How to Edit for YouTube Videos
Updated Sep 17, 2021
Editing is many things. Sometimes it’s the art of hiding mistakes - like covering up the extra-loud sniffles from your actor or cutting a shot early because you sneezed while recording. Video editing is problem solving. Solving problems that occurred during scripting or during filming, and deciding just how the project can be saved or scrapped. But editing can also be the most time-consuming process of video content.
After all, it is the final step.
It’s where you decide just how your work will be portrayed. It’s where your vision finally comes to fruition. And believe me, no matter how great the early production is, editing can still be unquestionably challenging (or at least tedious) to do. Therefore, what you don’t want are things that make editing harder. You don’t want a Windows 98 computer that can barely render anything you shot, or a free software without the obvious features and add-ons you need to fix “just that one shot.”
While every edit is unique to the project, there are a number of tools to make you more efficient, and give you the best result possible. If you’re just starting out on YouTube, film, or any other video content medium and feel like the edit is way harder or taking longer than you think it should, read on:
Invest in the Right Equipment
I get it, it doesn't feel good that the first piece of advice is to get better equipment and spend money. For many, that’s not any easy thing to do. But it’s in an effort to save your sanity, and that’s priceless.
We urge you to do your best to invest in the equipment that will help you the most. If you’re trying to edit on an old, hand-me-down laptop that takes ten minutes to boot up - you’re going to pull your hair out waiting for renders or endless loading screens or just from losing project files.
It’s never easy to invest big money in a set-up, but editing requires a well-functioning system. If you’re shooting HD content, the computer needs to be able to handle it. Upgrade your RAM to at least 8 gb, get an SSD to improve speed, and make sure you have a solid video card and processor. Whether Mac or PC, get something that works for you and works quickly.
More than that, find an editing software with good backing like After Effects, Da Vinci Resolve, Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro or Avid Media Composer. Save yourself the endless headaches. Invest, and learn how to write it off on taxes when you start your business up.
Learn the Basics Through Video Tutorials or Practice
Your first video might not be the best thing you’ve ever seen but your second might be a little better. Each time you make one you’ll improve, learn something. To learn faster you’ll of course need to edit a lot but there are also a number of tutorial videos and websites devoted to teaching the ins and outs like Skillshare or Red Giant Tutorials. Where you’re lacking in knowledge, run through a full course on the subject. Where you need refinement, watch a couple on the topic and try for yourself. You can also check out our YouTube channel that introduces editing tips.
Create Presets, Keyboard Shortcuts, and Routine
If you’re editing often and begin to find your style - make sure you remember it. Create color correction or transition presets that you can attach to any video and save time editing specific clips from the ground up for quality. Presets might not be perfect, but they’ll get you closer to your style than starting from scratch.
More than presets, make the process more efficient. Don’t always scroll with your mouse and click to rewind or fast forward or slow-mo, learn keyboard shortcuts to keys like “E & R” to go one frame forward or back (or hold shift to jump ten frames), or “J,K,L” to reverse playback, pause, and play forward; or just “Z & Shift+Z” to zoom in and out.
And finally, create a routine that works for you and structure it. Edit backwards. Maybe the best clips are at the end of each take. Edit in stages - start with A and B roll, then moving to color corrections and graphics. Whatever works fastest for you, find your routine and try not to diverge from it.
There’s no shortage of things to learn when it comes to video editing and every time you do it, you’re likely to learn a new trick or two. However, when you’re first starting out, the most important thing to make sure is that you have the right equipment, software, basic building blocks, and you’re instructing yourself to form good habits.
The sooner you get that all together, the less time you spend staying up until three a.m. pulling your hair out to finish something that could have been in an hour if your computer didn’t keep closing the program, freezing, or sounding like a jet take-off at random intervals.