On November 4, 2017 we posted "The Most Comprehensive Editing Tutorial Ever" and damn it, 17 months later, I truly believe it's still the MOST comprehensive editing tutorial EVER. Yes, that video is about Adobe Premiere. No, you do not need to use Adobe Premiere to learn from it.
Setting up your edit
Let's talk about workflows and organization. Don't be the one person who stores everything on your desktop. Stay organized. As an editor, you're going to find yourself collaborating more and more once you improve. When I shoot a video, I send the footage to my editor, but then after a few days, he sends his edit (files, folders, and project files) back to me so I can color grade it. Even when I know I'm not working with multiple editors, I still stay organized for my own sanity. I make a lot of videos so folder structure is important to me. I use the roughly same format for every video. I also use a handy app called Post Haste to help me create empty folder structures in one simple click.
Organization is key. You can see an example of one of my older folder structures to the right. I don't have a "Projects" folder like most people do, that's because I work with FCPX. The way Premiere saves project files is way different than FCPX. If I use any Adobe CC apps, you'll find me making an "Adobe CC" folder with sub folders for each app I use. You'll also notice that all editors use a different structure. Find one that works for you. There's no right or wrong way, so long as you're staying organized in a way that makes sense for you.
In the editing world, you're going to hear the word "workflow" a ton. A Workflow is basically the steps you take to edit a video. From ingest to export. Ingest, is simply importing footage from the camera's cards to your computer. From ingest, you may encode your footage and audio to some kind of sync software, or maybe one that re-encodes audio time code into actual time code. From there you may work exclusively in one editing software, or you may use multiple depending on the needs of the video. For example: I edit in Final Cut but if I need to do heavy color correction, I'll export my timeline (XML) to Davinci Resolve and color correct/grade it there. The I export. Each step is a part of my work flow. I talk a little bit about workflows in my "Which Editing Software Should I Use?" Video. Below are some supplemental videos to watch as well.
Another important thing to do is set up your workspace. The workspace is essentially the "layout" of your editing software. It determines where different windows live on your screen. If you have two monitors, I would use them. If you only have one monitor, don't worry about it, I've edited on one monitor for years.
Your workspace doesn't have to conform to any standards. With Adobe Creative Cloud and FCPX, you can even save your custom workspace to recall later. Adobe takes it a step further and allows you to save to the cloud so that when you use a friend's computer, you can just load your workspace up just like it's your computer. Your friend can restore their workspace just as easily when you're done. I've done this countless times before and it is suuuuuuper helpful...
You may create multiple workspaces for different tasks or phases of editing. For example, a color correction work space and an assembly workspace may contain different windows. For color correction, you'll want your scopes, for assembly you'll want your bins or event browsers on screen, but you wouldn't want scopes up for assembly or your bins or event browsers up for color correction. That's where workspaces come into play. It helps you hide tools that you don't need to maximize your efficiency. Most editing softwares allow you to switch between workspaces with key binds.
This is a pretty good video explaining the topic of workspaces, the only issue I have with it is that he said the clip mixer is useless... Audio is half of your video, so you should care about your output levels.
Alright, Now that we're organized, we've ingested all of our footage and organized it all up to be edited, we can start editing.
Well unfortunately, I have no idea what you're editing on. This is where you're on your own... Just for a little bit, at least. Basically you need to do your own research and its up to you to familiarize yourself with what each button on your workspace does. In all editing softwares, there is a ton of different buttons on-screen that all do different things.
Most of the buttons on-screen will also have their own dedicated key binds. The "B" key is usually your blade tool, the "I" and "O" key will usually select an "in" and "out" point. The "J", "K", and "L" keys will usually allow you to reverse/rewind, pause, and play/fast forward, respectively through your timeline. I can't possibly give you an example of every key bind or button in an editing software. You're going to have to look that up on your own. One thing I can suggest to help you is to buy an editing keyboard, which will have color coordinated icons/pictograms to help you see what each key does.
These tools and keybinds are the most important part of editing. Stay away from your mouse unless you have to. Everything can be done with a keyboard when cutting. This will make you a faster editor.
When I was doing the tests for running a daily news show, I went from taking two and a half hours to edit a 5-10 minute long video, to taking less than thirty minutes per video. All because I took that time to really hone in on my keyboard. I created new shortcuts and templates, new key binds and macros, and I created all sorts of different presets to quickly apply commonly used effects and transitions. I even rearranged my workspace to suit my needs while editing those kinds of videos.
This next video is not for beginners. But like I said in the beginning of this post, it is the best video I've ever seen pertaining to editing. However, you need to familiarize yourself with your software before you give this a go. One thing I can suggest is to just make a daily vlog... When I wanted to learn editing, I started a daily vlog... not to get views or to get famous, just to practice using a camera and to practice editing.
I know that this video is for Adobe Premiere, but no matter what software you're on; the premise is all the same. Listen to him. Treat yourself to this video.
Exporting! The best part! The last step! The part you do once thinking that you're done, naming the file something like, "MattressCommercial_Final" but then you spot a problem while watching it back, so you go back and fix it, creating a second export that you name, "MattressCommercial_Final_V2", and so you send that version to the client but the client wants you to change something, so you go back and fix it and you export it again, thinking that the video is finalized, so you name it "MattressCommercial_Final_V2 FINAL", but then you realize you made a mistake (again) and so you go back and fix it and export the video (again!) as "MattressCommercial_Final_V2 FINAL1" but you accidentally export it to some random folder and you can't find it when you search for it on your computer and so you export the same version of the video AGAIN to the right spot, naming it "MattressCommercial_Final_V2 FINAL1" (again) and when you send it to the client, you realize you sent the wrong file, "MattressCommercial_Final_V2 FINAL" instead of, "MattressCommercial_Final_V2 FINAL1", so you rename the correct version to, "MattressCommercial_Final_V2_Final1_THIS ONE" just to be safe. And you resend it to the client.
Uhh, yeah, anyways... Don't do that! I've taken up a whole new way of naming files recently. Since some of what I edit now appears on TV, Youtube, and Instagram, I have to do multiple exports, using multiple codecs, with multiple aspect ratios. To avoid confusion, I like to use the following naming convention.
PRODUCTION COMPANY NAME_CLIENT NAME_CAMPAIGN NAME_ASPECT RATIO_RESOLUTION_VERSION_DATE
An example would look like:
Slacker_Mattress R Us_Get Comfy_16x9_1920x1080_V3.2_20210131
You'll notice that I don't use "\" or ":" when I write out the date or the aspect ratio. Frame.IO has a great blog post about naming conventions that mentions why. You'll also notice that I go backwards from biggest to smallest when I write out the date. Years are bigger than months, which are bigger than days. Thats so it stacks up nicely in order when you sort your folders out by file name.
When it comes to version history, I typically start at V0.1 to indicate a rough cut. I will send the rough cut to the client to gauge their response, whether they like the direction I'm going or not. If they do, I'll polish it, upgrading it to V0.2, V0.3 as I export. Once I'm happy with the rough cut, I upgrade it to V1.0, creating a new project. I usually duplicate the project and rename the new one so that I can keep the old version if something goes wrong.
With my format It's a good way to send auditions of different music, graphics, or color grades. V1.1 and V1.2 may have different songs that I want my client to pick from, and it's not a confusing system for them to understand. If they were to finalize the music, I'd select that timeline to become V2.0, signifying a more finalized state, then I'd duplicate it, keeping the old timeline and project file just like the last time.
With this system, it's also easy to keep track of how many revisions I've given my clients. Sometimes I have a cap on how many revisions I'll allow a client to dictate. Usually 3-5 major revisions. If it's something silly like them accidentally sending over the wrong logo, I don't count it as a full revision, but if they want to change the music after we've gone through multiple versions with it I'll begin on a new version entirely. Reason being; music can sometimes dictate cutting points and pacing, therefore changing the song changes the whole edit. Version 3.0 will usually align with their 3rd revision, so it's easy to keep track of.
Codecs are quintessential to editing. Quintessential to filmmaking in general. Rather than writing out an essay about codecs, I've included some great videos about the topic below!