5 Common Editing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Posted July 02, 2018
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by Kelly Korzan

I’ve been editing video professionally for many years and also teaching people how to edit and that experience has given me a "birds eye" view of the most common mistakes people make when they’re editing. It’s really a tragedy when you’ve shot great footage for your story and then it all goes wrong when it comes to editing it together. To help you avoid some of the mistakes I made in the early days and the mistakes I see time and time again in the videos I see online, I’ve compiled a list of the 5 most common editing mistakes and how to avoid them.


This is a very common mistake that many editors make: as soon as you’ve imported your footage, you jump in and start editing right away. As tempting as this is, taking the time to organize and get familiar with your footage before you start will save you a lot of time throughout the editing process. It takes a lot less time to start your project with your material properly organized, than it takes to find something you need later on when you’re fine-tuning your story. Label your clips properly, put them into bins or folders with like items and mark your favorite sections. Not only will your edit go more smoothly, but you’ll get more familiar with your footage in the process which is never a bad thing.


When you first discover the effects that are available in your editing application, it can seem like you’ve unearthed buried treasure. You can do so many things! The problem with this is that the effects can distract and even overshadow the story that you’re trying to tell. Remember that editing should be an ‘invisible art’, meaning that if someone notices the editing instead of the story, you’re doing it wrong. Nothing says ‘look how I can edit’ more than an erroneous star wipe. That said, effects that are used very specifically to support the story you’re telling can be a revelation, just don’t go crazy.


There are two areas in the outside edges of your video. Ten percent in from the edge is known as the SAFE VIDEO area, and is the area a viewer will see when your video is broadcast. Twenty percent in from the edge of your video is the SAFE TITLE AREA. If you place your text outside that area, it will be cut off when your video is broadcast. All non-linear editing systems provide an overlay guide that you can display on the screen to see where the safe title area is located. This is less important if you’re publishing to the web, but still worth keeping an eye on.


This one is very common. A lot of people work up until the last minute editing the video so that it’s just right, and then create a quick, and usually sloppy, audio mix at the very end. Viewers are much more forgiving of video issues than of poorly mixed audio, and if they can’t understand what’s being said, they’ll just stop watching. Always be sure to build in enough time to create a really smooth audio mix, and take that time. A good audio mix always makes the video look better.


A lot of things can go wrong during the export process. Frames can be dropped, audio can become distorted, there can be video ‘hits’, and the list goes on. Of course you’ll want to watch your finished video before you even export it to catch anything that’s wrong or out of sync, but you also need to watch your exported video to be sure that no technical issues during export happened before you send that video to someone or upload or broadcast. It’s always worth the time it takes to do it. 


I hope you’ll find these common mistakes useful and remember you can find help with all of these in the Editing section on TheVJ.com


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