Video editing, much like any other art form, is a journey of continuous learning and improvement. As beginners embark on this journey, they often encounter common pitfalls that, while providing valuable learning experiences, can degrade the quality of the final product. And not to mention, stretch the completion time leading to a lot of frustration!
This blog post aims to shed light on these common mistakes and offer actionable insights on avoiding them. By the end, you’ll be better equipped to produce polished and engaging videos.
With a plethora of options available in most editing software, beginners often feel like a kid in a candy store. The result? A video that looks more like a kaleidoscope hooked to a rollercoaster, than a cohesive story.
While having some animations and effects are good, simplicity is the key. Stick to basics for most of the video. Simple cuts when changing shots, and jump cuts within the shots when saying something worth emphasizing give a great amount of mileage. Adding animations to highlight concepts with text, or a thumbnail image can help the audience latch on faster. But too much movement can increase the cognitive load on the viewer and reduce the impact of the video.
Visuals capture attention, but audio retains it. New editors often neglect audio, leading to a mismatch between high-quality visuals and subpar sound, which can be jarring for viewers. As the conventional wisdom goes viewers are much more likely to watch a video with high quality sound and not so great quality visuals, than the other way around!
Always monitor the audio and try to ensure that the volume is consistent across different shots. While one shot might be indoors with your good quality microphone, another shot outdoors might be from your phone – adjust the volume levels of the two shots to ensure that they sound roughly equally loud. Needless to say, do invest in good quality microphones or external recorders.
And lastly, while background music might give a certain ambience, it is really distracting and frankly even annoying sometimes, if it is too loud and makes it difficult to understand the main message of the video. Remember to use background music judiciously – it should complement the narrative, not overpower it, and should have a reasonable and pleasurable volume level.
New editors often cut videos linearly, where the audio and video from one shot move to the next simultaneously. This can make transitions feel abrupt and make the video aesthetically less pleasing.
Use “J” and “L” cuts. These are techniques where the audio from one shot overlaps the video from the next shot (or vice versa), creating a smoother transition and making the edit feel more natural.
In simple words, for a J cut, when making a visual transition, start the audio of the coming clip, slightly earlier than the shot change. Imagine an interview video, the host asks the guest a question and the guest answers. In such a situation, cutting the video right when the host finishes and the guest starts speaking is an option, but cutting the video slightly earlier than the host ends the question might help viewers with the transition – they could see how the guest takes the questions and then starts answering it.
L cut is J cut reversed, where the guest is shown while the host is asking the question, and then the scene cuts to the host finishing the question and so on.
Both these cuts lend an “ease” in the transition and are helpful to the viewers transition from one scene to the next.
Many beginners are eager to start editing and skip the planning phase, resulting in a lack of clarity in the story they’re trying to tell. We are only humans, and this is a general tendency in other tasks too, and not just video editing – figuring out as we go!
However, it is better to start with a plan. Before even uploading your raw videos, try to form a rough idea or storyboard of the narrative you want to convey. This gives structure to the editing process, and almost always leads to a more coherent final product. Of course some people are good with figuring things out as you go, and if that is you, then by all means go at it!
Similar to point 1 on overusing animations and effects, often beginners believe the more they cut, the more pro their video will appear. However, this can result in a chaotic video that’s hard to follow for the viewer. And of course our ultimate goal is to convey the story or the message of the video.
So be wary of too many cuts in your video. Let the shots breathe a little and evaluate the pacing of your video to make sure it aligns with the mood you want to create and the message you want to convey. While it might be required to have rapid cuts to generate a sense of urgency and chaos if that is what the story demands, the average video usually does not need them, so be on the lookout for over-cutting!
Video editing is a craft that requires patience, practice, and an eye for detail. While mistakes are part of the learning process, being aware of common pitfalls can save a lot of time and lead to better end products. Remember, every editor was once a beginner, and every mistake is a step forward in mastering the art.
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