In this article, I'm sharing my top 101 video editing tips. This article is for new video editors and seasoned pros. The article is NOT software specific, any of the tips mentioned can be applied to your editing program of choice.
Many times YouTubers will release small batches of video editing tips and tricks, Top 5 or Top 10 - Nonsense! What are they holding back? Pay it forward! I'm sharing all the secrets I have learned through operating my own video editing business for over 15 years. Use these video editing tips for YouTube or whatever platform you use.
In this article, you'll learn 101 video editing tips from a seasoned professional who has been editing videos for over 15 years... me. This list will help inspire new video editors as well as serve as a refresher for seasoned pros.
These are my top 101 video editing tips, and I say my top because while making this list, I wrote down 250 video editing tips, 49 more than I needed for this title, so I ask you to comment below on something you do that I haven't included in my list, so we can create a 2nd edition including another 101 video editing tips.
To add some order to this chaos, I have broken these 101 video editing tips down into three main phases of the editing process, which for a video editor are Pre-Production, Production, and Post Production.
First up, Pre-Production.
1. Audience First. Editing video isn't about how cool you can make it look. It's about crafting a visual sequence easily interpreted to inspire, educate or entertain people. That's it.
2. Stop trying to edit like Zach King. I love Zach King. But 99% of his optical illusion videos people try to recreate on their own, are impractical for actual video editing projects. If anything, know that the majority of the time, Zach is just making a linear edit. Magic! (sarcastically)
3. Planning. I know, we all want to jump in and start the edit. But creating a video edit outline before you begin can help you stay the course with what the video is and needs to be.
4. Shoot to Edit. If you're shooting and editing the video, consider adopting a concept called Shoot to edit where you only capture the shots you need for the edit, you'll end up with better shots to choose from and less footage to scrub through.
5. Hardware. Stop trying to crack a video editing software! There's no reason you can't locate free editing software that doesn't require you being a hacker.
6. Vertical video is here to stay. So get used to editing it and quit making a fuss about it not being horizontal or sideways. This is the way.
7. Know how to properly size your videos for each social media platform.
8. Use what you have. If you don't have a computer, let alone a fast computer for editing video know that very awesome and professional videos can be edited on your mobile device.
9. Freelancers. If you're attempting to make money for your video editing services. Charge at least $50/hr. You're not flipping burgers. You're editing video.
10. That said. Stop undervaluing your time. There's nothing worse than spending hours editing a video you didn't charge enough for. Been there.
11. However. It's worth adding that you'll need to know how to edit video before charging for video editing services. Because, if I'm the client, I'm not paying you to learn how to edit.
12. Intangibility. An edited video looks like this to people. They don't know what it looks like or what they want. So ask them to provide links to examples of videos they like, so you can better meet their expectations.
13. Clarity. Don't be afraid to ask your client any questions before starting the video editing project, this helps to ensure that you and the client are on the same page.
14. To build on this. Ensure you have gathered all project assets beforehand - which include logos, brand colors, photos, music, etc.
15. Stop waiting until the day before the edit is due to start the edit.
16. Don't wait until the night before an edit is due to watch a tutorial about green screen chroma keying, if you've never done it before. You're welcome ;)
17. Under promise, over deliver.
18. Get 'er done. The quicker you get the edit done, the sooner you get paid, and the sooner the video gets shared with the world.
19. No one should be building custom motion graphics anymore. Start using animated templates from subscription sites like Envato Elements.
20. Only use royalty free, licensed music tracks you downloaded. If you don't know, don't use it. This goes for sound effects too.
21. Be diligent on file organization, so your editing projects open up every time without fail.
22. Edit from an external hard drive rather than storing files on your local drive, the one inside your computer.
23. If the edit is important, backup all footage and project files onto another hard drive, just in case.
24. Stop telling clients you can't open a video file. Instead, use a free application called Handbrake to transcode any video file into an editable file format that easily imports into your video editing software.
25. Learn how to remove the background from any image or logo.
26. Never edit on an empty stomach. Snacking during your edit is another form of distraction.
27. Compile all raw video clips and merge them into one manageable video file, which can make your playhead scrub easier on video editing timelines.
28. Sync all multiple angles or interview recordings before starting the edit, rather than trying to sync individual, edited clips later. Ain't no one got time for that madness.
29. Give your eyes a break. Wear blue light glasses.
30. Calibrate your monitor so it's true to color.
31. As video editors, we have a tendency to lean in to the monitor. Fight front forward posture to prevent future neck and back pains.
32. Be a storyteller, not a painter. Don't just plaster wallpaper up on your edit. Tell a story.
33. Need a crash course in storytelling? Get a job as a News Videographer at a TV station. It's storytelling... on crack.
34. Now it's time to start editing your masterpiece. Avoid distractions by placing your mobile on Do Not Disturb or logging out of your email, allowing you to focus on the task at hand. The edit.
Alright now, let's cross over into the Production phase, for tips on editing the actual video.
35. Speed up your edits by learning the keyboard shortcuts for your editing software or using a gaming mouse with extra buttons to program time-saving shortcuts.
36. The razor tool is not a shortcut you should be using, use the trim function instead. It's much more efficient.
37. Know the lingo. L cuts, J cuts, cutaways, overlays, fade in, fade out. Just google it.
38. During video editing, save your project every 5 minutes.
39. If you get up to walk away, even just for 10 seconds, save your project.
40. Before walking away, render any new elements during your break.
41. If your computer can't keep up with 4k footage, create proxies.
42. If you're editing audio interviews, turn on the display waveform levels option so you can easily see in the timeline where a person is talking vs. having to listen to it in real time, this will help speed up your edit when trimming soundbites.
43. Edit out mistakes during interviews or talking heads and cover it with b-roll. This includes peoples um, ifs, ands or buts. Well if you're editing music videos, leave in the butts.
44. Know that the audio is just as important, if not more important than the video. Get better at editing audio levels.
45. A-roll it before you B-roll it. Edit your talking heads or interviews using the audio bits first to ensure the story order is effective and in place, before adding in the b-roll to spice it up.
46. Use headphones to edit instead of relying on the sound coming from your built in computer speakers to ensure the audio is well balanced.
47. Edit your video in sections, break it down to make it easier to manage.
48. Zoom in on your timeline, get macro on the edits, don't be lazy.
49. Understand when the shot begins and when it ends. Many videographers will wait a second or two before starting and ending their camera move. Which means the shot might be shaking for two seconds before stabilizing and moving. Don't you dare use that shaky part.
50. The first 15 seconds of your edited video are crucial to retain attention, make it sing, but give it purpose too.
51. Sequence your shots. Wide shot, medium shot, tight shot or any variation of that. Sequencing shots helps viewers understand what's important in a scene.
52. Match edit. If your video is discussing how to trim palm trees and you're showing shots of lions running through the jungle, that's a disconnect. Good editing lines up with the narrative.
53. Keep your edits tight and well paced. Trim the fat, don't let it hang around.
54. Editing cuts to the beat of a music track can help realign a viewers interest in continuing to watch the video.
55. Stop overusing video effects in your videos. Once your edits become predictable, a viewer can loose interest.
56. Don't go overboard with transitions and filters. Clean footage is timeless.
57. Never use the star wipe transitions. Just say no!
58. Learn how to color correct quickly. If you're spending 30 minutes color correcting one clip, you're setting yourself up for a long night.
59. When building graphics, ensure all text, shapes and moving parts are consistent with the other elements used in the video. Same colors, same fonts.
60. Emulate a two-camera shoot by using bounce cuts that crop in and out on the same shot.
61. Reposition shot composition by cropping in and adjusting the headroom.
62. Add slow, digital zooms to your clips to keep things moving.
63. Use stabilization effects to correct otherwise shaky video clips.
64. You can extend a clip's length by reducing the speed as well as duplicating and reversing it.
65. Cut on words or natural pauses, not-mid word.
66. Only use jump cuts when necessary for your edit style. Otherwise, a jump cut is a rookie mistake.
67. Review all b-roll and clip out the best shots ahead of time.
68. Compress time to reduce boredom, by using speed ramps and time lapses.
69. Expand time by using slow motion effects, but don't make your entire video slow motion.
70. Keep video intro graphics short, 4-5 seconds tops. No one wants to watch a 20 second intro, no matter how cool it looks.
71. Stop using letterboxes to make your videos look like films, that ship has sailed.
72. If you're editing for TV broadcast, turn on safe margins to ensure your graphics don't get cut off during playback
73. Curate assets on the fly with screen records or locating stock clips, without bugging a client for more stuff. Be a proactive editor.
74. Viewers are quick to recognize stock clips. So instead of using full frame stock video clips, manipulate the stock clips so they don't look like... stock clips.
75. Be mindful of any sensitive information that appears on computer screens or devices and make effort to blur or conceal those items. Again, be a proactive editor.
76. If your eyes start bugging out from staring at the screen too long on a edit. Walk away. But save the project before you do.
77. Don't let your edits become stagnant. Always try new things.
78. Remove background noise during interviews
79. Use audio dissolves between clips to prevent popping.
80. Ensure the volume of the music track is not competing with the volume of a talking head or interview. If we can't clearly hear the person speaking, then what's the point?
81. Flash frames are unacceptable. Clean it up before submitting an edit for client review.
82. Don't forget to render video effects before exporting your edited video.
83. Make text graphics large enough to read on a mobile device. Preferably large, bold graphics.
84. Stop using the Impact font. Just stop, seriously.
85. Double check the spelling of all text graphics. Most video editing programs don't have spell check.
86. If you have a lot of text on screen, leave it on screen long enough for someone to read it quickly.
87. 92% of video viewed on mobile devices are viewed without sound. So get over yourself and start using subtitles and captions on your videos.
88. If you're editing sales and marketing videos, try to squeeze in at least two call to action cues during the edit.
89. Stop using phone numbers as call to actions cues in your videos. They just don't work.
90. Submit rough cuts before wasting time on full edits that get picked apart during revisions.
91. Duplicate timelines on big edits throughout different parts of the story, to help ensure you're not limited to one, single timeline.
These next items are the most important, Post Production.
92. Always proof your edit before sending it for client review. Which means watching your edit all the way through.
93. Before starting any editing revisions, I recommend duplicating the timeline so you always have your first edit for reference.
94. Limit the number of revisions you allow a client to request before marking a project as finished. Use additional revisions as an upsell.
95. Another easy upsell for video editors is to pitch repurposing longer edited videos into shorter videos for use on social media sites.
96. Watermark all videos before sending them for client review. This prevents anyone for getting any sinister ideas before an edit is officially completed.
97. Export low resolution versions of the edit for client review, then export in high resolution when you have project approval.
98. Stop uploading videos for client review to your YouTube channel as unlisted. In my experience, clients don't like seeing their video on your channel, even if it's unlisted. Instead use an editor collab tool like Oslo.
99. Be able to accept criticism or feedback on your edits.
100. Ask other video editors for feedback on your edits.
101. Always be open to learning and always be looking to improve.
Let's continue the discussion in the comments below. What are your video editing tips?