When you’re just start out with video editing, you’re likely to find yourself questioning a lot of things. How do I edit my videos to get lots of likes on YouTube? Why does the music in my video clip sound weird? How can I make my cuts and transitions look more natural?
Now, there are three things everyone needs to do: experiment on your own, learn from others, and do your own research. There are many things people have already tried – some that worked, and others that turned out to be complete failures.
So, next time you decide to experiment, look through this checklist of common editing mistakes – it just might help you save some time. When you’re practicing, opt for a more user-friendly program to avoid accidental errors because of a complex interface, for example. Try Movavi Video Editor, a popular tool for both beginners and advanced amateur editors.
Take note that some of these mistakes can be made on purpose. However, to break the rules wisely, you have to learn them first.
Your Shots Are Too Long or Too Short
Remember the golden rule of video editing: a shot should always last as long as it deserves to. However, it takes time to learn the art of recognizing the perfect length for each shot. As a general rule, 3–4 seconds per cut is just fine. The shorter your shots, the more dynamic the pace – which works perfectly when you’re looking to add some action. On the other hand, the longer you hang on to a moment, the more relaxed feeling your narrative will have.
Learn more about choosing the perfect pace for shots here:
Shots Don’t Match in Color and Lighting
Even the best stories can be ruined by poor color correction and color grading. When fixing your colors, make sure all your footage looks the same – particularly if some parts were shot under different lighting conditions. Check that all your shots are evenly exposed, saturated and highlighted. When applying minor changes to certain elements, use your preview to check that this doesn’t show in the final cut.
Can you see what’s wrong with this video?
Although YouTube vloggers have made jump cuts fashionable, they are still seen as mistakes in traditional editing. A jump cut happens when a significant part of the action is cut out, which is often done to truncate time in the video. For example, a first shot shows a character sitting in one part of the room, and the next shot has him standing in another corner. We never see the character actually moving, so this shot change may look unnatural to our eye. To smooth out transitions, vary angles and add cutaways.
See how a jump cut may look like here:
This can often happen when you place two similar-looking shots next to each other, usually when the editor cuts from one shot to another, and the camera angles look very much alike. This problem can be resolved either by placing a shot from another angle between those two or by adding a cutaway instead.
Captured movement looks better when it has a consistent direction. This means that, if your character has just crossed the frame from left to right, it would look unnatural if that character appeared on the right side of your next shot. In the same way, if you film an object bouncing off the ground, what you want to see next is the thing going up rather than immediately dropping down. Remember that, once your subject has started a particular action, it looks better if you let this action come to a natural conclusion. In other words, let the movement happen before you change its direction or end it.
See how much better the movement might have looked here if the skateboarders weren’t changing directions?
A ghost frame frequently occurs when you experiment with dissolve transitions – emerging unasked-for between two elements that are meant to dissolve into one another. To avoid this, make sure the shots on each side of the transition are accurately trimmed and no other shot is coming up between them.
Audio Out of Sync
This can happen when you move your editing segments around. If you accidentally move your video one or two frames ahead of its sound, your clip will be out of sync, which looks pretty bad when someone is speaking in the shot.
Sound Is Uneven
After hours of cutting, grading and applying effects, there’s a high likelihood that your clip will have a poor audio mix. Invest in a pair of decent headphones and always use them to check your preview. Equalize the volume on your audio tracks – make sure no one is speaking louder than others, watch out for gaps between shots, and smooth out transitions wherever possible. Even if you’re making a music video and the sound has been pre-recorded, you still need to test the audio levels. You’re quite likely to find that the sound is way too loud.
The Soundtrack Doesn’t Match the Content
There are few things as annoying as those videos that are in complete conflict with their soundtracks. It seems to be particularly common with amateur interviews and monologues, as they often come with astonishingly poor choices in background music. The pace and mood of the music should always match the narrative and action in the video. Likewise, the soundtrack shouldn’t be fighting the pace of the speech you hear and the message those words convey.
Match movement with the tempo of the soundtrack, place transitions and special effects on certain musical accents – you get the picture. The more action there is in the video, the better it looks if you cut it to match the music.
Check out our video on Movavi Vlog to learn more about working with soundtracks:
Too Many Effects or Graphics
With so many effects, titles, filters and other features available, it is very easy to overdo them. Remember that it’s all about quality, not quantity. Do take advantage of effects and graphics as long as their use is justified and does not distract the viewer from the content of your video. Emphasize the narrative, the quality of the footage and the arc of the edit – effects should contribute to your story, not take it over.