This is beginner’s a guide to editing a video for your in-house projects. but rather not software specific, it’s how to think and work like an editor in order to get the most out of your in-house video production projects.
It’s very important to have a proper post-production process process. Without a well designed strategy, it’s easy to get lost while editing. These steps are meant to provide focus and benchmarks for your work. This process, with some variation, is the basis of most productions when they reach the edit room, regardless of whether it’s a web video or a feature film.
Building The Ecosystem
Back up your footage might be the most important step to take, and hopefully you’ll never have to experience why. Editing is very taxing on your computer. Any experienced editor can tell you about an inexplicable computer meltdown that occurred at the worst possible moment. Back up your footage. The optimal setup is to import the footage from your camera, copy the footage to an external hard drive and then eject and unplug it. Do not plug it back in unless you have to. Set up an automatic backup of your internal drive to secure your footage and edits. Then, if you can, keep the footage on your camera as well. Now if something goes wrong, you’re covered.
With your footage in your editing suite of choice, put the best take or two of each part into the timeline. Don’t worry too much about cutting it. The goal is to put everything you will want to use there in front of you. This is the assembly.
Creating a rough cut is taking the pieces you’ve assembled and stitching them together until you have your story the way you want it. When in doubt, the question you have to ask is ‘does this advance the story?’ That might mean cutting the line you spent half the day getting right, but that’s the nature of editing. You can always grab footage that wasn’t in the assembly, but only if you can’t find another solution. At the end, you’re going to have a choppy, awkward, but complete version of your story.
At this point you probably are having a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. Try to clean it up as much as you can. Then it’s time for a spotting session. Get a group of people with a variety of backgrounds and show them the rough cut. While they watch have them take notes. Discuss what worked and what didn’t, determine which problems need to be taken care of, and how they might be addressed. Then it’s time to cut until it’s right. You may have to repeat this step a few times.
It’s time to add any music or graphics you need for your video. It’s important to point out here that the most common mistake of most first-time editors is going overboard with transitions and effects. Here you can also fall back on the question, ‘does this advance the story?’
That’s about it. Export your footage to the specifications needed. This will largely be determined by the intended destination. The last piece of advice to share here is know your limits. It’s not hard to find yourself swimming in the deep end by accident. There might come a time where you need the work or guidance of a professional editor. There are a lot of things that a professional editor brings to the table. They have experienced thousands of different situations, and know how to approach each problem. That expertise also translates into speed. The professional editor has familiarity with the tools and the process that allows for turn-around times that can’t be managed by a beginner. The perspective of an editor might be the biggest benefit of dealing with a professional. They can find the story and tease it out of the footage. They know what things to cut, and what to leave in.
It may seem like a monumental task to tackle, but if by following these steps and listen to your gut, you find yourself creating great video content.