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How to Edit a Video: Techniques and Rules

Editing a video is a responsible task. You need to cut out all the unnecessary things and edit the remaining pieces so that you get an interesting, logical, and holistic movie, in which there are no visible flaws.

How long does it take to edit a video? Just imagine: to make a two-hour film, the film crew works for several months, shooting hundreds of hours of video and making thousands of takes. Then, all this magically turns into a finished picture – interesting, consistent, with complete thought and an understandable plot. If you want to create something like that, then use our video editing tips for beginners.

How important is video editing for the narrative?

An on-screen story is a sequence of images that appear on the screen, which are edited according to certain principles at the post-production stage. These images necessarily create a single work in accordance with the intent of the film director.

film editing techniquesThe editor who creates the film selects and cuts frames should be guided by two main principles: firstly, a viewer should have time to understand what exactly is shown on the screen, i.e., recognize this image. Secondly, the image should have a certain degree of completeness and find continuation in the next frame. The more complex the image, the longer it takes to perceive it. This is what determines the length of the frame, that is, the duration of its display on the screen.

It is necessary to mount the frames so that the viewer doesn’t feel the discontinuity of the screen narration. Don’t let them fall apart into separate pieces; they should be perceived as a whole. You can choose any type of editing or combine and use them in different combinations.

Main types of video editing

Video editing will help a filmmaker transform video fragments into an exciting, holistic narrative. If you decide to master the art of video editing, you just need to learn the basic types of video editing.

1. Hard Cut

Everyone knows and loves it. This is one of the favorite video editing tips and tricks of professionals. It is a continuation of the previous frame from a different angle. Using it, you can connect different frames. If you ever just connected two different videos, most likely, you used this cut. It is well suited for situations where complex solutions are not required.

2. Jump Cut

This cut is one of the most used editing techniques. It is a jump in time; it abruptly jumps from one action to another. The type of editing contradicts the classic invisible video editing as much as possible, thanks to which, we watch most films as a continuous story in one time and space. Most often, it works only in tandem with something else, for example, a soundtrack.

3. L-Cut

L-Cut involves applying audio tracks from the first clip to the second one. This cut is useful in dialogue scenes because it dilutes the monotony of the conversations. In addition, it allows you to show the reaction of one character immediately and not wait for the other to say everything that was in the script.

4. J-Cut

J-cut is usually opposed to the previous one. In this case, we hear some audio before the frame changes. So, viewers look at fragment A but hear the sound from fragment B. This type of editing transition is often used in various types of film and video production, but it can be most often seen in various interviews.

5. Cutting on Action

When assembling action scenes, it is important to connect the frames as naturally as possible. Cutting on Action assumes that you go to the next frame at the moment when the character performs some action. It means that you “deceive” viewers and make them ignore the cut. This is a great way to edit a fight or chase scene.

6. Cross-Cut

This is a mix of the perspectives of several characters in one scene and one of the best film editing techniques. You follow two different characters (for example, one of them chases the other) and cut between them. Viewers automatically connect them in the head, as they watch what is happening in real time.

7. Cutaways

This one is used in the editing sequence in order to fill the gap in the natural flow of time when shooting an event: as if to interrupt the continuity of the action but do it invisibly to the viewer, creating the illusion of an inextricable, natural development of the scene.

video editing tips and tricks8. Match cuts

This is a way of combining the movement or space of two opposite worlds. It is most effective when you need to continue the plot and, at the same time, somehow combine the two opposites. A great example of combining is the scene from “2001: Space Odyssey,” in which Kubrick combined the ancient history of the earth with a spaceship.

Key rules and video editing tips

Each of us has ever shot video on a smartphone or camera. And if you can shoot more or less intuitively, then editing is a serious thing and requires knowledge of some rules. Here we have five video editing tips, learning which, you can create something special.

1. Upload and work with material

How to edit a video? Have you already chosen the program, in which you will work? Now create the project in the video editor, and then upload all the materials you shoot earlier. Don’t forget to add the audio files you plan to use in your video. Structure the resulting material. Compose similar episodes and give them names. This is necessary so as not to get confused in the future, to which part of the video it belongs. By the way, if necessary, you can always add new material to an already created project.

2. Don’t cut too much

How to make a video edit? Many editors start a project with a time-lagged line, and then they are systematically cutting it in order to find something good among all the material. This is an inefficient approach, and, most likely, you will choose normal but not outstanding frames. Instead, try to “build” scenes from the very beginning, selecting the best shots. In the end, you will realize that this method saves a lot of time and makes the story more interesting.

3. Video structure

The video will turn out to be dynamic, understandable, and fascinating if it contains three basic parts necessary for any video:

  • A screensaver (this is a frame that reflects the essence of what is happening or attracts the attention of the audience. In fact, the screensaver is the face of the video. It should cause a desire to see what is being told in the video);
  • An intro (this is an introduction to the video, a kind of brief information);
  • A conclusion (a call to action, a word of thanks, etc.).

4. “Look here!”

Each cut should scream, “Hey, look here!” When you show a certain frame, you say to the viewer, “This is important.” Perhaps you have heard Fincher’s reasoning about the significance of close-ups: “Each time you switch to a close-up, the viewer knows that you make an informed decision, that you consider it important. Everything that you show in close-up is important, regardless of whether this is actually so. You can interest viewers by showing them things that have no meaning.”

5. Don’t be afraid to confuse the viewer

Here’s how to edit a YouTube video. You can show close-up things that are irrelevant or switch to wide shots, allowing the viewer to draw certain conclusions on their own. You can hide some information using reverse plans and not showing how the character feels. All these are tools that will help make the cut unexpected. The story must be believable but unpredictable.

Actually, there are no exact tips for video editing that will tell you when and what exactly to edit. You can focus only on your feelings. This is an intuitive solution, and the more you do it, the more you should rely on your professional emotions. Your neurons respond to certain things and visual sensory reactions. Don’t be afraid to make cuts where they can’t be explained by any logic. You just do what seems right to you.