25 Swift Video Editing Tricks

Anyone who has had any involvement in video editing knows it isn’t an easy skill to master. It takes a huge amount of practice and patience. Whether you’ve been editing for years or just starting out, there are loads of tips, tricks and techniques out there that can help you get a finished video you are proud of. Every editor has their own style and unique way of working, give any two editors the same raw footage and you will end up with two totally different videos. Whilst most editor’s will adapt their style depending on the project they are working on; some editing tricks are universal and will help in almost any video editing scenario. Here are out top 25 swift video editing tricks:


1. Clean up your dialog


It is completely natural when people speak they will say the occasional ‘ummm’ or ‘errr’, especially in interview footage. Whilst it can be time consuming to cut out every long pause, breath or irrelevant comment, it is so worth it when you see the final video. Try using very short audio fades to subtly remove any speaking errors. It may only save a few seconds here and there, but they quickly add up if you’re working on a lengthy video.


2. Add music, and cut to it


Using music and sound effects adds depth and layers to any video project. Be careful to choose something that is relevant and fitting to the visuals in the footage. It is important to cut your video to the beat of the song, this can make a real impact on the finished project.


3. Choose the right software


There are hundreds of options out there for video editing software, and most of them can do essentially the same things. It is important to choose the software that is right for you and your tastes and preferences. For example, Adobe Premiere Pro is the most popular for professional editors mainly due to the Creative Cloud and easy integration to Adobe’s other programs. Whilst others prefer the simplistic interface of Final Cut Pro, or the time saving keyboard shortcuts of Avid Media Composer.


4. Utilise keyboard shortcuts


Video editing is time consuming and saving a few seconds here and there with keyboard shortcuts can end up saving you hours on a project. Learning all the relevant keyboard shortcuts for your video editing software will be hugely beneficial and save hours of editing time. There are loads of keyboard shortcut cheat sheets available online for all major video editing software.


5. Invest in an editing keyboard


An even better way to learn your keyboard shortcuts is to invest in an editing keyboard. They are essentially just normal keyboards with the keyboard shortcuts printed on, and are useful for those really serious about video editing.


6. Imply actions with clever cutting


It is often the case when editing a video, that you don’t have a particular piece of footage to fully convey an action or scene. Using different cuts and techniques, you can often get around this issue. A great example is the iconic shower scene in Psychowhere the audience never actually sees Marion getting stabbed but are able to fill in the gaps from the use of rapid jump cuts.


7. Don’t overuse wide shots


Whilst at the start of a scene it is important to cut between different camera angles to give the audience an idea of the setting, once this has been done it is important to use more medium and close up shots. These types of shots hold more significance for the audience because they can better see facials expressions and gestures.


8. Stay organised


Video editing requires a huge amount of shots, graphics, music and other elements, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of content. Setting up an organised folder structure and workspace really helps with keeping everything in order, making it quick and easy to find exactly what you need.


9. Master split edits


Split edits, also known as L-cuts or J-cuts, are great for enhancing the flow of a film or smoothing out transitions between scenes. A split edit is simply when the change in picture occurs at a different time to the change in sound.


10. Choose the best camera angles


Picking the right camera angles for each moment in a video is important for the audience to properly understand the footage, as well as the speaker to better express their story. As an editor, you need to think about where the audience would want to look at each moment in a scene if they were there in the room.


11. Watch out for body language


Body language is so important in video, a huge amount of what a speaker is saying is revealed through their body language. If you pay attention to this it will provide a natural rhythm for editing, and it will feel more intuitive for the audience.


12. Cut on action


A technique that is great for creating smooth, nearly invisible transitions is to cut on an action. The audience will watch the beginning of a motion in one shot and follow it over the into the next shot, with the completion of the motion masking the edit seamlessly.


13. Cut on words


As well as cutting on actions, cutting on words can also make edits feel less obvious. This is really effective when used on words with hard consonants. If the word is relevant to the what the speaker is saying, the edit can be used to highlight that word and make it more memorable.


14. Blend spaces with match cuts


Match cuts (or graphic cuts) can be used as a creative way to connect two environments that are complete opposites. The imagery can be used to communicate the needed information to the audience using only visuals. A great example can be seen in 2001: A Space Odysseywhere we see a man throwing a bone into the air, followed by a match cut to a falling spaceship.


15. Pass time with montages


Montages are a popular way for editors to show the passing of time or transition of a character, it is an extremely powerful tool for progressing a story. Montages are a sequence of quick cuts and are normally underscored by music.


16. Use markers on music tracks


We mentioned earlier how important it is match your edits with your music, a simple trick to achieve this effortlessly is to use markers. Simply play your music back in the viewer and add markers to the relevant points. The markers will appear in the timeline to make it easy to match up your edits.


17. Get creative with speed ramping


In most cases, speed ramping is used to emphasise a slow or fast motion. It can also be used to help your clips fit better together in a sequence. For example, if you have a 4 second gap in the sequence, and you clip is currently 4.5 seconds, you can ramp up the speed to make it fit seamlessly. In the same way, this can be used if a clip is longer than a gap. It is important to make sure not to overdo it as that can make clips look unrealistic.


18. Create tension with cross cuts


Sometimes referred to as parallel editing, cross cuts is when you cut between two scenes that are taking place at the same time but in different locations. They are great for adding tension and showing the audience when multiple things are happening simultaneously.


19. Take regular breaks


As we all know, video editing takes a huge amount of time. It is often the case that an editor will be working on one project for a huge amount of time and becomes desensitized to the material. Taking regular breaks from a project gives you the chance to look at it again with fresh eyes. This can help to maintain the audiences’ perspective and help you make the best editing decisions.


20. Always colour correct


Your footage might look absolutely perfect on set, but it is nearly impossible to shoot footage so that it all has the same colour baseline. Some basic post-processing is required to keep the footage consistent, and almost all video editing programs provide basic colour correction effects.

21. Create effects with colour grading


Colour grading is the process of stylising footage to give it a particular look or feel. Depending on the amount of time available and your level of skill, colour grading can either be done by hand using software such as DaVinci Resolve, or with presets in your video editing software. There are a huge range of presets available to download online to get your desired finish.


22. Master invisible cuts


Invisible cuts can keep a shot looking like it is one continuous take, and when done properly, can be extremely effective and create a seamless finish. They can be achieved by filling the end of one frame entirely with something low-lit or black, and blending it with the beginning of the next clip.


23. Use a stabiliser


There is nothing worse than having shaky footage in a video project, and whilst sometimes during filming it can’t be avoided, it can often be fixed in post-processing. Many editing software’s have built in tools to stabilise footage that work really well. The main aim is to have finished footage that is coherent without being over distorted. Getting the settings right requires tweaking and experimenting to get the best possible result.


24. Re-frame


Many cameras now will shoot in extremely high resolutions, whilst the standard delivery resolution is still 1080p. This gives editors the ability to re-frame and edit their footage to create interesting effects. Tense scenes can be exaggerated with a subtle push-in, or subjects can be centred in the frame if their eye-line was off.


25. Keep titles and graphics simple


When creating titles and credits, it is always best to stay simple than to try something complex. Select a basic font, keep it white, and have it dissolve in and out; this method will work 90% of the time and will result in a clean title that will be much more effective than trying to create a complex graphic sequence.


There are hundreds and thousands of video editing tips and tricks out there, but the most important thing to remember when video editing is that the details are what makes the real difference.Practising and trying new tricks is a great way to improve and inspire your filmmaking, and the whole process becomes a whole lot easier when you know what you’re capable of in the editing process.