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DIY Video Production (Part 2) - Editing your video

A few weeks ago we wrote a blog about DIY Video Production - perfect for creating talking head style online videos.

This week we're following up on the editing side. So, with your video production complete, the next stage is to edit your video, ready to publish online.

Professional video production companies use high end computers and software to edit their video. The computers are largely Macs (both pro and iMac) and the software is either Final Cut Pro X or Premier Pro depending on the editor and what format the final video will take.

High specification Macs are expensive and we wouldn't suggest  that you go out and spend thousands on a new computer and months (or even years) learning how to edit on them...

Depending on what computer you already have there will be a basic software package suitable for you and your current set up. Apple Macs ship with software called iMovie. (If yours doesn't have it already installed you can buy it for a few pounds at the app store). It's a very basic version of Final Cut Pro and allows you to edit your footage on a timeline and do some cool stuff.

If you have a PC then Window's Movie Maker is for you. It's been updated over the years and is now a much improved version of its old self.

Transfer and backup

Once you've finished filming, the first step is to import the footage onto your. To do this you'll need a card reader which accepts the memory cards in your camera - generally SD nowadays but also Compact Flash or even recordable DVDs on older models.

Once transferred, we strongly recommend backing up your footage onto a separate device.

Review the footage

You then need to watch all the footage through your editing software. Make a note of key sections and important takes and at what point they appear in the footage using the time-code (When the footage is shot the camera burns a time-code into the footage which the editing software can read and display).

Keep it short and sweet

Decide what the most important points of what you've said are and lose the rest! Your video production wants to be no longer than 3 minutes at the absolute maximum - any longer and you'll lose your audience. And if you have lots of good footage then make 2 or 3 short videos rather than one long one.

Your timeline

There are plenty of tutorial videos on YouTube that cover the basic tutorials for iMovie and for Movie Maker so we'll not go into the software specific instructions now.  But, essentially what you'll need to do at this stage is drop the key footage that you want to include onto the timeline.

The dictionary definition of a timeline is:

"a commonly used interface found in most video editing programs. This interface enables authors to lay a video project out in a linear fashion horizontally across a monitor".

By laying down the footage you like side by side on your timeline you can play through it and see if it all works together. Does it make sense? Does it fit together? Is there a call to action at the end and/or some contact details?


If you're happy with the structure and the flow of the video then you can use what are called transitions to ease the transition between the different clips on your timeline.

Here's an explainer videos for iMovie video:

And one for Movie Maker video:

Another way to do this and to add some more interest to your video is to add still images. These could cover your subject matter - your product, your team at work or a location relevant to the subject. By placing them over the link between clips you avoid the footage jumping and increase the overall production value.

Titles and text

You may want to add titles or text to your video. This can be a name tag (called an aston) to identify yourself, some intro text to explain to the viewer what they are about to watch, or, most importantly, your contact details.

Here's an explainer videos for iMovie video:

And one for Movie Maker video:

Format and size

By now you should have a short video which you are ready to upload to your site. It's under 3 minutes long, is coherent and tells a clear story as well as having a call to action at the end.

When uploading your video to the web, you'll want to choose a format and size that will play easily and still look good. Unfortunately both iMovie and Movie Maker severely limit the options when exporting video. iMovie have just reintroduced some functions but we're waiting on Movie Maker to do the same.

We normally recommend a resolution size of 1280 by 720. This isn't full resolution of 1920 by 1080 but is still considered High Definition (HD ) and looks great online. Not being quite as large a file it loads up quickly and doesn't judder as much when playing back on a slower internet connection.

You also want the video to be what's called "progressive" rather than "interlaced". This is all about how the video plays and the way the picture scans. Progressive footage will be labelled with a 'p' at the end - e.g. 720p. If possible we'd also recommend encoding the video as H.264 codec which works best on YouTube, Vimeo and most websites.

That's it for now - if you have any questions or comments please get in touch!

James Johnson
Picture Book Films
Video Production London / Brighton