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Video Editing Tutorial

Updated on April 3, 2014

You have finished writing your script, and you have just filmed some of the best shots that you have ever seen. Now it is time for the biggest task of all, editing.

Editing is the most important part when it comes to post-production. Editing is essentially how you are going to tell your story which is why, you must be so thorough to get everything exactly the way that you want it.


Step one: Putting together your shots

Cutting a movie is when you take all of your shots, and splice them together so that they fit perfectly. This is what makes or breaks your film, it can decide whether your movie is a hit, or a disaster.

  1. If it doesn't fit... Cut it. The name implies exactly what it intends to mean. If one of your shots does not fit into your story, then it does not belong. This means that if you think the shot is just a little to long, to short, someone stutters, the lighting is off, or your actors hair is not perfect, it should not be in your final film. In short, if it is not adding to your story, then it doesn't belong, thus, should not even be there.
  2. You must Absolutely Love the take. This is just like trying on clothes. If you do not absolutely love it when you see the take, then you are going to hate it in your final outcome. When you get all of your footage put into your editor, and you are deciding on what you should put in as your final take, take some things into consideration: is the lighting off? Boom pole/shotgun mic visible? Actor has too much makeup on? It doesn't matter. Any of these things can put your scene in jeopardy of being amateur, and if you are serious about being a filmmaker, or video maker, then should not want your film to look amateur. If it first glance you find something that you don't like about it, then do not use the shot, but DO NOT delete it. That being said...
  3. Don't Be too Hard on Yourself. If you watch a take where something very little is noticeable to you, but it may not be as noticeable to someone who is not as critical as you, you may want to consider keeping it. In this case, it may help to get your mom, dad, brother, sister, or friend to take a look at this clip, then tell you if they noticed anything weird, or funny about it. If the answer is yes, then put it away, if the answer is no, then it is most likely usable. This is because the person who created their film is usually a lot harder on themselves, and therefore sees a lot more wrong with their film then others may. This isn't giving you permission to put out bad content, and you may even consider showing that friend all of your takes and asking which one he enjoyed the most. All I'm saying is to not completely trash all of your content and automatically assume that your scene is going to be a failure because you did not particularly enjoy one take.
  4. Getting the right shots for your scene. Deciding what shot you are going to use to give your scene the right feel, and portray the right message can be hard, especially if you have a variety to choose from. This is why you must take a few things into consideration before deciding on which shot you will use. How do you want your scene to feel? This one single question can change the decision on your shot. If you want your audience to feel weak, you should try to get shots that maybe make the audience feel smaller, like OTS (over-the-shoulder) shots of a tall person (like a huge school bully) looking down at a smaller person (like a short fourth grader getting bullied). If you want your audience to feel like they have power, then do the opposite. Try out a plethora of different shots, this will up your chances of finding one that you really like. I cannot tell you which shots that you should or should not use, that is your decision, which will effect your final product. It is all a matter of personal taste, so you should not let anybody else persuade your final decision on shots.
  5. Cut it short. This rule is one of those rules that is really simple, and really effective (and is also closely related to rule #1). When cutting your movie together, you should be looking to cut stuff out of your movie, not to add more stuff in. First, you are (or definitely should be) cutting out your "Ready, and.... Action!" part of your take (and "rolling", and "quiet on set", and "marker", and so on...). After that, however, you should be looking a little deeper into your shot, and see if you can take out any excess in your shot. For example, maybe there is a second of silence before your character starts talking, you should cut it. If the end of your video is too long, cut it off. If there is any excess, or you notice anything unusual about your take, then go back, and find out what is wrong, then cut it. For the most part, this will make your film look more professional.

For the most part, follow one single rule: If it doesn't add anything to your story then cut it. The majority of editing is cutting the parts of your video that you don't like out, and putting the good to great takes that you do like in order to tell your story. To even start thinking about making the rest of the movie, you must first start with putting it all together.


Adding the Audio

Audio is one of the most essential parts of making your movie, it is also one of the most overlooked. A lot of amateur filmmakers go as far as making their movie visually appealing, but what they are missing is one of the most important parts of making your film look professional: audio.

  1. Have the audience feel like they are there. When was the last time that seeing blood mist made you cringe? Or a person falling into water from a high leverage made you shake? The answer should be: Never. If you pay very close attention to all of the things that make you jump, or get grossed out, you will find that audio plays a big part in this. If you want your audience to be completely engaged in your film, and to feel like they are actually there, then consider adding some great sounds for every story-defining thing.
  2. Exaggerate on your sound. No one wants to watch a fight scene where the punches are weak and quiet. Or where the sound of a gunshot is subtle and relatively underwhelming. Your audience wants to be able to feel the impact of that punch, or bullet landing in the leg of an already wounded soldier. In order to do that, you have to exaggerate on your sound. If you ever watch an action movie, you will notice that the punches are a lot louder than they need to be. The gunshots are more heavy, and the stabbing is more mushy. Remember: the more the merrier. If you are going to have someone in you film get shot, go all out. Making the gunshot loud and have an echo, have the impact of the body sound like the muscle getting torn apart as a bullet passes through. Exaggeration makes the audience feel like it is happening to them, and they are more engaged that way.
  3. Try, check and revise. When it comes to making your own sound effects, you would be surprised of what noises can beef up your sounds. Sometimes, the odd noises, such as lettuce crunching, can really help your audio mix (in this case, lettuce crunching would help a punch sound). You never really know what you are going to use when making a sound effect, which is why I titled this, "Try, check and revise". To do this, first find the scene you would want to make a sound effect for (unless your doing this for fun). You have to make sure you know what you want your final sound to sound like. Then go into your audio editor (audacity is free) and begin trying out different sounds. Sounds need to be built in order to sound good, so try different noises that you think may be successful and add them into your blend. Keep on trying this until you can find something that you genuinely like.
  4. Automatic Dialogue Replacement (ADR). For those of you who don't know what ADR is, it is when dialogue in your original take (from the filming stage) isn't perfect, and therefore cannot be used. So, you are trying to replicate the audio, and overlay it onto the clip where the original audio was in a way that nobody realizes that you ever did it. It is not easy, however, very necessary. If you really like a take, but the audio is terrible, then ADR will come in to play. You will most-likely need to try more than once in order to get your actor to re-say his/her lines perfectly so they match your original take. Before they even go into saying their lines, have them listen to the original audio. Make them memorize exactly how they said it before, so that they can replicate it perfectly again. The better they memorize it, the better it will be. Try, try, and try again. Keep on trying until it is exactly how it should be.

DO NOT overlook audio when you are in post-production. The better the audio, the more engaged the audience will be, and the better your movie will turn out.


Color Correction

Color correction is taking your raw takes, and spicing them up so that they look film ready. Without color correction, your movie will end up looking exactly like your 5th birthday party that was shot by your mom on her phone. Here are a few tips when it comes to color correction.

  1. Shoot with a lot of light. Shooting with a lot of light makes it easier to alter the image in the long run. Many people overlook this, when it is actually quite important. The reason for this is because, when color correcting your film, you cannot make anything look brighter without making it look fake. If you shoot with a lot of light, it will be easier to take your footage, and make it look professional. With more light, it is easier to take your "raw image" and make it look the way that you want it to look.
  2. Don't overdo color correction. When you are color correcting your film, make everything natural. Don't max out the contrast, and don't completely destroy the blacks, so that it is hard to see everything. Push everything to its limits, without bursting at the seems. Keep it subtle, if it looks fake and not natural, then your audience will notice that, and will feel like it is just a movie. That is not what you want. This will make it look like you are a newbie filmmaker who loves messing around with your color settings.
  3. Have the color match the mood. By this I mean that if your scene feels glum, sad or scary, you should color correct your scene so that it matches that mood. If it is happy, exciting, or gleeful, you wouldn't want to make your scene look very dark, and sorrowful, you would want the scene to resemble the mood and be bright

Not a lot of tips for this category. This is because when it comes to color correction, it is your decision of how you want your scene to look. If you like it, then keep it. It is all personal preference in this category.

Final statement

I hope that I was able to help you with your video editing journey. These tips are the essentials when video editing, and if you were to take every single rule and put it into this article, you may never be able to finish. Remember, in video editing it is mostly personal preference. So if you like it, then keep it.


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    • coolwillnoon profile image

      coolwillnoon 6 years ago

      Thank you, this means a lot.

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      As a person who makes movies this is a very useful, well written, and just overall a great hub for all who aspire to be film editors. Keep up the great work. Voted Up, Useful, Awesome, and Interesting :)