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Creating effective video for the web: Part Three

23 June 2011
Rav Chambers, strategy consultant and video producer, Be Inspired Films

Rav Chambers, strategy consultant and video producer, Be Inspired Films


  • Be ruthless. You'll have to often have more footage than you can possibly use.
  • Keep it short and sweet. People will not hang around on the web for a long, boring video.
  • Dedication's what you need. Once you've cut a few videos, editing becomes quicker and easier.
  • End with the beginning in mind. Avoid getting lost in editing by referring to your original plan.
  • Still stuck? Get in touch with Rav for some more help.

There is a saying: 'Easy to do, easy to do badly' – so in this three-part guide Rav Chambers takes you through effectively planning, filming and editing engaging video content for the web.

In this final part of the three-part guide to creating effective videos for the web, Rav takes a look at the editing process.

Congratulations! We have now covered planning, strategy, equipment and top tips for filming. In this the third and final part of the blog we will look at the pros and cons of different editing options along with some top tips.

Editing – an overview
Editing is in simple terms the rearranging of the clips you have filmed in the best order or sequence to support the story you are trying to tell. This may involve cutting some clips out, shortening some clips so that they are more direct and to the point or creating montage sequences that give your audience a sense of what it was like to be at an event or activity. 
During the editing process you can also include titles to introduce the video or give context to things (like place names, dates or people's names) and also add credits and contact information. You can also include transitions and various effects. A transition is simply how you connect one clip to the next, this can be a gradual fade to the next shot or something more funky. The rule of thumb here is to keep it simple. Some of the special effects that are available, especially with the free editing software can be fun but also very cheesy, keep in mind the look and feel you want to achieve, who your audience is and what they may like.
There are three main skills you need for editing: 
The first is a reasonably good understanding of the software you are using.
The second is the ability to see the big picture and make sure the key messages come through clearly within the desired length of time for your video, this can mean having to be ruthless at times and remaining very focused.
The third is bringing some creativity to the process so your presentations are more engaging. This is something you can develop over time if it doesn’t come naturally.
The Iceberg Effect:
The editing can take up quite a bit of time and a lot goes into making even a short video when you take into account the planning, the filming and the editing, it is important to plan enough time in to be able to do your video justice. You will often have a lot more footage than you can possibly use and you will have to cut it down, this requires being ruthless at times and remaining focused on the objective for the video.
Don’t bore people:
The general rule of thumb is to keep your videos short and to the point, this is particularly true of the web as people just will not hang around if the video drags or is to long. You need to grab people early on and keep them engaged, remaining focused on your key points. It does depend on the type of video, as people will watch for longer if it is quality material on a topic they have a particular interest in. It may be useful to think about trying to create something more like a film trailer than an epic trilogy to start off with.
Dedications what you need:
If there is an area where people tend to struggle and feel like giving up, it can be the editing but if you stick at it and persevere, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience and more importantly you get good video content out there regularly to promote your work. In the beginning it is about getting familiar with the software and the different functions but once you have them down you can get much more creative and make it fun.
End with the beginning in mind:
You may find it useful to refer back to the first part of this blog to remind yourself of the importance of having a clear objective for your videos. We must always revisit this towards the end of the editing process to evaluate if we are still on track and have not got lost on the way. There is a saying that a film is made three times, once in planning, once in filming and once in editing and while your video will evolve make sure it will still serve your purpose.
Editing software:
Editing software can often look a bit daunting but as with most things once you make a start and learn the basic functions like cutting clips and adding text you can gradually progress your skills. Your editing may be functional in the beginning, but as you progress you can get creative and experiment with the tools and skills you learn and it can be a lot of fun.
There are a wide range of programs that offer video editing that also widely differ in price and functionality. There are a number of free programs available, on PC there is Windows MovieMaker and Apple has iMovie for the Mac. Both are good for basic editing and easy to use, however Windows Moviemaker is much more limited than Imovie which is pretty good. In the other extreme you have editing systems like Avid or Apple's Final Cut Pro, which are both prominent platforms used in broadcast television. They offer great versatility and smooth workflows but at a price, sometimes into the thousands if you wanted a complete professional set up.
For creating video content to a professional standard, at a reasonable cost and with enough versatility to be creative we would recommend programs like Adobe Premiere Elements (around £70 for PC & Mac) or Final Cut Express (around £100 for Mac only). These are simplified versions of Adobe Premiere & Final Cut Pro respectively, and were created for simple use by beginners whilst still retaining most of the features of the Pro packages at a fraction of the cost. You can also usually find free 30 day trials of these packages to try out before you purchase.
Best of luck on your onward journey:
I would love to hear your feedback and be happy to help if there are any questions or ideas you would like to discuss. I will be at the Third sector social media conference on both days and speaking on the Tuesday, so pop along and say hi.
If you are interested in attending one of our courses, where we cover all this plus much more in greater depth and where you can get hands on experience so you can confidently create regular video content for the web, click the link below.
The next courses are in London on June 27th and July 22nd 2011.