Video Editing Techniques – 5 Things to Try in Your Editing App

Today’s video editing applications like Adobe Premiere, Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer and Sony Vegas are affordable, accessible and incredibly powerful tools for video postproduction. Video editing programs like these let you do way more than just edit video clips together. They allow you to turn ordinary edits into polished, professional video productions.  These 5 tips will help you UP your editing power.

1) Color Correction & Effects

There was a time not so long ago when video color correction was a luxury that was only accessible to top-of-the-totem pole television and video producers. Everyone else did their best to capture the best color they could in the camera. This meant setting the camera’s exposure properly for the scene, and occasionally shooting through physical lens filters to add color to a sunset or to simulate the darkness of night. These days, color correction is accessible to anyone who has a decent video editing software app like Adobe Premiere, Apple Final Cut Pro or Sony Vegas. As a result, video editors have discovered that almost every clip can benefit from at least a small amount of color correction. Whether you’re crushing the blacks, boosting the mids or honing the highlights, color correction is something that you should do, and something that is best done in your video editing software application.

Project window of a timeline

2) Speed Effects

Increasing or decreasing the speed of your video footage to create slow motion, fast motion, a quick combination of the two to make a speed ramp, even reversing footage as a comedic device or to simulate turning back time, can all be very cool elements in your videos. Effects like these were very difficult to create a few years ago. Smooth slow motion, for instance, required a special and expensive VTR. Today, the best way to pull them off is on your video editing timeline. Speed tools allow you to simply keystroke in a percentage to increase or decrease the speed of a video clip, select a constant or variable speed setting and render out your speed enhanced footage in a few seconds. If you feel the need for speed, try it out. With your video editing software application, speed effects are faster and easier than you might think.

3) Audio Sweetening

Another huge improvement to the video editing postproduction process that has been enabled by modern video editing software applications is in the area of audio post. Even the simple audio editing controls and filters that are included in your video editor allow you to mix and sweeten your soundtrack with a great deal of control. You can normalize, equalize, compress or expand your levels to make everything sound rich and consistent, reduce hum or add reverb, even de-ess or de-pop your vocals by applying a few basic filters. Learning to use these controls effectively may take some practice and a tutorial or two, but you likely have all the audio processing tools a video producer will ever need, right in your editing app. 

4) Pushes and Pulls

Performing slow, smooth, subtle zooms in the video camera as you shoot can be a tough task. Getting a zoom just right requires a super steady hand, and a feather-light finger on the zoom toggle. Of course, once you shoot a shot as a zoom, you are stuck with it. It cannot be undone. Fortunately, your editing software offers you another option. The motion controls in your video editing application allow you to push in past 100% and to set keyframes to create picture perfect zooms in post. You can add them wherever you like, and alter the speed until you achieve exactly the look you like. The amount of push you can get away with before the quality of the image breaks down will depend on the resolution at which you shot your footage, and on your project settings. You can zoom in on an image further without noticeable loss if you shoot at 1080 and edit in a 720 timeline, for instance, but even when working with project settings that match your acquisition resolution, you can likely still push in to 110% or 120% without seeing your image quality fail. Try it. You’ll like it.

5) Stabilization 

Another awesome feature of today’s video editing software applications is the ability of the program to analyse and stabilize shaky shots. The process is not a fast one, but a stabilization filter, or SmoothCam filter in Final Cut Pro language, will digitally analyse your video footage, then use the magic of artificial intelligence and complicated algorithms to smooth out your floating footage to make your shots as smooth as silk. Because it is processor intensive and takes a long time (as in, apply the filter, go to bed and hope that Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro has the work done by morning), this is an enhancement that is best used only on the occasional clip that really needs it. It won’t fix every bump in the road, however I have found it to be a great tool for smoothing out steadicam footage and well-shot handheld clips.

So, don’t just use your video editing application for stringing together a series of clips. Take full advantage of all that your editing application can do for you. These five functions are just the beginning. By digging deeper into your video editing software application you will discover that the software you already own has all kinds of untapped features just waiting to help you make more professional productions. 

Chuck Peters is a 3-time Emmy Award winning producer, writer and host. He is an independent producer and media consultant in Nashville, TN.

Jennifer O'Rourke
Jennifer O'Rourke
Jennifer O’Rourke is an Emmy award-winning videographer & editor.

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