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Smart Advice for Professionally Editing Your YouTube Videos

Once you're in the post-production phase, these tips can help you craft a video that looks like it's straight out of a Hollywood production studio.
Smart Advice for Professionally Editing Your YouTube Videos
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5 min read
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The following excerpt is from Jason Rich’s book Ultimate Guide to YouTube for Business. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound

Virtually every video you produce will require at least some level of editing and post-production, even if you're going for a grass-roots, low-budget look. Plan on spending considerable time editing and re-editing your videos until every second, scene and shot work together to achieve your goals, adhere to your company's image and cater to your audience.

Editing a video is a technical as well as creative process. Before you start, back up all raw footage and pre-produced elements on an external hard drive or cloud-based file sharing/storage service. Then, as you finish editing each scene, save and back up your work. Because you'll be working with extremely large files, it's not uncommon for the computer or software to periodically crash. If that happens, you don't want to lose more than a few minutes' work.

Related: 5 Social Media Rules Every Entrepreneur Should Know

Begin by launching your editing software and importing your raw video and other multimedia assets. Write down detailed notes about what you've recorded and where each component is stored. Catalog how many times a scene was shot, or if you used multiple cameras during the shoot so when you're editing each scene, you're able to review all the footage and choose the best takes.

Refer to your storyboard and shooting script as you assemble each scene and string them together. Begin to edit the raw video using the software's tools and features. You can trim sections of the video, separate footage into scenes and reorder them, and begin to shape the production. After the raw video has been edited, import and insert other multimedia elements, such as PowerPoint slides, digital photos, or graphics. Then, add video effects and filters and insert animated transitions, as needed.

Once the main components are assembled, create an opening title sequence and any closing credits, and insert any captions or other text-based elements throughout the video. Make sure your message and call to action are clearly and cleverly incorporated, and the nearly finished product speaks to your target audience.

Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

13 editing strategies for a more professional production

  1. Make sure each scene in your video flows nicely into the next, from a visual, audio and contextual aspect.
  2. Ensure that the overall audio levels are consistent throughout the video.
  3. Avoid static images or "talking head" shots. If you use them, keep them short, and switch camera angles or shooting perspectives often.
  4. If you forgot to use the "Rule of Thirds" when shooting your footage, use the software's cropping and editing tools to reposition your main subject off cen­ter in the frame.
  5. As you're editing each scene, incorporate different shots and camera angles, but make sure you use appropriate transitions that allow the video to flow. Most editing programs have dozens or even hundreds of scene transitions that you can drag and drop into a scene to blend two video clips. A jump cut -- when one scene abruptly cuts into another -- is the one used most often. But, alternate with animated transitions so your video isn't too choppy. Two of the most common editing mistakes are overusing elaborate transitions and using the same transition repeatedly in a relatively short video. The goal of a transition is to help one scene flow smoothly into the next -- not to distract the viewer.
  6. Make text-based titles, credits and captions short and succinct so your view­ers can easily read them, even on their smartphone's smaller sized screen. Likewise, keep horizontally and vertically scrolling text moving slowly and steadily.
  7. Don't overuse visual effects and filters. While they can make your videos more visually appealing, too many can distract your audience from your core message and call to action.
  8. Choose your background music wisely. It can set a mood, keep momentum going, or just be entertaining, but mostly can help convey your message -- or detract from it. Think about what genre, volume, tempo, lyrics and, of course, specific piece of music is most appropriate, and, once you're sure there are no copyright issues, choose when and how to best incorporate it.
  9. Keep production elements simple and straightforward. Your message and call to action are your video's key components, not the visual or audible bells and whistles you can throw in as eye or ear candy.
  10. Remove ancillary content. You're much better off with a short, coherent video that succinctly achieves your goals than a long-form masterpiece full of the snazzy production elements that your editing software makes so easy to add.
  11. Consider animated slide shows of photos or PowerPoint presentations, in addition to live-action footage.
  12. Don't be afraid to promote your company's website, Facebook page, Twitter account, blog and other social media activities. Their URLs can be cited by the video's host, announced in a voice-over, and displayed in the credits and captions. You can also include these links on your YouTube channel page, and within a video's description. Within the videos themselves, this information can be included within Cards and End Screens.
  13. Once the visual elements have been edited, and you've created a rough cut of the video, start mixing in the audio components, like background music, sound effects and voice-overs. Each audio component should be placed on a separate audio track so you can independently control and adjust each one.
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