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Tips for editing video footage

If you’ve ever attempted to watch footage you recorded during a holiday, concert or family occasion, you’ve probably been disappointed with the footage.

Smartphone cameras tend to be grainy when viewed on a large screen. Sound reproduction is weak through a tiny microphone. And footage frequently becomes wobbly and jerky.

Modern smartphones have augmented their video recording functionalities with digital image stabilisation, 4K lenses and low-light picture enhancement.

Spending time editing video footage transforms the quality and professionalism of your recorded material – the latter being of particular importance for corporate material.

Being a home-based entrepreneur doesn’t mean your product walk-throughs, how-to guides, to-camera presentations and promotional clips can be jittery or muffled.

Even if your footage is of a family birthday party, it’ll be more enjoyable to watch back in future years once some post-production polish is applied.

And while you can’t transform unwatchable video footage into something decent, there are various techniques to produce relatively slick movies and clips…


Unless your footage is a one-take affair (like a song performance), a one-shot video of more than a minute is generally boring to watch, as well as revealing any flaws in the recording.

Audiences expect a changing visual narrative when an interesting story is being told – cutaways from interviewee to interviewer, montages, product shot insertions, close-ups…

These will be recorded separately. Film someone being interviewed, then turn the camera round and film yourself asking the questions again to create what’s known as B-roll footage.

Give each video clip an obvious filename (shot 1, shot 2, etc) to simplify editing, keep them all in one folder, and save as you go to avoid software crashes.

Remember audience attention spans are short nowadays. Keep videos as short as possible, signpost what’s coming next, and don’t overdo gimmicky transitions or long visual effects.


The feeble microphones in mobile devices don’t capture sound especially well, but post-production can boost their levels – though often at the expense of background hiss.

You could attempt to soften this with semi-professional platforms like Magix Sound Force or Adobe Audition, restoring patchy audio or layering additional tracks over the top.

Adding ambient music can cover a multitude of sins. It adds professionalism and gives you a spine to build the video’s picture content on top of – synchronising video cuts with music changes, for example.

Adding royalty-free music from platforms like the Free Music Archive will make a video feel more cohesive, as well as helping to distract from choppy or low-quality pictures.

It may be possible to record audio and video separately. Voiceovers are highly effective, and can be recorded in a quiet room on a unidirectional microphone, with a script in front of you.


Always carry out post-production on the most powerful computer or tablet in your home, since rendering and editing video footage is a hugely processor-intensive activity.

In a large enough sans serif font, captions make a thumbnail of the video file instantly identifiable when viewed in a documents folder.

(If you’re trying to grab the audience’s attention, you might want to identify the clip using a specific frame that adds dynamism or intrigue, encouraging them to click the Play icon.)

Adding captions is easily done, and even free software like the basic Video Editor in Windows 10 can support titles and text-based overlays.

However, you’ll have far more choice if you use a more advanced platform for editing video footage, like Apple’s iMovie, CyberLink PowerDirector or Corel Video Studio.

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