Essential Editing Tips From Filmmakers

In this blog post, filmmakers Matti Haapoja and JR Alli share their tips on what to keep in mind when editing and soundtracking your content to get the best result, in collaboration with Epidemic Sound and Adobe Stock.

Essential Editing Tips From Filmmakers

In this blog post, filmmakers Matti Haapoja and JR Alli share their tips on what to keep in mind when editing and soundtracking your content to get the best result, in collaboration with Epidemic Sound and Adobe Stock.

What are the key components of a great edit? Filmmaker Matti Haapoja shares his editing process with us. Time to bring the notepads out!

Matti, would you mind sharing some of your tips when it comes to content creation?

When I’m creating a video, the main thing I want to do is get across one point or one idea. Sometimes that's teaching something, sometimes that's inspiring or other times, it's capturing a feeling or emotion tied to a place or experience.

“I didn’t pick up a camera till I was 22 years old, and I had no idea where this little hobby of mine would take me.”

For me, music has always been one of the most important aspects of my filmmaking, not just because it's part of my style, but more importantly, it's enhancing or amplifying the mood, tone, or emotion that I'm trying to create. Sometimes I’ll even hear a song, and I can basically already see the visuals to that song; it's almost like the visuals just become an extension of the song.

Tip #1: Create a game plan but don’t be afraid of spontaneity

Production timelines are usually tight, and that's when you need access to a really big library of royalty free music that you can comb through to find the right song that amplifies the mood you want to create. For example, when I was working on an ad for a new laptop with my younger brother and editor, we had a 5-day road trip around Iceland to shoot this ad.

I always go in with a game plan of what I want to create to have a direction and purpose when I'm out there, but things don't always go as planned... Especially in a place like Iceland, where the weather is super unpredictable. But sometimes – a lot of the times actually – things happen spontaneously and are just so much better than you could ever plan for or conjure in your mind.

Tip #2: Let the music dictate your storyline

We ended up getting some incredible footage on that trip, and once I got back, I laid out all the footage in a timeline and looked at it. I quickly got a good idea of what kind of feel, mood, and tone to work best with the footage to tell my story. It was dark and moody but had the epic feel of the mountains… So I started to look for music right away because the music dictates so much of my edit; the pacing, the storytelling – the whole storyline.

Ideally, I want to have the tracks ready before I even start editing. To find the perfect track, I filter on genre and mood. When I find the right song, it's almost like an extension of the visuals. I feel like the whole edit just comes together so easily. It's like I'm doing a puzzle, and finding all of the right pieces to tell the story perfectly.

I feel so incredibly lucky because there's never been a time in history where one filmmaker alone can do so much. You have everything you need at your fingertips to make the films that you want to make and to tell the stories that you're passionate about. So grab your camera, learn from the internet, and go create something! Repeat the process over and over again: learn, create, repeat.

Ever tried to focus your edit solely on emotion? Travel filmmaker JR Alli shares his best insight into how to replicate emotion through the addition of music.

JR Alli, what does music mean to you?

As a travel filmmaker, music as a whole is just such a huge part of my life. A lot of the time it's like certain sounds and soundtracks will bring you back to a certain place in time. Trying to replicate those emotions, especially in travel videos, is so key.

There's not a moment in my day where I'm not listening to music myself, so I draw a lot of inspiration, inadvertently sometimes, from soundtracks and music. I want to take you guys through an exercise in Premiere Pro, and share some tips with you.

Editing exercise – be creative and challenge yourself

Up for a challenge? I thought it would be a cool exercise to instead of creating a video that is based on a story, it's based on two other things: sound and a specific color. So, the color I’ve decided to go for is bright orange. When I look at this color, I immediately think of a few different things. I think of nostalgia, of summer, of warmth... I think of things that embody the warmer hues of life. I feel like it would be a great way to evoke some nostalgia if I went back to some of my old footage and picked things specifically based on this color.

So, I have my footage and I have opened a new project, which means I can start throwing things into the timeline in Premiere Pro. But there’s one more thing that I wanted to do first: choose the music. I select a clip that represents what I’m going for and try to find a track that will evoke the same emotion as what I visually captured. By using the search and filtering options, and after listening through a few tracks, I’m able to find the perfect one. You just get inspired by something, and then you’re ready to create.. Why don’t you try it out yourself? I bet you’ll be surprised by the inspiration boost that comes out of it!

Curious to see JR Alli’s final cut? Check it out below.

Matti Haapoja is a Finnish born director of photography, filmmaker, and YouTuber based in Toronto. His work evolves around filmmaking, learning, and inspiring you to take one step at a time with the motto ‘Learn, Make, Repeat!’.

Jr Alli is a 20-year-old filmmaker and storytelling genius from Toronto. He captures epic adventures through his lens and inspires people to live life in the moment.

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