10 Things I wish I’d known when I started editing

October 4, 2021

10 Things I wish I’d known when I started editing

Video editing has never been more accessible. The majority of videos uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo have been edited by creators with little or no “traditional” training in editing. Whether you edit videos for social media, work, or your trip to Bali, the difference between an OK project and a good one often comes down to skilled editing. As a beginner, editing can seem much more complex than it actually is. So to help you get up and running, here are “10 Things I wish I’d known when I started editing“.

The 10 Things I wish I’d known when I started editing

  1. Take your time

Estimate how long an edit will take, and then triple that number! It always takes longer than you think, because you need time and space to let your ideas play around in your head. Taking a break or showing your work to someone else helps you to stay objective and possibly see something that you may have missed during your work process. If you are pressured by time, it is more likely that you will rush things through and end up being too simplistic and unimaginative. 

  1. Try different software

Instead of looking for the most popular software, I would recommend choosing the right software for you, your work and your budget. Most video editing software will provide everything you need to perform standard video edits, but the key is to choose what works for your unique editing style. It's okay, and maybe even preferable, to not jump straight into a fancy, expensive piece of software. Everyone has their own preferences. Make sure you have as well. 

Lightworks offers a free software platform that is perfect for those wanting to start learning how to edit their own videos easily like a professional. 

  1. Cut, pace, transition - ACTION

Cutting music videos can be a great way to learn how to pace an edit. Grab some inexpensive stock footage and music elements (Envato Elements is a great place to start) and just have fun editing cool footage to music. It's a great way to start paying attention to things like pacing, cutting on action, transitions, etc. It’s like jamming to a song. Where you feel like tapping, add markers. These are most likely the ideal points for the video to cut.

  1. Everyone is or has been a beginner

It will take a long time for your edits to start looking as good in reality as they look in your head. That's okay. Everyone goes through a learning process when they first start - even the top editors. It’s like taking part in sports, you have to practise and repeat to get better. Learning to become a master of editing, means that you need to make mistakes in order to learn how to get better at it!

  1. Shortcuts

Most editing software has their own unique keyboard shortcuts to perform their editing functions. Start learning keyboard shortcuts early - it will make your life so much easier, and editing so much faster in the long run. It isn't always a matter of "clicking and dragging" everything. Knowing which shortcuts do what and when, will make you a savvy editor in no time.

  1. Workflow 

The No. 1 thing that people get wrong in the beginning is the importance of proper workflow management and file storage. You might find yourself just dumping files all over the place, and this is fine until something goes wrong. Most editors have a disaster story of losing a file or unlinking footage, and it's only then that they start doing things properly.

To improve your workflow, organise your files in folders that make sense and can be used again. Create homes for your projects, footage, audio files and images that are easy to navigate and manage. Trust me - this not only saves time, but also your sanity.

  1. Audio

Audio matters. Maybe even more so than footage sometimes. Great audio can save average footage, but nothing can save you from poor audio. Being the editor means you don’t do the actual filming. You are reliant on the people giving you footage with the audio.

To help your viewers from one scene to another, you should become familiar with “sweetening the dialogue”, which means enhancing the spoken dialogue sound. As an editor, you should think of sound creatively and as something that can play just as much of a role in telling the story as the visuals.

  1. Learn from others

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Find other editors or techniques that you like, and copy, copy, copy! There are no new ideas out there - just iterations of pre-existing ones. Learn how your hero does it, and then figure out how to put your own twist on it. It's the quickest way to learn and  the best part is, it won’t cost you any money.

  1. Colours

Don't be scared of colour correction. It can make a world of difference. Find some simple tutorials and give it a go. Even the most basic colour correction and grading can make all the difference. Colour can highlight certain subjects, evoke specific emotions, and set the mood or atmosphere of your scenes. 

when i started editing
  1. Storage is king

Video will eat up any hard drive space you have extremely quickly. Have a game plan for what needs storing, and how you're going to store it. It definitely helps to invest in a fast storage drive that will allow you to access your files and software more quickly, as well as speed up your rendering, loading, and exporting. Otherwise you will find yourself having to decide which old project to delete very quickly.

If you want a serious, reliable storage solution I’d recommend Sandisk Professional (used to be G-Technology) or LaCie. You’ll see either of them on every desk in a post facility. If physical hardware isn’t your thing then PCloud, Dropbox, and other cloud storage providers have you covered. 

There you go - you’re now 10 steps further ahead than I was when I started editing! Still, don’t get disappointed when things are tricky or go a bit wrong. It’s all part of the learning process, and it will add up over time to make a better editor out of you. 

If you’re keen to start editing and put these tips into practise, then you can download Lightworks for free HERE!

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