Once you've filmed your raw footage, it's time to edit. This is often the most satisfying part of the process, since you finally get to see everything finally fall into place. Let's cover some vocabulary first.
A cut is a break or splice in your footage. This is also know as making an "edit." Your timeline is the place in your editing software where you place all of your footage, which you can then piece together into a finished product. A scene is composed of multiple takes or shots that you've edited together. Your finished video will be composed of many scenes. Lastly, a transition is how you connect scenes together, for example, by fading between them.
This is how you'll progress through your edit step-by-step:
- Categorize and organize your footage. The first thing you should do after filming is to take stock of everything you've shot. Find a good, consistent way of naming your files so you can easily find related footage later. This is helpful if you ever need to record additional footage.
- Pick the best takes. This is where the real art of editing begins. As you go through your raw footage, some takes will be easier to select than others. For example, you might have a take that was out of focus – that can be easily skipped over. However, two nearly identical takes might be more difficult to choose between. You may need to go with your gut or just use both (for now) before making a final decision.
- Put your selected takes into your timeline. You'll want to arrange your takes in the order you shot them in or according to your script. Don't worry too much right now about timing, just focus on getting everything in the right order.
- Make a final decision on the best takes. In some cases, you might not have a perfect take and could be stuck choosing between multiple good ones. Now that you've pieced together a rough edit, you can put your different takes in and see how they work before and after previous shots. This will help you make a final decision.
- Start paring things down. This is when the "editing" part of editing truly begins. Shorten your takes, start making cuts, and piece things together so everything starts flowing together. Make sure you're using transitions, too, if you need to. Fade-ins and fade-outs are very useful, but sometimes just a simple cut from one scene to the next is perfectly fine.
- Make purposeful edits. Great edits keep your video well-paced and make each shot flow naturally into the next. Bad edits will feel disjointed, distract clients from your message, and cause confusion. If you feel the need to change camera angles or switch things up, make sure you have a good reason for doing so, such as cutting to a close-up when demonstrating an exercise or showcasing the speaker's face while giving instruction.
- Timing is everything. If you're cutting multiple shots together, then make sure each scene has room to breathe before moving on to the next; it's okay if the camera stays in place for a while. Much of editing is about what feels right, so listen to your gut when choosing how long to stay with each view. Note: If you're adding text in post-production, then it needs to be visible long enough for your clients to read it. You'll know your timing is correct when it's on-screen long enough for you to read the text out loud.
- Keep checking your footage. Many times the smaller edits you're making to a specific scene don't match up with the larger edits you're doing across the entire video itself. Watching and re-watching your video from your entire timeline will keep things in perspective.
- Export your video and have someone watch it. When you think you have a good version finished, export it as a .MOV or .MP4 file and give it to a trusted friend to watch it over. Listen to their advice and take their feedback as necessary. Make any further adjustments you need to.
- Upload your finished video. Once your video is uploaded, make sure to give it another watch, even if it's just a quick skim. You don't want to have accidentally left in unwanted footage or be missing a fade-out. It's always better to be too careful than not careful enough. You'll also want to watch the video from multiple places - your phone, a computer, laptop, etc. Ensure the visuals are crisp, easy to follow, and any wording or text you've added is easy to read in all formats.
If you ever feel like something is off with your edit or seems strange, always feel free to check out other video content to see how they're doing it. Seeing how other content creators cut and how long they keep their shots, can be very informative during your own editing.