What makes your video professional? Shooting or Editing?

Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews Forums General Video and Film Discussion What makes your video professional? Shooting or Editing?

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    • #90015

      I’m a non-professional video maker and I often shoot and edit video for a sailing community. As I made more and more video, I realized the huge gap between me and professions.

      Now I’m practicing my shooting techniques but still I can’t make quick improvement. In order to shoot pro footage, I upgraded my equipment from iPhone to a DC. But it didn’t help a lot.

      A friend from studio suggest me to spend more time on practicing editing skills. In his opinion, editing is much much more important than shooting. I’m not so sure that he is right. After all it is the footage itself shows the content and deliver the idea. If editing is the key to a fancy video, than how can an amateur producing professional videos? Most editing tools are not very user-friendly.

      I want to quickly improve my production, at least narrow the gap between me and pros. Please help me with some suggestions or comments. Many thanks.

    • #213944

      You become a professional when you start getting paid for the work you do. You can be a rubbish untalented professional or a fully competent one. Some are creative and artistic professionals. Editing is simply assembling the excellent images into a coherent narrative. Fancy videos are not a sign of professionalism. Sloppy editing looks awful. Decent editing nobody notices. Camerawork is also down to skill and artistry. I presume ‘DC’ is a digital camera. Learning to compose and frame properly takes time and effort. An iPhone can produce better images than an expensive camera used poorly. Equipment does not make one professional. If I were you, I’d dream up some typical projects, go out and shoot them, then edit them. Editing is equally important as shooting, but either can wreck a project if done poorly. Neither is more important. Good editors can not produce good work with rubbish clips, and excellent clips can be crash edited together.

      Your friend from the studio who thinks editing is more important is simply biased. Editors always believe they are the key feature. A group of cameramen will complain about what the editors did with their work. Both will complain about the sound department. This is perfectly normal. Ask a TV director or producer which is most important and they’ll say the entire process!

    • #213948

      paulears is correct with every single one of his comments, especially practice, practice and more practice. No one is able to pick up a camera and start turning out professional work right away so grab one, start shooting and start editing. Learn from your mistakes and do another one. Watch movies or tv shows that you like and start analyzing them in every aspect. Good picture and good sound go hand in hand so learn to be able to do both to the best of your abilities. I’ve been doing videos for over 40 years and learn new things almost daily. The day I stop learning is the say that it’s time for me to retire πŸ™‚
      I find Sony Vegas, either Movie Studio or Pro, to be very user friendly editing tools so download a trial version of either one (Movie Studio is considerably cheaper and will probably fit your needs very well).
      Finally, here’s a video that was produced locally. Watch it and be as surprised as I was when I found out that it was shot on a Samsung Galaxy S3 or S4 smartphone. Proof that you don’t need expensive tools to do good video, just a really good eye!


    • #213949

      As part of what I do, I take thousands of theatrical photos – a friend of mine takes better pictures with his iPhone – he really has an eye for composition. I wish I had a tenth of his talent. Mine are functional, they do the job, but very, very few are truly wonderful pictures.

    • #213953

      Coolvictor, Paulears and rs170a offer some good advice. Good video is a combination of many elements, not just shooting or editing. Lighting, sound, story and audience expectation also contribute to good video. Building good video production skills is challenging when you are working alone, however, Videomaker has a tremendous library of reference articles and videos on how to develop your technique. The video that rs170a provided shows how well a video story can be made with basic equipment. I also have a reference video showing a beautiful video made on an iphone 4. There are also behind the scenes footage showing that it takes a great amount of effort to produce high quality video. Check it out here:

      Without seeing your specific issues its hard to offer advice. You mention you are shooting for a sailing community. That could present many challenges if you are trying to shoot on the water. Can you provide some clips and your comments on where you are having problems. Perhaps we can help you out in that way.

    • #213991

      After Effects is a tool I haven’t dived into yet, mostly because visual effects seem like they’d have a steep learning curve. Glad you’ve written up this guide to make it a bit less daunting.

    • #214697

      I agree to paulears, it is called professional because you are getting paid for what you do. Not all video professional are good but you see they are getting paid for their work. Maybe you are asking what makes you a video expert am i right?

      Maryann Farrugia CEO, Sales & Managing Director of OBP

    • #214700

      I agree with a lot that was said. (Not so much that editing is more important that shooting. It’s all important.) Yes. Practice is important, but look to others for something to strive for. Look around for those who do great work and learn from their examples. Without that, you have no reference. You may be practicing bad techniques.

      And I know many people who are “paid professionals” but do mediocre work that looks like a middle schooler put it together. So just because someone is getting paid for their work, it does not make them good at it. Calling them a professional is… well… it just doesn’t seem right. Things like not using the on-board mic, but rather a lav or shotgun. Use a tripod or some way of steadying the shot rather than continually shaky, hand-held visuals that nauseate the viewer. Don’t have background music too loud. I could go on.

      My bottom line is to always keep looking to better yourself. There’s inspiration everywhere. Look to the greats for benchmarks. Put your work out there for critique. You’ll get there. But you need to work on all points of your work. Not just editing. Of course, unless, you’re incredible at everything else.

      Chris Sebes
      Senior Video Editor

    • #214701

      Hello coolvictor,

      Everybody here has given excellent advice and comments.

      All I can do is to comment from my own experiences as follows:
      1. Editing can’t fix everything;
      2. Good camera work and cinematography can’t fix everything;
      3. A balance needs to be struck: the more effort spent on good camera work and cinematography, less work will be needed during editing to try to correct mistakes or to spruce up the footage, and the time is more effectively spent in using editing to best tell the story from the visual perspective.

      To begin developing good camera working skills, experience is an excellent teacher, and a good way to start learning is with still photography. Using your phone’s camera,take as many still pictures as you can, trying to keep in mind the camera angle, composition, framing, lighting, use of perspective, considering lens distortion and the ‘rule of threes’. After downloading the images, classify them into, say three categories bad, mediocre and good. Take a break to clear your mind, then come back to each category and ask yourself questions such as ‘Why does this shot look bad or mediocre?’, ‘In which area(s) (camera angle, composition, framing, lighting, use of perspective, considering lens distortion and the ‘rule of threes’) did the shot fail to achieve the goal of looking good?’, ‘How can I improve the area(s) for next time?’

      With the good shots, experiment with the exposure, contrast and brightness settings, and color grading to see how this changes the artistic atmosphere or the mood and feel of the image.

      From a Photographic and Cinematographic perspective, the best natural light to bring out ‘warm’ (reds, oranges and yellows) colors is during the afternoons on a clear or partially clear day.

      Once you feel you’ve learned all you can from still photography, the next step may be to adapt these methods to shooting video, remembering that with still photography you look for the best possible picture, and with video/film you also look for motion.

      The next phase of learning involves using zoom for establishment shots, close-ups to assist the audience in concentrating on a particular subject, working with a tripod, tracking a moving subject, and with a large image sensor format camera using bokeh.

      Further learning in Cinematography involves learning the proper use of neutral density and color filters, to help bring out the ‘warm’ colors and as much detail such as textures as possible, or to give a certain artistic atmosphere to your footage.

      Remember that whilst learning, it’s Ok to follow the rules as kind of ‘training wheels’, once your experience grows it’s fine to bend or break the rules to achieve the look you want on your footage.

      The selection of the video editing tool is dependent on your personal work flow preference, choice of platform/work station (smart ‘phone, tablet, laptop, desktop) and the advise different people give you. Some video editors include color grading, audio editing and mixing tools.

      Personally I use Cyberlink PowerDirector 14, and here is a Video I edited on an Australian Black Swan:

      I shot the footage on an overcast day and the original video looked kind of foggy with washed out colors even though I used a Tiffen Sky 1A filter to bring out the ‘warm’ colors and a circular polarizing filter to reduce glare from the lake’s water surface, and due to my primary or ‘A’ camera being a fixed lens consumer grade JVC full HD camcorder, there was little head room because camcorder AVCHD codecs use 8 bit color; good professional grade camcorders use 10 bit color. This is why there are blue and magenta hues in some of the scenes.

      The next phase of learning is how to obtain good audio or sound. Whilst an audience is willing to put up with mediocre video, they won’t tolerate poor sound quality.

      The Videomaker web site has excellent articles to read on all the topics covered by everybody in response to the question. Videomaker also has a good forum where people ask questions and in reading the answers other folks have kindly provided I expand my own knowledge, to help make my videos look their best.

      YouTube also has a library of ‘How To’ videos covering different areas of film making, from which I have learned from carefully selected examples.

      Different people learn differently, some can read a Videomaker article and can do the hands on work straight away. Other people need to read the articles to provide a solid grounding on the techniques, then watch ‘How To’ videos to reinforce their learning.

      Whichever learning approach works best for you, and regardless if you choose to remain an amateur or decide to become a professional, remember to have fun, and as your experience grows, allow your creativity loose by experimenting with the craft. Film making is one field where art and science freely mix to obtain new and interesting ways of visually telling stories.

      I would also encourage folks to study the way other film makers filmed certain shots; one example of a study in motion and excellent camera work, is the scene in the original Magnificent Seven movie in which the character Calvera (played by Eli Wallach) rides and jumps over walls, and the camera crew does a top notch job in tracking the motion. The sequence starts from 1:21 to 1:27 in this clip:

      Other aspects of the clip to learn from, is how the Cinematography and scene lighting were done to bring out the ‘warm’ colors and the texture details of the walls.

    • #214710

      There are some tips for shooting pro videos:-
      1. Shoot Steady Video
      2. Produce Creative Shots
      3. Practice Widescreen Videos
      4. Avoid Unnecessary Zooms and Pans
      5. Get Good Results When Shooting Outdoors
      6. Prepare for Indoor Video Shooting
      7. Position Lights for the Look You Want
      8. Compose Creative Interviews
      9. Remember to Capture Good Sound
      10. Add a Green Screen to Produce Special Effects

    • #214720

      Daniel’s point number 10, on using a Green Screen may include using a Blue Screen as well.

      The type of Chroma Key effect you use, depends on the color of the shirt or pants the people appearing on camera are wearing and the color of any props. If there are blue props and/or somebody’s wearing a blue shirt and/or jeans, use a Green Screen. If there are green props and/or somebody’s wearing a green shirt and/or jeans, use a Blue Screen.


      If you can’t get painted blue and green backgrounds, the next best option may be to get blue and green curtains. The hue and shade of blue or green required for best results are in this web site:

      Blue vs Green Screen


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