How to Edit Videos A look inside my editing process.

Chris Neal /

Taste and Process.

How to edit videos is part taste and part process. Obviously with the amount of editing software available your grandma could sit down with her iphone and edit together a feature film. This is awesome – because it opens the doors for anybody. But the easier editing becomes, the less value is put into it. I’ve also included some lightning speed editing tips below!

Watch all the footage.

Here is my personal flow in a nutshell. Going back to the film days – I want to make sure I see every piece of footage that is available. Sure, I could skip 80% of the footage and grab only the “main shots” – but I can’t sleep at night knowing I may have missed the killer look my talent accidentally gave.

First, I start my Premiere project by creating a basic edit sequence. I throw in all my footage in scene order.

How to Edit videos 1

Next, I begin to start my scrub through. This is the first of a few purges. I start at the beginning and move to the end. I know I said watch all the footage – but we can still save time with digital. At times when I’m scrubbing I’ll go double or sometimes triple the speed especially in this first stage to save time (tips at the bottom). So put on some score music, focus in and start the cutting.

I’ll start watching and typically cut off the beginning/ending of each clip – and anything that is unusable. I’ll do this to each clip. Pieces that I find “usuable” I drag up to the Video 2 slot in the timeline.

How to Edit videos 2

After I make my first purge through – I copy the sequence and start a new one called “Edit 1.” In the new sequence to remove all the crappy parts you can select them, right click and hit “ripple delete.” This will delete all your bad clips and close the gaps on all your new clips (this saves some time). Then you can move the clips back to “video 1.” Now you can start purge number dos.

How to cut videos 3

I go through the “usuable” clips this time and try and make cuts of anything that I find sweet in each clip. I still try to be conservative in this stage and let my choices be loose. But I choose clips I find that look great and cut out clips that are just bland or not great. I use the same formula as before. Clips I deem above average place in the “video 2″ slot. Remember, I go for speed here. I start with broad strokes and start moving in. When finished – I do the same as before. Copy the sequence, name it “edit 2.0″ and ripple delete the bad clips.

How to cut videos 4

Now I have all the above average clips in a timeline. Now we have something to work with. It’s time to zone in even more. And this time I get a bit liberal. Repeat the same process, however – this time I begin to pick out the best section of each clip. I want only the amazing stuff. Again cut and place the best clips in “video 2.”

Rinse and Repeat.

Now depending on the video I’m editing – I’ll continue this process and continue to create new “edits” – until I’ve purged the clips down to the best of the best that is close to the time I’m wanting to fill. For example, for this latest project – I’m only wanting a 2 minute piece. After editing an hour or so down to about 3 minutes of the top stuff – I am now on “edit 5.0.”

When I’m done with these steps I’m left with the filet mignon of my footage. Now I can begin to craft some narrative with only the best material available.

What’s also brilliant about this method is I can always go back to a past “edit” for some mashed potatoes if I’m still hungry (or need more clips).

How to cut videos 6

The key is scrubbing quick and purging quick – especially at the beginning. Don’t waste time with your first few purges. Be picky with quality.

Quick Editing Tips.

Enhancing your keyboard editing skills is key. This article by the guys at Rocket Jump has heavily influenced / sped up my keyboard editing.

Zooming in and out is key for speed. The way I quickly do this is by binding my “Zoom in” to my ‘z’ key. Then I bind my “Zoom out” to ‘shift+z.’

Another keyboard switch that saves me loads of time is changing “Add Edit” to the ‘c’ key. The philosophy behind this is that whenever you hit the ‘b’ or ‘c’ key to switch to your “blade” you want to make a cut in that exact place anyways. This saves you a half a second on each cut – but that time adds up.

Lastly, I try and scrub with the keyboard. In Premiere I use the ‘j, k, l’ keys to move forward and backward. If you double tap ‘l’ you’ll go 2x speed. Triple tap and you are at 3x the speed.