Editing down your videos can be a time-consuming process filled with headaches and frustration. This is the part of the video creation process that many people hate, and some even try to avoid it at all costs.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! There are a few things you can do to cut down on editing time and cut back on those editing-related headaches.
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In this guide, we’ll be covering exactly how to edit videos faster with some simple video editing tips and tricks for each step of the editing process. Not only will it save you a ton of time, but it will also boost the overall quality of your video content.
So if you’re ready to edit videos faster and simplify this important aspect of production, let’s get started!
How to Edit Videos Like a Pro (In Less Time!)
Before jumping into the editing process, there are 3 tips for filming that can ultimately help speed up the editing process:
- Shoot footage with editing in mind: By thinking about the end product while you film, you’ll be able to cut down on editing time drastically. Only record what’s truly necessary for the video so that you have less content to work with in your editing software or app.
- Make your last take your BEST take: Don’t move on from filming your footage until you’ve absolutely nailed the last take of your video. This allows you to edit backwards, moving from the end of the footage to the beginning. You’ll be able to start the editing process with your best take and move on from there.
- Leave notes while filming: Keeping your video end goals in mind while you film is a great way to cut down on editing time. Rather than just keep it in mind, leave yourself physical notes throughout the footage. This could mean you clap your hands 3 times to indicate an audio issue, you wave your hand in front of the camera to show a script mess-up, etc. Having these messages within the footage basically means you’ve started your editing while filming, and it will definitely make things easier later on.
Now that we’ve gotten those filming tips out of the way, it’s time to cover the actual editing process. Here are the steps on how to edit videos from start to finish:
- Copy & Organise Footage
- Import Your Assets
- Create Your Project
- Sync Up Video & Audio
- Start Cutting Down & Refining
- Duplicate Your Timeline
- Build Out the Story
- Add Music & Sound Effects
- Refine Your Edit
- Add Titles & Graphics
- Add Effects & Transitions
- Adjust Audio Levels
- Apply Audio Effects
- Color Grading
- Export & Review
- Make Final Changes & Export
Step by Step Video Editing Process
The entire editing process is made up of these 16 steps, and it’s best to follow them in this exact order if you want to edit as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Even though 16 steps may sound like a lot and you might be feeling slightly overwhelmed, we’ve provided you with some video editing tips on each one to speed things up.
Step 1: Copy & Organise Footage
The editing process begins with copying your footage so that it’s accessible in more than one location. This is also the perfect time to get organised. The key to copying and organising video files is to keep it simple so that all footage is easy to find and easy to access.
Start by breaking down the footage into files based on the camera used or the cameraman who was filming so that you can easily find what you’re looking for when it comes time to edit.
It’s also a good idea to have separate files for audio, graphics/animations, project files, drafts, and completed videos. Doing this will set you off on the right foot and help you or another editor stay organised.
Step 2: Import Your Assets
Next, it’s time to import your video footage and all the files you plan on using into your editing software.
A lot of video editing software allows you to just drag and drop an entire folder – or even multiple folders – directly into the software interface. So as long as you’ve gotten organised in step number 1, you should be able to easily import your assets.
However, some editing tools require users to manually import files into the software interface. Whether you have to do it manually or by dragging and dropping, taking the time to complete this step lets you easily find all of your video files while editing.
Step 3: Create Your Project
Step #3 of our video editing tutorial is to create your project. This is where you’ll create the video timeline and drop the footage onto that timeline. A big part of creating your project is dropping the footage in the correct sequence.
One of the most helpful video editing tips for this step is to set the project up to match the original recording settings.
So if you shot your footage in 4K resolution at 30 frames per second, ideally you’d edit your project in 4K at 30 FPS. By doing this, you’ll get the best quality output when it comes time to export the video.
Step 4: Sync Up Video & Audio
Step #4 is an easy one and shouldn’t take up too much of your time. If you’re shooting multiple camera angles or recording audio externally, just make sure to sync up all of the content so that you don’t have to worry about syncing later on.
Step 5: Start Cutting Down & Refining
In Step #5, it’s finally time to start cutting down your footage to refine your video content.
As you go through your footage the first time around, remove anything that you 100% do not want in the finished video. Get rid of any bad takes, unusable content, or unnecessary clips. Any footage that’s questionable and you’re on the fence about using, leave it in for now.
Remember those 3 filming tips we covered earlier? Those will come in handy during the cutting and refining process. To refresh your memory, here’s how you can apply those filming tips to this step:
- As you make your cuts, start at the end of the timeline and work backwards so that you hit the best take first
- Look out for the markers and physical notes that you left yourself while filming – this will make the cutting/refining process a lot easier
- Use simple keyboard shortcuts J, K, and L to make cuts faster – Pressing ‘J’ will playback the timeline in reverse, pressing ‘K’ will pause the playback, and pressing ‘L’ will playback the timeline forward
Pro Tip: Learn Keyboard Shortcuts
Speaking of keyboard shortcuts, one of the best video editing tips for speeding up Step #5 is to learn the ‘Trim Top and Tail’ shortcut for your specific editing software.
Step 6: Duplicate Your Timeline
At this point, you’ve already done quite a bit of work in the editing process, so just to be safe, it’s best to back everything up by duplicating your video timeline.
Now that you’ve already cut out all of the unusable content, this is the perfect time to duplicate it. By duplicating after making your initial cuts, you won’t have to go all the way back to the original footage and start from scratch if something happens during the editing process.
Another helpful tip: save your work as you go! There’s nothing worse than losing hours of editing work because you failed to save your progress along the way.
Step 7: Build Out the Story
After you’ve made your first round of cuts and done the initial refining, it’s now time to build out the story. This is when you’ll reposition any clips that might be out of sequence and rearrange the footage so that everything is in a logical position on the timeline.
Step 8: Add Music & Sound Effects
Music and sound effects are a great addition to video content, so Step #8 is all about adding in audio.
Most editing software makes it easy to add in audio files simply by dragging and dropping them into the correct position on the timeline.
Step 9: Refine Your Edit
You already refined some of your footage by cutting it down in Step #5, but now it’s time to do even more refining and fine-tuning.
Step #9 is all about further refining your footage for both audio and visual aspects of the video. This is where you’ll make tweaks and adjustments so that the video can truly start to take shape.
This is probably the most repetitive step in the entire video editing process. By the end, it’s very likely that you’ll be tired of playing back through the same clips over and over as you make minor tweaks. But the good news is that your video is finally coming together!
Step 10: Add Titles & Graphics
Adding in text, titles, and graphics in Step #10 is a great way to keep your viewers engaged. Spend some time adding in each of these elements to take your video to the next level.
If you want to learn how to make animated video titles, we also have a tutorial on how to do this which you can watch here.
Step 11: Add Effects & Transitions
The 11th step in the video editing process is to add in your effects and transitions. Similar to Step #10, this next step is an amazing way to start polishing up your video to get better viewer engagement.
Transitioning between clips and adding in effects is a great way to give your video an added finesse.
Step 12: Adjust Audio Levels
We all know that audio is an integral aspect of any video, so these next 2 steps will be focusing on just that.
With Step #12, it’s time to adjust the audio levels of your video and make changes to the audio levels of the music, sound effects, and vocal recordings.
When making your adjustments, a key thing to remember is that the audio should be clear and easy to hear. The background music should never be too overbearing or distracting, so keep that in mind when making changes to audio levels.
Step 13: Apply Audio Effects
In Step #13, it’s time to tighten up the video’s sound by applying additional audio effects. This is where you can apply background noise reduction, tweak equalizers, add compression – basically anything that will improve the video’s audio.
Step 14: Color Grading
Now that you’ve played around with audio levels and effects, the next step is to focus on visuals by making adjustments to color grading.
Step 15: Export & Review
You’ve made cuts, you’ve done some major refining, you’ve added in effects like titles and graphics, and you’ve adjusted audio and color. Finally, it’s time to export the video and give it a final review in Step #15.
As you playback the video from start to finish, check to make sure you haven’t missed anything in the editing process.
It’s recommended that you review the video on multiple devices – phone, tablet, desktop… whatever devices you have access to.
Audio and visuals can look and sound different depending on the device. By viewing the video on a variety of devices, you’ll get a much better idea of how the content looks and sounds from different screens and operating systems.
Step 16: Make Final Changes & Export
After going through the previous 15 steps on how to edit video for YouTube, you’ve finally reached the home stretch. It’s time to round out the process with any final changes that might be needed.
Once you’ve made your last-minute tweaks, export the video for release. Before you hit that ‘Export’ button, make sure to pick the best quality settings possible.
Remember, the settings you choose for exporting will ideally match the settings you used for filming and editing. If you make changes to things like frame rate and resolution for export, the quality of the video could be affected.
Now You’re Ready to Edit Like a Pro – Fast!
There you have it – the complete guide on how to edit videos faster.
Whether you were looking for video editing tips for beginners or you’re editing at the professional level, following these steps will help you to edit down your videos much more efficiently.
For more information on how to edit YouTube videos faster, use our free guide on The ULTIMATE Video Editing Process. In this guide, we’ll give you even more tips to improve video editing and speed up the process.
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Recommended Video Editing Software
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!