In the last couple of articles on videography, we went over creating a good image using lighting and correct exposure. We talked about the importance of composition and camera placement. Then we talked about the importance of getting good sound. Now for the final, and oftentimes, most difficult and vexing part of creating good video content – editing. It certainly can be the most painstaking and tedious. But proper planning and paying attention to details, as well as taking care to follow the previous steps mentioned above, will help you streamline your editing process.
If you film with more than one camera, you will find that syncing sound with image – especially when people are talking – can be very tricky and infuriating when you’re new to it. Patience is the name of the game. There are many tricks to help. Some people clap to give themselves a starting point for multiple cameras. Others use a flash from a cellphone for instance. Others use a clapboard (just like in the movies). Personally, I count down from four and say go. As always, whatever works for you. Just as long as you give yourself some sort of visual or aural cue for the start of the scene.
Many editing software programs feature an audio syncing feature, but they are not always 100% foolproof so giving yourself the cue to mark the beginning of the scene is essential to properly matching audio to video. I always leave the mics turned on, on all my cameras. I’ve made the mistake before of turning off the mic on the camera I didn’t intend to use audio from – BRUTAL! It took twice as long (if not more) to match up sound and image. Having sound on all your video tracks will not only give you audio backup but it makes matching up video from different camera angles so much easier, especially if you use your software’s audio mixer function to match up sound waveforms from different video tracks. As with all features of your editing software, learn how to use audio sync and practice as much as you can.
There are dozens of video editing software programs available, each with there own pros and cons. Do your research and find out what works best for you. Three of the most popular are Final Cut Pro for Apple users, DaVinci Resolve, and Adobe Premiere Pro. I use Corel VideoStudio 2021, which is a more consumer grade program and not as feature rich as the others but for my purposes, I find it works really well. I am trying to learn as much as I can about VisualStudio to perfect my knowledge this program, and maybe work up to one of the more advanced programs. What attracted me to Corel VideoStudio was the cost. At less than $100 one-time fee, it is a real bargain. Unfortunately, as with Photoshop, you can only subscribe to Adobe’s Premiere Pro. And it’s not cheap either! Resolve and Final Cut each cost around $300.
VideoStudio is also quite user-friendly and quite easy to learn. It contains lots of very useful features and effects. One really nice thing with Corel is that they offer lots of free tutorials that are fairly straightforward and very informative. I also subscribed to their Studio Backlot online lessons for only about $10 per month, that give even more in-depth instruction on VideoStudio and cover lots of other interesting aspects of moviemaking. There is so much information online. I consider it a real blessing of our time. As with the other aspects of video production we’ve discussed so far, practicing and studying your video editing software will really help you improve your videography skills.
The editing process is where your video project comes together into the story that you are trying to share with your audience. To make editing easier and more efficient, pre-plan your video shoot. People in this field love to use the term workflow. Improving your production workflow at the front end will greatly improve your workflow in the editing process. Some videographers will tell you not to “shoot for the edit” and try to gather as much footage as possible and sift through it all later in the editing stage. I consider that a very inefficient and counter-productive approach, which for me, would lead to a lot of unnecessary frustration.
I prefer to plan out my shoot and take just enough video for my story. Many will use a storyboard and draw out by hand – almost like a comic strip – what their shoot will like, to help plan their process. That’s a great idea but honestly, I’ve never tried it. Being more of a writer, I will usually just write out a script. Nothing too rigid either. I just use the script as a guide because I prefer to have the conversation in my videos flow more naturally. No matter how you do it, pre-planning will always save you a lot of time in postproduction and will make editing less onerous.
Editing your video can be and usually will be, used to fix mistakes, to clean up images, and to polish your audio but that shouldn’t be your end goal. Editing is much more than that. As mentioned earlier, it’s where you assemble your footage into a cohesive video project, whose object should be to tell a compelling and concise story. There are a number of elements that can be used to polish your presentation and make it look more professional (such as graphics, motion graphics, transitions, pan and zoom effects, and much more) but just as any chef will tell you, the secret is in knowing how much spice to add, in the right amounts and proportions. Overdoing it on effects will just make your project look sophomoric.
Many videographers will opt to shoot in c-long, n-log, s-log, or v-log (for Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Lumix, respectively). These are different proprietary versions of a flat video profile that allows you to colour grade in postproduction using LUTs or manual grading. I consider it similar to shooting stills in RAW, which I usually do when I shoot still photography. It’s a matter of personal preference, but shooting video in one of those flat profiles and colour grading afterwards just seems like a lot of extra work to me. I usually just find the best looking image in-camera and shoot from there. I suppose the advantage with shooting in a flat profile and colour grading after is achieving a more uniform looking video at the end of the edit.
Once you are done editing, you will have to render your project down to a usable format, which is usually MP4 for uploading to social media sites. The resolution and frame size will be determined by the platform you are uploading to. Your software will usually guide you, but you can also find that information on the sites themselves, if you dig a little. YouTube, for example, has a whole suite of instructional pages for creators and channel owners.
One of the best pieces of advice I have seen came from Anthony Gallo in his course, 14 Day Filmmaker. I took that course in the summer of 2020 and really enjoyed it. I found it very informative and well-paced for novice filmmakers. The advice I am referring to deals with file management – an important consideration in videography because the file sizes are so large when recording video. He teaches his students to download the raw video files to an external, portable hard drive and editing directly from there, to avoid clogging up your computer’s hard drive, which will cause it to drastically slow down and generally underperform. I bought a 5 TB – A FIVE TERABITE!!! – solid state hard drive for under $200. And it’s half the size of a mouse pad! Modern computer technology never ceases to amaze me. I’m old enough to remember the days when a 256 KB hard drive was the next big thing. Today’s technology has opened the doors to things many of us could never have imagined only 10 years ago. These are exciting times to be a creator.
You may wonder why I covered so much about video on a guitar-related blog. The simple reason is that I am fascinated by it and want to learn as much as I can about this medium for years to come. Also, I see so many guitar players who love to video themselves and their bands, and post the videos to sites such as YouTube, so why not do an in-depth series on video? If you plan to use video as a means to promote your music and yourself as a musician, why not learn as much as you can about it and be the best you can be?
Please share your thoughts in the comment section. I would love to hear from you and what you think about this or any other of my articles on the In-Tune Guitar Academy.
To read the first two parts in this series, please click on the links below: