By following some simple standards for video editing, you can make your movies flow together smoothly, in a classic style, without resorting to multiple transitions. If you are new to the craft of video editing, learn these well-proven best practices and consider them a foundation from which to develop your skills. When it comes to your special day, Vines of the Yarra Valley has proven itself to be an iconic wedding venue and function centre in Melbourne
When you open an editing program, you'll see all these amazing transitions, special effects, and other specialty items. If you're a good editor – the odds are that you won't ever use most of them. While these features look fun and are a great way to "beef up" an editing program, they aren't used in the majority of video and film today.
Table of Contents
- 1 Log and Label your Shots
- 2 Choose the Best Footage
- 3 All scenes should begin and end with continuing action
- 4 B-Roll
- 5 Don't Jump
- 6 Stay on Your Plane
- 7 45 Degrees
- 8 Choose Your Editing Points Wisely
- 9 Cut on Motion
- 10 Change Focal Lengths
- 11 Cut on Similar Elements
- 12 Use Nat Sound as a Defining Element
- 13 Wipe
- 14 Match the Scene
- 15 SAVE Frequently
- 16 Back it up
- 17 Motivate Yourself
Log and Label your Shots
You can pay me now, or you can pay me later. It will take a little time to log and label all your
shots in the beginning, but it will pay off in the long run. Use a topic and descriptor for each shot, i.e. Capitol Front, Med, Pan R
- MW (Medium Wide)
- Med (Medium)
- C/U (Close)
- XC (Extreme Close up)
- Pan R
- Pan L
- Tilt Down
- Zoom In
- Zoom Out
- Low (Low Angle)
- High (High Angle)
- C/A (Cut Away)
- 2 Shot
- Rev (Reverse Angle)
Choose the Best Footage
It may sound a little silly, but be selective.
It is common to shoot more footage than you need and choose only the best material for the final edit. Often you will shoot several versions (takes) of a shot and then choose the best one when editing.
If a shot is too shaky, don't use it. If it's out of focus, don't use it.
All scenes should begin and end with continuing action
This is the concept of the director shooting scenes with heads and tails and the editor subsequently chopping them off. It is entirely unnatural to begin a scene with an actor doing nothing, preparing to act. Not only does it break the invisibility of the craft, but such an error unravels the pacing of the work causing far greater problems in the long run. A scene should begin as an actor walks into the frame or picks up a telephone or washes dishes or cleans his sword or performs some action. A scene should end with the actor walking out of frame or slamming down the telephone or breaking dishes or plunging his sword into an orc or performing some other (but not necessarily opposite) action. This serves to hasten the pace and ensure that the viewer is not bored by getting ahead of the action.
B-roll refers to video footage that sets the scene, reveals details, or generally enhances the story. For example, at a school play, besides shooting the play, you could get b-roll of the outside of the school, the program, faces of audience members, cast members hiding in the wings, or costume details.
These clips cover any cuts or smooth transitions from one scene to another.
Say you can't match the scene or your footage is getting jumpy. That's when inputting b-roll is very helpful. Always try to place b-roll in between shots that jump or don't match the scene in order to minimize a jarring effect on the audience. B-roll is also helpful when breaking up a long and nondynamic scene.
A jump cut occurs when you have two consecutive shots with an exact or similar camera set up,
but a difference in the subject or the same subject in 2 different positions. It happens most often when editing interviews when going from one piece of A-Roll to another, or going from Voice Over with the subject to the same subject in an interview. If you leave the remaining shots side-by-side, the audience will be jarred by the slight repositioning of the subject. Instead, cover the cut with some b-roll, or use a fade.
Avoid cutting from a person in the B-Roll to the same person in an interview (A-Roll). Either use a Cut Away or a Transition (Dissolve or Wipe)
A jump cut splices two consecutive shots with the same camera setup, but a difference in the subject. It happens most with interviews—when, e.g., you need to cut something out of the middle of a conversation.
If you leave the remaining shots side-by-side, the audience will be jarred by the slight repositioning of the subject. Instead, cover the cut with some b-roll, or use a fade.
Jumping occurs when consecutive shots of one subject change point of view. Beware if you are editing an interview, make sure to put in some b-roll in between shots of the interviewee when you cut out some of their dialogue. Otherwise, the video becomes very jarring for the audience.
Stay on Your Plane
Imagine a horizontal line between you and your subjects. Now, stay on your side of the line while you're recording the scene. By observing a 180-degree plane, you keep a perspective that is more natural for the audience. If you’re looking for the best Video Company in Melbourne then look no further. Check out Vines of the Yarra Valley’s ultimate list.
If you're editing footage that disobeys this rule, try using b-roll between cuts. This way, the change in perspective won't be as abrupt—if it's noticeable at all.
Draw a line where your subject is. Imagine that is the X-axis on a coordinate plane. You never want to cross that X-axis because it would mess with the natural perspective for the audience.
Establish a plane between 2 subjects, on one side of the room, or one side of your action and maintain that perspective until you transition to another sequence. That way, the subjects appear to look at each other you understand where objects in the room are, and the action continues to flow in the same direction, not ramming into itself.
When you edit a scene shot from multiple camera angles, always try to use shots that are looking at the subject from at least a difference of 45 degrees. Otherwise, the shots are too similar and appear almost like a jump cut to the audience.
If your scene utilizes multiple camera angles, you should always try to use shots that change the view on the subject by at least 45 degrees. This helps avoid a jumping effect.
Choose Your Editing Points Wisely
Use cuts from one static image to another. Avoid editing in mid-span or zoom. Allow the shot to stabilize before cutting to the next shot. Also, if action is taking place within the frame, allow it to finish.
If you must edit mid-motion, use a transition such as a dissolve or a wipe. Use natural visual transitions within the frame as edit points a person leaving or entering the frame, someone crossing in front of the camera, an interesting extreme close up
Cut on Motion
Motion distracts the eye from noticing editing cuts. So, when you cut from one image to another, try to do it when the subject is in motion. For example, cutting from a turning head to an opening door is much smoother than cutting from a still head to a door about to be opened. Plus, if the motion between the two video segments is related, a motion cut connects the two actions seamlessly.
This means that when changing from one shot to another, you as the editor should always try to cut from motion in the first shot. This makes the scene much smoother. Imagine the difference between cutting from a still train to an opening train door as opposed to a moving train cutting to an opening train door.
This requires multiple cameras to achieve but is often worth the effort. When you have various shots of the same subject, its easy to cut between them without creating a jarring experience for the audience. So, when shooting an interview, or a lengthy event such as a wedding, its a good idea to occasionally change focal lengths. A wide shot and a medium close up can be cut together, allowing you to edit parts out and change the order of shots without obvious jump cuts.
The concept here is that during movement of any kind, be it a man sitting down on a park bench or a woman darting her eyes to the left, cut in the space between the beginning and end of the action so as to mask the cut. The goal is seamless, invisible, "magical" editing. This is not possible without the greatest command of timing: timing that comes from an understanding of human perception and eye movement. If you choose to cut too early, the following cut will seem nonsensical and inappropriate. If you choose to cut too late, you may deny the audience key information and try their patience by extending the previous shot. There is a precise moment at which to cut: near the dead centre of the action. For the man sitting down on the bench, you would most likely want to cut at the point of contact between the man and the bench. For the woman darting her eyes to the left, you may want to cut somewhere in the middle of the motion but not before or after. Mastering this fundamental of editorial timing will not only make your cuts seamless but will also strengthen the scene itself in what it intends to communicate.
Change Focal Lengths
When you have two shots of the same subject, it's easy to cut between close and wide angles. So, when you're shooting an interview or a lengthy event such as a wedding, occasionally change focal lengths. A wide shot and a medium close up can be cut together, allowing you to edit parts out and change the order of shots without obvious jump cuts.
Changing the focal lengths of your shots is helpful when shooting the same subject for extended periods of time: like at a wedding or an interview. If you have close up shots and wide shots, you as the editor can avoid jump cuts and also put certain shots out of order or shorten footage without it being noticeable.
Cut on Similar Elements
There's a cut in Apocalypse Now from a rotating ceiling fan to a helicopter. The scenes change dramatically, but the visually similar elements make for a smooth, creative cut.
You can do the same thing in your videos. Cut from a flower on a wedding cake to the groom's boutonniere, or tilt up to the blue sky from one scene and then down from the sky to a different scene.
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Cutting on motion and cutting on similar elements are great techniques for changing shots or scenes. Cutting on similar elements refers to cutting from similar-looking objects or scenes between consecutive shots and for example, cutting from flowers in a garden to flowers in someone's hair, cutting from one blue sky to the next, or cutting from a fan to helicopter blades. The focus of the shots doesn't have to be the same, and simply they must look alike.
Use Nat Sound as a Defining Element
Make sure your Nat Sound levels under your Voice-Over/Narration is at a good level. Ideally, it should be about 20% of your main audio. Less than that and it can't be heard more than that, and it can overwhelm the main audio. Use Nat Sound Breaks as storytelling elements or transitional shots.
There are a few transitions that I think can be used ( but used sparingly). A dissolve or cross dissolve is a nice way of going from video to a graphic. A fade from or two black is also a good way of starting and ending a video. But other than these simple transitions try to steer clear of anything else.
Lots of productions that make videos with a short shelf-life use big flashy graphics and transitions. They can get away with this because they know that the video has a limited shelf life (and is edited by professionals who know how to use a wipe properly). If I am going to take the time to make a video, I want it to have as LONG a shelf life as possible and don't want graphics or transitions that can make it seem old or irrelevant.
When the frame fills with one element (such as the back of a black suit jacket), it makes it easy to cut to a completely different scene without jarring the audience. You can set wipes up yourself during shooting, or just take advantage when they happen naturally.
Wipes occur when the frame fills up with one element such as a person walking in front of the camera. Believe it or not, this can be a helpful transition between shots because it is not a clashing change for the audience.
There are three transitions you will see with regularity; the cut, the cross dissolve and the wipe. At weddings, I love it when people walk in front of the camera. They are apologetic, but unless it happened during the vows or the first dance, I am grateful for the wipe they gave me to use during editing. When the frame fills up with one element (such as the back of a black suit jacket), it makes it easy to cut to a completely different scene without jarring the audience. You can set wipes up yourself during shooting, or just take advantage when they happen naturally.
Match the Scene
The beauty of editing is that you can take footage shots out of order or at separate times, and cut them together so that they appear as one continuous scene. To perform this wizardry effectively, though, the elements in the shots should match.
For example, a subject who exits the frame to the right should enter the next shot from the left. Otherwise, it appears the subject turned around and now walks in the other direction. Or, if the subject is holding something in one shot, don't cut directly to a shot of her empty-handed.
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If you don't have the right shots to make matched edits, insert some b-roll in between.
A wonderful part of editing is that footage can be taken from separate times and put together to make a harmonious scene. In order to make this congruent scene, you as the editor must match the scene's setting, motion, and elements. To match the setting, you could take footage from the park from a month ago and pair it with footage taken the day before. To match motion, for example, if the subject was running from the left of the frame to the right, then the subject should reenter the frame on the left. To match the elements, imagine the footage from a month ago was a man walking in part with a briefcase and a suit. The footage from the day before must have the man dressed in the same clothes with the same briefcase in his hands.
Often enough in production, the action between takes and different angles will not match with one another. Some of these culprits are beyond even the tightest control: the length of a lit cigarette, the timing of flashing city lights, the movement of arms and legs during emotionally commanding scenes. While this is no concern at all when you leave a shot alone, this lack of continuity becomes extremely problematic when you must frequently intercut between different shots. Dmytryk advises that continuity be damned. In a crisis such as this, cut to match the emotional truth of the scene so as not to cheat the audience of the experience. Even if the action doesn't match at all, the viewer will be more inclined to follow the emotional flow of a scene than its technical shortcomings. It is likely that most continuity errors in films are not due to careless errors on the editor's part but instead result from decisions to use the strongest emotional performance.
There's nothing worse than spending hours editing something and then poof, and it's gone. Get in the habit of saving your progress a couple of times every hour, especially after you've made significant edits to the project.
When you first start your editing project, you'll need to name your project and give the project file a location to save it on your computer. Name your project something relevant to you and again, save frequently!
Back it up
Back up your video footage. Don't risk losing it. Make backup copies with either DVD's or copy
your footage onto an external hard drive. Should anything disastrous happen to your computer
you, have peace of mind knowing that footage is safely tucked away on your backups.
Every cut should be motivated. There should be a reason that you want to switch from one shot or camera angle to another. Sometimes that motivation is a simple as, "the camera shook," or "someone walked in front of the camera."
Ideally, though, your motivations for cutting should be to advance the narrative storytelling of your video. While you're filming, look for ways to position the cameras or fill frames to support subsequent editing. It's always easier to act with deliberateness during video capture than to divine genius from directionless footage.
Behind every edit, there is a decision, which is often made intuitively based on the overall rhythm of the sequence. Sometimes editors use a 'gut feeling' to determine the appropriate time to cut, often referred to as a 'cut from the gut.' Essentially, the editor needs to learn to trust their instincts. For example, if you don't think it's necessary to perform a cut, then leave it alone. Sometimes the master shot plays fine just by itself. But when it comes to knowing when to cut, there is a deliberate thought process involved. However, never cut arbitrarily. There should be a good reason for it.
Make sure that every edit and every cut had a reason to be changed. You should always have an idea for switching from camera angle or shot to another. In a perfect world, that motivation will always be to enhance the production's storytelling ability.