How to Make Video Edits Work for You

My very first client sent me on this crazy journey from big corporate video productions into video marketing for small business, and he is still my poster-child for the pitfalls of DIY video editing. And he’s by far not the only one.

I taught him what equipment to use (his iPhone), how to set up a shot (not against his window), what to look out for during the shoot (eye-line).

We had a great shoot and the video clips all looked awesome (despite the fact that we DID shoot against his window). We uploaded the footage to his Dropbox. I showed him how to organize his clips and start a project in iMovie.

He’s an engineer by training and he was very hands-on during the shoot. I was sure he had it all under control.

I checked in with him a few days later to see if he had any questions and how the edit was going: It wasn’t.

I checked in a week later: Still nothing.

I checked again a week after that, eager to see the results, a rough-cut maybe? Nothing.

So, what happened? And why so early in the process?

He was overwhelmed: That’s what happened.

Video footage can be daunting. There are so many clips, and they all sound and look more or less alike. I’ve been there, I know.

Typically there is a 20:1 ratio from shot material to final video.

That means you have about TWENTY 30-second clips to go through for a 30 second video. It doesn’t sound like much, but much like a wine tasting, unless you’re a connoisseur, it all becomes an indiscernible mish-mash very quickly.

25 years of being a producer has taught me that an editor who can sift through footage fast and pick out the raisins, is worth her weight in gold.

Don’t fall into the trap of footage overwhelm before you even start editing:

  1. Be realistic about what you can handle: Keep clips super short. Stay with a single clip
  2. Do an edit “dry-run” with a sample video clip. Try a few apps and see what you like (For guidance & inspiration: I’m posting “apps to make videos with” soon)
  3. Take notes while you shoot & identify each clip (see photo below)
  4. Organize your footage into folders (follow link for more info)
  5. If you have a longer, or complex story to tell: Hire an editor
  6. If you have little, or no time: Hire an editor
  7. If you’re not patient and don’t love figuring out “things” (aka software): Hire an editor
  8. For real-hands-on editing advice check out the Curated Link Pack below: The first two articles by Wistia will set you on the right course
  9. For in-depth video editing learning I also recommend Lynda.com

Ralf from LenditApp with a “slate” – simple numbering (and corresponding notes) can save an edit

Updated Related Blog Resources on Video Editing:

Here a link to a video I created showing the “before” and “after” on a piece of video I shot for my holiday greeting last year.

And a link to my VLOG: How to Approach Video Editing [it’s quick and informative]

These three related blogs are all updated as of today:

Curated Link Pack:

Editing Apps and Software change at a rapid pace. Your best bet is to Google: BEST (or TOP) VIDEO EDITING APP (or Software). You can add the words “FREE”, “2017”. And, make sure to set your search to filter articles no older than a month.

  1. How to Edit Video for Social Media by Wistia (August 2016).  I love Wistia’s resources: Always fun, always on point. This one is no exception. If you ready anything additional before you jump into editing, it’s this article.
  2. Editing Basics for Business Video by Wistia (2016). This will set you on the right course. It’s a great walk-through of basic video editing steps and has a glossary and great video examples.
  3. Video 101: Editing Basics by Vimeo (2010). Although a bit older, still relevant. Step by step video guide through basic editing. It’s cute and well done, if a bit slow at times.
  4. Top Rules for Video Editing by Lifewire (August 2016). Ten easy steps to keep in mind while shooting your video that will set you up for a simpler editing process.
  5. Top Video Editing Effects by Lifewire (March 2017). With so many editing effects available on even the simplest platforms, which should you use? This article provides some suggestions on when and how to best use those effects. My take: Less is more!