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Andrew Spain
by Andrew Spain
Feb 25, 2015
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Tips for Better Video Edits

With all types of media competing for an audience, it is more important than ever to know your audience and employ effective strategies to hold their attention. In past blogs, we have discussed rules for corporate video and holding attention in web video, so now we are going to share some of our favorite tips for better video editing that will help retain your audience, improve cuts and make videos easier to watch.

Give your audience a little room to "breathe."

While keeping your videos short and concise is certainly an effective way to hold your audience's attention, placing a pause or pauses strategically throughout the video can make the videos easier to watch and in turn, maintain viewers for longer periods. 

By adding 3-5 seconds of b-roll between interview audiobytes and bringing the music up to full then lowering it before the next speaking section you create what we call "breathing room." A pause between sections can indicate to your audience that a new thought or subject is about to begin. Adding changes or hits in music will improve the flow between interview sections and your audience will appreciate the mental "break" in information.

Lead the eye naturally during transitions.

This tip pairs well with our discussion on "breathing room."  Just as editors will use edits like pauses to trigger an understanding from the viewer, editors often use cross disolve, fade to blacks, or even wipes when starting or ending a scene. The intention with cross disolve and like techniques is to create a natural segue between scenes.

When begining or ending a scene, consider whether you have a clip that "leads the eye" into the new subject matter. An example of this would be, setting up a simple pan up at the begining of a clip or pan away at the end of a clip. This indicates an upcoming scene change and feels more natural than a forced cut. Combining the two is a great option for aesthetically appealing transitions.  

Balance the J-cut.

A J-cut refers to the shape of the letter J, where the lower part of that letter form goes further left than the top section. It's function as an edit is having the audio from the incoming clip play before the corresponding video begins. 

This is easily overdone, a second or two works best. This is a natural sensation for the viewer because in real life, we often hear a noise shortly before we see it's source. A Master of the J-cut can create an effect that emulates our own "mental cut." 

Ummmm, clean up that dialogue. 

A dialogue chocked full of "ums" and speaking errors is distracting and more importantly than that, it add seconds of precious time to your video. At times, people can slur their words making it impossible to separate one word from another, but whenever you can cut out a long breath, an "ummm" or other speaking errors: do it. Just do it. 

By using very short audio fades, and a lot of patience, you can achieve this. By cutting out 8-10 of these in a single interview you are saving at least a few seconds, seconds that would add up in the course of your video and impact the viewer rentention

Mark your music tracks to show edits.

When working with clips on a sequence that has music, editors will have the waveform of the audio displayed, and try to match some edits to where the mucis hits a beat or crecendo. This is a solid technique, however if you play the music back in the viewer first and add markers, those markers will appear in your timeline. That makes it simple to line up your edits to the markers and snap them right into place!

All of these tricks are simple, but they may come in a handy in saving you time and holding your audience. What are some of your favorite editing tricks?