You can spend a lot of time learning the right way to do things, but you can learn nearly as much (if not more) by looking into what you shouldn’t do. Video editing, as with many creative jobs, often has many different options and methods for completing a project. Sometimes it is simply user preference with no pros or cons for a particular method. Other times, one way can create issues or cause mistakes and should be avoided.
Editing pro Billy Rybka has a list of six mistakes that are common and that you should avoid when you are working on your next video. This is something that applies whether you are working on a simple video for YouTube or a feature film.
1. Having No Story
Story is king. Even on a YouTube video you want to have a through line that pulls people in at the beginning and makes them watch all the way to the end. It doesn’t have to be some complex plot – this video is just a list walking you through various mistakes – just enough to hold things together.
Tied to that, you should be making editing decisions that support that story. Tossing a glitch transition into the middle of a wedding ceremony probably won’t play right and will likely take the viewer out of the experience.
2. Having Too Much Footage
During shooting, it’s often the safest move to just collect as many takes and variations of a shot as possible. This is usually very helpful in the edit. However, you want to make sure you don’t start using more and more footage and options just because you have them. If you have a ton of footage and use it all you’ll end up just making a longer, potentially boring video. Plus, you can mess up things like pacing.
I think the term “kill your darlings” may apply here. Just because a shot looks cool if it doesn’t actually do anything for the video you should still cut it.
3. Bad Audio
Even the most beautiful footage won’t survive if the audio is trash. Audio in many cases can be more important than video. Think about how many times you’ve watched a low-resolution stream and been totally okay with it. Now think about how many times you actually sat and watched through a whole video with crackly or unintelligible audio. See what I mean?
Even when you record clean audio, some independent shooters/editors think that they can adjust levels and be fine. If you want the complete package you should learn how to apply some basic EQs to bring out the best of the audio. You wouldn’t finish a video without applying a simple grade.
At the very least just make sure you aren’t clipping or otherwise distorting the video. Hit around -12 to -6 dB during recording and then normalize the audio in post. Plenty of plug-ins can make this easy if you aren’t an audio pro.
4. Overused or Out of Place Transitions
Transitions can apply a little bit of fun to your video (star wipes anyone?). You still don’t want to have that fancy whip pan or effect transition on every single edit. Transitions need to make sense at the very least and things like the edit transition and movement lining up matter.
Good transitions shouldn’t be noticeable. They should feel like a natural shift to the next clip – or be incredibly intentional.
5. Wrong Music
Doubling down on the audio bits, you can also use the wrong music. Following up on a lot of tips here where the edits or transitions need to add to the story and fit the theme, music needs to follow the same rules. Songs and music should match the tone of the clip. A heavy metal song during a calm beach shot doesn’t make sense. Having a chill tune in the background adds to the ambiance of the clip.
6. No Sound Design
Natural sound is a good place to start, but sometimes it just doesn’t get across the feeling of a living space. Sound design helps by adding sound effects to emphasize what is happening in the footage. It can make a video feel much fuller.
The sound effects can be extremely subtle and be simply tweaked versions of the sound from the scene – don’t be afraid to replace location sound with better sounding effects. It’s something else to think about while you edit. Just make sure it’s not distracting.
Do you have any of your own tips or common mistakes editors should look out for in their next edit?
[source: Billy Rybka]
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