Feature Image by: Tom Noske

4 Quick & Easy Video Editing Tips

17th July 2020

Melbourne photographer and filmmaker Tom Noske shares four simple tips on how to edit your videos using Premiere Pro that will help you level up your game.

Tip: In this tutorial Tom uses Adobe Premiere Pro to edit video in this tutorial, but the same tips can still be used regardless of your preferred editing software.

1. Learn Your Aspect Ratios

“Knowing your aspect ratios properly will also help you maintain a consistent look and style across your projects and create a more cohesive portfolio of work.”Tom Noske

Understanding the different video aspect ratios, and the dimensions associated with each, is a surefire way to make your work look more professional. Many filmmakers use quick and easy ‘letterbox’ bars to achieve a more cinematic look, but having these black bars baked into your video file can make you look like an amateur. For more pro looking video edits, learn the different aspect ratios for the resolution that you want to edit at and then select them in your sequence settings (by going to ‘Sequence’ and then ‘Sequence Settings’).

2.39:1

A popular widescreen cinematic aspect ratio is 2.39:1 (true 4K HD: 4096 x 1728 / 4K HD: 3840 x 1607 / 1080p: 1920 x 803. This aspect ratio is ideal for travel films and commercial work and can give your videos a really nice professional look.

2:1

Another professional looking aspect ratio is 2:1, which is ideal for YouTube videos (true 4K HD: 4096 x 2048 / 4K HD: 3840 x 1920 / 1080p: 1920 x 960) and displays perfectly on smartphone screens.

16:9

Finally, the classic 16:9 aspect ratio (true 4K HD: 4096 x 2304, 4K HD: 3840 x 2160, 1080p: 1920 x 1080) is extremely versatile and used for 90% of the videos you watch online.

Pro Tip: Keep a ‘cheat sheet’ document saved on your desktop with the various video aspect ratios you like to use. This will help you stay consistent and quickly dial in your preferred settings before getting started on each new video editing project.

2. Create a Selects Sequence

One of the most crucial steps when beginning any new video edit is organising your Selects Sequence. This will allow you to see all your clips clearly in front of you where you can work out exactly which clips you want to work with (and which you want to delete).

To do this, simply import all your footage into a footage folder in your project panel and create a sequence titled 'Selects'. Then select all your footage and ensure it is set to the same frame rate by right clicking on your footage and going to ‘Modify’, then ‘Interpret Footage’, and choosing the frame rate of your choice. This will ensure all your footage plays back smoothly.

Once you’ve done this you can drag and drop all of your footage into the Timeline and start going through each clip to see which ones you want to keep/delete. To help speed this process up, consider custom setting a button (such as your ‘X’ key) as ‘Ripple Delete’. This will allow you to make quick edits and remove unwanted footage from the Timeline, while automatically shifting the entire Timeline back in its place. To customise your keyboard buttons, simply go to ‘Premiere Pro’ and then ‘Keyboard Shortcuts’.

Pro Tip:

You can organise your Selects Sequence in two ways: by colour coordination, and/or by using a rating system. To colour coordinate your clips you can allocate a different colour to the three main types of clips in your video (tight shots, mid shots and wide shots). This will help you select the right clips at the right moment just with a quick glance. This is also a great way to characterise different types of footage or allocate different colours to different camera angles if you shoot with more than one camera.

You can also layer your shots: decent shots that you might use can go on Channel 1, great shots can go on Channel 2, and the very best shots that you want to use can go on Channel 3. Once you've made your selects, simply drag your Selects Timeline to a separate panel so you can easily drag and drop your clips into your final sequence.

3. Learn Your Keyboard Shortcuts

Speed up your video editing in Premiere Pro by mastering the following keyboard shortcuts:

  • Command + S to quickly save your work (and sanity)
  • P to select the Pen tool
  • V to select the Selection tool
  • C to select the Razor tool
  • A to select Track Select Forward tool
  • I to make an in point andO to make an out point
  • ` to enter Full Screen mode
  • X for Ripple Delete (customised button)

4. Be Creative with Your Transitions

“If there's genuine direction in the way you edit, then that's only going to make your videos seem more professional and better to the viewer watching them.”Tom Noske

Being creative with your transitions isn’t simply about going overboard with whip pans and crazy in-camera tricks. Instead it’s about being selective about which clips play after which clips. This could include making sure that your subject continues to move in the same direction from clip to clip, or simply showing different angles of the same subject, rather than jumping back and forth between unconnected subjects. Not only can creative transition editing make it easier for your viewer to watch and follow your video, but it can also help to push the story along.

Without clear transitions or cohesion from clip to clip, your viewer may feel lost and wonder why they're watching the video.

Bonus Tip: Don’t Chase Trends

“Do your best to be unique.”Tom Noske

Figure out which genres draw you in the most as a creator. Would you prefer to create fast-paced action and travel films or are you more in tune with slower documentary style films? Are you drawn to short clips and dramatic transitions or do you prefer clips that draw out slowly in a more methodical manner?

Don't be afraid if you start editing and don't enjoy a particular style that's "popular right now" – you can draw your inspiration from all sorts of different movies and genres. Don't be afraid to go in the direction that you genuinely enjoy, because that’s going to lead to better work down the line. The people that actually enjoy your work will find you regardless of the style you choose to adopt.

Watch the full tutorial in the video above, or find more photo and video editing tips from Tom here.

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