Video editing is just as important as shooting a good film. Actually, with editing, you get the option to be more creative, and improve the footage by great extents. Now, video editing is not a simple task. It requires great skill and experience to be a good editor.
But beginners who want to get in the field can do with some assistance on the way. So this is our guide to the top 10 video editing tips and tricks, which will make you a much better and skilled editor, with some practice. Read on to find the detailed techniques you can follow to become a better video editor.
10 Powerful Video Editing Tips and Tricks For Beginners
 Understand Camera Angles
1.1 One angle does not fit every shot
You have to understand the story. What kind of shot it is, who the focus has to be on, and so on and so forth.
The best camera angle for a chase sequence will not be the same as that for a motivational speaker talking to an audience. Try to best capture the subject’s emotions and the reaction of the audience as well.
1.2 For the same subject, change angles by at least 45 degrees.
If you must cut between different shots of the same subject, try to ensure that you change the angle of the new shot by at least 45 degrees from the original shot.
This helps in avoiding the new shot look amateur or unprofessional. In some cases, the new shot might even look disturbing to the audience.
If the space doesn’t allow you to change angles by this degree, the second best option is to shift focus to a different subject for a while, before returning to the main one. Or you can use an insert shot.
 Know How To Use Time And Pace
2.1 Maintain an appropriate pace
This is a general rule and applies to all kinds of edits. The pace, or how fast or slow you cut a scene, can affect the quality of your video, and make you lose or retain the audience.
Making really fast cuts can appear jarring to your audience, and if they’re too slow, the viewers will get bored and leave.
If you must choose between a slow cut and a fast cut, prefer the fast cut, because, it is easier for people to get bored by slow cuts. But don’t make it too abrupt either, that doesn’t help.
2.2 Speed and FPS
The speed of your shots, and the FPS, or frames per second, can add a lot of production value to your edits. If you can learn how to master the art of slowing things down or speeding them up, you’ll be a pro editor in no time.
Use creative tools such as slow-motion and hyperlapse well. Don’t waste too much time on something mundane, and don’t rush through something impactful or impressive.
Coming to the speed or time in each shot, a person walking up large a flight of stairs regularly- the audience wouldn’t be interested in watching each step. So cut to different angles, or different subjects and perspectives here.
On the other hand, if the viewers have just been shown a grand location or a thundering waterfall, give them some time. Focus on the impact of that subject; play around with zoom, pan and such effects there.
A montage is a long sequence that shows a period of evolution for a person or character. It is usually comprised of cinematic shots and a continuous and central soundtrack that puts the focus on the character. For example, the training sequence in Rocky.
It can be a great addition to show the passage of time in a film, in a creative and interesting way.
 Types Of Cuts And When To Use Them
3.1 Rough cuts and fine cuts
During the first layout, you need not worry about every small detail. Get an outline, a structure first. It is just a rough structure so not everything will be perfect. Once this is done, you can start working on fine tuning the frames, the audio, filters and so on.
This way, your work won’t stagnate and you won’t feel exhausted. At the same time, you’ll have more flexibility to be creative and see things from a new perspective.
3.2 When to cut in a scene
This is an important technique, and something every good editor should work on improving.
Optimize the use of intensity and impact in good dialogue delivery, an action or romantic shot, during moments of thoughtfulness and realization and so on.
These are points where it feels natural to cut from one character to the other, and better convey the emotion of the scene while also making it feel natural.
3.3 Movement and motion cuts
This remains to be one of the most important and fundamental video editing tips. Look for opportunities to make your cuts look invisible. The best place for doing that is during scenes that involve movement of some kind.
When a character moves, turns; or during a fight sequence and so on, or even during the movement of the camera: these are all opportunities you can use to place cuts.
Practicing these techniques will help you create more seamless viewing experiences for your audience.
3.4 Purposeful cuts
You can also look for scenes in the film where a cut is welcome, or even necessary.
For example, you could be focussing on the face or expressions of a character, and as they look away or look towards something that is not in the frame, you can use a cut and show the audience what the character is looking at.
 Using Audio In The Scene
4.1 Use the audio at the correct moment
Don’t use your music or audio everywhere and bore your audience. The music will have a much more powerful impact if you time it well, in accordance with the scene. Stunning visuals and a strong theme together can mesmerise your viewers and have them coming back to watch it over and over again.
You can also use music and sounds to create an atmosphere or suspense, or create the sense that something is about to happen. You can also add some cues to confuse the audience and throw them off track, as done in Stanley Kubrick’s Shining.
Exceptions can be made to this rule, if you have a creative idea that you are confident enough to execute, go for it.
4.2 Music with dialogue
One thing you need to ensure is that the dialogue has precedence over the background music. Inaudible or distorted dialogues are a big deterrent for the audience. This will create undue confusion and a sense of frustration. You will not achieve anything as neither the soundtrack nor the dialogue will get attention.
4.3 Learn to mix audio
This is a fundamental tip for all movie makers and editors out there. And also one that is not paid enough attention. It is absolutely essential that you learn the basics of audio mixing.
You need not go to the extents of learning to master tracks and perform complex equalising functions, but the least you should know is basic mixing techniques such as: normalising audio levels, using fade-in and fade-out effects and so on.
Also, always make sure your audio levels are not peaking. This will create distorted sound and affect the interest of the viewers adversely.
4.4 Use audio to transition scenes
A great way to transition between scenes is by creating a sense of continuity using the audio. You can use elements from the conversation or the scene to cue in audio tracks.
For example, if two people are talking in a room, about visiting the beach, you can slowly fade-in the sound of waves before you actually cut the scene to a beach, which can be accompanied by making the sound louder.
This is similar to the point about using motivational or purposeful cuts, as it gives a good chance to sync audio and video without making the cut appear too abrupt.
There are multiple other ways to use audio transitions more creatively, and you can try them all, but the method mentioned here can be a good place for you to start.
 Using Keyboard Shortcuts
Using keyboard shortcuts is the standard method of getting your work done faster. This applies to every field of software application, and in general, to any computer related operations.
Some software will allow you to use custom hotkeys- keys that you can assign certain shortcuts to. You can make this process further efficient. You can set the shortcuts according to your preference, but one thing you can try is mapping all your shortcuts to one half of the keyboard. This will allow you to access them quickly and more intuitively and that too without occupying both hands.
Your right hand will mostly be on the mouse, and with your left hand, you will be able to access all the keyboard shortcuts easily.
Alternatively, if you are okay with spending a little extra, you can go for a dedicated editing keyboard. These are functional little devices with a range of editing keys that speeds up your work and makes it a lot easier as well.
 Getting The Right Computer Hardware
This is more of a budget constrained tip, actually. But it is still really important.
Investing in a good computer, on any platform of your choice, be it Windows or Mac OS, is a good idea. Video editing software programs are more often than not, high requirement programs. They need all the resources you can give to execute intensive tasks such as rendering, exporting and importing in high resolutions etc.
6.1 Consider investing in an SSD
A Solid State Drive, or an SSD, can boost your loading and processing speeds by anywhere from 40% to 70%. An SSD performs much faster compared to a traditional HDD, and hence, it also costs nearly twice that of a normal hard drive.
If you are considering video editing as a profession, then you can definitely think about getting an SSD.
6.2 Increasing the RAM
RAM or random access memory is also an important factor that affects the working speed of your projects. Most NLE platforms need a minimum of 2GB to 4GB RAM, although for serious editing, you might need more than that, somewhere between 8GB to 16GB.
You can also consider increasing the video memory and graphics to improve the performance. Processors are also a good option you can work on if you have issues with speeds during heavy tasks.
 Parallel Edits
Making a parallel edit is when you cut between shots and cut the audio from one track to another at the same time. This is something you should try and avoid at all costs. Viewers like films that are smooth and not abrupt or uninterrupted.
So you should always try and ensure that your edits do not create an unnecessary sense of discontinuity. Instead, what you can do is try using L-cuts and J-cuts, also known as pre-lapping and post-lapping.
These are techniques where the audio precedes the video or vice-versa. You can employ them to make a better and more continuous video.
 Ambience And Scene Reflection
8.1 Using ambient sound
In films, there are moments when there is no real driving sound. This could, for example, be in the moments just after a character has finished a line or a conversation has just ended between two people. In these moments, there is just silence, and that might feel unnatural to the audience.
To avoid this, what you can do is use ambient noise, or room-noise. If there was no ambient sound recorded while filming the scene, you can take the background sound from another scene, or use samples from libraries to add a continuous effect and make the scene feel natural and realistic.
8.2 Scene reflection
Some scenes require the audience to form a reaction or opinion and ponder over it. This could also be after a funny scene or a joke, for example. The audience will laugh and so, immediately afterward, it is not a good idea to continue with the dialogue as the audience might miss it.
So as an editor, you should allow the audience enough time, one or two moments to react to the scene and then move on to presenting the next set of dialogue or conversation.
 Picking Video Editing Software
This can be one of the most important factors in your video editing journey. All of these programs work on the same task, helping you edit videos. Still, there are differences between them that can affect a variety of parameters about your work.
To know which software you should pick, you should first know about what kind of work you require the software for. Is it day to day editing work, casual editing, professional editing, for studio level projects, or even for actual cinema and Hollywood films?
After this, you can take a look at the pricing, and your budget accordingly. Then, find out the system requirements and check if your current specifications match with that.
Also you can take a look at the difficulty level of using the software, and how comfortable you are with that. Another thing you should keep in mind is whether the program has scope to upgrade with your needs or if it would require you to switch to a completely different platform later.
Some software packages are free, some are really expensive. There’s Adobe Premiere Pro for Windows, Final Cut Pro X for Mac OS, and some work on all platforms.
To find out more about which video editing software is the best, and which one you should pick, you can refer to our guide here, and find out all about 18 of the best video editing software in detail.
 General Video Editing Tips And Tricks To Keep In Mind
Here are some general tricks you can keep in mind while working, as you can use them for most projects.
10.1 Audio Levelling Guidelines
Keep the overall mix level between -10db to -15db. This will give more freedom to the viewers to adjust the volume comfortably without worrying about the sound getting distorted.
Dialogues and conversations should be kept in the range of -12db to -14db. Music and soundtracks should be kept in the background with -18db to -21db, with occasional increases when required to -15db.
Sound effects have a wide range of where they are used, so depending on that, you can keep them between -10db to -20db, and turn it up or down as required.
10.2 Social Media Uploads
If the main audience of your films is social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo, it can be a good idea to know their format compatibility and other technical limits, so you can export in the best format, while maintaining a balance between quality and export time.
The parameters you can consider for this are: maximum supported resolution, compatible audio and video codec, bit rate and frame rate support.
10.3 Improving your color grading and color correction
Although most premium software offers automatic grading and correction options, it is always better to do it yourself according to your preferences.
Colour grading is the process of applying filters and editing the tones of a video clip to give it a certain look and feel, or to give it a “mood”. You can use standard pre-sets available or create your own tones using color curves and wheels.
10.4 Think like the audience
This is a very simple tip, and one that will always come in handy. Don’t edit the footage as just a bunch of video clips, edit it like it’s a story. Understand the actors, the scenes, the locations, and try to enhance and bring out the best in every scene.
Watch your film as if you are the audience, it will give you a better perspective on your editing. You can also ask a friend or someone else to view the film, as sometimes it can be helpful to get a new perspective.
The guidelines we have mentioned here have been selected carefully to give you the main and most important video editing tips and tricks. You can also read our detailed video editing software comparison here, to know which editing software is the best for you.
After reading our guide, you would’ve gathered a few video editing tips and tricks that will help you while editing. Of course, there are more techniques you can follow; but the main point is to know what your film needs and how best you can edit it to create the perfect movie.