So you want to create decent memorable videos? Me too. But before you begin pulling together the footage you’ve captured, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Tip 1 – Know What You’re Trying To Accomplish
It may sound obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many fail at this first stage – before they even get started! In actuality, the editing stage should be a continuation of the pre-production and production stages. What I mean by that is, the story or purpose you have for the video MUST make its way into the editing phase. For example, if the storyline is based upon a damsel in distress who is rescued by the handsome prince from the evil witch and they live happily ever after, certain elements and techniques need to be utilized in the editing process. Following this example then, at times you will want highly intense and swift scene changes accompanied by clashing sound effects as the prince battles the witch. And at other times you’ll want slow fade-ins/outs and slow motion effects when the prince rides off with damsel to non-reality land.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this step is not important, believe me, if you don’t get this right, no further editing will make a difference, your work will not be impressive. Take the time to sit and plan, to soak up the feeling, mood, emotions, overall mission and direction of the film. Only then will you have an adequate framework to give structure to your techniques.
As the editor you are the arranger, assembler, organizer, presenter, you are the one who makes all the difference! Think of it as building a house and you are the contractor, without you all one has is powdered cement and loose plywood – you make those parts meaningful by putting them together in the appropriate way. Your job is to tie all the work together and present the story, from the script to the footage, it all wraps up in your hands…you need to be skillful!
Tip 2 – Basically Skillful
Now that you know what the purpose of the film is, you need to get skillful. You need to bring those techniques that the film and story call for – putting the pieces together. Let’s take a look at a few shall we.
Color: Sometimes the quality of footage you are given isn’t where you want it to be as an editor, remember, we’re after perfection. Color is often overlooked in the production process or sometimes simply diminished from poor lighting techniques. You need to keep the picture clean and consistent because color can have a striking impact on a film. A scene might call for rich colors or a dull dampened look. If the video is for broadcast, there could be legal ramifications for shoddy color.
Transitions: Like I said before, we’re pulling everything together. ‘Seamless’ is the word that you need to keep in your mind. Now when I say seamless I don’t mean slow. What I mean is ‘in line with the mood’. That is the true definition of seamless. It’s where the audience naturally progresses according to the film’s desired direction – you just help them along. Dissolves, page peels, zooming, wiping, etc.
Effects: You can use these to fix and patch up flaws in the footage. Tints, sharpeners, etc. Don’t be afraid to try these out, if done right they aren’t cheesy at all! Just don’t over do it.
Clip Speed: Don’t be afraid to speed up and slow down a clip to get the message across, in fact, you should! Think of a movie like the Matrix. Those out of shape actors don’t move that fast! See, we make them look good.
Clip Duration: You don’t need everything the production process gives you. You decide what stays in and what stays out, so why not take only a portion of video if you feel like it? Sounds basic? No, No, Fundamentals are everything, because choosing the right portion is the challenge. How do you know what stays and what goes? Back to the story, purpose, mission of the film – that’s how you know. Another overlooked and very basic skill.
Audio: Music, Sound effects, voice overs. Video with crummy audio is like the blind leading the blind – they both fall into the ditch, along with your final product. Proper mixing and sweetening is an essential part of editing. Also, learn to master your fading and panning, two effects that give life to your video. When fading, you’ll want to use this precisely and accurately. Panning refers to shifting the sound from one ear to the other from the listener’s point of reference. In other words, having the effect of a speeding bullet whizzing by your ear requires you to pan the sound to follow the bullet. Try surfing the net for the free sound effects out there. Lot’s more can be said on audio.
These briefly outline a few of the techniques one can use in video production editing, and while they may seem obvious, remember that they are basic for a reason. Because the basics work!