Editing video is more accessible to amateurs thanks to the availability of free software. It can be daunting to learn how to edit videos without professional-level training. It is possible to edit everything – from a family vacation montage to a pilot episode of a web series. We created a guide on how to approach editing, even if you’ve never use the software before.

Getting Started

Before you jump into the video editing process, you’ll need to do some research. Here are some questions to consider when getting started:

What kind of videos are you editing?

Are you working on “vlogs” for YouTube, short films, feature-length films, documentaries or home movies? All of these different genres of video require different approaches to video editing. Creating artistic films may require more complicated trimming and cutting tools. Creating “vlogs” or tutorial videos may be doable with more simple software.

What capabilities do you want the software to have?

Do you want to stick to the basic drag-and-drop editing model? Do you want to get more complex and create visual effects? This goes hand-in-hand with the first question. The complexity of the software will differ depending on what type of videos you’re editing.

Can my computer handle video editing?

If not, research the upgrades you’ll need. This can be a loaded question, as computer specifications can get complicated. Below is some information to help you answer this question before you get started with video editing.

Computer Specifications

There are multiple specifications you’ll want to look out for when reviewing computers for video editing. This includes the memory, processor, a graphics card, and storage. Having over 8GB of RAM, also known as memory, on your computer is vital.

Most computers max out at 32GB RAM, so it’s always best to have as much memory as possible. You’ll also want a powerful processor. The best on the market is the Intel Core series (i5 or higher) and the AMD FX series, but you can get by using any processor with a speed of 2.6 gigahertz (gHz). Finally, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of storage available to hold the software and video footage with which you’ll be working. Your best bet is to get a computer that has more than 1TB of storage but, failing that, anything with at least 500GB is suitable.

If you’re a PC person, note that a lot of these specs are similar to those of a gaming PC. A resource like the PC Part Picker, which includes information on any possible spec you can think of, could be insightful during your search. If you’re a Mac person, you’ll be pleased to hear that most of the Mac computers on the market are excellent options for video editing. The 2017 Mac Pro, while expensive, is one of the top choices for a video editing computer.

Choosing a Video Editing Software

The internet is teeming with options for video editing software. Once you’ve got your computer prepared for video editing, you’ll want to make a decision on which software is best for your purposes.

Things To Remember Before You Edit

Before you jump in, here are some things to bear in mind throughout your editing process:

  • Watch your footage multiple times to make sure you’ve chosen the correct clips.
  • Make sure you organize your footage in the editor. Keeping everything in separate folders and finding ways to identify the best takes before you start editing makes the process a lot smoother.
  • When you’re shooting, it doesn’t hurt to shoot a scene multiple times so that you have more footage than you think you’ll need. Getting coverage while on set gives you more flexibility when you’re looking at takes, and makes it easier for you to mix and match clips to get the best possible results.
  • Don’t overdo it with effects—sometimes less is more.
  • Take a break every now and then—fresh eyes give you a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.
  • If you’re using music, select instrumental as a backing track. Lyrics can often be distracting unless used with finesse.

Step By Step Guide To Editing

Now it’s time to start editing! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, our guide will walk you through the process. Using Lightworks Free, we’ll give you an inside look at the entire process.

Bear in mind that your process will differ depending on what you’re editing.  For example, editing a wedding video or homemade music video will be more labor-intensive than, say, family vacation footage.

1. Create a Project and Import Footage

When you open Lightworks, you’ll be given the option to create a new project. Next, you’ll be prompted to name your project and select a frame rate. The easiest frame rate to select is Auto since it automatically adjusts to the frame rate of the footage you’re editing.

To begin editing, you’ll need to import your footage into the editor. All of the editing software we mention in this article can support a wide variety of video file types, whether it’s shot on a mobile device or a top-of-the-line camera.

To import, go to the top left tab titled “Local Files” and navigate to the folder with all your footage. Then, select the clips from the list provided, and click “Import.”

2. Organize Footage

Once you’ve imported all of your footage, especially if you’re editing something with a lot of shots like a short film or a wedding, you need to organize the footage. The way to do this is similar to organizing files on a computer’s hard drive–creating and labeling folders and placing files into the corresponding folders.

For example, if you’re editing a short film and you have a bunch of shots from one scene, you’d create a folder labeled “Scene X” and put all of the corresponding shots into that folder. In a video editing software, these folders are called bins.

To make a bin, go to the left column in the editor, and click the “+” next to the word “Bins.” Create an empty bin, and label it accordingly. Then go to “All” and drag the footage you want into its corresponding bin. This is probably the most tedious part of editing. Once you’ve organized your bins, the rest of the editing process is a breeze.

3. Watch and Mark Footage

Go through all of your footage and select the parts you plan to use. The easiest way to do this is to “mark” the proper clips by placing in and out points on the part of the clip you want to use. Use the keyboard shortcuts “I” and “O”–this also works in almost any program you’re using.

Make sure you mark every clip you want to use. Even if you don’t end up keeping every shot in your final cut, it will be helpful in the next step to have every clip marked with an in and out point from the start to the end of what you want to use.

4. Cut and Place Footage

Now comes the part you’ve been waiting for: assembling your movie! To do this, you’ll go to the clips you marked earlier with in and out points, and drag them into the timeline. Your timeline is exactly what it sounds like–a long line of all of your clips lined up from start to finish.

You can rearrange clips in the timeline, so if you drop one in too early or too late compared to where you want it in the final cut, it’s not a big deal. Just drag the clip to the place you want it

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