How to shoot and edit your first video

Video is the new communication channel. On social platforms, it boasts twelve hundred percent more shares than text and image-based content combined, and it’s changing the way the internet works.

Syndcast predicts that seventy-four percent of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video.

Chances are, if you are working in PR, Advertising, News Media, or even HR, you are going to be involved with a video project sooner or later. So be prepared to add some additional skills to your toolbox.

Whether you are heading the project or doing the actual filming and editing yourself, there are a few things to know that will save you a lot of grief.

Equipment will make or break your video.

Having the right camera, the right mic, and enough storage space on your SD cards is critical. You CAN film videos on a phone; but don’t do it unless you have to. Make sure you have a nice camera, a lavaliere mic for interviews (the kind that clips onto the interviewee), and a shotgun mic (see image below) for everything else. The sound on most cameras, even the nice ones, just isn’t going to cut it for professional-quality video.

Get a tripod. Shaky footage is unprofessional, and incredibly hard to fix. Image Source:

Get a tripod. Shaky footage is unprofessional, and incredibly hard to fix. Image Source:

There’s nothing worse than having to stop an interview at a climactic moment or pause in the middle of a complicated shot to deal with the “CARD FULL” message that pops up on your camera when you run out of memory space. For every 10 minutes of HD Youtube video quality footage, you are going to need about 1.5 GB of storage space.

The last thing you need is a tripod. No matter how good you think you are at holding a camera still, chances are, without a tripod your video is going to be shaky. There are features that can help with this in video editing programs like Premiere, but they almost never completely fix the problem.

Finally, equipment fails. You can plan on it. So I always bring two of everything.

Save and organize your footage right.

There are lots of things that can go wrong post-shoot. Flash drives and SD cards go missing, computers crash, and sometimes your footage just won’t upload. Life happens, and sometimes it seems like the number one rule of video editing is murphy’s law: if it can go wrong it will.

But you can be prepared.

Lots of video upload and transfer happens via flash drives. One helpful trick to remember is that you can’t put anything larger than 4 gigs on most flash drives, even if the flash drive has more than 4 gigs of memory. It has to do with the file system most flash drives come equipped with.

“A file system, which is a separate thing from an operating system … is an organizational scheme used to control how data is stored and retrieved on a given storage medium (like a hard disk, a DVD disc, or a removable flash drive).” If you are having a hard time moving large files onto or off of your flash drive, refer to this helpful article.

Upload and save quickly in multiple places. The quicker you get your video saved in a few secure places, the safer it will be. Having to re-do an entire shoot is not only inconvenient—often it’s just not possible. Create backups quickly, and store them in reliable places.

Rick Porter, multimedia lab manager at BYU, has worked in the PR/video production industry for decades. In his video editing class, he stresses, “Make sure you save your footage in multiple places—never just on the cloud.”

Video can take up a lot of space on your hard drive, and cloud storage may seem like a great alternative. But in Porter’s experience, putting all your faith in the cloud can be risky. He advises saving footage both to a physical hard drive, and then to the cloud as backup.

Remember these five editing hacks.

There are a few things you can do as you begin the actual editing process that will save you hours of frustration and tears. Because Premiere is the gold standard for editing and expected to continue in the top spot, this post will focus specifically on editing in premiere.

 #1. Make sure your computer is up to the task

To run Premiere optimally, you need:

  • A solid-state drive
    • Most newer computers have one, but you can find out how to determine whether or not your computer has one here if you have a Mac or here if you have a PC.
  • At least 8 gigs or RAM (Closer to 16 is better.)
    • Find out how much RAM your Mac has here, or if you have a PC here.

#2. Match the viewer window to your export settings 

Once you’ve actually got Premiere downloaded and your footage in place to edit, you can focus on the second thing. Match your program monitor* dimensions to your desired export dimensions right off the bat. In simpler terms, that means: make sure the preview window you are using is the right width and height.

Is the video meant for YouTube? Instagram? Facebook? News stations? Check the settings and dimensions you will need for your final product, and make sure the viewer window for the sequence you are editing matches those settings. That way you can frame your cuts and zooms right. Instagram videos are tall and skinny. YouTube videos are almost twice as wide as they are tall. Different platforms require different sizes, and if you get the dimensions wrong, part of your video will be cut off when you post it.

*Your program monitor is a place to preview what your finished video will look like. Premiere, by default, places it in the upper right corner of the screen. After the program monitor dimensions are set for a particular project, footage is scaled to fit inside the dimensions of the program monitor frame.

#3. Save often

This might seem like a glaringly obvious suggestion, but video editing programs take a lot to run, especially if your computer is running other applications or has limited RAM. Premiere has quit on me in the middle of a project more than once. Saving every ten minutes is a simple price to pay for peace of mind.

Lock layers in your timeline using the padlock icon. Image Source: (edited)

Lock layers in your timeline using the padlock icon. Image Source: (edited)

#4. Lock layers you aren’t directly editing 

This is one of my favorite features in Premiere, and since I discovered it, my job has become so much easier. If you’ve used other Adobe programs, it’s just like locking layers in Photoshop.

The “lock” feature, activated by clicking the little padlock icon for a specific channel in your timeline, prevents you from accidentally making changes to an audio or video layer you have carefully edited. This is especially helpful when you are working with background tracks, sound bites, or transitioning between camera views.

#5. Match frame rates, especially for iPhone video

Make sure your shots are fluid by editing things like white balance and frames-per-second. Two clips edited together with different frame rates will distract the viewer. A video is essentially hundreds or thousands of still images played in quick succession. Those images are what we refer to as “frames.” You can find a step-by step guide on how to edit frame rates of clips here.

If the concept of frame rate is tough to wrap your head around, think about old sketch animation clips you’ve seen – like Mickey Mouse. Those clips have low frame rates.

Video is the new communication channel. Image Source:

Video is the new communication channel. Image Source:

IPhones are often the biggest culprits because they record using a “variable frame rate.” This means if there isn’t a lot of action going on in the shot, an iPhone will record at a lower frame rate to save storage space. One shot can have a frame rate sequence that is all over the place. To fix this, import your footage to iMovie (included with any apple computer) and export it immediately. IMovie will export the video at a constant frame rate. You can then move your clip to Adobe Premiere and start working with it.

Obviously, this post can’t answer all of your questions.  But a quick internet search will often turn up YouTube videos specific to your needs. The best way to learn how to edit is to jump in and start working with the programs.

It’s a skill you will forever be glad you took the time to learn. Because according to Poole Communications, video is no longer only a marketing tool. It is THE marketing tool, in addition to being a host of other things. It’s what you use if you want people to pay attention.

Video is the new brochure.     
Video is the new testimonial letter.     
Video is the new proposal.     
Video is the new training manual.     
Video is the new instructional manual.     
Video is the new letter and email.”

-Poole Communications for Business

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