Getting the Show on the Road Part 3: Where and How to Edit Your Video Content

It was a close one. Huge air is always good but like anything that comes up you eventually need come back to ground. Nonetheless, you landed a hefty Hakkon Flip, kept your board straight, and now all that remains is to get back to the lodge and upload online notice to Shaun White you are new GOAT (maybe).

Yet, as you look on  your camera’s footage you notice it looks a little far from the slick edits and stylish projections seen on YouTube and VimeoIf the start of everything good in film begins with ‘lights, camera, action’ you right now feel a world away from the vivid hues of a Hollywood film.

It need not be this way though. Just like anyone who refines something to a fine tee – whether a landscaper in the USA, a sculptor in Europe or a surfboard maker in Australia– with a bit of know-how and editing you can get your clip of that Taipan Air looking crisp and ready to enter the ages as a great online hit.

Let’s look now at 5 principles that underpin good editing…

Use Good Software

Chefs need good cookware, tailors good thread – and editors need good software. It may be tempting to use one of those ‘instant edit’ options seen across some smartphone apps, but ultimately editing needs good precision (and a screen bigger than your phone) to get the best results.

This means recognition at the outset you need seek out some quality editing software. This need not be full-featured and the industry standard, but using it should make you feel it possible to enhance your footage (and not leave you feeling limited by lack of options).  
So, whether it is Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, Lightworks, or another setup, begin to get familiar with a good program for all your editing needs.

…but Start Simple

Think back to when you were a kid. There is a reason Mr Doyleen the impassioned if embattled music teacher taught you Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as the first song on piano.

Kid plays keyboard

‘C’mon Man, let me cut loose the keys with some Mozart up in ere’

The same constant applies to editing. You may be excited by what you can do in Lightworks, and have seen nifty things being done in final cut pro – but both programs (and ones like it) have a steep learning curve.

This is not to deter or dismiss from starting on these an ambitious and happy editor – but if shooting over editing film is your passion then starting with iMovie or Avidemux can see you capably through the early stages of editing. Best of all, there is no reason you can’t edit in a simple program while practicing in a more comprehensive one. Over time you’ll find you then transition easily to the latter.

Take the Time to Edit Well

A iconic or stunning moment on film may be captured in just a heartbeat – but editing is not famed for its speed. What’s more, the more you progress and build your skills in editing the more you will find there are things in your footage which you could correct.

Rather than this being a case of a perfectionist-in-action, instead from improving the lighting, to tone, to the insertion of music, graphics, credits – and the right timing and transition for their inclusion – if you are set to commit to producing visual content that is well-edited you need ensure you’ve time set aside so you don’t upload great footage overshadowed by bad editing.

Recognise Editing is an Ongoing Lesson

Editing requires you to take the existing content on hand you have and produce from it the best possible outcome – the process cannot create film unique content anew.  

This means good editing shall ultimately always be informed by good filming (more on that in a moment). Just as a otherwise good hamburger cannot be saved if the meat is bad, trying in vein to edit bad footage into good content will just have an editor groaning loudly in frustration and irritating their neighbours.


‘Oh, you hear that Gloria? Our neighbour the YouTube star is editing again..’

So, though most certainly you need seek to improve your editing skills as time goes on – and a skilled editor can look to take less-than-stellar footage and polish it up to a passing grade – just be OK with your early efforts looking a little closer to a rough cut than technicolor masterpiece.

Prepare for your Next Shoot when Editing

As you go along in your editing process you’ll find there are things about the shooting process that you wish was done another way. Rather than just let this go in one ear and then out the other note mistakes that have been made, and keep them in mind for the reshoots or future films.

Further, be sure to reflect a little while editing on how to improve the quality of the process when filming. This means if you’re filming multiple takes stop the film between shots rather than letting it just run along one reel (and making it much harder to find and compare cuts when in post-production).

Finally,  while sometimes the nature of a shot (like shooting  a cloud passing by) won’t offer chance for mutiple takes, do a playback in the field if you can.  Few things are worse than thinking you’ve got the perfect shot that setups the serious moment in your piece only to find once back at the desk there was a cat in the frame giving a worldy wink.

‘Jinkums has seen some things in life, but he has NO IDEA how many cats are on YouTube’

‘You may have star power Jinkums but we’ve already cast the lead’

The Final Cut

Not unlike a desert chef, a watchmaker, or someone restoring a vintage car; editing is a invariably a lengthy processes requiring great precision.

Accordingly, someone new to it may well find – whether editing a quick piece to camera or indie film epic – there is no real ‘ceiling’ with an editors’ learning curve; no matter how new you are or how experienced; editing shall always usually require more time than filming.

Yet, when done well it is the sort of thing that wins Academy Awards and
leaves people looking forward to seeing your clips for the content AND the quality of production that surrounds it. Best of all, do it right and you may even end up with a nod in a pop-culture from a nifty 90’s band.

Ed Kennedy is a journalist and web designer proudly from Melbourne, Australia. Say hi to Ed via or on Twitter @EdKennedy01

Ed Kennedy is a journalist, ghostwriter, and web developer from Melbourne, Australia. Contact Ed via on Skype or LinkedIn.