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Research Guides

Video Project Guide

General Editing

You’ve just finished your shoot, you've found other video and sound to use, and you’re ready to put it all together. But how exactly do you do that? This process of cutting and assembling your final video project from all of your footage is called editing.

You should start by compiling your assets, which are all of the components of your video project. Then you'll bring all of your assets into an editing program. When you've completed your project, export it as a .mp4 or .mov (two standard video formats that can be read on any computer) and upload to a sharing platform.

Video Editing Resources

Use video editing applications to edit your resources, including adding additional sound, video, and stil images. There are many video editing programs, some free and some that cost money. The Workshop's favorite free video editing program is VideoPad, which is what we recommend for most class projects and people new to video editing. Our favorite professional software is Adobe Premiere Pro, which is available on all of the computers in The Workshop.

Popular video editing applications include:

Video Tutorial
Text Tutorial
VideoPad (Free -  ) - a video editing application developed by NCH Software for the home and professional market. Our favorite free video editor. Download the PC version / Mac version
iMovie (Free - ) - a video editing software application included on most Apple computers (often must be purchased separately for tablet devices). iMovie can only include two layers of audio and video but is still very powerful and can support green screen editing. 
Windows Movie Maker (Free - ) - a video editing application included on most Windows machines and devices. It was officially discontinued in January 2017, however, can still be found on most computers running Windows 7 or 10. It is extremely limited and can only support one video and audio track at a time. 
Adobe Premiere Pro ( -   ) - This is a professional editing software that has a little bit of a learning curve at the beginning but is extremely powerful. It can be accessed on the Video Editing machines in The Workshop or purchased through a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud. Our favorite video editing program.
Final Cut Pro X ( - ) - This is a professional editing software that is a little more accessible than Adobe Premiere, but only available on Apple machines. It can be accessed in The Workshop or purchased through the Apple App Store.

Video Editing Tips

Once you've gathered all of the assets that you need and chosen a video editing program, it's time to start editing. It is highly recommended that you organize all of your assets into folders before you begin this process (i.e. video, images, sound, music, etc.)

Take some time to watch or read tutorials for the software that you're going to use to edit. All video editing software is organized around a timeline, which is where you order your story into a linear sequence. There are video tracks and audio tracks in the timeline. The first technique you should learn in the video editing program is how to "split" clips so that you can trim media and reorder smaller chunks of a longer video. The following is an example of how you might stack and array these elements across a timeline in your video project.



The art of video editing takes time and practice to improve. We generally recommend that you start by recording your narration or audio story, which will be the backbone of your video project. For tips on recording audio narration, refer to the audio project production guide. From there, start to sequence your video components to enhance elements of the narration. Play around with your components to see the effect of putting different visuals with the same audio.

Common technical editing techniques include:

Editing should largely be invisible. The purpose is to create a seamless narrative experience for the audience. This first clip is an example of visible editing, or what not to do. The edits are unmotivated or made at random:

This is an example of invisible editing, which you should aim for:

One way to make an edit invisible is to cut on a gesture. The viewer watches the beginning of a motion that begins in one shot and follows it as it crosses the edit and finishes in the next shot. The completion of the gesture masks the edit:

Cut to another shot on the sound of a word, especially if it contains a hard consonant. When the word is one that is particularly relevant to the main point of the talk, the edit can also highlight the word and make it more memorable. This is a useful technique for editing with an audio script.

J and L cuts are good for tying two scenes together. In a nutshell, a J or L cut is an overlap of either audio or video onto the next scene. They’re named for the shape in the timeline.

J-cut is where you hear the audio before you see the visual. Ex: hear the sound of the train, and then cut to video of the train.


L-cut is where you see the video before the audio. Ex: documentary where a guy is describing ice cream then cut to a video of someone scooping ice cream while he’s still talking.

Use music to emphasize certain moments - think about sports films that have swelling, emotional music during intense scenes or scary movies with creepy sounds and music. Use sound effects to transplant the audience into a certain time or location.

Be extremely cautious about using video transitions like fades or wipes between scenes. They tend to make a video look less professional. Instead, use the techniques above to cut between shots. You should, however, use audio transitions and fade in and out of music.

Don't use jump cuts! Jump cuts are two sequential shots of the same subject. You see this a lot on YouTube blogs. Example of jump cuts:

Modern audiences have a short attention space. Keep things moving with a dynamic story, video, music, or all of the above!

Exporting and Sharing

When you've completed your project, export it as a .mp4 or .mov (two standard video formats that can be read on any computer) and upload to a sharing platform.

The two most common services for making media that can be easily embedded on websites or presentations are: 


YouTube - This a popular video-hosting site that users to upload, view, rate, share, add to favorites, report, comment on videos, and  subscribe to other users. Your Gmail account can be used to login and post videos to YouTube.
Vimeo - This is another video-hosting site popular with filmmakers that allows more user flexibility in how their video content is shared and presented. There is a large filmmaking community that generates the content. There is both a free and paid subscription version of this site. You will have to create you own login.