These days, most computers come equipped with video editing software. Windows Movie Maker is standard for Microsoft; Apple includes iMovie on its Macs. You can even find video editing platforms such as WeVideo online.
Whatever tool’s available to you may seem a bit foreign at first, but we’ve got some tips to help you get started on editing a simple video.
Step 1: Open Your Video Editor and Get to Know the Lay of the Land
You’ll find similar layouts across video editing programs. The timeline sits across the lower half of the screen. This is where you’ll place your clips in the order in which you want them to appear. You’ll generally notice at least one track for video and two tracks beneath it for audio. The upper portion of your screen will feature a bin on one side. That’s where you’ll store video clips, audio files, and still images. On the other side of the screen is a preview window. This will show you whatever appears on the timeline. Use it to scrub through a clip and review edits after you make them.
Step 2: Load Your Video into the Editing System
Whether you shot on a point-and-shoot camera, your iPhone, or a GoPro, the first step is to transfer the footage onto your computer. So, connect your device just as you would if you were uploading photos to your desktop. If your files are stored to a memory card, stick that into a reader. Transfer all of the assets onto your computer. Once there, find an “import” or “ingest” button on your video editor. This will bring the footage into the program (into a bin) for you to use.
Step 3: Log Your Footage
Be familiar with your clips. Know what you want to use and what you’d rather toss. Organize them into folders. The time you spend sifting through the footage now will save you time in the edit later because you won’t be scrambling to find clips.
Step 4: Let the Fun Begin
Lay out your clips on the video timeline in the order in which you want them to appear. To achieve a seamless look, try to build a sequence. That’s cutting between wide, medium and close up shots. This makes the finished piece easy on the eyes.
You may want to trim either or both ends of a clip to showcase the most important footage. Place your cursor over the end of a clip and drag and adjust as you see fit. As a general rule, it’s good to hold shots for at least three-seconds and not much longer than five-seconds, unless something very interesting is going on.
If you want to get fancy, add a transition. Locate the transition you want to use. Then simply drag it in between the two clips where you want to apply it.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the video, but don’t neglect your audio. The natural sound that your camera picked up along with moving images can really help drive a piece. You can enhance it by adding a musical track our sound effects. Just take whatever file you want to use and place it on one of the audio tracks directly beneath the video. Most video editing software includes a library of royalty free music.
5. Create a Video File
When you’re done adding all the bells and whistles, you’ll have a finished piece. Now it’s time to get it out of the video editing system. This is called exporting. You’ll create a video file that you can upload to YouTube or Vimeo, and share with your friends on Facebook. Depending on the length of your video and how many fancy edits you made, this may take some time.
The Bottom Line
Have fun and experiment a little. That’s one of the best ways to learn a new trick. Your video editing software likely includes plug and play templates you can try. Some also include graphics packages for titles. Have at it! Just don’t make the same mistake I often make. Be sure to save your project frequently. Take it from who has learned that lesson the hard way.
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Wes Benter is a senior online community services specialist at ProfNet, a service that connects journalists with expert sources. He previously worked as a creative producer for PR Newswire’s MultiVu. Prior to that, Wes worked on-air as a reporter and weather anchor for network affiliates in the Midwest. Learn more by following him on Twitter @WBenter.