Edit A Video Professionally

Editing a video professionally is relatively easy.

In an era before digital video, editing film and video tape required an extensive amount of skill and technical knowledge. Editors had to know work bulky film viewers and reel-to-reel machines, as well as splice film in various ways to produce different kinds of edits. Mistakes were often expensive and time-consuming, as film frequently had to be reprinted. With computer editing programs, would-be professionals can sort shots and arrange whole scenes with a few clicks of a mouse.


1. Insert a digital tape in a camcorder. Unless your footage has already been transferred to another format, such as DVD, you will need to move it from the tape on which it was shot to the computer using a camcorder. Press the “eject” button on the camcorder, place the tape in the slot that opens, and close the slot.

2. Download the footage from the camcorder onto the computer using a video-capturing program. Such a program likely was included with the purchase of the camcorder. Although footage can be loaded through USB cables, if possible, use the much faster Firewire cable. Turn on both devices on and attach a Firewire cable to the appropriate ports. Open the video-capturing program and select the appropriate command. In most cases, the command will be “capture” or “batch capture”.

3. Load the footage into an editing program. There are a number of good computer editing programs, but the one most favored by profession editors is Final Cut Pro, made by Apple. Some programs capture directly from the camcorder, while others require the footage to be already loaded using another program, as in Step 2. Each editing program will its specific set of commands for loading the footage; consult the manual that came with the program or the program’s help menu.

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4. Sort the film. Much of the video you have loaded onto the computer, such as bad takes, will not make it into the final film. Trim the extraneous material and group the footage by shots and scenes. The way to do this is different for each program. In Final Cut Pro, you can select the “razor” tool to sever the footage in the time line. After making cuts to a shot, delete the unwanted sections.

5. Place the shots in order. After picking out your favorite shots, the shots should be arranged into a logical order. In traditional narrative films, shots are put together to form scenes and scenes are put together to tell a story. Most programs allow you to drag and drop shots in the order you choose.

6. Add effects. Most good editing programs allow filmmakers to add a variety of effects to their videos. These can include changes to the look of the video, the addition of special kinds of edits, such as fades and dissolves, and other special tricks.

7. Add sound and music. After the video is ready, you should adjust the sound that runs over it. This can include tweaking levels, adding sounds effects and music, and adjusting the volume. If necessary, have actors re-record dialogue.

8. Copy the finished film onto a transportable format. After the video is finished and is ready to be screened, it can be burned onto a DVD or another type of format that supports digital video. Or, alternately, the video can be posted onto the Internet. Most editing programs will have a command for this called “export footage” or “burn video.”

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