Good Video Editing Makes You
A Cut Above The Rest!
After working in the advertising industry for more than 20 years, I’ve spent many hours in a video suite chomping on M&Ms and swigging down sodas while watching over the shoulder of a talented video editor laboring over one of my client’s TV commercials. I always marveled at the various ways he or she would make the edits to the raw footage. A jump cut here, a cutaway there, and a feather dissolve to bring it all together at the end. Great editing always made a big difference in whether the commercial would turn out to be just acceptable or unforgettable.
As clients began cutting their marketing budgets, the high cost of outsourcing video editing became a problem. Fortunately, the cost of video editing software was becoming much more affordable. So after years of explaining to video editors what I was envisioning, I installed Final Cut Pro on my Mac and took the bull by horns to do it all myself. After several months, and several threats to completely smash my computer, I finally got the hang of it. As I developed my new skill, I recalled some of the tricks I had learned watching various editors do their magic. Although a great film, video or commercial begins with great footage, the real magic happens in editing. So read on my friend and let me share what I’ve learned to help you create masterful videos that persuade, impress and enrapture.
The Art of Editing
Bottom line: The key to great editing is doing it in such a way that no one even notices you’ve done it! That means that your main objective is to remain hidden and not call attention to yourself with clunky cuts (unless, of course, you’re looking for a clunky style).
So, how do you make sure your edits are ‘invisible’ the rest of the time? One strategy is to follow the old maxim that you should always ‘Cut On The Action’. That means that you wait until someone moves in a precise way in your shot and then you cut on that precise moment. For instance, someone might reach forward to grab their tea and you are going to cut as they begin leaning in and switch to a shot of them picking up the tea, now already in the right position. This works because your audience will be watching the action such that they won’t really notice the cut itself.
Another strategy is to Link Your Cuts. This means that you look for something thematic that can tie your shots together. For instance, you might start the scene on a writer intensely tapping away on a typewriter then quickly cut to another intense person pounding on the keys of a concert piano. This is a good way to maintain a narrative threat through your edits and thereby avoid jarring the viewer.
Jump Cuts are a great way to condense time and add a bit of quirkiness to your scene. These cuts are often awkward because if they cut out some time, then the subject will have moved and it will be apparent that something unnatural has happened. However jump cuts can help increase the pace of a video, or add a touch of humor to the scene, but they should be considered an exception and not the rule.
Also useful is the ‘L-Cut’. Here, the video will cut before or after the audio. For instance, someone might gaze into the distance, the sound of typing might be heard and then the next shot might be our writer at the typewriter. L-Cuts smooth transitions and add more story to your project. And really that is your objective here: tell a story and your edits will always seem smooth and natural!
Here’s a great reference video to further illustrate some of these editing techniques (along with several others). Enjoy!
PS — If you’d like helpful information on creating your own internet videos, check out: Everything You Need To Create Cool Web Videos
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