Editing Tidbits

General tips

  • Plan your editing before you shoot.

  • Keep shot logs while shooting.


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  • Shoot to edit: leave extra room at beginning and end of each shot to trim later.

  • Be brave: cut with abandon. Don’t get attached to clips that don’t further the specific project.

  • To avoid jump cuts, vary shot angles and lengths as you are shooting.

  • Use the best available tape formats when you are shooting and editing.

  • Keep clips short whenever possible (6-10 seconds).

  • Cut on the action.

  • Avoid making edits in the middle of a sentence.

  • Don’t cut a scene too early; record past the end of a selected clip and then rewind to the new edit point.

  • Split long videos into shorter segments.

  • Keep your entire project short: It’s kinder to the audience and easier to finish.

  • Sequence shots to establish location: for example, establishing shot, medium, closeup.

  • Never make more than three edits without reviewing them in context.

Tips on setting up gear

  • Pack all new tapes (fast forward to the end, then rewind to the beginning).

  • Use S-video cables whenever possible.

  • Wrap cables with twist-ties to avoid workspace clutter.

Tips on transitions

  • Use the basic cut in at least 90% of all edits.

  • Use fancy transitions and effects sparingly.

  • Fades or dissolves are useful for indicating elapsed time.

Tips on graphics

  • Leave titles on screen long enough to read twice.

  • Use graphics to underscore important points.

  • Use large, thick letters.

  • Choose titling fonts for readability.

  • Don’t use heavily saturated colors for titles or graphics.

Tips on audio

  • If you have audio gain control on your record deck, set and check your audio levels on the record deck, not on the speakers or TV monitor.

  • Use headphones or speakers to monitor audio.

  • Use your computer’s CD-ROM or a separate CD player to add music.

  • Background music is a good way to spice up an otherwise dry video presentation.

  • Use multiple audio tracks to add multiple sound layers to your video.

  • Mix background audio (music, sound effects, etc.) slightly lower than you think you should.

Which shots to eliminate

  • Shaky

  • Poorly lit

  • Badly framed

  • Shot of your feet

  • Wind noise

  • Too many zooms, pans, tilts, etc.

  • Extremely long camera moves

  • Indecisive camera movements

Which shots to use

  • Steady

  • Good, clear audio

  • Well composed

  • Smooth

  • Well lit

  • Action

  • Movement within the frame

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.