Video Editing 101 | Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks for Video Editing

boston video production agency owner, christina skillman, prepping clients at a shootAs CEO and Creative Director of Skillman Video Group, Christina Skillman, breaks down the most effective approach to post-production success and ultimately how her own company sets itself apart through this process. 

All aspects of the video production process have their place in weaving together the intended message of a video. But it’s after pre-production and production, in post-production, that a video production company will truly fortify the video’s message.

It’s here where a creative team’s execution is imperative as the attention to detail will take good footage and assemble it into a great video.

Throw away the script!

Before one can understand the major steps within post-production, it’s important to keep in mind that the production process has laid the foundation.

During production, the message behind the video is captured. Moving on to the post-production process requires a certain level of reliance on this foundational message. Fundamentally, this can come down to whether a video is scripted or unscripted. 

At first thought, scripts may seem like a good course of action when producing a video. It would allow for a business to directly control the story being told in their video. At Skillman Video Group, we generally advise against a scripted video. This is because the message of whoever is talking comes across as more genuine once they lose their script. 

Shooting an interview for an unscripted video

Shooting an interview for an unscripted video

Even paid actors struggle to deliver lines authentically

During a job interview, over-preparing and rehearsing the potential questions can end up being detrimental. This can lead to overthinking and coming off as disingenuous. This same concept can be applied to people who are given a script.

Because they have to think about what lines to say, the natural ebb and flow of their normal speaking behavior might be lost. Without a speaker’s natural tendencies, the audience may perceive them as robotic and untrustworthy.

This creates a disconnect between a business and its consumer. It is for this reason that Christina Skillman recommends having unscripted videos if a company wants to deliver a believable message. 

Use interviews to speak key messages

While conventional scripts aren’t helpful in trying to convey a sense of authenticity in a video, it is still important to “script a video.”

Skillman believes in shying away from paper scripts and in its place having a key message for the people in the video to keep in mind during the shoot.

This can be accomplished during on-camera interviews. Skillman recommends having the interviewer ask questions that will naturally reference the overall message of the video. This way, the company still has control over the message they want to convey while also preserving the authentic feel of an unscripted interview.

It is also important not to overwhelm the interview with too many messages. This might result in less time to flesh out the main key theme.

Skillman encourages the usage of only 3-4 key messages to “script” the footage. To best narrow down the message you may want to use, it is best to select ones that undoubtedly highlight and elevate the company’s brand.

Editing into existence

When production ends, the real work begins.

Editing is a way to piece together raw footage and assemble it into a cohesive video with a compelling message. It breathes life into the project and is so essential to creating the vision for the video.

Christina Skillman recommends not underestimating the importance of editing. In fact, it is crucial to set aside a good portion of time for just that. 

You can think about editing like a puzzle. When post-production comes around, the footage you’re working with is jumbled.

It is only when you begin to piece the frames together in intentional ways that the script begins to take shape and resemble a cohesive narrative.

It is here in the post-production phase that many of the hardest creative decisions must be made. 

Using editing to get the message right

As previously mentioned, editing is a crucial part of the post-production process. Filled with its own set of processes, it can be daunting to know where to start. 

Christina Skillman recommends starting with the message. It can be easy to get caught up in the more aesthetic choices that come with editing including audio and visual.

But before an editor can add these elements, they will first want to focus on piecing together the key message of the video.

In other words, all the style points that can be achieved through editing are pointless if the overall video doesn’t have a notable key message. In order to make these tough creative decisions with confidence, one must understand how to best work with an editor. 

Working with an editor

working with an editor

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

The very first thing to ask for from an editor is an assembly cut.

An assembly cut is essentially all the interview footage assembled without any of the unusable footage. This includes the interviewer’s questions, false starts, or other small mistakes that need to be redacted from the actual footage.

From here, Skillman recommends asking the editor to send the assembly cut to be transcribed.

Once you have a transcript of the interviews, there will be a time code that essentially records the times at which certain things are said. 

This time code will be how you communicate with the editor, picking out which parts of the interview you are choosing to implement. This is especially helpful when there are multiple interviews and you need to pick and choose how they fit together.

Working alongside the editor, you will be able to create a rough cut that is an assembly of all the individual parts of the interview that you selected. This rough cut should be roughly 4 or 5 minutes long.

Anything awkward or unnecessary will be more obvious to the creative team when the rough cut can be watched from start to finish. Revisions will then take the rough cut from 4 or 5 minutes to 2 or 3 minutes. 

Adding style

After the cut is whittled down to the final cut, it will be a somewhat plain canvas. The narrative, which was constructed at the beginning of the initial editing process, will be cohesive and compelling.

However, the overall image will be lacking in style. 

The style of a video consists of graphics, music, and shot selection. Harnessing these three editing tools will allow you to elevate the video and further explore the range of your narrative.

When adding style, a company must be cognizant of the tone their client wants to be set. This will be directly tethered to the company’s brand which includes its standards, values, and culture. 

It is therefore important to place this phase of the editing process at the end so as to already understand the company’s intended message and work alongside it. 

Video Brand Standards

In order to effectively use style, a video production company must have set video brand standards for the creative team to reference. This goes for big and small companies alike.

There must be a well-established standard as to how the video should look and the quality that will be assured to the client. This demonstrates both consistency as a professional video production company for their clients and for those working within the project. 

Some Elements to Consider

There are many elements to consider once you begin to add music, graphics and decide shot placement.

  • Does a faster-paced cadence work well with the message being communicated?
  • Is the tone serious or upbeat?
  • What music will work best with the tone being set?
  • How will B-roll work with interview footage to best elicit a certain tone in the style?

Answers to any of these questions are related to what the company wants to communicate about itself and to come full circle, how it wants to solidify its message. 

This phase of editing relies heavily on the pre-established vision by the company.

With each creative decision, the team must reflect the specific framework indicated by the client. If done correctly, the video will be exactly how the company wants to be represented as a brand to the world. 

Learn more from the Boston video production experts at Skillman Video Group

For more information, we encourage you to continue to explore our website and blogs. If you have questions or would like to get started on your own project, contact us at [email protected]!