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Avoid These 8 Common Video Editing Mistakes

These editing errors will make you look like a newbie
Photo of top video editing mistakes

When you are first getting started with video editing you are bound to make some rookie mistakes. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Keep reading to learn about eight things you shouldn’t be doing as a video editor and how you can avoid these common mistakes in your own work. Then watch the video at the bottom of this post from Mark Bone who shows you what these errors look like and how to prevent them.

#1 Don’t Cut on Action

“Cut on action” is an editing trope that gets used all the time and is sometimes even taught in editing classes, but ultimately it makes more sense to cut for story. In big budget films editors are prioritizing story over action when they make their cuts. It’s because cutting for story is a much better way to communicate mood and tone, i.e., the elements that often make for a memorable film.

#2 Avoid Aimless B-roll

One of my early video editing instructors banned us from using the term “b-roll,” when planning our film projects. B-roll implies that it’s secondary to the story, and rather than going out and “gathering b-roll” we should be focused on building scenes. When your b-roll footage doesn’t connect to what the person is saying it can be very confusing for your audience. Always make sure the footage you are using is moving the plot along.

#3 Avoid Super Long Intros

Backstory is important, but don’t dwell on the intro. There is no reason for a nine minute short to have a ninety second opener. Hook your viewers with a concise intro and get to the main point so you don’t lose them. The first words spoken in your film should directly correlate to the purpose and goal of where the film is going.


#4 Not Duplicating Sequences

Never work from a single sequence when editing. This is a mistake that even seasoned filmmakers tend to make. Duplicating your sequence every time you open a project allows you to save your progress and ultimately gives you more energy to experiment with the edit. Having a bunch of duplicated sequences can be a great problem-solving tool and a great way to go back in time if your client ultimately decided they liked an earlier cut better.

#5 Not Adding Fades to Audio

When you forget to fade out audio tracks your final edit will likely end up having a lot of distracting pops. Adding a one-frame fade and a bit of room-tone audio will minimize these annoying pops and make the experience of watching your final project much more enjoyable.

#6 Don’t Try to Be a Star

As a video editor you should get comfortable with being invisible; the best editing is editing that the viewer doesn’t even notice. Avoid flashy transitions and over-editing your scenes. As a video editor you are part of the post-production team and any choices that you make in the edit should serve the story.


#7 Don’t Edit to the Beat (Unless You Are Editing a Music Video)

If you are always editing to the beat of the music playing behind your footage you probably aren’t going to be editing for the story. However, take this tip with a grain of salt. If you are editing something with minimal dialogue – a music video or a reel for social media, for example – choosing not to edit to the beat will likely be jarring to your viewers.

#8 Not Building Scenes

This is related to not gathering aimless b-roll. A thought out scene will always be more effective for moving the story along than a bunch of random shots pieced together to fill time. Good scenes include establishing shots, provide some sort of action, and then have some sort of ending that resolves the moment. Building out scenes, rather than just layering random b-roll onto the timeline, will allow your viewers to feel as if they are watching something unfold.


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