Gain an understanding of edit pacing, matching action, and motion continuity.
Editing is a unique form of art. One that involves not only aesthetics, but organization, musical timing, communication, and storytelling. With a better understanding of these concepts and a knowledge of the tools needed to successfully perform them, just about anyone can produce a video that has a huge impact on their audience.
A big part of every editing process is to simply locate and eliminate errors in the footage that you will be editing. One of the most common errors in the footage that you will be using is either bad camera movement, or misread lines. One way to save time when combing through video files for the best takes, is to have the camera operator or director mark the best takes by waving an object in front of the camera or if you want to keep things really organized, by using a slate. This will allow you to quickly identify good takes, saving you memory and time in the editing process. On the other hand, you may have footage in which equipment or crew is visible in the shot. With editing, you can choose to either replace the shot with a cut-away, scale and crop the image, or by using compositing software, simply paint the objects out of the frame.
One of the most common functions in editing is to condense your footage into a time frame that makes sense and keeps your audience's interest. Let's say we're watching someone cooking dinner in a movie. Instead of watching every minute of the person waiting for their food to finish baking, it makes sense to move the edit forward in time in order to keep the audience engaged. The idea is to give the audience enough time to get the idea of what you're trying to show them; not making them sit through every second of it.
Sometimes in editing it can be difficult to know when to cut from one scene to another. Thankfully there are a few standards you can keep in mind that will help you know when to cut from a scene. If there is significant activity in your scene, cutting on the action may be your best option. Since our eyes are drawn to things that move, cutting when things are moving, like this pitcher's head, is an effective way to cover up edits. It's also good for making a scene feel like one continual shot even though the camera angles are changing. Another common way of editing is to edit on the dialog. When one person is talking in a scene, it is a good idea to have that person on screen. Then, when they are finished talking and the person they are talking to responds, you can naturally cut to this person without the audience even realizing a cut occurred. Lastly, if a person is talking on screen for a long time, or if you want to show more emotion in a scene, using a cutaway or reaction shot can be a great way to break up the monotony. The best place to place the edit on a reaction shot is just after the character on screen hits a pause in their dialog like in this example here.
The last purpose for editing is to develop an aesthetic or style to your overall piece. Besides framing and lighting, using color grading and video effects can give your video a more cohesive style. One of the easiest ways to stylize video is to color grade it. If you want your audience to feel as if they've entered a clinical environment, you can use filters to make the scene look green and washed out. If instead you want to give your footage a happier feel, you can use filters to raise the saturation of the image and add deeper blacks. Video effects can also give your edit a unique style. For instance, if you want to show that the audience is inside of a dream, you can use selective blurring, and areas of brightness to disorient the audience, allowing them to feel as if they've entered a surreal environment. If you want your footage to feel old and decayed, you can use fractal noise and key framing to mimic film dust and scratches. Giving your film an overarching style can help draw emotion from your audience and make your production stand out from the rest.
Editing is very powerful. If done well, it can move an audience to action, show skill and style, and give footage meaning and life. Fortunately, by using these simple techniques you can assure that your video has the impact that you want it to have.