Top 5 Editing Mistakes to Avoid

Lesson Details

Subject: Editing

Title: Top 5 Editing Mistakes to Avoid


Common Editing Pitfalls

Editing video is a really valuable skill to learn and a great way to explore your creativity. At our editing instructors have decades of experience between them both in creating short form videos for the web and social media and also in long form programming for cable and broadcast television. From their many years of expertise, we decided to create this video editing tutorial about the most common mistakes editors make and how to avoid them.

This lesson is for anyone who is editing video, not just for beginners. We have been teaching video editing courses both online and in person and we have seen even the most seasoned and experienced editors make these common mistakes. The most common issues editors with lots of experience have when they edit are making their videos too long and lacking objectivity. When you spend a long time working on a project it can be really difficult to step back from your finished film and view it as someone would if they were watching it for the first time. In our experience most videos, long or short, are better for a good trim! In the world of modern media, people's attention spans are very short so in your editing you have to grab and hold your viewer's attention.

Another common editing mistake is saving the best for later. You may have an amazing shot or sequence of shots and feel tempted to save them for later in your story. Unfortunately your viewers will probably have left long before you get to it.

In this lesson we'll also look at the importance of not rushing your audio mix. Sound is as important as pictures and your audio mix deserves just as much time and effort as everything else in your story.

And finally we'll cover the issue of using shots which don't really work for your story but you want to edit them in because you like them.

Here are some good solutions to keep in mind when you're editing.


Type notes for this course below, and we'll automatically save them and sync them to your dashboard.


Number Five: Saving Your Best Stuff for later.

The average viewer’s attention span is getting shorter and shorter, so if you save your best shots for later, the viewer might not be there by then.

Always start with your the best shot you have to immediately engage your viewer’s attention, and you’ll have agreater chance that they’ll stick around through to the end of your piece.

Number Four: Hanging onto Shots that you love even when they don’t work for your story.

This one applies not only to filmmaking, but any creative effort like Writing or Painting. When we spend a lot of time creating something, we get very close to our material, and sometimes we’re so close to it that we can’t see it clearly.

There’s a popular phrase in filmmaking, “Killing Your Darlings” and this refers to the painful, but necessary act of removing something from your video that you’re overly attached to but that doesn’t move the story forward.

Number Three: Rushing Your Audio Mix.

Too often we work for hours on end, painstakingly putting just the right shots in our video, and then wait until
the last minute to mix the audio. If a shot is slightly over or under
exposed, or is not quite in focus, most viewers will accept it and move on, paying attention to the story.

But if they can’t hear something properly or it sounds distorted, they’ll
immediately notice it and be distracted from your story, or worse,
stop watching it. Always build in enough time for a nice, thorough audio mix into your delivery schedule. The extra time you take for your audio mix will pay off in spades.

Number Two: Don’t be afraid to step away from the edit to give yourself a fresh perspective, especially if you’ve working on something for a long period of time.

Overexposure to your own material can be a real trap. If you’re starting to feel like a lot of what you’ve edited is dull and uninteresting, it’s time to step away from the computer.

Or better yet, if you have the time, take a couple of days off completely. When you come back to it, you’ll see it with fresh eyes and if those same sections still seem dull, then change them or get rid of them.

Another good thing to do is to invite a trusted colleague who’s never seen it before to watch it with you. Along with some potentially helpful feedback, just the act of watching it “through someone else’s eyes” can give you the perspective that you need.

And finally, Number One: Making Your Video Too Long

In many cases, you’ll likely have a target time that you’re working toward, and can’t exceed. But if you don’t have a pre-set time limit, it’s better to err on the side of too short than too long.

That extra material can sometimes dilute and potentially strangle an otherwise compelling and well-paced video.

© Michael Rosenblum & Lisa Lambden 2016 to 2020