9 Simple Steps to Editing Your First Video

Even in today’s increasingly digital world, traditional print and video marketing still lie at the center of any major advertising campaign. No one knows or understands this concept better than Digital Media students at a leading design college like FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, which is located in the heart of the entertainment industry.

Video is often used during live events to help set the tone and build excitement for a audience. The videos shown during FIDM’s annual DEBUT Runway Show for example, like the one seen below called the “show open”, captures the glamor of the fashion collections unveiled on the runway, and sets the stage for what the audience is about to see.

Although it’s impossible to teach the fundamentals of editing in a short blog post, we’ve shared some of the basic elements of video editing below and have included nine steps to help you get started.

Example Video


Step 1. Gather Footage

The first step to editing your video is to make sure you have video to work with. Feel free to shoot your own footage or download footage you can find online.


Step 2. Music Selection

One of the most important elements in any project is the music. Music has the power to impact an audience’s mood dramatically. Truly effective music choices inspire the audience to feel a certain way.  For example, the music you would choose for a horror film would be very different than the music you would choose for a fast-paced action flick. Sometimes editors like to select their music before they begin editing, because the music choice plays a huge role in setting the cadence of a piece. Decide what you want your audience to feel and select appropriate music that conveys that feeling.   Do you need some free music to download? Youtube recently launched an audio library that contains over 150 free songs for you to use on your videos.

Click here to download free music



Step 3. Story Edit

A story edit, also known as a radio edit, is the first pass an editor takes at a piece. The story edit is exactly what you would expect – the first complete version of the piece, focused entirely on the story being told by the content. A story edit frequently ignores what is happening visually, focusing instead on the audio and the message it contains. Many editors will close their eyes while listening to their story edit so that their focus remains solely on the story content, the cadence of the piece, and any adjustments that need to be made. Once the radio edit is working, the editor will continue the story edit by making sure that the visual message of the piece supports the audio. This may include interview footage, soundbytes, b-roll, film clips, cutaways, or other source material. Use the footage we provided to create and complete your story edit.


Step 4. Motion Graphics & Video Transitions

Once the story edit has been completed, the digital media artist will turn their attention to finessing the piece. The content has already been worked and reworked so that the message is clear, and is supported by effective music choices. The next task is to place transitions between the different pieces of video so that the visual content moves smoothly from one section to the next. This may include transitions within the software such as dips, wipes, dissolves, or fades, but it may also include custom transitions. The digital artist can create and/or use custom graphics, especially motion graphics, to effectively and seamlessly move the audience between sections of video.


Step 5. Adding Titles

Another step in finessing the piece is adding titles. Titles are graphic elements which visually provide additional information to the audience. In the example provided, the graphic title in the right screen, “Debut 2013,” was the title of the show for which this promotional piece was cut. This title only appears once throughout this piece, and is punctuated by a huge sound effect, so that the audience is drawn in both visually and orally. Titles are an essential part of any professional-quality project.


Step 6. Effects

Digital artists use various effects when creating a piece. The effects can serve many purposes – some correct issues with the video; however, others add a different style or flair. One effect frequently seen in action films today is known as “time remapping” or “speed ramping,” which speeds up or slows parts of the source material. Although the effect can be accomplished in camera in many instances, editors often add this effect during post-production. Also, there are many other effects available that impact the style of the film. Non-linear editing programs such as Avid, Adobe Premiere, and others, typically dedicate a whole section of the application to various effects contained within the software.


Step 7. Color Treatment

Digital artists use color correction techniques to dictate the look of a piece. Sometimes these color changes are made out of necessity; other times it is simply a stylistic choice. If a piece will be shown on a broadcast network, there are various levels for each color, because of the way colors display on a television. If an editor does not meet these color requirements, the network will reject delivery of the piece. By contrast, many projects use color correction techniques to alter the appearance of a piece in order to create a certain mood, feel, or style. Recent feature films employing this technique include “Winter’s Bone” and “300.”


Step 8. Sound FX / Sound Mixing

Sound effects and sound mixing are essential to finishing any project. As we discussed in the titles section above, sound effects can be used to draw the audience’s attention to something, to punctuate an important moment, or to help create a full and multi-dimensional environment. In a scary film, when the hero is sitting in a dark room, the sound of a door creaking open slowly can have the audience on the edge of their seat. Similarly, sound mixing – the process of making sure that all the audio levels in a piece are working together harmoniously – is also very powerful. For example, if you have sound-bytes of interviews, the music for your piece will need to be either turned down or turned off at those moments in order for those interview sections to be audible. The prevailing theory among editors is that “good sound can mask a bad edit.” In other words, the importance of sound cannot be emphasized enough!


Step 9. Exporting

When you reach this point in your editing process, congratulate yourself!! It means that you have completed the above steps, are satisfied with the effect, and are ready to output the finished piece in order to deliver it to your client. This process is initiated within the non-linear editing program you used to edit the piece, and is the final part of finishing and delivering your project.

study-digital-media-fidmStart college and kickstart your career in digital media.

FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising isn’t just a recognized leader in the study of design and creative business– we’re a training ground for the exciting career in digital media you’ve always dreamed of pursuing. Designed to build a strong foundation of general filmmaking knowledge, students emerge with an understanding of all aspects of production workflow, from pre-production through post-production including editing, sound design, digital composition, motion graphics, 3-D modeling and animation, production, digital storytelling and web design.


FIDM: Creative Careers Begin Here

Creative careers begin here.

With four California campuses located in the heart of the fashion and entertainment industries, FIDM is a leading, accredited college offering specialized Associate of Arts and Bachelor’s of Arts degrees. FIDM has been educating students with creative and leadership skills for the global industries of fashion, visual arts, interior design, and entertainment for more than 45 years. Learn more at www.fidm.edu.

The FIDM Digital Arts Blog is dedicated to professional and aspiring graphic designers and filmmakers, illustrating the range of career opportunities within these fields written by FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. See more at www.fidmdigitalarts.com.

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Author: James Peacock

James Peacock is a Digital Marketing Specialist at FIDM in Los Angeles, California. He received his A.A. in Graphic Design from FIDM and was hired as Social Media Assistant in 2013 by his alma mater in order to help grow the institution’s social media marketing efforts. James now combines two of his passions, telling stories and solving problems by managing data-driven marketing campaigns across multiple channels that ultimately result in a positive return on investment.

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