3 Things You Should Stop Doing when Editing Videos

Editing Videos
I know the feeling: you get a new camera, you start shooting and then you eagerly drag your files into your video editor. You're making videos!

It's normal to be excited but that's exactly the reason you might be slacking a bit. What do I mean? Well, I'm talking about the typical mistakes a beginner makes when one gets into this video making thing.

Since most of us who make videos also share them online, I guess this is a bit of a ego booster. We either show off by being the main character in our own videos or we wanna impress the audience with our amazing shooting and editing skills (we basically wanna be Spielberg in our own little world).

So, since it's important for us to not have our ego hurt by too many people hitting the dislike button, we might as well follow three simple rules. Here they are:

1. Don't use transitions

Yup. You don't wanna use those lame looking transitions that come with most video editing programs.

Just spend some time watching some of the best videos on YouTube or Vimeo (including music videos) and you'll notice there are no transitions at all, apart from a fade (or dissolve) here and there. Clean cuts is all you need.

If you combine the clean cuts with music beats, you're already rocking like a pro. You don't need to over do it, but you can be make some beat-cuts a few times across your clip. That will link the video to the music track in an engaging way for the viewer.

The only time when it makes sense to use rich transitions and heavy effects is in your intro which can act a signature. You can even create your own custom transitions if you want.

2. Don't make your video too long

For some reason, I feel the urge to use as much material as possible. I guess this happens because I normally shoot a ton of footage and I get emotionally attached to some scenes which I feel I need to use in the final edit. That's wrong. So, I'm guilty of making my videos too long as well.

The wise thing to do is to watch yourself when you're browsing YouTube. Here's what I do:
  • I look at the time duration of the video.
  • If it's 5 minutes or less and the thumbnail and title are enticing, I click on it.
What does this say about me (and I assume most people behave similarly)? I just don't want to allocate too much of my time to a video that is longer than 5 minutes. We all want instant gratification and anything longer than 5 minutes is not instant...

You basically have to be able to kill your long video favoring the shorter version. If you can do this on a regular basis, you'll definitely be a better videographer than I am. I seem to have a redundancy of similar scenes in most of my videos - don't be like me. Be better.

3. Don't use shaky footage

It hurts the eye to see terribly shaky videos. And the stamp that you get as a filmmaker is awful.

DIY Video Gear - Steadicam - Cablecam - Slider
A tripod with a fluid head, a steadicam (even a DIY stabilizer) , a monopod - any of these will give you steady footage which you'll be proud to edit.

I'm a not a big fan of owning stuff, as I've said before, but there's a deeper reason you may need some video gear - once you allow yourself to have better tools, you become a better videographer. Remember though, it doesn't have to be top of the line, it can also be DIY (as long as it's functional).

You basically take your work a bit more serious and you automatically strive for better results. It's a psychological pattern called commitment and consistency and you can read more about it in Robert Cialdini's book - Influence (perhaps the best book on practical human psychology - my favorite non fiction book ever).

So take smooth and steady shots. Nothing screams more "AMATEUR" than shaky footage.


I'd say that keeping simple, neat and to the point is the best way to go. As with most things in life, it's more about what not to do than what to do.

We assume that professional means fancy, long and overdone but we're wrong. Let's allow ourselves to simply it - we'll get better results.

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  1. Good post... I've been guilty of all three at times.

    1. Cheers, Manny! Don't we all? I always find myself regretting the length of the video...

  2. Great tips. Number 2 is the best. I look at my Youtube analytics and see that most viewers only stay engaged for a minute.


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