Embarking on Your Video Editing Journey


No formal training is required to create compelling videos. With some straightforward editing, you can captivate your audience for extended periods, permeating your work with a professional touch without necessarily being an expert in video editing.


Video editing involves processing footage, trimming it, discarding unnecessary bits, and retaining valuable sections. In bygone times, this meant cutting film reels and stitching them together. However, video editing software has significantly simplified this procedure today.


There are three primary tasks of video editing:

  1. Erasing errors or undesired sections
  2. Maintaining an engaging pace throughout the video
  3. Introducing additional footage, audio, or captions

As you proceed with editing, consider these three points as a guide.


Equipment Requirements


Venturing into video editing doesn't require a high-end machine, particularly for beginners. A satisfactory monitor and computer system should suffice. If you have an older computer, compare its system specifications with OpenShot's minimum system requirements to confirm its suitability for video editing. Regrettably, many older computers lack the speed necessary for video editing, and an overall system upgrade might be the best solution.


Preparations Before Beginning


Before commencing a video project, ascertain ample storage space on your computer to accommodate all the required clips. For instance, an hour of 1080i video, such as footage from a mini-DV camcorder, occupies nearly 42 GB of storage. If your computer's internal storage device doesn't have enough room for all the clips, purchasing an external drive could be the remedy.


It would help if you had various cables, primarily Firewire, Thunderbolt, or USB, to connect your computer, external hard drive, and camera. Since different computers and cameras accommodate other connectors, consult your manuals before purchasing.


Helpful Recommendations


Becoming an exceptional video editor isn't an overnight process. However, with consistent practice and patience, you'll master professional-level editing in no time. Here are some essential tips and techniques to equip you to become a proficient video editor.

  • Choose a Suitable Computer
    An excellent computer doesn't automatically make you a superior video editor. However, a faster machine enables you to focus more on the narrative you're crafting rather than your computer's rendering speed. There are various opinions about the best computer for editing, but the ultimate choice depends on your preference.

  • Shoot Extensively
    Record more videos than you think necessary for your project. Include footage that elevates the scene, creates an atmosphere, or narrates a story. You can utilize the other videos for smooth transitions in your project. If you are adept at using multiple devices, employ two simultaneously to incorporate footage from either device into your project.

  • Keep Your Project Files Organized
    Whether you're using Linux, macOS, or Windows, organization is paramount to success. Label your video files, audio files, and even images clearly, and store all your clips on the same device in a shared folder for easy access. OpenShot tries to keep track of your clips, but moving them after saving your project could cause you to lose all your work. Organizing before you start editing can be tremendously beneficial.

  • Review All Your Footage
    The first step in the editing process is to review all your footage. As writer and filmmaker David Andrew Stoler put it, there is value in the most unexpected places: "Some of the most beautiful expressions you're going to get from the actors are after the cut."

  • Edit to Narrate a Story
    As you edit, bear in mind that you're narrating a story. Editing is more than just cutting footage and adding effects. It's an opportunity to guide your audience through an experience. Whether you're editing a complex narrative film or merely compiling a personal video, strive to narrate a deeper story.

  • Master Keyboard Shortcuts
    The extent to which a person utilizes the keyboard is often an indicator of their experience as a video editor. Veterans in the field know that saving a few seconds here and there accumulates throughout the project.

  • Familiarize Yourself with the Terminology
    Video editing isn't merely a hobby or a profession - it's an industry. Like any industry, it has its jargon. A basic understanding of the terminology can enhance your communication with other video editors or clients.

  • Assemble, Then Create a Rough Cut
    Drag all your video footage into a timeline and ensure uniform frame size and frame rates. Begin a new timeline and drag the best clips into what becomes your assembly cut. Regularly save your work and note the date and time of each version.

  • Refine Your Project
    During this stage, your rough cut starts taking shape into a coherent project. Adjust the sound and color, ensure the dialog is clear, and add music, titles, or graphics. Color correction, the process of standardizing the color in your footage, is performed at this stage. Regardless of how good your subject looks on set, you'll almost always need to do some basic post-processing for consistent video.

  • Further Refinement
     A slow-paced scene can either set the mood and create tension or bore the audience. A fast-paced scene can either exhilarate your audience or give them a headache. Some editors recut their projects several times before striking the right pace. Don't be disheartened if you need to recut your project multiple times.


Finalizing Your Project


With most people viewing your projects on phones, tablets, or computers, it's crucial to know how to optimize your project for the web. When preparing a video for web upload, the aim is to achieve the highest possible quality with the smallest file size. Four primary factors influence the file size of your finished video:

  • Codec
    A codec specifies the type of file format (MP4, AVI, MOV). The greater the codec compression, the smaller your video's size. Smaller videos typically have lower visual quality.

  • Resolution
    Resolution denotes the number of horizontal and vertical pixels (dots on display) in your video. For instance, a 4K UHD (2160P) video has four times the resolution of an FHD (1080P) video. Higher resolutions contain more information and therefore result in larger file sizes.

  • Bit Rate
    The Bit Rate measures how quickly your video processes data. Higher bit rates correspond to higher-quality videos and larger files. OpenShot lets you manually set the Bit Rate/Quality in the Advanced tab of the Export Video window.

  • Frame Rate
    The Frame Rate is the frequency (in Hz) at which consecutive images, known as frames, appear on the display. Usually, you should export your video at the film standard (24fps) or the TV broadcast standard of 30fps (or 25fps in PAL). Although there isn't much flexibility here, remember that exporting your video at 48fps, 50fps, or 60fps doubles your file size.


As you gain experience, you'll determine the best export settings for you. If you're starting, don't fret — most online distributors provide recommended export settings. By applying these tips, you can ensure your videos are of the highest possible quality.