EDITING VIDEOS - SOME QUICK TIPS
Firstly, look at the VFX/3d section if you haven't already - particularly the software section. It contains a list of video tools and resources you may want to consider. Second, remember that audio is half of an edit. Video's the other half. Good music and sound effects can make a world of difference in the impact and mood of a video, but with both video and audio elements, make sure you have the legal right to use them if you're posting them online, which means signed and dated permission from the actors, using some sort of talent release form, permission from the location providers... all elements licensed or made on your own, etc. Otherwise you're in potential trouble. You can find audio to license from many places, as well as a lot of free stuff, but keep in mind that many free elements require attribution in the credits.
As far as the creative side of editing: I like to take editing into account while still in production. I have a list of scenes, and shots within each scene, in my mind and on paper during a shoot. In lengthy dialogue scenes, whether in the script or not, I grab some quick cutaways - reaction shots and such that are sort of generic. This allows me to have something to quickly cut away to when, for example, an actor cannot get a lengthy section of acting done in one single take. I just plan to cut away, so I can split that into two takes. It helps. Also I've done scenes where there's a conversation between a pair of people who - in terms of scheduling - barely overlap. I get one or two shots of both of them, one of them shot against greenscreen and comped in, if I can't get the two cast members together at all - and otherwise just cut back and forth, allowing the impression in the edit that they're both there talking to each other. Sometimes tricks like this are the only way to get your video made on a low budget and on the rapid fire schedules I'm used to being forced into. I do not do a lot of takes. It is boring to the actors and it runs the risk of everyone running out of time later on and failing to get some of the essential shots. Also advised: A digital camera, in HD. I shot a lot of stuff in SD, true, but that was before digital HD was viable on a small budget. Nowadays the cameras available are amazing! Use them! All the methods used in planning, recording, and editing are interconnected. I hate to be the 'fix in in post' guy because I'd prefer to get things right during production, but it's helpful to know that I'm good with post work and that some types of things I can fix well in post. Definitely learn where your strengths lie and what you can do well, and plan around that.
I do not advise any goofball transitions as an editor, just simple cuts, crossfades, and sometimes a fade to black or a quick flash of light where it makes sense in your story. Your story is essential. You don't need to draw attention to your edits; they should seamlessly support the narrative and not distract from it. That's not saying don't be showy, as a lot of the fun of video is in the spectacle - but when you do have a big action scene, the focus must remain on telling the story and focusing the camera on the key events of that scene. Also, do note that edits are faster now than they once were. In action sequences, often cuts are paced at 1.5 seconds apart, but in other scenes, the cuts are less frequent, averaging 4 or 5 seconds overall over the course of most videos. Be ready to trim out any excess footage that slows the story to a crawl - people nowadays sadly are not as patient as they once were. I like breaking videos into 2 or 3-minute chunks for the web; this is how long a video should be on YouTube and if you make episodes for the web, that's the ideal length for viral spread. That's not to say you can't make the video content longer, but try to break it up into chunks and grab people's attention with a good hook in the first few seconds, if you want it to go viral online.
Also a note: I despise templates. Templates are for people who can't create motion graphics themselves fine-tuned to each specific project, people who aren't good with VFX work. Use text for titles/subtitles, also, that's clear - like Helvetica, Lucida Grande, Impact, Arial Bold, Times New Roman or something else easily readable - not something that people will have difficulty reading as a title. In fact, titles should be minimized; better to show a thing where possible in an establishing wide shot than use text in a video. It's video, an audio visual medium - it is not a book!
I'll also advise you to name and sort the clips into folders as you import them for editing - especially vital on sprawlingly complicated projects. If you name them and sort them into bins you won't waste time looking for things over and over during an edit. Also a no-brainer nowadays is online cloud backup. I recommend BackBlaze, which is $6/month per computer, to back up that computer's contents, including external drives, to the cloud so you have that offsite backup of your files in the event of a failure. I unfortunately, learned to do this the hard way. I lost a bunch of footage from 'Troop 4 TV Season One' among other bits of stuff which are gone forever because I did not back all my project data up in an offsite location. Don't make the same mistake I did back in 2006-2007.
Be careful with cutting clips apart, and make sure there aren't isolated frames of black or irrelevant video content left over as the result of a sloppy un-snapped edit. And when modifying (filtering) video, for crying out loud, hold on to the original version of the audio or video file, that is unfiltered, in case you need to adjust the modifications later. I like holding on to raw files, and yes, I am a bit of a pack rat in that sense, but it has saved me a ton of work on numerous occasions when I realized a mistake had been made in some way, and I changed my mind about how strong a change should be - well, I didn't have to worry. I could just pull up the raw original content again and export it differently. The worst case, of course, is when the raw video is screwed up from the get go and you can't re record it. That's why I strongly insist you not try to use filters of any kind while recording. Those effects can be added later, and should not be committed to in the original recording. I don't care that you have some weird goofy filter feature on your video camera. Do not use it. Just get clean, basic video so you'll have choices available later on when editing! Finally, have fun and keep learning. Video is awesome to work with and I hope you enjoy working with it as much as I do.
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