How to cut your footage into the content you need.
So now you’ve captured the footage you want, how do you get it edited down into a concise video that gets your message across without having to spend thousands on editing software. You can still get good results with cheap or free options easily available that are not always rocket science to use.
Editing the Video
When editing the video remember to keep it short and on point. Most content has around 10 seconds to engage a cold viewer. A cold viewer is a person who has not specifically come looking for your content.
In an advert, you have two basic options. The first option is to intrigue the user by appealing to their curiosity, aim to “Entertain or Educate”. If your video is entertaining enough to keep the viewer engaged then you are keeping your brand and existence fresh in the mind of the viewer. Guinness have had a long-standing tradition with great success using this approach with adverts like this (link).
The second option is to be direct. If you sell car tyres, then make sure the viewer knows this from the outset. You can then use the remaining time to give them a reason why buying car tyres from you is the best option for them. This will filter out viewers to only those who are actively seeking your services.
There is no “one size fits all” approach to this. Practice, experience and research by watching a lot of similar adverts and videos to what you want to create will help you improve your content. Whatever option you take, and however you decide to go creatively, always remember the audience you are making it for. If you are targeting it at a specific audience then make sure it’s something they will want to watch, and not a self-indulgence.
1) The Basic Option
Beyond very basic editors like Windows Movie Maker, one of the less technically complex editors to try is VideoPad(link) by NCH Software. There is a free, basic and pro version meaning you can have an experiment with it and learn the basics before committing to a purchase. It’s also available on Windows, OSX, and has versions for both iOS and Android. This means you can use it to edit in a way that suits your needs. However, even the “Pro” version is not close to what real pro video software is capable of.
2) The Adventurous Option
If you feel like something more challenging that will open up a lot more versatility then try LightWorks(link). There is a free version and a paid version. Both are equally fully featured but the free version only allows you to export to YouTube and Vimeo. This will limit to an extent how easily and effectively you can share the video. That said, it is very feature rich content and has been used to edit several big feature films. There are also a lot of good resources and tutorials to learn the software available for free online, but you will need to commit a lot of time and effort to get significant benefits from this approach. Worth doing if you plan on creating a lot of video content. Maybe not if you only intend to put something out every once in a while. LightWorks is available for Windows, Linux and OSX.
Other worthwhile budget options include Adobe Premiere Elements and the highly revered DaVinci Resolve – which while also being a very powerful colour corrector, is also a very intuitive and versatile editing programme. And best of all, the non-pro version is free!
Editing the Audio
Good audio can make a huge difference to the quality of your video. As we dealt with in the previous blog post – ‘Three easy steps to professional looking video on a limited budget“(link), capturing good audio to begin with is the best bet. However even with good audio on disk it can still need a little work in the edit.
Don’t turn everything up to 11. Good audio allows room for whats important to stand out. If the speech sounds too quiet next to the music then try turning the music down before you look for ways to turn the speech up. Have a reference video open in YouTube. Does it sound louder than yours? Try and match the over all volume of your mix to match other peoples videos.
Having a music track will help to smooth out any cuts and gaps between recorded speech. You can use a method known as “Ducking” to make the most of this. Most editors will allow you to adjust the audio level of a track using key frames. This means that you can change the volume of a track at different points in time during your video. So when someone is speaking, “duck” the music by turning it down so that the speech is clear, then fade it back up again when the speech stops. The audio can of course be edited in your chosen video editing software, however here are a few standalone options that are more geared towards audio editing.
The Easy Option
NCH Software again provide a fairly easy to use but not too limited option here with their WavePad audio editing app. It’s available for Windows, OSX, Android and iOS. There’s a free version for you to get familiar with before you commit to buying the Pro version, which you will need to do if you intend to use it in a commercial context.
The Adventurous Option
Wavosaur is an open source sound editor, which means it’s free to use and requires no Pro version license to use commercially. Although it’s free, it’s maintained and written by experts and is a very powerful audio tool. This means it may be a little too in-depth for some users.
Filling in the blanks
Sometimes you won’t be able to capture all the footage you need using your own camera, but it’s important to keep your video visually interesting. There are many stock footage sites out there that give you access to royalty free video footage you can use in your video. Sites like Pexels have a lot of free content, while others charge. You can also find free music to fit your project on sites like The Free Music Archive, dig.ccmixter, Soundcloud and even YouTube. Just be sure to check the licensing conditions for your chosen music, as commercial projects often have stricter licensing requirements. The quality of content is often reflected in the cost, but even among the free content you can often find that one diamond in the rough that fits your project perfectly.
Over all, the most important thing when it comes to editing, is the quality and presentation of the content. Although a professional (and often expensive) editing programme can often make your life easier with more features and flexibility, it won’t necessarily make you a better editor – nor will it make your videos any better than something edited on free software. After all, they are just a tool to help present your content in the best possible light. So get out there and get editing!