Content creation is more accessible than ever, but that also means there’s more competition. Whether you’re a beginner or a novice wanting to up your game, here are nine tips and tricks to edit video like a pro.
How do I start editing?
While major studios and companies bring in dedicated editing teams, everyone has to start somewhere. If you’re shooting your own content, you’ll likely need to roll your sleeves up and learn the basics of how to edit video yourself. Suppose you’re focused purely on editing, though. In that case, it’s always worth reaching out to budding filmmaker buddies – they might need a hand, and taking an objective view on the work you’re editing will set you up for any professional editing you go on to do!
1. Cut anything that’s not top drawer
You’ve heard the phrase ‘kill your darlings,’ right? You might be proud of a particular shot or piece of dialogue, but if it’s not adding anything to the content… you know what to do.
It’s tough to cut sections you genuinely love, but any lapse in the quality of your work will result in people’s interest waning. In a world of Reels, Shorts, Snaps, and more, any fluffy bits are risks not worth taking. The entire internet is at your audience’s fingertips, so it’s vital you show them why your content is unmissable.
2. Avoid marathon edits
Like any task, editing can become kind of tiring. If you’re uploading a short vlog or YouTube snippet, you can probably get away with editing it in one go. But if you’re dealing with long-form content, you can become snowblind and miss key details.
For this reason, you’re best splitting your edit into ten-minute chunks. If you have a forty-minute piece of content, hack it to pieces over four separate sessions. That way, you come at it with fresh eyes, and nobody’s going to message you asking why your audio’s mad out of sync.
3. Live and breathe the 321 rule
This is a video editing tip for beginners, jaded veterans, and everyone in-between: save everything, and save it in multiple locations! There’s nothing worse than a file corrupting just as you’ve made a breakthrough. As a rule of thumb, save your project in two different places locally, plus one or more external hard drives/a cloud server. So, it’s saved on a third place, second place, and first place… 321!
Maybe this seems a bit fiddly, but if you save every hour, it becomes routine and will save you an apocalypse of angst if anything goes wrong!
What do famous YouTubers use to edit their videos?
While everyone does their thing differently, Adobe Premiere Pro, iMovie, and Final Cut Pro are all super popular with YouTube superstars. Everyone from Logan Paul to Linus TechTips swears by Premiere Pro, while Unbox Therapy is a dyed-in-the-wool Final Cut user. When you’re figuring out how to edit video, there’s no one-size-fits-all program – it depends on where you’re at in your editing journey, what kind of content you’re creating, and how much money you can realistically devote to buying software.
4. Use the right video editing program
You wouldn’t start jogging by running 100 kilometers, nor would you learn to drive in a classic car. There’s so much variation when it comes to video editing software, and what’s right for you all hangs on how familiar you are with editing. Read our guide on the six best video editing software and apps, from beginner to expert, which covers paid-for and free software. Nice!
What are the basics of video editing?
Once you’ve understood the fundamental dos-and-don'ts of a filmmaking mindset, it’s time to nail some basic video editing tips for beginners: cutting from the speaker, and using color to enhance your content.
5. Cut from the speaker
The speaker is essential – they’re often telling the story. But static shots of just one person speaking can get pretty monotonous, so spice it up by flitting between Speaker A and Speaker B if you’re filming a conversation, capturing dialogue and non-verbal reactions.
If you’re only filming one person, it’s still vital to massage the edit. Cut to illustrative visuals, B-roll, or even the speaker in a different shot.
6. Use color to enhance your content
Color correction and grading are real aces in your hand. Correction is the stuff you fix, like contrast and brightness, to achieve a consistent palette across your content. Grading means going outside the box and deliberately meddling with the colors to emphasize a particular mood. If you want to know how to color grade in Premiere Pro, we’ve got you covered.
7. Don’t skimp on your music
Music is such an integral part of content, whether on TikTok or a feature-length film. Nyan Cat’s chirpy, ever-so-slightly annoying theme tune is iconic, as is John Williams’ score for the Star Wars movies.
Synchronizing your audio with cuts is such a cool device, and something you can achieve by analyzing the waveforms of your video and nailing it to the nearest millisecond. To make it pop, you need the tunes, and you need to use them lawfully – this means owning all the rights, which only really applies if you’ve created the music. If you don’t have the rights, most people will get hold of a license.
Licensing tracks means you obtain the rights, meaning you’re free to use the track within their limits. But there’s a lot of legal, copyright, and royalty mumbo jumbo that come with it. Seems like a bit of a pain.
Basically, you don’t need any of that. You need royalty-free tracks. We’ve got 40,000 of them, from polka to trap, swing to death metal. We also own all the financial rights – that means you get a direct license and are safe to use our tunes in your content, as long as you have an active Epidemic Sound subscription. Sounds sweet, right?
Is video editing hard?
It’s no cakewalk. If you want to learn how to edit video and get brilliant at it, you’ll need to put the hours in. You’ll make mistakes, learn, and improve. If you’re ready to take the next step and drill into the nitty-gritty of what makes your work tick, there are two video editing tips and tricks worth remembering: watch your edit on different screens, and remember to do a final test without audio or visuals.
8. Watch your edit on different screens
You should be all right here if you're making content for mobile consumption. But if you’re editing videos for YouTube, Vimeo, or the like, people might watch on their desktop screens or even TVs.
The most common type of monitor is IPS 1080p, so if you have a screen that fits the bill, watch your edits on that! It’ll offer a different perspective and potentially flag any weird edits.
9. Do a final test without audio or visuals
The Oscars dish out awards for both audio and visual feats, and even if you’re editing your first video for YouTube, it’s something to keep in mind. Close your eyes and play the content. Does it sound right? Are the levels balanced? Are there any strange cuts?
Then, play the content again, but with the video on and the audio muted. Does the video do the talking – can it tell a story without the sound? Does the pacing work with no audio? These questions are vital for people who have visual or hearing impairments. If you want to make your content more inclusive, you can check out how to add subtitles to your YouTube videos here.
With all this in mind, you’re well on your way to editing some pro-standard videos. If our catalog of 40,000 songs and 90,000 sound effects sounds like it’s up your street, why not try it for a month? It’s on us.
Are you a video editor or filmmaker? Whether you’re an absolute master or just a beginner, discover what Epidemic Sound has to offer on our Epidemic Sound for Filmmaking page. Oh, and if you’re looking for some background music for your videos, we got you covered.