1. Tell a Story: In pictures or dialog, a good story makes all the difference
Whether you’re producing a blockbuster feature film or a home video to share with family and friends, a great story is the basis for any well-constructed video. Take the time to plan ahead, brainstorm, get inspiration, discuss with others, share ideas, write out your thoughts and watch as it all comes together during the editing process.
2. Get Organized: Keep your files and folders sorted on your hard drive
Make sure you don’t get caught up spending hours of your precious time looking for a misplaced file or a specific scene in the middle of 30 hours of raw footage. Take the time at the beginning to create a folder structure that is easy for you to understand, keep your files named for easy recognition (a clip named “arrival-at-canyon.avi” is easier to recognize than “clip01.avi”), and keep a notebook to record time points in your footage where specific scenes are located you’d like to use later.
3. Set the Pace: A video is like a song, it needs a rhythm
In film school, my editing instructor would bring a metronome into class as an example of how we should approach our editing. Editing isn’t just about cutting whenever you feel like it. It’s about creating a tempo that matches the tone and mood of your video project. The metronome would act at a beat marker to help us see if our cuts were timed appropriately throughout the project we happened to be working on, fast or slow.
4. Save Your Progress: Save, save, save and save again
This is perhaps one of the most overlooked and most under-practiced unwritten rules of video editing, or using a computer in general. Nothing is worse than losing your last two hours of work because of a power outage or system crash. Make sure to get in the habit of keeping your hand on the Ctrl+S keys and saving every five minutes or so. Another good idea is to save alternate versions from time to time as you progress through your project, just in case you change your mind and want to revert to a previous save point.
5. Be Precise: Make professional edits with precise keyframe controls and trim tool
You want your project to be perfect. To achieve your desired result, take the time to make precise edits using keyframe controls and trim tool. Keyframe control is a must-have tool to create visual effects which times and synchronizes effects along the timeline, such as a fade from full color to black & white, or movement of an object along a path. Trim tool allows you to select the exact sections of your clip on a frame-by-frame basis for precise accuracy throughout the entire editing process.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Cut: A good idea in principle might not fit the final mold
Sometimes a scene might sound great on paper, but could end up detracting from the final result if it doesn’t fit the tone or story. Even if it happens to be your favorite scene, don’t hesitate to cut it if you feel that it doesn’t fit with the rest of the video.
7. Keep It Simple: Don’t overdo the fancy wipes
Words from my editing instructor: “Less is more”. What he meant was that when editing, everything you use – effects, titles, dissolves – needs to have a purpose that complements your production. Going overboard with star wipes or motion paths, for instance, rarely ends in art. In most instances, a simple cut or dissolve will do the trick and have the appearance of adding quality to your video.
8. Spend Time on Your Soundtrack: Complement your production with music and sound effects
Ever watched a movie or section of a movie with the sound turned off? In many cases, you can quickly determine the quality of the video editing by doing so. But even in the case of Hollywood productions, a simple sound effect or music cue can get you through an awkward edit. Try cutting on the sound of a door slamming, a dog barking, a car zooming by. Mask background noise in your scene with light music. An excellent resource for music downloads is at www.epidemicsound.com
9. Be Creative: Apply the final touches with creative Blu-ray, DVD menus & Youtube Credits
Once you’ve cut together the perfect project that you plan to burn to disc to save as a memory or share around for others to watch, make it really stand out by adding a creative DVD menu. The first impression is important, and the menu will be the first thing people see when they fire up your DVD.
10. Get Social: Upload your videos to social video websites including YouTube
What good is it to spend all that time on your video and in the end, have no one share it with? With all the social sharing options available, and the billions of videos being watched daily, upload your video productions to YouTube, Vimeo or other popular video sharing websites. First of all, you’ll get some exposure. Second, you’ll get feedback from the comments which may have some good insight on ways to improve your future projects.