How to Edit Videos: 13 Video Editing Tips for Beginners - 42West (2022)

You’ve filmed a YouTube video, movie, or shot a music video, and now it’s time for the other half of the battle: the post-processing stage. As with filming, this step requires a good mix of both creativity and technical knowledge. And in this article, we aim to help make the video editing process much easier and more productive by providing a few helpful tips, techniques, and “life hacks” for you below.

How to Edit Videos: 13 Video Editing Tips for Beginners - 42West (1)

While these tips don’t exactly teach you how to make edits to your video clips, they can help cut your editing time in half and help you produce better results in the end.

How to Edit Videos

  1. Choose the Right Software
  2. Use a Fast Computer
  3. Watch Video Editing Tutorials
  4. Get the Project Files
  5. Obey the 321 Rule
  6. Edit for a Story
  7. Maintain an Efficient Workflow
  8. Utilize Keyboard Shortcuts
  9. Learn Important Terms
  10. Color Correct Your Clips
  11. Select Good Music
  12. Add Text and Graphics
  13. Export Web Versions

1. Choose the Right Software

The first step in improving your video editing process is to choose the right software for you and your work. They normally offer everything you need to perform standard video edits, but you may prefer one over others for their usability, digital interface, and features. The key here is to choose what works for you and your editing style instead of just the latest, most advanced video editing program out there.

Top favorites include After Effects, Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro, and DaVinci Resolve, which offers a free and comprehensive Lite version. You may also want to try Lightworks, Autodesk Smoke, and Sony Vegas, if you’re looking to try other less-popular yet highly capable alternatives.

Best video editing software for beginners

Some of the most popular video editing tools for beginners are After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro, and DaVinci Resolve, which offers a free and comprehensive Lite version. You may also want to try Lightworks, Autodesk Smoke, and Sony Vegas, if you’re looking to try other less-popular yet highly capable alternatives. Some free video editing tools exist, like Apple iMovie, but they’re often less robust than paid options, offer only a few file formats, or have limited functionality.

For shorter clips, especially for social media, you could use a free video editing app to create and compile your video clips.

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2. Use a Fast Computer

No, we’re not about to pit PCs against MACs in this section. You can choose whatever computer brand or model you want, as long as it’s fast enough for you to store huge files and allows you to focus more on your editing work without having to worry about slow rendering.

It definitely helps to invest in a faster storage drive (SSD) that will allow you to access your files and software faster, as well as speed up your rendering, loading, and export times. Other things you can do to significantly shorten your editing times is to increase your computer’s memory (RAM) to at least 8GB if you’re going to be doing professional or commercial work, and get the recommended video card and processor for your editing software.

It’s generally easier to customize and upgrade a PC than an Apple computer on your own, but you can use either for a video workstation. You can use some video editing tools on Android and Apple mobile devices and tablets, but they’re often more limited in scope and quality. It’s also much harder to edit videos effectively on an iPad or iPhone than on a robust desktop or laptop computer.

And don’t forget your monitors either. Setting up a dual monitor will allow you to more easily view, organize, and work with large amounts of footage.

3. Watch Video Editing Tutorials

Youtube, blogs, and educational websites are full of useful tutorials for creating great video content. Most of the tutorials you’ll find out there are free, which makes them even more accessible. Websites like Video Copilot, Skillshare, and Red Giant Tutorials offer lots of very specific tutorials to help you improve your video content. As you look for tutorials to achieve certain looks and complete specific tasks, target the software version of the program you’re using. Many companies adjust functionality and menu settings from version to version.

4. Get the Project Files

When following along with a tutorial, many new video editors prefer to use the same project files as the instructors in the tutorial. This will help you learn the steps correctly, because your work will look exactly the same as the sample from the demo. Many tutorials allow you to download their project files for this exact reason. Once you have more experience with a technique, you can repeat the process with your own video files.

5. Obey the 321 Rule

Just like woodworkers learn from the start to measure twice and cut once, video editors using any program should practice the 321 rule. Keep three copies of everything you create, in at least two different places, with one of those places physically separated from your other locations.

6. Edit for a Story

One of the most important takeaways from this article is to remember your creative goal: to tell a great story. Go beyond the basics—cutting away extraneous footage and correcting the order of your clips—and take the opportunity to make your film aesthetically-pleasing and dramatically compelling so as to evoke the right emotions and effectively impart your intended message. Use your practical and technical knowledge in achieving this instead of just adding a bunch of effects to impress your viewers.

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You can simply follow the storyboard used during filming, but there may be times when the director—or you, if you have the liberty to call the shots—will decide to make on-the-spot changes to the predetermined flow, scene transitions, effects, and other editing elements for the sake of improving the story.

How to Edit Videos: 13 Video Editing Tips for Beginners - 42West (2)

7. Maintain an Efficient Workflow

Even with a super-fast computer system and editing software, you’ll also need to be systematic and organized in order to become a more efficient editor. One way to improve your workflow is to organize your projects and files in folders that you can use again and again. Create homes for your projects, footage, audio files, images, and graphics, in which you can also create more subsections and folders.

Another way that you can work faster is to use external hard drives for storing your footage. This is helpful so you can free up more computer memory. We recommend that you choose hard drives that can be connected via USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt to enable faster file transfers. Also consider allocating your RAM to be able to use more of it for editing and getting a gaming mouse that allows you to set specific editing functions for its buttons.

8. Utilize Keyboard Shortcuts

Speaking of buttons, keep in mind that most editing programs allow you to use keyboard shortcuts to perform a range of in-app editing functions. Feel free to review, memorize, and customize the different set of shortcuts for software programs like Adobe After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, Media Composer, and DaVinci Resolve.

If you have a little more money to spend, the easier option would be to purchase an editing keyboard (or at least a replaceable editing keyboard cover) that already has keyboard shortcut icons in them. These are usually software-specific so you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues with your editing software.

9. Learn Important Terms

The video editing industry will require you to communicate with other video editors or clients. This means you’ll have to learn a lot of lingo. To those who haven’t heard of them, some of the terms used in video editing can be impossible to figure out without any research. This is why you’ll want to learn them early on. Basic concepts include the following:

  • Jump Cuts – Cutting out portions to skip boring or predictable moments and preserve visual interest.
  • J Cut – Audio precedes the video.
  • L Cut – Video precedes the audio.
  • Montage – Sequence of clips showing the passage of time, usually for a transformation or character development.
  • Cutting on Action – Cutting when the subject is moving instead of after each movement to create a more interesting and fluid scene.
  • Match Cut/Match Action – Cutting together two visually similar shots or scenes
  • Cutaways – Adding transition pieces that don’t include the main subject or action to show the surrounding environment and set the mood, add meaning to the scene, or aid dramatic tension.

These are just a few, as there are certainly many other cuts and terms to learn. All you need to do is take the time to read and do your own research.

10. Color Correct Your Clips

Color is a major design element that can be manipulated to highlight certain subjects, evoke specific emotions, and set the mood or atmosphere of your scene. Fortunately, today’s video editing programs give us a lot of color editing options that used to be only possible with photos.

Most editors do two things: color correction, to make sure that the colors of your footage are consistent in each scenes, and color grading, to give your film a different look. Both are essential when you want most of your scenes to look as realistic as possible, or to differentiate certain scenes from others, such as when you use presets like sepia and monochrome on “flashback” scenes.

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11. Select Good Music

Don’t just focus on the visuals; it should only be as good as your music. If you’re creating a drama film, for instance, you’ll want just the right song or instrumentals to make key moments (where you want to trigger certain emotions from your audience) more effective. Cheerful comedies can be a little forgiving, but it can also be easy to overdo it with upbeat songs. It can be difficult if you’re doing it on your own. Having a musical scorer can help take the guesswork out of it.

But before you even think of using just any music, remember that the safest option is to get music from a royalty free music provider. You may be able to find free music, but the best audio usually comes at a price. If you’re doing a professional project, music is usually included in the production budget.

Make sure you’re also using quality video editing headphones to get the best sound out of your footage.

12. Add Text and Graphics

Depending on your film type, you may have to include more text aside from the title, opening/closing billboards (for broadcasting), and film credits. You’ll usually want to keep it simple, with a clean and white sans-serif font that doesn’t grab too much attention. Have them dissolve in and out, and see how it works for your film.

But if you need to add flashy graphics, you can create them using your editing software. Adobe After Effects is a popular choice for creating some of the best motion graphics. If you’ve yet to learn how to make your own by hand, you can always get impressive ready-made After Effects templates from RocketStock.

13. Export Web Versions

Once your video is done and ready to be exported, the natural tendency of most editors is to export it at the largest video resolution possible. This is definitely the way to go if it’s going to be played in cinemas and ultra HD screens. But in today’s generation where video projects are usually marketed online and on social media, you should also export smaller, high-quality versions for easier playback

When exporting for the web, the goal is to create a file that maintains its high quality without making it too heavy for upload and online viewing. If you’re unsure about the export settings to use, don’t worry. Sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo all have recommended export settings to help you appropriately resize your file:

Export SettingsYoutubeVimeoFacebook
Maximum Resolution2160p (4K)1080p (HD)720p
Recommended CodecH.264H.264H.264
Audio CodecAAC-LC (up to 96kHz)AAC-LC (up to 48kHz)N/A
Bit RateHD 8mbps at 24fps,
4K 45mbps at 23fps
20mbpsN/A
Supported Frame Rates24, 25, 30, 48, 50, 6024, 25, 30< 30fps

How to Edit Videos: Frequently Asked Questions

What do most YouTubers use to edit their videos?

Depending on your computer setup, the two big editing software’s are Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro. DaVinci Resolve is another popular program for professional-quality films, commercials, and narrative work. When deciding on DaVince Resolve vs Premiere Pro, it may just come down to your skill level and the quality of your footage.

More things to note are compatibility. Final Cut Pro only works on a Mac computer, however Adobe Premiere Pro works on both PC and Mac. Adobe is helpful if you write, film, and edit all on your computer. Final Cut Pro requires a one-time payment to own the software, whereas Adobe has a monthly payment option. There are trials for both programs, so test them both out if you have a Mac computer. Both programs will give you the features you need to learn how to edit videos.

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What is the easiest way to edit videos for free?

Editing videos for fee is possible, but if you want to elevate your finished product, a paid program will be the next step. If you’re on a Mac, check out iMovie. It comes free with all Mac devices and it even has templates, which make it easier to edit. Another great option is Lightworks, which has a free version and a premium version. You can get a lot done using the free version and the premium version is affordable if you want to upgrade.

If you want to edit on the go and stay in the Adobe family, Adobe Premiere Rush lets you shoot, edit, and share your videos anywhere. This app is great for your phone or tablet, and it also works on desktops.

What is the best app to edit video?

It’s hard to choose the best app overall when there are many apps that serve many functions. The best advice would be to try a few and see which app you enjoy using. We have a breakdown of the Best Free Video Editing Apps to help you narrow down your search. Some favorites are Splice, Adobe Premiere Rush, and iMovie.

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Adorama's 42West isthe content destination for photographers, filmmakers, audio creatives and all things electronic. Check out our up-to-date editorial features on all the latest gear, how-to's and interviews with today's most relevant industry insiders.

FAQs

How can I edit a video like a pro? ›

How to edit videos like a professional.
  1. Maintain an organized project directory. There are so many files that go into video creation that it can quickly become chaotic keeping up with them all. ...
  2. Trim clips to keep them clean. ...
  3. Use a separate audio recorder. ...
  4. Learn your video editing software.

How do YouTubers edit? ›

What do YouTubers use to edit their videos? Apparently, the programs used by a lot of YouTubers are Final Cut Pro, iMovie and Premiere Pro. iMovie is commonly used because it comes pre-installed on Apple devices and does most of everything you need it to for video editing on a basic level.

How can I be a good editor? ›

7 Tips for Becoming a Better Editor
  1. Keep an editing checklist. Track the writing issues you will look out for on every pass. ...
  2. Use digital tools. ...
  3. Rely on style guides. ...
  4. Do a read-through before you get into the details. ...
  5. Edit line-by-line. ...
  6. Use the active voice. ...
  7. Break up long sentences.
24 Nov 2021

How can I learn editing? ›

You can find tutorials on popular platforms like Youtube or Vimeo as well as editing-specific blogs and websites. Popular tutorial sites include The Beat, Ripple Training, and PluralSight (Adobe Suite). Many of these sites have courses for a variety of software.

What is first cut in editing? ›

The first cut is the rough cut that is accepted by the editor, the director and the producer. Selection and sequence are basically fixed, although changes can still be made. The later film is visible.

How long does a film Edit take? ›

To calculate how long it takes to edit a feature length film of 90 minutes, the same formula applies. 90 hours for each of Rough Cut, Fine Cut, and Music & Effects editing equals 270 hours. That's almost seven 40-hour workweeks.

Is video editing hard? ›

Video editing can be an overwhelming subject to learn. It is, after all, a blend of both technical and artistic skills. In the beginning, Tony's recommendation is to pick a video editing software and follow some tutorials to learn the basics.

What are your strongest skills as a video editor? ›

Skills
  • a keen eye for detail and a critical mind.
  • creativity and a passionate interest in film and video editing.
  • patience and concentration.
  • the ability to listen to others and to work well as part of a team.
  • a high level of self-motivation, commitment and dedication.
  • organisational and time management skills.

Can you learn video editing by yourself? ›

Yes absolutely, you can learn video editing by yourself and it's not even that hard to do it, And all you need to teach yourself video editing is a PC to edit on, a video editing software, YouTube tutorials, and practice.

What do people use to edit videos? ›

As I previously mentioned, the three most popular programs that Youtubers use to edit their videos are iMovie, Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Premiere Pro CC. A first option is a perfect tool for beginners.

Which video editor is best for YouTube? ›

Adobe Premiere Pro

It's the industry-leading choice for professional desktop video editing.

Is video editing a skill? ›

Video editing is a demanding job that requires both technical and creative skills. Employers also look for knowledge in many editing and design tools.

Is editing a skill? ›

Yes, editing is a skill.

This involves skills such as reading comprehension, perspective, effective storytelling, grammar, and attention to detail. Editing includes being able to also communicate clearly and tactfully with all team members and clearly mark and convey changes, suggestions, and directions.

What makes a bad editor? ›

A bad editor is often a frustrated writer. They are more interested in showing off their own skills as an author than helping you to hone yours. They change words needlessly and suffocate your style.

How can I study video editing? ›

Check out some of the best-selling, highly rated video editing software courses on Udemy:
  1. A beginner's bootcamp. ...
  2. A course taught by an award-winning commercials editor. ...
  3. Learn to edit video with Sony Vegas Pro. ...
  4. Premiere Pro CC for beginners. ...
  5. Master editing with Final Cut Pro X. ...
  6. Dive deep into iMovie.
29 Mar 2018

How do I edit video? ›

Beginners Guide to Video Editing (Start to Finish) - YouTube

Should I learn video editing? ›

There is a need for video editors across all industries

Even if you aren't going to make your own videos, video editing is a great skill to have. Video is used across many industries - from marketing to finance - so there are job openings for those who have the skills to create powerful videos.

What makes a good cut? ›

Murch talks about six different "criteria" that make a good cut: emotion, story, rhythm, eye trace, 2D plane of screen, and 3D space.

In which stage do you edit a video? ›

Phase Three: Post-Production

After the production phase is finished, the producer and editor go to work. During the post-production phase, your video production team will begin the process to organize, plan, and edit the actual video.

How many types of video editing are there? ›

Types of editing

Linear video editing uses video tape and is edited in a very linear way. Several video clips from different tapes are recorded to one single tape in the order that they will appear. Non-linear editing systems (NLE) allow video to be edited on computers with specialized software.

What are the stages of editing? ›

The four stages of editing are:

structural editing (aka developmental editing) copy editing (aka line-by-line or just 'line' editing) proofreading (detailed correction of the final draft just before layout) page proofs (making sure there are no remaining typos on the 'ready to print' digital pages).

How do I start making a movie? ›

How to Make an Indie Movie
  1. Find your script. All films, regardless of the budget, start with a script. ...
  2. Sort your budget. Once you have your story, figure out how much money it'll cost. ...
  3. Hire your crew. ...
  4. Get your cast. ...
  5. Prep your shoot days. ...
  6. Mind the post-production. ...
  7. Submit to film festivals.
30 Aug 2021

What is the longest film in the world? ›

Cinematic films
TitleRunning timeYear released
Out 1 (Noli me tangere)775 min (12 hr, 55 min)1971
How Yukong Moved the Mountains763 min (12 hr, 43 min)1976
Evolution of a Filipino Family593 min (9 hr, 53 min)2004
Shoah566 min (9 hr, 26 min)1985
31 more rows

What makes a good video? ›

Try to Connect and Be Relatable. If you want to create effective video content, you should try to be relatable once in a while. Video content that resonates with the audience and gives people an idea about what your company is all about is a lot more effective. Behind-the-scene videos, live streams, etc.

How do I make a good video on my phone? ›

How to Film like a PRO with Android Smartphones [Updated Guide!]

How can I create a video? ›

How to Make a Tutorial Video - YouTube

What do u need for video editing? ›

Memory/ RAM: 8-32 GB RAM (ideally at minimum 16GB) Processor: Multi-core Intel i5/i7/i9 preferably with 4 or more processor cores. Storage: At least 256 GB hard drive, 7200 RPM, preferably SSD. Graphics Card: This is dependent on the editing software.

How do I edit a video using Windows Media Player? ›

Find the video you want to edit and double-click it to open it in the Windows video player. 2. Click the Edit button (shaped like a pencil) in the lower right of the video player window and then, in the menu, click "Trim." The video should open in the Photos app.

What do you use for video editing? ›

Free video editing software FAQ
  • Adobe Premiere Pro.
  • Final Cut Pro X.
  • Adobe After Effects.
  • Lightworks.
  • Freemake.
  • iMovie.
  • Shotcut.
10 Jun 2022

Is video editing hard? ›

Video editing can be an overwhelming subject to learn. It is, after all, a blend of both technical and artistic skills. In the beginning, Tony's recommendation is to pick a video editing software and follow some tutorials to learn the basics.

What is video editing easy? ›

Video editing is the process of editing segments of motion video production footage, special effects and sound recordings in the post-production process.

Where can I learn video editing online? ›

38 results for "video editing"
  • Coursera Project Network. Create a Promotional Video using Canva. ...
  • LearnQuest. Mastering Final Cut Pro. ...
  • Coursera Project Network. Using Video in Social Media Posts with Canva. ...
  • Free. ...
  • California Institute of the Arts. ...
  • Coursera Project Network. ...
  • Macquarie University. ...
  • Coursera Project Network.

Where can I find clips for edits? ›

12 of the best sites for free stock videos
  • Pixabay. Pixabay offers over 2.3 million images and videos, all released under a simplified Pixabay License. ...
  • Videvo. ...
  • Pexels. ...
  • Videezy. ...
  • Life of Vids. ...
  • Coverr. ...
  • Splitshire. ...
  • Clipstill.

Where can I edit videos for free? ›

  • Lightworks. The best overall free video editing software. ...
  • VideoPad. Best free video editing software for beginners. ...
  • HitFilm Express. Simple free video editor with professional visual effects and tutorials. ...
  • DaVinci Resolve. Top free video editor for advanced editors. ...
  • VSDC Free Video Editor. ...
  • OpenShot. ...
  • Shotcut. ...
  • Blender.
1 Jan 2021

How do I edit photos? ›

  1. Open the photo you want to edit.
  2. Tap Edit. Tools.
  3. Select the tools you want to use with your photo and make changes.
  4. When you finish, tap Done.
  5. To undo an effect, deselect the option or tap Cancel.

How do you upload and edit videos on YouTube? ›

How to Use YouTube's Video Editor
  1. Sign in to YouTube Studio.
  2. On the left sidebar, click Content.
  3. In Uploads, click the thumbnail of the video you want to edit. ...
  4. In the left sidebar, click Editor.
  5. Trim the beginning or end of your video. ...
  6. Trim clips out of the middle of your video. ...
  7. Add an end screen to your video.
19 May 2021

Who is the best editor in the world? ›

Top Grossing Editor at the Worldwide Box OfficeBETA
RankNameWorldwide Box Office
1Jeffrey Ford$13,574,982,448
2Michael Kahn$11,964,709,528
3Chris Lebenzon$8,201,588,626
4Lee Smith$7,976,683,601
78 more rows

What do YouTubers use to edit videos? ›

What do most YouTubers use to edit their videos? As I previously mentioned, the three most popular programs that Youtubers use to edit their videos are iMovie, Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Premiere Pro CC. A first option is a perfect tool for beginners. If you are a complete newbie, you can use iMovie on Mac OS.

How do I edit a video on my phone? ›

How to edit videos on your phone (for FREE!) - YouTube

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