips.
Levels - The amount of loudness the audio of a clip or sequence will have this ranged from -infinity db to 0db.
Peaking - A level of audio that reaches over 0 which tops out and distorts.
Title Safe - An area within the viewable space of your screen in which text will be able to be seen safely on a TV set at home. Usually 20% from the side of the viewer.
Action Safe - An area within the viewable space of your screen in which the video will be able to be seen safely on a TV set at home. Usually 10% from the side of the viewer.
Tracks - Where video and audio will go within the sequence or timeline.
Bins - A folder to organize your captured clips.
B-Roll - Video that describes what is being seen.
A-Roll - The Principal video that is usually someone speaking.
A/B Editing - Cutting from A-roll on a lower track to B-roll on a higher track; this was also the basis of linear editing.
JKL Editing - Cutting video using the keyboard.
J-Edit - An Edit in which you first see and hear A-roll and then B-roll is laid over it.
L-Edit - An Edit in which you first see B-roll but hear A-roll and then A-roll is cut to.
Steps to Video Editing[edit | edit source]
Once you have your raw video shot, you must now capture it. Most editors will log their clips, which not only includes the In and Out information, but also the name of the tape or reel it came from, and also the name of the clip. Most often you will want to include the scene and take in the name. Once you have logged the tape, you will want to capture those specific parts of the tape. This is normally done with a batch capture. Once digitized, you can freely edit your materials in a timeline. It is a good idea to name your timeline.
Next, start to Insert the clips into the sequence in the order they should be seen. Video will go on video tracks and audio on audio tracks. Often editors make one sequence, or timeline, for each scene, and then assemble the timelines together at the end. Once you have the clips in order, you will want to start cutting and adding edits to your clips. This will tighten up the look and feel of your scene. The goal of an editor is to show as much as is pertinent in as little time as possible; so, only put in the pertinent stuff that is important for the scene! Too much footage will make a scene drag on.
When you manually locate elements in the video, place the first and the last key frame first, since this locates the object closer to the intended location between the keyframes, which saves production effort compared to placing key frames sequentially. Then, apply the principle of binary searching, meaning place the keyframe at half way between the first and the last, then at one quarter and three quarters, then at eights, and so on, until it looks well enough. There are many tools to use in making your scene as tight as possible, including J-edits, L-edits, Trimming, and Slipping. This is the stage when your creativity should shine. Feel free to experiment with different looks and feels to get exactly what is needed. Once you have the video where you want it, you will want to add graphics, such as text or 2d and 3d elements. This is called compositing. You might also want to include transitions in between the clips. Also, at this stage you will want to color correct your footage. This stage takes a lot of patience and practice but can be very rewarding.
Next, you'll want to work on your audio, making sure your levels are correct. Ideally, broadcasters like the levels to top out at -6db. You want to avoid peaking. Use the audio keyframes to make your audio equal throughout; and, you can also normalize the audio, which brings all the highest audio points to a specified level. Make sure your music is at a comfortable level for the scene. If there is talking in the scene, try to avoid music with lyrics. If you do voice over background music, lower the volume of the music so that the voice may be heard clearly and distinctly. Now that your video and audio editing is complete, you will want to export your video to a dvd, or other such digital format to be used on Youtube, or on any number of other video sharing sites.