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One of the most creative and exciting parts of making a music video is editing. It's where you get to take all of the pieces you've worked so hard to create and put it into one inspired and cohesive piece.
Putting together the edit for your music video may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. If you just follow a few steps for organizing your edit, building your rough cut, and adding effects to your project, you can make sure that your video not only impresses critics but captures the essence of your artist perfectly as well.
The key to most tasks in life is organization; and editing music videos is no exception. That's why creating things like shot logs, logical folder structures, and good file names can go a long way in making your edit session smoother. The first thing you might do to organize your edit is to have the producer or director create a shot log. A shot log is a sheet of paper that shows what the beginning and ending time codes are for each shot, some notes about which ones were best, and a scene or take number for organizational purposes. These logs can save you from having to spend countless hours scanning through footage for the right take since the shot log typically lists the best ones for you. If you'd rather save the pen and paper, you can put shot log information on each clip as metadata. Metadata is descriptive information about a clip that is attached to its properties. You can use programs like Adobe Bridge or AvidMetaSync to put metadata tags on your clips. When this data is applied, it's possible to find clips quickly based off of the keywords attached to it. For instance, if you labeled a series of clips with the keyword B-roll, you would be able to quickly find all of those clips by searching for the word B-roll in a metadata program even if they were scattered over multiple folders on your hard drive. (DR) Besides metadata, you may also want to consider giving each clip a very descriptive name. Doing so can help you know which clip your working with at a glance. An example of a descriptive file name might include the name of the shot, a scene number, a take number, and the date it was shot. This may take some time but will definitely be worth it in the end. Once you've named your clips, you'll want to think about how you'll separate your data into folders. Most editors will include a folder for their project files, another for their audio (which may include a few sub-folders for music, sound effects, and voice overs), another for any captured video files, another for graphics, a folder for the final mastered video file, and lastly a folder for other deliverables such as videos encoded for the web or TV. (DR) Separating your files in this manner will not only help you find your assets quickly, but can help any other editors working on the project to quickly step into your project without any delay.
After you've gotten your project set up and organized, it's time to make the rough cut. The rough cut is the first edit you'll make to the footage you've been given. At this stage, no color correction or effects are applied to the footage. It's merely a way to test the timing and appropriateness of shots in your sequence. This is the best place for an editor to get creative before the director or producer sees the cut. To start off, it's always best to start laying down the music track on the 2nd layer of audio, then to put your clips of the artist on video track 1 and audio track 1. From here, you can sync up your music and your footage by looking for the audio waveform of the clapboard (if you used one) and the visual point when the clapper hit the slate, then matching the two together - or by matching the waveforms of the two audio clips by sight. (DR) By doing this with all of your clips, you'll have a base layer which you can go back to if another shot in your video didn't turn out or doesn't fit due to timing. From here, the process will differ depending on the genre you've chosen. For narratives, your next step will be to lay down the shots in the order they appear on the storyboard. For dance videos, you'll want to place the various shots of your dancers, and for special effect videos, you'll want to add placeholders to your timeline where the special effect shots will appear, then go into your compositing program, create your effects, render the video, and replace the placeholder with the render you just made. One of the nice things about music videos is the fact that the music can drive the speed and timing of your edits. You can use the audio waveforms of the music to find the point where the snare or bass drum beat is (which will be indicated by a spike in the audio), and make your cut right on it. You can also use the frequency of the beats in your video to influence your pacing. If the music is fast, you can cut to each new shot quickly. If it's slow, it would be best to cut to each new shot slowly instead. Once you've gotten your timing down, you'll be ready for the next step: adding transitions and effects.
One of the best parts about making a music video is the ability to experiment with your edit. There is no better way to do this than with effects. Adding effects to videos can give the artist a unique style, reputation, and even a level of professionalism. For instance, many of Lincoln Park's videos include light streaks and flares, giving the footage a flashy appearance. In order to add these same flares to your video, you can purchase some professional flare packages from companies like Video Copilot or Red Giant. From here, you can use a program like Adobe After Effects to animate your flares across the screen. If you'd like a more subtle effect, some music videos use the glow of the flares to wash out certain areas of the image, giving the video additional realism. This can be accomplished by turning off the center of the flare and keeping the glow only. Here's what ours looked like. Other music videos like Pulp's This is Hardcore use dust and scratches in their video to make it look like old film. You can easily make this effect by simply placing footage of white film with scratches above your edited video and choosing a “screen” composite mode in order to get rid of the white in the footage. This way, you're left with just the scratches which can make your footage look like vintage film. (DR) Lastly, color grading your footage can lead to a more cohesive edit and can elicit a more powerful emotional response from your viewers. By using a red color cast, you can make a video seem energetic. Or you can choose a blue color cast to make it seem cold and uninviting. Either way, using colors is an easy way to add significantly to the emotion of any video.
Editing is where your project finally gets to take shape. That's why it's important to understand and follow the steps we've shown you so that you can shape yours into an entertaining masterpiece.