Advanced Video Camera and Editing

Common Editing Mistakes

Video editing is not just slapping in shots and calling it a day. It's a craft that requires a great deal of planning, prep work and creativity. But when there's poor planning, when shots are limited and the editor gets off to a late start, mistakes start to happen.

As an editor, the ultimate goal is to make the editing largely invisible, or seamless. Editing works when viewers are able to remain immersed in the story without having to be reminded of the production process. The moment viewers are taken out of the story it then becomes much harder to get them back.

Also, editing works when it mimics the way we naturally perceive the world. For example, we often hear the action first (the screeching of tyres) before we see it (a swerving car). Or because our eyes are drawn to movement, we often cut on the action rather than before it happens. And finally, we take in the whole room as a wide shot before our brains process closer views. Thus, we imitate what our brains do naturally.

To avoid mistakes, first know your story. Second, save your project correctly. The most frustration with editing happens because people fail to save their work the way they should.They usually end up with files off-line or, if the computer crashes, not being able to find their work again.

  • Begin with a Project Folder.
  • Copy your media to the Project Folder (your footage from the SD card, still images, additional video files, audio files, etc.). Then eject the removable media.
  • Open Adobe Premiere and save the project file to the Project Folder. Don't forget to also name your filet
  • Import your files from the Project Folder to the Premiere file.
  • Start editing.

Common Mistakes

You can watch this video tutorial from Digital Third Coast that explains the Seven Mistakes You'll Probably Make Editing Your Marketing Video. Whether it's a marketing video or a news package, the same lessons apply.

  1. Poor Planning. What is your vision for the project? How will it begin, what happens in the middle, how does it end? Who is your audience?  Every production project should have a vision and a plan. Start with a script and then edit using the script as a guideline.
  2. Get Organised. Do your prep work by organising your media. Create bins or sub-folders and name your clips. You can also colour-code the clips so you can tell the interviews from b-roll at a glance.
  3. Don't edit haphazardly. There should be some organisation to your timeline to keep it looking nice and neat. Place all your VO in one track (Audio 3, 4 or 5) and your SOTS in the Video 1 and Audio 1 track. Add b-roll to the Video 1/Audio 1. When you have a SOT and need b-roll to support what's being said, then stack the shot in the Video 2/Audio. A nicely organised timeline will help you find what you need faster. 
  4. Jump Cuts. Cutting between two shots that are framed similarly leads to jarring transitions. The solution: insert cutaway shots to hide the transition.
  5. Over-reliance of Wide Shots. You don't want to linger on shots. Shooting sequences allows you to use a variety of shots that will keep the video on screen short and concise. The longer you hold up a shot, the more your audience will start twitching. As long as you've given yourself time to edit, keep re-watching your show to determine if the pacing works. If your instincts tell you that the scene is starting to drag, then trust your instincts -- the scene is dragging! You may feel resistant to cutting down footage that you spent so much time and effort on, but you will end up with a stronger presentation if you do. 
  6. Poor Audio Mix. Natural sounds, or NATS, can often overwhelm vocals, such as SOTS or VO. Simply, the volume levels need to be dropped. The same applies to music where the levels are dropped during dialogue and bumped up again between vocals. In addition, try to get rid of distracting sounds in audio tracks, like awkward pauses or even a deep breath in a VO. If you hear "pops" in the audio at the beginning of the VO or NAT, add a cross-fade to eliminate the unwanted noise, or even to smooth out the transition and change the duration of the cross fade to 5 frames or even less. When cutting SOTS, be sure to cut at a point where there is proper inflection in the voice. And finally, open up the audio using "NAT Pops" to avoid wall-to-wall SOT and VO without a break in between. Let the story "breathe!"

Filmmaker Gideon Shalwick put this video together from the question: Are you making these 3 editing mistakes, from Screenflow Hero Review