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Learn Video Editing Fast! Top 10 Tips and Tricks

By David Winter
Jan 3, 2024
4 minute read
An editor using Lightworks

Introduction

Are you starting your journey to becoming a top-tier video content creator? There's a lot of information out there, and it can be hard to know where to start.

To help, here are ten essential tips and tricks to help you learn and provide inspiration. Let's begin your journey into the basics of video editing and look at how to create compelling, engaging, and well-edited content!

1. Choose the Right Video Editing Software

The first step is considering your editing needs, skill level, and budget. Review the user interface, how it works, and how it compliments the content you want to make. Make sure to start with software that has free versions available. This way, you can test different options and find the right video editing tool. 

Once you've found the ideal software, you'll need time to explore its features. Don't rush. Post-production is often fast-paced, but you can afford to take your time at this stage. 

2. Learn the Basic Editing Techniques

Before you call yourself a video editor, you must master the basic techniques. Here's a quick rundown of essential techniques you should learn:

  • Cutting and trimming. Slicing and dicing your footage, removing unwanted bits and keeping the good stuff.
  • Adding transitions. Move from one clip to another with crossfades, wipes, and more.
  • Adjusting audio levels. Keep your viewers engaged by balancing music, sound effects, and dialogue.
  • Applying colour correction and grading. Make your videos pop by adjusting the colours and enhancing the visual aesthetic.
  • Working with text and titles. Incorporate text and titles to provide context, display information, or add visual flair.

3. Organise Your Workflow

A cluttered workspace can slow you down and cause confusion. Set up a solid file management and organisation system to edit. Create folder structures and use consistent naming conventions for your assets. 

Pro tip: Use proxies (lower-quality versions of your footage) for a smoother experience. Additionally, create a timeline structure to keep your edits organised.

4. Tell a Story with Your Edits

Excellent video editing is all about storytelling. Enhance the narrative and evoke emotions using narrative techniques like flashbacks, or editing ones such as match cuts, and pacing adjustments. 

For example, if you are editing a travel vlog:

  • Use a flashback to a previous trip to connect the current adventure to a fond memory. 
  • Use match cuts to create visual continuity. Cut from a close-up of a person jumping into a pool to another shot of them splashing in the water. 
  • Adjust the pacing to match the energy and tone of the story. Use quicker cuts for high-energy moments and longer takes for contemplative scenes. 

Remember, your edits should add to the story, not distract from it. Choose the emotions you want to convey and use your editing tools to support the story's message.

 

5. Master Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are one of the main tools in a pro editor's toolbox. These time-saving tricks will help you zip through your edits. Most software options have a list of default shortcuts but allow you to customise them. The more shortcuts you learn, the faster and more intuitive your editing will become.

 

6. Embrace the Power of Sound Design

A well-edited video is only complete with stellar sound design. There are various ways to achieve this, including: 

  • Use music, sound effects, and dialogue to create a rich audio landscape. 
  • Fine-tune your audio levels and study the impact of different audio choices. 
  • Use audio effects like reverb or compression to enhance your sound design further.

7. Enhance Your Videos with Visual Effects and Motion Graphics

Add some flair to your videos with visual effects and motion graphics. Use these elements sparingly and maintain visual consistency throughout your content. Experiment with motion graphics for titles to give your videos a professional look. As your confidence grows, explore advanced visual effects to further your content.

8. Get Inspired and Learn from the Pros

As you learn to edit videos, staying inspired and learning is crucial. To get started, explore the work of some of the all-time great film editors:

  • Walter Murch. Renowned for his work on "Apocalypse Now" (1979) and "The Godfather Part II" (1974)
  • Thelma Schoonmaker. A long-time collaborator with Scorsese on films like "Raging Bull" (1980) and "Goodfellas" (1990)
  • Sally Menke. The brilliant editor behind Quentin Tarantino, including "Pulp Fiction" (1994) and "Inglourious Basterds" (2009)
  • Dede Allen. A trailblazer in the industry celebrated for her work on "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967) and "Dog Day Afternoon" (1975)
  • Michael Kahn. Steven Spielberg's go-to editor, with credits on iconic films such as "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981) and "Schindler's List" (1993)

As well as studying these legends and their editing process, consider enrolling in a video editing class. You can also join online forums to connect with fellow video editors and stay current. Don't be afraid to ask for help or advice. The video editing community is filled with experienced editors who share their knowledge.

9. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like any skill, practice makes perfect when it comes to video editing. Challenge yourself with creative projects, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. Seek feedback from peers and learn from each experience. 

Set aside regular time for editing practice and track your progress. The only way to get better is to do something regularly. You will learn something new about the process with every edit you make. 

10. Optimise Your Videos for SEO

You need somewhere to share your videos, and the best way is through a YouTube channel. To break through the noise and ensure your videos can be seen, you'll need to master the art of SEO. This can include:

  • Using keywords in your titles, descriptions, and tags to attract more viewers. 
  • Create engaging video thumbnails that grab attention
  • Consider adding transcripts for better SEO performance. 

Monitor your YouTube analytics to track your performance. Then, make data-driven decisions to improve your content. You can also share your videos to social media quickly and easily to enhance your reach.

Conclusion

With these top 10 tips and tricks, you're well on your way to becoming an editing superstar. Remember to stay inspired, keep learning, and, most importantly, enjoy the creative process. Why not download the free version of Lightworks and start putting these techniques into practise? Happy editing!