Perfecting Your Videos

Got video? With the ease of taking video footage on camcorders and even point and shoot cameras today, many people are capturing lots of video. But how do you take that video and make it something that you'll want to watch again and again? Editing! Here's hot to edit your videos well.

Woman editing videos

So, you have the video footage. Now what? You can't just leave those hours of holidays, milestones and more languishing! Harness the available technology and start editing your videos today. "The ease of digital editing now really makes even home movies capable of being enjoyably presentable to any viewer. Properly timed and cut footage of any event will catch most people's interest if it moves and flows without dead time," says Tom Mody of the Mody Company. Here's how to get started.

What you need

To edit your videos, start with video footage on a video recording device, the necessary cables or devices to transfer said footage, and a computer to edit on. You will also need video editing software. "A Mac is the first-time editor's best friend. This is advice coming from a 20-year PC user. There are some decent editing options on PCs now, but Apple and its Mac products make it really user-friendly and fun," says Logan Hale of Little Filmmaker.

Step 1: Know your software

Whatever software you choose, you need to know its ins and outs so that you can use it fully. "Video editing software is not always simple. It pays to figure out how to use it. There are tons of sites and YouTube videos explaining the various features of just about every video editing software out there. Spend some time with the tutorials. You'll be glad you did," says Michael Drob, owner of Story Tailors Video Productions. In addition to online videos and tutorials, spend some quality time with the software manual to learn the functions.

Step 2: Choosing the right footage

To start the editing process itself, first download the video from your recording device to your computer. Refer to your recording device's directions for specific instructions.

Next, whittle down the footage you have. Using all your video is not practical and, ultimately, it may never get watched again. "Unless you and your immediate family will be the only ones watching this movie, you'd be amazed how quickly still images or extended pieces of video footage get tedious," says Leland Brandt of Baby Daze. "Three minutes of well-edited video is way better than 10 minutes of bloated video every day of the week."

So, how do you decide what to cut? Plan your video -- what you are trying to convey and what elements express that point. If a clip doesn't fit the bill, it needs to go, even if you adore it. "Maybe it's something you think is cute, or maybe it was just lucky that you got a particular shot. However, if it doesnt add anything to your video and just makes it longer, cut it," says Drob.

Step 3: Making transitions

Video editing programs can come with a variety of transition options. Yes, it's exciting. Yes, it's tempting to use them all. But don't. "A typical issue with people who just learn a video editing app is that they discover all sorts of effects and fancy transitions. At that point, they proceed to add all of them. Take a look at your favorite movies and TV shows. How many of those do you see? Keep the effects tasteful and the transitions appropriate," says Drob.
Chances are, the dissolve effect is all you really need.

What else?

Editing video isn't a fast and easy process. It takes time to do it right. "Yes, you can quickly edit a short piece of Junior's baseball game or piano recital, but getting a cleanly edited video takes time and patience. The software isn't terribly hard, but getting good at using it can be," says Brandt. So, give yourself some leeway with timing and do your best.

How long should it be?

Ultimately, the most important thing about your video is that it flows well. So, focus on getting active content pared down to interesting footage. What could that mean for active timing? "Every year, I take the 10 or so hours of family footage and cut it down to three or four hours at high-quality viewing -- about 75 minutes per DVD. The Christmas scenario is a good exercise in editing because you have to learn to filter out what's really memorable enough to keep," says Mody.

Tags: videography

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