How to Edit Videos (COMPLETE Beginner’s Guide to Video Editing!)

Today we’re going to share how to edit videos for beginners. 

If you’re new to video editing, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. When you’re learning to edit it can feel like there’s too much to learn and the process is too time-consuming. 

Important: When available, we use affiliate links and may earn a commission!

In this complete guide to video editing for beginners, you’ll learn the exact editing steps that will help you edit faster and more efficiently. Even if you’re a seasoned video editor, you’ll pick up some handy video editing tips to help you level up your video creation

You can follow along no matter what video editor software you’re using and on Mac, Windows PC or mobile!  

Here’s exactly what we’ll cover: 

We’ll be running through this process using iMovie because it’s free (and awesome!). If you’re on PC and you’re looking for something similar, we’d recommend ShotCut or OpenShot. 

Not sure which video editor is right for you? Check out our guide on the Best Video Editing Software for Mac or Best Video Editing Software for PC

Let’s get started. 

Step 1: Create New Project

Go ahead and open your video editing software. Create a new project and give the project a name. 

PRO TIP: Some video editing programs will autosave your project but others will not. Make sure you check this and save regularly if your program doesn’t support autosaving. 

The first step in this beginner video editing guide is to create a new project

Step 2: Import Footage

The next step is to import your video files. This includes your primary footage, b-roll or overlay footage, audio files and anything else you want to include in your video.

Once all the footage is imported, drag your primary footage down onto the timeline. 

PRO TIP: You can zoom in and out on the timeline using a slider bar or by pressing Command/Control + or Command/Control -. 

After importing all your footage, drag the primary footage onto the editing timeline

Step 3: Edit Footage

Now it’s time to go through and remove any bad takes or mistakes from the primary footage. 

There are a few different ways you can do this. 

Let’s say you want to remove the beginning section of your footage. Hover the mouse over the start of the clip and you’ll see that the cursor changes (usually to a little arrow icon). Click and drag the start of the clip to the point you want the footage to actually begin. 

You can drag the beginning of the clip to the point you want it to start

Then if you press play, you’ll see that this is the new starting point. You can use this same method to remove footage at the end of your video. 

If you want to remove footage in the middle of the clip, you’ll need to split or cut it. This can be done with a Cut or Blade tool that usually looks like a pair of scissors. Once that tool is selected just click where you want the cut to occur. 

Then you can either make another cut and remove the middle section of footage. Or you can drag the handles of one of the clips to remove the footage you don’t want. 

Simply click and drag your clips to where you want them to be placed

Use these tools to go through and remove any takes you don’t want included in your final video. 

Once you’re finished cutting and editing the primary footage clips, you can make any changes to the order so that your video flows. 

Simply pick up your clips and drag them to the new location until your story is built out the way you want. 

Look for the Cut or Blade tool inside your video editing software

PRO TIP: We recommend editing your videos backwards. Backwards?! Yup. Another thing we recommend is when you’re filming, to only move onto the next section once you’re happy with the last take. 

Then when you’re editing you know that your last take is always your best one. Which means… if you edit backwards, you’re hitting all the best takes first.

This way of filming & editing is so much more efficient. It will save you a ton of time spent sifting through mistakes, separating takes and rearranging clips. 

Once your base edit is done, it’s time to add b-roll footage. 

Step 4: Add B-Roll Footage

Drag your b-roll footage from the media library onto the timeline, just above the primary footage. 

Drag b-roll footage onto the timeline above the primary footage

A b-roll clip can be edited in the same way the primary footage clips can. You can pick it up, move it around, trim it down, adjust the start and end points, and you can split it. 

Make sure you add in all of your b-roll footage at this point to really build out the story. 

If your b-roll clips have audio, we recommend muting them for the editing process. Hover the mouse over the audio waveforms and then drag the audio levels down to zero. 

Put the audio levels of your b-roll down to zero so it doesn’t interfere with your editing

PRO TIP: You’ll constantly be tweaking and refining things as you go. Once you’ve added the b-roll you might decide you want to make slight changes to the primary footage to make it flow better. This is all part of the process. 

Step 5: Add Titles 

To add text or titles to your project, go to the title tool or text editor in your application. There should be some templates that you can configure and use. 

Click on the template you want to use and drag it onto the timeline where you want the text to be added. 

Locate the Title area of your video editing application and there should be templates & presets

An editable text box will appear in the playback window. You can customize the text, font, size, color, etc. to suit your branding. 

Just like the other clips, you can make adjustments to the text clip on the timeline. You can drag the sides to adjust the length and pick it up to move it to a different location on the timeline. 

PRO TIP: If you’re looking for more advanced text to use in your videos, Placeit is an amazing tool that allows you to easily create and customize animated titles and graphics.  

Edit & customize the text so that it matches your business or branding

Finish adding in any other titles, text, product names or bullet lists to your video and then move onto the next step.

Step 6: Add Effects & Transitions 

Go to the transitions section of your application. You can drag and drop the transitions in between two clips on your timeline. 

Use these transitions sparingly as they can cheapen your video

Don’t go overboard with these effects. Some of them can make your video look amateurish. So use them sparingly and only when they’ll add value to your video. 

We usually don’t use transitions between two clips that have the exact same camera angle (e.g. talking head clips). Instead, we zoom in one of the clips. 

This effect almost makes it look like the clips were shot using different camera angles. It’s a great way to break up the shot and make it look a bit different. 

Slightly zoom in or crop your clip inside the playback window to give the appearance of a different camera shot

To create this effect, select one of the clips and go to the playback window. Then using a resize, zoom or crop feature, you want to enlarge the shot. 

While resizing the shot, try and make sure the eyes line up with the other shots. This makes the transition a bit more fluid and less jarring.  

Finish adding any other transitions or effects to any clips on the timeline. Then it’s time to add music. 

Step 7: Add Music 

Remember when we imported our audio track back in step 2? Now it’s time to drag that from the import library onto your timeline, just below the primary footage. 

Drag the audio file onto the timeline below the primary footage 

PRO TIP: If you’re looking for good quality music, our top recommended sites are Artlist and Epidemic Sound. 

The music track or the audio clip is treated the same way as the other clips. You can pick it up, move it around, trim or cut it using the same tools we mentioned earlier. 

Make sure the audio track ends at the same time as your video footage. 

Edit the clip so that it ends at the same time as your video footage

Play through the entire video and make any adjustments to your clips so they fit well with the music. 

Once you’re happy with that, you can adjust the audio levels. 

Step 8: Adjust Volume Levels 

You want to make sure you adjust the primary audio or the spoken pieces first, and the background music second. 

Start by lowering the background music volume down to zero. This way you’ll only be able to hear the primary audio and you can really dial that in. 

Mute your background audio so that you can focus on the primary audio first

PRO TIP: If you have a set of headphones, use them for this step. They allow you to get a better idea of how the audio really sounds. 

Then you want to listen through and make sure the audio doesn’t sound too loud, too distorted or too quiet. 

Adjust the audio levels as required and using whichever tools you have access to 

Your video editing software might have audio bars, which you can use to judge the audio levels. 

You want the audio bars to be mostly in the green, sometimes in the yellow but never in the red. If your audio is in the red, it’s maxing out – it will be distorted and sound bad. 

If all your clips were filmed on the same camera, same microphone and same time, you can just make adjustments to the first clip and then paste the volume to the remaining clips. 

To do this, select the first clip and go to Edit, then Copy. Select the remaining clips by drawing a box around them. Then go to Edit, Paste Adjustments and select Volume

Draw a box over the remaining clips and paste the audio levels to them 

Once your primary audio is set, you can adjust the background music levels. Your music volume will come down to personal preference and the particular track you’re using. We generally start at 20 – 30% volume and make adjustments from there. 

The next step is to do any color grading or color correcting. 

Step 9: Adjust Color 

Start by adjusting the first clip and then you can apply those changes to all the remaining clips. 

Make sure the first clip is selected and open your color adjustment tools. This is a creative process so feel free to adjust the settings as you see fit. 

Adjust the color levels until you’re happy with the final look 

We usually make adjustments to the: 

  • Color temperature 
  • Brightness 
  • Saturation 

Once you’re happy with the color grading on the first clip, you can paste the color correction settings to the remaining clips. 

Then make any color adjustments to your b-roll, overlay footage, graphics or animations. 

You can paste the color correction to the remaining clips if they were filmed at the same time/place

Now watch through your video again and ensure everything is how you want it. 

The next step is to export. 

Step 10: Export 

This will vary depending on the editing software you’re using but usually you can go to File and then Export or Publish

Then you’ll be able to specify the format, resolution, quality, etc. In most editing applications, the default settings are based on your main footage. 

The default settings should be fine for most people, if not you can adjust them here

Usually the default settings will be fine as they are. But you can always customize these if you need something specific. 

Hit Next, give the file a name and press Save

Some programs will give you the option to upload straight to YouTube or Facebook but we recommend saving to your computer. This way you can watch through the project and check it on a mobile device before uploading it.

Once you’re happy with that, it’s time to release your video masterpiece to the world.

We don’t recommend uploading straight to social media – it’s a good idea to watch it through again on different devices first

Now that you’ve been through our complete video editing process, download your own free copy of The Primal Video Method. Feel free to print out the PDF and follow along when editing your next video. 

Don’t forget, this process will work with any video editing software and any device. It can be used for every one of the videos that you edit from here on out!


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Recommended Gear & Resources

Check out an up-to-date list of all the gear, software & tools we use and recommend right now at Primal Video on our resources page here!

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