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March 24, 2009 by falcon7204

Okay, you’ve shot your footage, you’ve logged it (hopefully) and you have a story to tell. Now it’s time to edit.

If you’re not a focused person, this can get pretty tedious pretty fast (if the logging didn’t get to you first). But if you have a plan, this can be quite fun, and the final product will be something you can be proud of (and won’t be embarrassed to show your mom). But it can also be tempting to “spice it up” with effects that don’t quite fit into your theme.

Spins, page turns, posterization, pushes, squeezes – lots of editing programs have lots of transition effects that can be put to good use, but also have the potential to be misused. Just go to YouTube and see what I mean.

The thing you have to remember about editing is that “simpler is better.” The best way to edit that I’ve found is to do a “rough cut” first – an edit that contains no effects, no transitions, no text (lower third or fullscreen) and no color effects. This helps you to get your story organized, and can allow you to trim your footage to tighten the story. Once you get the story the way you want it, you may discover that you don’t need a lot of fancy effects – in fact, you might be able to get by with just a fade from black at the head and a fade to black at the end – and maybe a cool title.

Look at the majority of TV shows these days – you won’t find too much “fancy” editing, just cuts between scenes, and the titles. Unless you’re watching CSI:Miami, the cuts are pretty straightforward. Colors are natural, and you are drawn into the story instead of the effects. That’s the mark of a truly efficient editor – one whose work doesn’t call attention to itself.

Even Windows Movie Maker is capable of doing a fine job of editing, as long as you have your story together. Don’t let the relative simplicity of the editing application (or the complexity) scare you – editing is as much in the head as it is on the computer, and the more you do in your head, the easier it’ll be on the computer. Just don’t go crazy with the effects.

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