Post-production is the editing phase. It’s where you cut your film and add audio, and it’s often the longest of the three phases.
The more effort you put into your pre-production and production, the faster post-production goes.
For example, if your storyboard covered every detail, your actors took time to rehearse, and you captured more footage than needed, post-production is just a process of assembling your great work. Invariably, there’ll be some fixing and trimming—but hopefully not too much.
In this chapter, we’ll cover how to zip through editing on a schedule to turn your team’s hard work into a video you’re proud to share and that gets great results.
First, get organized
Great editors are an organized bunch. Before you edit, create a folder for the project on your computer. Name every piece of the project using the same convention. For example “Project name – item name – date.”
When your pieces are organized, it’s much easier to assemble the puzzle. Plus, if you return to make changes weeks later, you won’t have to remember which scene “video 283” was.
Keep on organizing right through publication and distribution. Whether you store your videos in a shared drive or video platform, give everything a name that’s easily recognizable to the people who will use them.
Organize videos by vertical, use-case, or role using Vidyard video hubs.
How to edit your video
Your guiding principle as an editor should be this: Aim to get it done, not to do it perfectly. Your video’s job is to do something for the business, such as generate leads, not to win an Oscar.
It’s easy to get carried away with making sure every arrow is positioned just right and every scene is cropped just so, but you must resist your calling as an auteur.
“What I do is make a very clean, simple edit of my video and share it with colleagues,” says Jason Valade, Master Trainer at TechSmiths, the maker of video editing software Camtasia. “If it gets past one or two people as a viable video, it’s done and I wash my hands of it.”
To stay focused, write your goal on a sticky note and give yourself a time constraint. (Just kidding, your boss will definitely do that for you.)
The editing process, step-by-step
There are seven steps to the editing process.
1. Upload the video to your video editing software
Your software’s interface will display two things: A video player (where you can watch your video) and a timeline. You can add media such as video, audio, and graphics to the timeline as separate tracks and watch them play together.
Your goal throughout editing is to arrange all your shots in the right order, which you can do by dragging and dropping the files. Don’t worry about audio at this point. That comes later.
Files types you might upload:
- Screen capture videos
- Video footage
- Music files
- Intro or outro videos
- Voiceover audio files
- Subtitle graphics
Editing is a lot easier when all the files have the same (or similar) aspect ratios such as 4:3 (known as fullscreen) or 16:9 (known as widescreen; the ratio used by most laptop monitors these days).
If there’s a mismatch between two clips where, say, your screencapture is in 16:9 and your video footage is in 4:3, you’ll have to edit one to fit the other.
It’s the same story for image quality. Common image capture qualities include 1080p and 720p. If one of your videos is in 1080p, you’ll be able to shrink it to fit with your 720p videos, but you can’t go the other way because small images blown up look grainy (despite what the TV show CSI would have you believe).
2. Trim your video
Most video clips need to be trimmed before they can be used. For instance, you might have to clip the beginning of the shot when the boom microphone was still visible, or delete the portion of your screen share video where you signed into the software.
What should you trim? Basically anything audiences don’t need to see. If you did a good job in the production phase and captured more footage than you needed, this is where you can decide what to leave on the (proverbial) cutting room floor.
3. Splice the video back together
Assemble your shots according to your storyboard. It can help to have your storyboard and script on hand for reference. Watch how the scenes flow, and then trim some more.
You may have to play with the video and the audio to match the two back up if, say, they were recorded separately, as is often the case with a video demo and an audio voiceover.
If you’re trying to keep your video very short, consider using jump cuts where you cut out pauses and transitions to get right to the point. (This doesn’t work so well if you move around a lot in your video.)
If you have intros and outros—clips for the beginning and ending of your videos which show the company logo and video title—tack those onto the start and end. Once you’ve created these files, save them for reuse so your next video edit goes even faster.
4. Add effects
Most videos don’t need any effects. If you’re new or your video is quite simple, skip this section and err on the side of doing less because it’s oh so easy to overdo it with campy transitions.
When in doubt, ask yourself: Do I need this to be perfect or do I need it by Tuesday?
What are effects? They’re anything visual that appears over your video, like graphics, images of your product, speaker titles, animations, and transitions.
Here are a few scenarios where it makes sense to use effects:
- You need to display speakers’ names and titles
- You need to draw attention to a particular button or area
- You need to zoom in on something
- You want to display statistics, quotes, or images
- You want to have two videos play at once. For example, placing a selfie video in the lower corner of a your walkthrough video
Each video platform is different. Watch the tutorial videos on inserting effects. If you display text, keep it on screen long enough for audiences to read. For transitions, use them sparingly and stick to fade-ins and fade-outs.
Think you’re finished with the video part? Get someone’s feedback.
Editing for too long can make your head swim and lead you to miss basic errors.
No matter how much of a rush you’re in or how experienced you are, get someone to proof your work. If needed, get your boss’ approval.
6. Edit the audio
Now that the video is ready, add audio. Audio editing works much the same as video: You can drag, cut, copy, split, and add effects.
If you need to adjust just the audio from a video, tools like Camtasia allows you to split the audio and video components into two tracks so you can edit them separately.
If your audio sounds off, you can adjust it to:
Smooth out the audio levels: In your video software, you’ll see the audio represented as spikes on the timeline. Wherever the spikes are really high, that’s an unusually loud noise, and it may be too much for your audience. This happens when someone claps in a presentation or brushes their microphone. You can dampen the noise by adjusting those areas of the audio timeline.
Correct the sound: You may need to eliminate noises entirely. If your B-roll footage includes audio, mute it. If there’s persistent background noise, you can reduce it with a tool that most video software call “background noise reduction.” Can’t isolate or remove that annoying noise? Add music.
Add music: Music can add a polished feel to your video and there’s lots of great royalty-free music you can use (just Google it). But what sort of music is good for your video?
- I need to add emotion: Use rock, alternative, or electronica, like car commercials
- I need to supplement people talking: Use smooth jazz, classical, or alternative
- For intros and outros: Use an acoustic riff that’s memorable and which you’ll repeat, like we do in Vidyard Chalk Talks
In your video editing software, you can make the music volume taper off as speakers begin (you hear this a lot in podcasts) or as the video ends.
Add sound effects: Subtle sound effects can draw your audience’s’ attention to something like a new graphic that appears on screen.
7. Correct the color
This is a final touch that may or may not be necessary, but if your video looks a little drab, you can make it more exciting by increasing the contrast or saturation.
If many of your clips were shot in different lighting conditions, you can create what are known as adjustment layers (think Instagram filters) that fine-tune the:
- Color Temperature
- Exposure and coloring through black levels, mid tones, and highlights
Advanced users can consider color grading: Intentionally skewing the color to create a mood. For example, The Matrix was all green, many dramas are blue, and action films are often red.
Exporting and saving your video
The only thing worse than doing tons of work to produce a video is doing it all over again because you spilled coffee on your computer. Save the finished project and all its source files somewhere trustworthy, like a secure shared drive.
Once it’s all complete, select a quality level such as 1080p or 720p and export your whole video project as a MP3, MP4, WMV, or MOV file and it’s ready for marketing!
In the next chapter, we’ll shared detailed advice from experts on how to make the best marketing videos.