Lightworks Presents: The Anti-April Fool's Sale!

It's all perks, no pranks this April! Save 45% on Lightworks every day EXCEPT the 1st. You'd be a fool to miss out!

Common Video Editing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them: Part Two

By David Winter
Jan 5, 2024
5 minute read
A Celebrating Video Editor

Introduction

Welcome to the second part of my two-part comprehensive guide on video editing common mistakes and how to avoid them! In these guidelines for editing, I’m covering the stumbling blocks that most editors trip over when starting out — myself included!

If you haven't already, make sure to read Part 1: The Basics of Video Editing. This covers foundational editing techniques such as audio editing, music selection, timing, transitions, and avoiding overused effects.

In this second part, we'll dive into more advanced editing techniques and discuss:

  • The importance of project management 
  • Adding the final touches to your videos. 

By mastering these skills, you'll be able to elevate the quality and professionalism of your video content even further.

Project Management: Staying Organized and Efficient

Forgetting to Autosave / Backup a Project

The Mistake:

It’s the worst-case scenario — you're in the middle of editing when, suddenly, your computer crashes. With a dawning sense of terror worthy of a horror film, you realise you haven’t saved your work.

The Solution:

Make it a habit to enable autosave and create regular backups of your projects. Better yet, use a video editor with constant autosave provided by default. This simple practice can save time and hours of frustration and lost work.

Also, always follow the 3-2-1 rule for backing up your work:

Keep 3 copies of your data: This includes the original working copy of your project and two additional backup copies. 

On 2 different types of storage media: Store your backup copies on different storage, such as an internal hard drive, external hard drive, USB flash drive, or cloud storage. 

With 1 kept offsite: Keep at least one backup copy in a physically separate location from your primary working copy, like a cloud storage service.

Poor Timeline and Project Management

The Mistake:

During my early editing days, my project timelines were disorganised and cluttered, making it difficult to locate specific video clips or segments. I would spend more find searching for footage than I would be editing! It’s a classic early filmmaking mistake.

The Solution:

Keep your timeline and video files organised using colour-coded markers, nesting sequences, and grouping related clips together. A well-organized timeline speeds up your workflow and makes it easier to spot potential issues and make adjustments. Ensure you have a good video editing workflow and a structured system for storing your files. 

Not Planning the Edit Beforehand

The Mistake:

Without a plan, jumping straight into editing can lead to a disorganised and time-consuming workflow.

The Solution:

Before you begin editing, take the time to review your footage, create a rough storyboard, and establish the narrative structure of your video. This will help you maintain a clear vision throughout the editing process, resulting in a more coherent and engaging final product.

Visual Polish and Final Touches: Making Your Video Shine

Ignoring Color Correction and Grading

The Mistake:

Many beginners overlook the importance of colour correction and grading, which can lead to several issues in their videos. These include:

  • Inconsistent Visuals: When shooting a video, it's a common mistake to have variations in lighting, white balance, and exposure across different shots, even if they're part of the same scene. 
  • Less Professional Look: A video with uncorrected colour and exposure issues may appear amateurish or unprofessional, reducing credibility and appeal.
  • Poor Storytelling: Color grading plays a significant role in setting the mood and tone of a scene. For instance, a desaturated look can convey a sombre or melancholic atmosphere, while a warm colour palette evokes nostalgia. By neglecting colour grading, beginners miss the opportunity to enhance their storytelling and create an immersive experience for their audience.

The Solution:

To address these issues and elevate the overall quality of your video, it's essential to learn the basics of colour correction and grading. Here are some steps to get started:

  • Correct Exposure and White Balance: Adjust your shots' exposure and white balance to create a consistent look across your video. Most video editing software provides tools to make these adjustments, such as colour wheels, curves, and sliders.
  • Enhance Colors and Contrast: Once your shots are properly balanced, you can enhance the colours and contrast to make your visuals more dynamic and appealing. Boosting saturation, adjusting hue and brightness, or applying colour LUTs (Look-Up Tables) can help you achieve a more refined and professional look.
  • Develop a Color Palette: Consider the mood and tone you want to convey in your video and develop a colour palette that supports your storytelling. Be mindful of your colours, as they can greatly impact the viewer's emotional response to your content.

By learning and applying colour correction and grading techniques, you can significantly improve the visual quality of your videos, making them more engaging, professional, and impactful for your audience.

Using the Wrong Video Export Settings

The Mistake:

Your export is the final hurdle before the finish line. The race is almost over. You’ve spent all this time nailing the edit, transitions, VFX, colours, and audio. Don’t stumble now by exporting with bad settings. 

The Solution:

Familiarise yourself with the optimal export settings for your video's intended platform: YouTube, Vimeo, or social media. Choose the right codec, resolution, and bitrate to ensure your final video is high quality and compatible with your chosen platform.

Overused Fonts

The Mistake:

I can't count the number of times I've seen videos with overused or inappropriate fonts that detract from the overall presentation.

The Solution:

Choose fonts that match the style and tone of your video, and avoid overused options like Comic Sans or Papyrus. Opt for clean, easy-to-read fonts that enhance your visuals without distracting from your content. Check in with the all-time greats of your chosen genre, and draw inspiration from their choices. 

Neglecting to Trim Clips Properly

The Mistake:

Failing to trim clips accurately can result in awkward or abrupt transitions between scenes, disrupting the flow of your video. 

For example, imagine a dialogue scene with two characters talking, and the cuts are poorly timed. This could lead to a momentary gap between the characters' responses, making the conversation feel unnatural and disjointed. 

Timing is the king of any edit. You need to find the right rhythm for each scene.

The Solution:

To ensure your video flows smoothly and maintains viewer engagement, it's crucial to trim your clips with precision. Here are some tips for achieving clean and seamless transitions between scenes:

  • Use the Ripple Edit Tool: Most video editing software offers a ripple edit tool that automatically adjusts the adjacent clips when trimming one clip.
  • Match Action: When cutting between two shots of the same action, try to match the movement or gesture between the clips. This technique, called "match action" or "cutting on action," creates a visual continuity.
  • Edit for Pacing: Consider the pacing of your video when trimming clips. Short clips may be appropriate for fast-paced action scenes or montages, while slower, more contemplative scenes benefit from long shots. Strive for a rhythm that matches the tone and content of your video.
  • Use J and L Cuts: J and L cuts are editing techniques where the audio from one clip extends into the next clip, either before (J cut) or after (L cut) the video transitions. These cuts can create smoother transitions between scenes and help maintain the flow of your video.
  • Preview Your Edits: Regularly preview your edits to ensure smooth and natural transitions between scenes. If you notice any abrupt or awkward cuts, adjust the clip trims until the transitions feel seamless.

By trimming your clips accurately and paying attention to pacing and visual continuity, you'll create a more polished and engaging viewing experience for your audience.

Conclusion

There you have it — common video editing mistakes beginners often fall into and how to avoid them. Is video editing hard? It can be, but hopefully, a little less so now. By keeping these video editing tips in mind and learning from my own experiences, you'll be well on your way to becoming a top-tier editor. 

Combining these skills with the basics covered in Part 1: The Basics of Video Editing allows you to create captivating, high-quality video content while avoiding as many mistakes as possible.

We hope this comprehensive guide has been a valuable resource in your video editing journey. Keep experimenting, honing your skills, and, most importantly, enjoy the creative process!

Good luck, and happy editing!