YouTube is a remarkable platform. It sprung up from fairly innocuous beginnings and quickly became the go-to destination for sharing videos. Personal videos, videos of pets, sketches, short films, documentaries, commercials, vlogs — the platform soon ballooned into something much bigger than a compilation of cat videos.

Today, people make a decent living (sometimes, a really decent living) from making YouTube videos. And even with the advent of Facebook and TikTok, which are both dominating a certain kind of mobile-friendly video content, YouTube is still going strong. It is the go-to destination for videos about pretty much anything, and there are still large audiences looking for good quality videos in their niche.

The standards of YouTube videos these days are high. The best channels have premium production quality, with a lot of care and attention put into the craft of filmmaking. If you want to create videos for YouTube, editing will be a huge part of that. If you want your YouTube channel to succeed you must take the time to practice and hone your craft. You won’t get a million subscribers overnight, but with careful attention to video editing you can create excellent videos that will capture the attention of an audience.

Why video editing is important

Creating high-quality videos for YouTube is just like making movies, TV shows or commercials. The process can be split into three parts: pre-production, production, and post-production. The editing happens in the post-production phase of the project, once the video has been scripted then shot, and is one of the most important parts of creating a video.

The editing process is the point at which the footage comes together from being a collection of shots to a consistent story with a beginning, middle and end. It’s an opportunity for you to shape the video however you want, being as creative as you like.

Video editing is much more than just assembling clips in the right order and trimming them to remove mistakes. Video editing is a chance to define the tone, or overall feel of the video, and the pacing. Letting shots linger for a long while will create a very different vibe than if you were to quickly cut lots of shots in rapid succession. One style might be good for a video about yoga, the other would be good for an extreme sports video. How you edit will depend on what end result you are trying to create.

To really make the most of your time editing videos, make sure you watch your favorite creators. Try to pay attention to how they edit their videos: how the music interacts with the footage, if they use any graphics, if they have applied any filters to their footage. See what lessons you can apply to your own work.

Once you are happy you have carefully planned and shot your videos, it’s time to edit. Let’s dive in.

How to edit YouTube videos

First, you’re going to need good-quality video editing software. Choose something that includes all the features you will want to make use of — for YouTube videos, that will likely be trimming clips, adding music, creating graphics, and adding effects and filters. Once you have chosen your software, import all of the footage you have shot into the software and start going through it carefully.

Take the time to watch every clip, and resist the temptation to just grab the first few that you like. Keep a note of your favorites, then begin to assemble them on the timeline.

If you have planned it properly, you should have a script, or a storyboard, or at the very least a really clear idea about how it will come together. The first stage of editing, known as the assembly, involves just putting clips in order. There’s no need to be precise, or creative, or clever, just get it together so you can start to build a sense of how the video will play out. This is the point at which you will begin to see how long it will be, what kind of graphics you might want to include, and if you need to shoot any extra footage to cover bits that you have missed or didn’t expect to include.

Once you have the assembly down, you can start the craft edit. This is a process of going back through the video and refining the cuts. When audiences watch a video, they often don’t notice the small details that have gone into the edit. But most of the time, an adjustment of just a few frames will impact the emotional reaction of the person watching it. Nudging clips left and right by fractions can make a big difference to making the video feel like a seamless watch. The best kind of video editing is where the viewer doesn’t notice any edits at all; they just glide right past.

One of the tools to help you do this is a J-cut, or an L-cut. It’s essentially an edit that overlaps the audio, so that the audio of the next clip begins slightly before or after the one next to it. It’s an adjustment of only a few frames, but it can completely change the way an edit feels.

You might also want to try jump cuts, zooms, or add some transitions to make your video more dynamic, particularly if it is an exciting pace. Feel free to experiment, too — you won’t know if an idea is going to work or not unless you try it. Don’t be afraid to break the rules and make edits that seem strange or unusual, because that kind of creative thinking is how trends are born and styles evolve.

Next, don’t forget music. Music is 50% of a video, so it deserves plenty of care and attention. Picking the right track from your royalty-free library is half the challenge, and the other challenge is editing it so that it flows well with the footage. If the track has a beat, try matching the edits to the beat of the music to give it some momentum. Don’t worry about changing edits you have just made, either — when you add music you might find that you want to move sections around, and that’s fine. Nothing is locked until you render the final video, and you will be making changes throughout the entire process. You might even decide to delete an entire section of the video later on if you decide you don’t want it in there anymore.

Music can also help set the tone and the pace. Fast-moving, high energy videos benefit from rock and electronic tracks. But calmer, more straightforward or simple videos might feel better with some orchestral or subtle synth background music.

Once you’re happy with that, incorporate some graphics. Animated motion graphics can be as simple as some text introducing who you are or the title of the video, or they can be as complex as entire animated illustrations and charts. The good news is you don’t need to be a professional designer to create high quality graphics for your videos. Some editing software like VideoStudio Pro include a set of pre-made templates ready to edit and add to your video in just moments. Templates are a great way of adding some quality to your videos without needing the skills, time or resources to create them in the first place. Look through the libraries available to you and you can always find more resources online including text animations and logo resolves that other designers have made.

After you have incorporated your graphics in your video, it’s time to color grade. This stage involves adding filters or effects to your footage to give it a distinctive look and style. For the most part, this will probably just be a case of making the colors pop a bit more, giving the video a fresh, vibrant feel. But if you want to strike a certain tone or vibe then you might want to explore other options as well. If your video is a serious drama, consider using a cool, blue hue. If you want your audience to feel relaxed, then a gentle warm, orange palette would help create that emotion.

In this way, color is much like music, and you should be able to see during the process how all of these elements come together. Changing one or more of these creative stages will result in a very different video, even though you’re working with the same footage.

Use VideoStudio Pro to edit your videos

When choosing video editing software to work with, look out for something that can cover all of your needs. VideoStudio Pro is an all-in-one video editing package that includes trimming, music, transitions, graphics and filters.

It’s a professional video editing software designed with YouTube content creators in mind, intended to be your go-to destination for anything related to post-production. Imagine having an entire team of creatives in your back pocket. Choose from countless templated graphics and transitions to customize your video, and apply any from a wide range of filters and effects. Whether you want your footage to be bright and vibrant or black and white, there will be a filter for it.

Once you have finished editing your video and you are completely happy with the result, it’s time to render. Navigate to the Share window in VideoStudio Pro and choose a file type to render to. For uploading to YouTube, AVC/H.264 will be fine as it will balance quality and file size nicely.

If you want to share it anywhere else, consider the destination and what file type might be good for that. It might be worth rendering a version in the highest quality settings you can in order to have it on file as a backup. If storage space is a premium, perhaps compress the footage to make the files smaller.

Enjoy the creative process

The only thing left after that is to publish it! And congratulations, you’ve made a YouTube video. Don’t expect to rack up millions of views straight away. It will take time and regular work to build up a channel of good content that will attract an audience. But don’t get too hung up on that, just enjoy the creative process of getting things made, whether it’s a vlog, a detailed documentary, or an advert for your business.

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