5 tips that will save you time in the edit suite

There are multiple routes you can take to get to the final destination of a finished video, but you must decide how you’re going to get there, and you’ll need to get there fast. Here are five ways to rev up the bay and make for a quick edit.

Use a shortcut

Keyboard shortcuts are an editor’s best friend. Video editing programs have keyboard shortcuts that allow you to work through your tools with great efficiency. A lot of time is wasted by moving the mouse and dragging through pulldown menus. A keyboard shortcut will instantly get you to what you need. Many professional video editing applications allow the user to adjust and modify their keyboard shortcuts, so if you use more than one platform, you can adjust your shortcuts to be consistent across the board.

An editor who has a level of mastery over their software, not just an understanding of it, is at a great advantage. They know what their software is capable of, what they can accomplish with it, and how to get it done efficiently. It pays off, in the long run, to go beyond the basics of your normal routine and learn the intricate techniques of your software tools.

Know the route and stick to the map

By the time you sit down to work on an edit, you should have a solid plan in place for what the final video will be. This includes creative briefs, scripts, shot logs, storyboards, and production notes. These “paper” tools are something that should be a part of every production and help to keep the direction of the production organized. You can set yourself up for success by familiarizing yourself with any of these artifacts that exist from production and by creating them if they don’t exist.

Follow the signs

Road signs have universal meanings that translate across highways and byways. Interstates and state highways that end in even numerals are oriented to the east and west, while routes ending with odd numerals go north and south. It’s a simple and disciplined standard that makes it easy for road warriors to find their way.

A standard naming convention that takes account of key features of the assets and the production can help you to easily assess your content without opening it up.

In the edit bay, you can do the same thing with the multitude of assets you must navigate to create a finished product. A standard naming convention that takes account of key features of the assets and the production can help you to easily assess your content without opening it up. For instance, a naming convention can include information about the type, location, date and quality of each asset. With that information truncated into a name, you only need to look at the name of a clip to determine if it’s needed in a particular sequence or not.

It’s what You drive

No matter how souped-up or nice a sub-compact is, it’s not going to travel faster than an Italian sports car. The same is true with the tools an editor uses; hardware matters. If you want to make quick work of their edits, having a souped-up system will make a difference. There isn’t a single solution that stands above all others, but there are some general considerations that will help. First, look at what software you’re using and make your considerations based on your primary software tools. It’s also important to consider the type of project. An editor who works on graphics-intensive projects will have different needs than an editor who specializes in audio-driven documentaries. The biggest factors to consider with any system are the CPU, the GPU(s), RAM and storage space. Each of these can speed up or slow down a video editing system.

Stock up on parts

There’s a thriving industry of aftermarket automotive parts for the sole purpose of making a stronger and faster car. In the edit bay, those aftermarket parts come in the form of stock content. Stock has come a long way in recent years and the heavy competition in the stock market has resulted in higher quality and more versatile stock content.

Music and sound effects are something that you should always have on hand and be familiar with, as music research can be a time-consuming chore. A diverse library of stock video clips and photos can make for the quick triage of an edit with missing footage. Stock graphics and graphic packages can save hours, if not days, of development time. Today’s stock graphics are editable to the point that you can repeatedly use the same package and adjust it to give a unique and custom look for each production. One thing to note is that stock content is often perceived with stylistic relevance, so pay attention to visual trends and keep your library updated on a regular basis.

The journey is long but that doesn’t mean it’s not a quick trip. Having a well-laid-out plan along with the right tools at hand will allow any editor to put the pedal to the floor and deliver excellent video in a timely fashion.

Chris “Ace” Gates is a four-time Emmy award-winning writer and producer.

Chris Ace Gates
Chris Ace Gates
Chris "Ace" Gates is a four time Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. He is a big fan of animation and transmedia storytelling.

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