Similarly to recording footage, the next step – editing – is a lot harder than I first expected.
Finding a program
First up, you have to find a program to edit it with. Surely, there’s an open source, free video editor out there somewhere? I couldn’t find one (but I didn’t look very hard). VideoLAN Movie Creator (VLMC) is an upcoming option from the people behind VLC, but hasn’t been released in a consumer friendly state yet.
I tried downloading Lightworks Free, installed it, and then found out that it the free version can only export directly to Youtube. I like to save backups of my work, so this wasn’t ideal. If you were desperate, you could probably rip your video from Youtube after the upload using a 3rd party website like Youtube Downloader.
With deadlines approaching, I bit the bullet and downloaded Adobe Premiere Pro, part of Adobe’s creative cloud, which will set you back $17 a month, provided you are a student. There are cheaper options, but I was kind of familiar with the Adobe suite layout, as I used it back in some of my highschool classes.
Figuring out how to use said program
Whatever program you end up using, make sure you put aside some time to use it. Learning how to use a video editing program is a daunting task. I recommend watching a youtube tutorial or 16. Most editing suites should have their own set of tutorials to help you learn as well. The internet is your friend.
Luckily, my friend and mentor Marvin showed me around Premiere, which sped up the learning process. He also pointed out a bunch of keyboard shortcuts, which are absolutely essential to use. When you learn, do it by using all the keyboard shortcuts you can – its much better in the long run than having to break habits and re-learn how to use the program effectively. Thanks Marv.
IT TAKES TIME! The first video I made took me over a week to edit. I spent hours obsessing over small details, tweaking levels and rearranging clips. It wasn’t a waste of time, just the initial learning experience. I had to figure out the style I wanted to use, which clips to discard, where to start clips, where to end them, transitions etc.
All of these things I did with a gut feeling – I can’t really explain, but it probably developed from watching too much TV once upon a time. I’m expecting that this gut feeling will develop and help me become better at creating quality content as time goes on.
By the time I got to my 4th video, things got easier. I had more of an idea of what I was doing, my creative direction and what I wanted. It only took me two days, a huge improvement from the initial week long process.
Don’t be discouraged, you will get faster
I spent a large chunk of my editing time working around bad footage. If I had done a better job filming, the editing job would’ve become easier. I had clips that started too late, clips that started too early, clips with earthquake shake, and clips with extreme wind interference, all of which had to be carefully edited around, wasting valuable time.
This shouldn’t matter too much if you have a good quality microphone, and you find a place out of the wind. Unfortunately, I didn’t get either, and had to deal with a lot of problems. I used Audacity to remove as much wind sound as possible, and increase the volume of everything leftover. But audio editing programs are not magic, and happen to be a pain to use, so save yourself the trouble and capture it right to start with.
Some cleverly placed music is always a good way to circumvent crappy audio.
I made the mistake of capturing a lot of footage as MOV files. I was lacking the right codec to edit them, and had to muck around with a long winded conversion process, that left me with some cool looking (but useless) vaporwave a e s t h e t i c footage. Totally wrote off that video. I’m still looking for a way to convert MOV files so hmu if you have any tips.
You spent hours editing the perfect video, and now all you want to do is upload it and go to bed. Surprise! You have to export the video now, and it takes ages. Make sure you have something else to do while you wait, and even more important – make sure you go over all the export settings twice. I had to experiment with my settings, each time I exported, something else was wrong, and I would have to try another option, and wait for it to export again to find out if it was right. Something like this would’ve sped things up a lot. Do your research (as with everything).
Editing footage is a great skill to have, and so far, I really enjoy it now that I’m in the swing of things. I definitely recommend giving it a try.