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4 handy tips on making better videos

There are two video editors involved with each video project. There's the software editor you choose to edit in, and the human editor driving the software (that would be you). As you would probably suspect, the human editor has a lot more to do with the video's ultimate watchability than the software editor does.

Okay, so you can't teach someone how to produce good video in 400 words. That said, if you understand some fundamentals, you can make your video infinitely more watchable. So here are four tips on the fundamentals…

Quality counts

First, do what you can to improve the quality of the video that you shoot. Bring a tripod whenever possible, make sure that indoor scenes are well-lit, and minimise panning and zooming. Before you start editing, consciously choose whether your goal is to preserve history in all its glory or to create video others want to watch. If you shot two hours of video during your last holiday, no one will want to watch the entire two hours. Instead, plan on paring it down to a more manageable highlight reel.

Enhance the image

Once you start editing, clean and enhance your video first. All editors have brightness and colour-correction tools that can significantly enhance the quality of your footage. Become familiar with these tools and get into the habit of using them first.

Plan ahead

Plan your productions before you start editing. To follow our holiday example, don't think in terms of a 20-minute video. Plan for eight to ten scenes, each clearly differentiated by content, editing style, background music, or the like. Think through what's going to "carry" each scene, and unless there's compelling and continuous dialogue, consider using background music liberally to keep viewers interested and to help vary the mood through the various scenes. Trim your video relentlessly to remove extraneous footage and shorten the final version as much as possible.

Titles tell a story

Use titles to help move the story along. A short title before each scene lets the viewer know to expect something different, and it can subtly reassure them that the video is moving along towards a conclusion. Finally, use special effects to spice up your videos sparingly; don't serve them up as the main course. Special effects are distracting when they are overused – particularly in amateur productions – and if you shoot well and edit effectively your video will look far better without them.