TikTok. You can’t escape it. The social media app that celebrates short-form, mobile-friendly videos has launched onto the global stage in a huge way, forcing well established giants like YouTube and Instagram to step up their game. The introduction of YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels, which are essentially copycat platforms, shows just how much the market demands what TikTok has to offer: fast, short, vertical videos.

What is it about TikTok videos that has captured the world’s imaginations? Is it the way the app is designed, sending you from one video to another seamlessly without effort? What begins as an intention to check emails inevitably ends up as half an hour disappearing down a hole of watching videos. Or is it the videos themselves, snappy and witty and tailored perfectly to your tastes?

Whatever the reason, it has enraptured audiences everywhere, so it’s no surprise that everyone wants to join in. It is a platform that has enabled more people than ever to get their creative stories out into the world, and anyone has the opportunity of seeing their videos go viral. Even creators with small followings can have their videos seen millions, if not even billions of times.

So you want to create TikTok videos, to tell your own story. But once you’ve decided what you’re going to be making, how do you become a TikTok star? The secret lies in video editing, and good video editing is what makes good TikTok videos stand out.

Why is video editing important?

Creating TikTok videos is much the same process as creating Hollywood movies. You might be able to pick up your mobile, record 15 seconds of yourself then post it, but it probably won’t be particularly good. The key to making good TikTok videos is in planning what you are going to make before you’ve even filmed a single frame of the video.

Once you have shot all the footage you’ll need for your video, editing is the stage in the process that brings everything together. It’s like baking a cake — you might have all the ingredients you need in the form of footage, but without actually baking it the video will be raw.

Video editing is an opportunity to refine what you have filmed. It’s the stage of the process where you can remove mistakes, and make the selections of clips that will create the best result possible. You can trim the parts of the clips where you left the camera rolling for a bit too long, or a train went past in the background ruining the audio of what you were saying, or any other interruptions.

But it’s also the stage at which you can add a lot of creative flare. Two people can edit the same footage and create two very different videos. This comes from the order of the clips, the music paired with them, the timing and pacing of the video, and the use of effects like animated titles, transitions, and color filters. Video editing is an opportunity to let your creative vision shine through, and it’s what separates a good video from a bad one.

The most important video edits

Video editing is much more than just moving clips around and putting them in order. It’s all about telling a story. There are some fundamental techniques you will use within your video editing software to bring your stories to life.

Cutting is the one you will undoubtedly use the most. Cutting and trimming clips involves picking the best parts and removing everything else. It could be as major as removing a full 30 seconds of video that you don’t want to include anymore, or it could be as minor as adjusting clips by individual frames. It might sound petty, but the way that people watch videos is a very emotional, subconscious process, and a simple adjustment like cutting a video just before somebody on screen blinks can have a big effect on the experience of watching the video.

Cutting and trimming is the bare bones of video editing, but music editing is just as important. This involves picking a music track that works the best with the video you are creating and combining it with the footage in a way that works emotionally and practically. It needs to be a track that matches the energy of what you’re trying to achieve; a high tempo electronic track would be great for an extreme sports video, but not so good for your videos on guided yoga meditation.

Transitions are ways of getting from one clip to another that isn’t just a straight cut. Transitions like whip pans and dissolves can help carry momentum throughout a video, keeping the energy high and exciting. It all adds to the tone, or the general vibe of the video you are making.

Animated graphics might sound complex, but many video editing software packages like VideoStudio Pro include easily editable motion graphics templates for you to drop into your videos. This could be chapter titles, or animated subtitles, or dynamic logos.

Filters can give footage a specific look, like an old black and white feel, or a vibrant colorful vibe, or a warm or cool hue depending on how you want the audience to feel when they’re watching.

But what is the actual process of editing TikTok videos? What order should you do things in? Let’s dive in.

How to edit a TikTok video

Before you do anything, before you’ve even picked up your camera, make sure you have carefully planned exactly what you are going to be making. And that doesn’t just mean booking train tickets to travel to a cool place you want to make a video about, it means planning how you want the video to look. What do you want your audience to feel when they watch it? Are you creating an informative video about home organization tips? Are you creating a highlights video of the top things to do in your local area? Or are you telling a short comedic film? Whatever your content, write it down first.

Research what other creators are making videos about and how they’re doing it. Are they funny or serious? Are they moving around with loads of energy or are they giving direct points straight to the camera? Then consider what would work best for you. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera, but love to work with other people who do. Maybe you’re not great at talking, but you love creatively animating text.

Thoroughly plan your content and your style, but at the same time don’t feel like you need to have everything worked out immediately. TikTok is all about experimentation, and figuring things out as you go. It’s totally okay to try things out that don’t work, and then move on to trying something else. TikTok is full of people throwing things out there, and some of them will stick and some of them won’t. It’s all part of the fun.

Once you’ve planned your video and shot all the footage you need to, then it’s time to dive into the edit, and that’s where the fun really begins.

Take the time to go through all of your footage and select the clips that work the best. If you did multiple takes, make sure to watch them all and choose your favorite. Assemble the clips in order and cut out any mistakes or repetitions. It doesn’t have to be perfect at this point, it’s all about getting the clips into a narrative structure and then going back and refining it later.

Once you have your structure, it’s time to be creative with your editing. Add transitions between shots to get from one to another in a cool, exciting way. Try experimenting with jump cuts or other techniques like L-cuts and J-cuts, which create a sense of overlapping audio and video to help carry the story and make the video fun to watch.

At the end of this stage you should have a pretty solid idea of what your final video will look like, and if you want to stop there and upload it then great. But it’s worth taking some extra time to add some flourishes and final touches like filters and graphics. The fine details are what will make your video stand out from everyone else’s.

Filters, or color grading, give your footage a specific look and feel. It could be as complex as making something black and white and grainy to create an old-timey look, or it could just be a quick pass to make the colors a little more vibrant and saturated to help them stand out on a mobile screen. The kind of filters you add all comes down to what type of video you are making and how it supports the story you are telling. Consider the tone, feel, and how you want your audience to feel after they’ve seen it.

Once you have added filters to make your footage stand out, design some motion graphics to support the messaging. It could be something that just adds a cool effect, like some glitching or a dynamic cut-out effect now and then which works really well in sports videos. Or it could be as simple as some clean, animated titles. Using templated, preset motion graphics and animations like in VideoStudio Pro is a great way to quickly make your videos stand up alongside professional productions, and it saves you a lot of time too.

Adding subtitles to your video makes it more accessible to users who might be hard of hearing or just watching with the sound off while they’re on their daily commute. Subtitles can be as simple as text on screen or they could be animated in an interesting way to make your video more engaging.

Focus on story

Making TikTok videos is a lot of fun, and being creative with your video editing is the best way to make them stand out from what other filmmakers are doing. Although there is plenty that you can do with the TikTok app itself, the best way to make the most creative videos is by using a video editing software like VideoStudio Pro, which gives you complete control over every element. From music and transitions to color filters, effects and animated graphics, VideoStudio Pro is a complete post-production team wrapped neatly into one accessible package. Just remember that the tools alone won’t let you create good TikTok videos. They can give you a hand but to really stand out from the crowd you will need to carefully plan and write your films, and above all, tell a good story. Download a free trial of VideoStudio Pro today!

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