Computer Editing: Common Editing Problems

Computer editing has become extremely popular. It provides flexible and powerful editing that lets anyone with an artistic eye create professional-quality video. You can undo, redo, add scenes, delete transitions, change titles and create nearly anything you can imagine, almost instantaneously. And it just keeps getting better as computer editing equipment becomes faster, more robust and easier to use.

However, there are still some pitfalls and hazards that every video editor will encounter that can make editing frustrating at best and a nightmare at worst. Luckily, for most of the irritating nuisances that crop up, there are solutions. Here are a few common problems that computer editors experience, and some suggestions for troubleshooting them. Although we use Adobe Premiere to illustrate the examples in this article, the principles taught here apply to most editing programs. If you’re having trouble performing certain tasks in your editor, keep reading, this article just might have the answer you’re looking for.

Reversed Transitions

You just placed a cool crossfade between a shot of the sunrise and a closeup of a frying egg, sunny-side up. You render the clip and when you preview it something weird happens: it shows a brief glimpse of the egg then it fades to an even briefer shot of the sun; then it cuts back to the rest of the egg clip. What happened?

You have inadvertently reversed the transition. In Adobe Premiere, and other timeline-based editing programs, you need to set the direction of each transition effect. For instance, if clip A precedes clip B, your transition effect must be set to start with clip A and end with clip B. If the effect is reversed, from B to A, the software will cut from clip A to clip B at the start of the effect, perform the fade from B to A, then cut back to clip B. It’s a common error and one that is easily remedied.

To fix the problem, double click the transition on the timeline to open an options window. Once opened, you can click on the arrow that reverses the order of the fade . Clip A should be on the left hand side and clip B on the right. You can also check the Show Actual Source box, which shows an icon of the actual clips to help you visualize the sequence.

Black Frames and Razor Remnants

A random black frame or single frame of video created by a razor tool can mar an otherwise perfect video. Black frames occur when two clips placed next to one another on the timeline are not pushed together all the way . The result is a flash frame of black between the two clips.

Razor remnants are single frames of video inadvertently created when using a razor tool . When using the razor tool to trim a clip, you may inadvertently leave a single frame of video on the timeline that cannot be seen. It is easy to unknowingly slice a single frame off the head or tail of a clip when using the razor. The single frame that is left can cause a few problems. It can create a flash frame that plays as a glitch, or, if you remove the larger portion of the clip without deleting the loose frame, it can prevent you from placing a clip on the timeline.

If there are only one or two frames of black or stray video, you may not detect them when you preview your project. One way to scan for random frames is to use the Zoom tool to change the time units on the Construction window to view single frame increments on the timeline. Then you can quickly scroll across your project to check for stray frames. Be careful though, if you view your project in increments as great as one second, extraneous black frames and razor remnants can go undetected.

If you do find any, zoom in to the 1-frame mode so you can delete the extraneous frame or extend a clip to bridge the black gap. You can also use the multitrack selection tool to move all of the subsequent clips to shore up a gap caused by a black frame.

Loss Due to Computer Crash

Without a doubt, frequent crashes are one of the most frustrating aspects of computer editing. Although they are becoming less frequent as both hardware and software improve, they still happen and they happen at the worst times. Our advice: save often. Preferably after each solidified edit or group of moves you make. That way, if (when) your program freezes, you’ll be covered.

Some software have automatic save functions built in. If you choose to use the auto save, use it wisely, because with each save you forfeit all those handy levels of undo (32 max in Premiere). Many times retracing your editing steps with undos can unsnarl your production and help you learn from your mistakes. So in some situations you may want to hold off on saving until you have completed a task successfully. But once you have done that, save, save, save!

Mismatched Audio Levels

One of the most common causes for audio problems is assembling clips with different audio levels. This usually happens when you’ve shot in different locations. If you need to edit two people conversing in an airplane hangar, with footage shot outdoors on a mountaintop and an interview taped in a living room, you’re going to have three different sound qualities and levels. It can also occur if you are editing footage shot in the same location on different camcorders using different microphones.

Editing software gives you control over audio as well as video. You can adjust the levels of an entire clip or segments within it. You can even add EQ and effects to your audio tracks. When you place the mountain top clip next to the living room clip, you may need to adjust EQ and/or cross fade audio from the two scenes to make the change in the audio tone smoother for the viewer.

By clicking on the bottom of the audio track, you place handles that you can then raise or lower. To adjust the level of an entire clip, select the sound clip, go to the Clip menu, then select Gain and enter a value from 0 to 200%. Simply matching the lines that represent the audio levels of your clips is not enough. Because clip levels in your software are relative to the level at which each clip was captured, they are not reliable for balancing one clip with another.

If all Else Fails. . .

Creating professional-quality video with a computer is becoming easier and more affordable than ever. Still, solving the problems that may arise is not automatic. We’ve covered just a few of the common errors inherent to computer video. Luckily, most of them are quickly overcome. For answers to more specific problems, the best thing to do is consult your manual or, if it’s available contact tech support.

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

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