Whether it’s a Hollywood movie, a television show, or a YouTube video, before an audience sees it, an Editor has to put the footage together into its final form. Video editing requires both creativity and technical expertise. An Editor cuts, moves, or adds frames of video footage to create a narrative, which might include a soundtrack, narration, or visual effects. Video Editors use a collection of software programs like Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro, as well as creative techniques, to tell a compelling story.

Why Do Videos Need to Be Edited?

Storytelling is at the heart of video editing. After the raw footage has been shot, the Editor goes to work to transform it into a video that will catch the attention of viewers. It is the Editor’s role to choose the best shots and to put these together to follow a narrative. The Editor can add special effects to create a mood, which can be enhanced and supported with appropriate music. A skillfully edited video presents the creator’s viewpoint as well as tells a story.

Careers in Video Editing

Video editing training can lead to jobs in the motion picture and television industry, or in various businesses. Corporations use Video Editors to work on company training films or hire people to edit commercials. Music videos are another possibility. Many businesses use videos on social media to sell products, and these businesses often contract for services. Also, vlogging, producing self-shot and edited video content, is becoming a way to earn a living on platforms like YouTube and TikTok.

There are some corporate jobs for Video Editors, but many work freelance. This involves putting together a portfolio of work to show to prospective clients, and advertising on platforms like Craigslist, Angie, UpWork, or Thumbtack. Video Editors often work alone or as part of a small team, and can work long hours to meet a project deadline. The median annual salary for a Video Editor in the United States is $67,250. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 30,000 people working as Video Editors in the US in 2020, and the field is expected to grow quickly, with a projected increase of 29% by 2030.

Video editing is often taught as part of a communications or art degree in college. There is no formal education necessary, although most Video Editors have bachelor’s degrees. You can become a Video Editor through self-study and tutorials, but taking classes is a more efficient way to gain these skills. You can choose from in-person classes at colleges or training programs, or sign up for online classes, certificate programs, and bootcamps. Some companies provide on-the-job training but having some familiarity with the field is a definite plus.

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Sometimes, Video Editors choose to specialize in animation and graphics and become Motion Graphics Designers. Video Editors can also move into positions as Video Managers as they gain experience. Video Managers are responsible for running the video team and need to have leadership and project management skills on top of video experience.

Important Qualities for Video Editors

There are some important qualities that draw people to work as Video Editors. People who enjoy working on their own, like technology, and have a creative bent are most likely to be successful in the field. Some other useful qualities are as follows:

  • Good communication skills - Video Editors need to communicate clearly with their team.
  • Knowledge of computers and technology - Videos are generally edited online, so familiarity with computers is a must.
  • An eye for a story - An important part of the Editor’s job is arranging footage to tell a story, so a sense of narration and timing is crucial.
  • Attention to detail - Video Editors need to pay close attention to many details to avoid inconsistencies and to choose the best footage.

Types of Editing

There are basically two types of video editing, linear and nonlinear, although most editing today is nonlinear. In the early days of film, editors took reels of film and cut frames out of it, moved them around, inserted other shots, and eventually made a copy of the edited film. Everything was done from beginning to end, hence the name linear editing. Today’s video editing software makes nonlinear editing possible, and that is how the majority of videos are edited now. With the different software products, Editors can choose shots, trim them to make them shorter, move them around within the video, or cut them out entirely. The Editor doesn’t have to work from beginning to end, and there is no need to make a new physical copy.

The Production Process

The video production process has three parts: pre-production, production, and post-production. Editing is primarily done in the post-production phase, but if you are both shooting the footage and editing it, you may plan your shots with the final cut in mind. The pre-production phase is all about planning. It is helpful to create a storyboard, a series of graphics that approximate the most important shots and tell the story the video is presenting. If there is no storyboard, there should at least be a shot list to make sure that all of the footage that will be needed is taken.

The production phase is the part of the process where the footage is shot. It is important during this phase to record plenty of footage. Take multiple shots to be sure to have the best footage to work with during editing. Shooting a number of different angles, such as close-ups and wide angles, gives the editor options in post-production. Also, make sure to get some environmental footage to use for B-roll. Another important part of the production phase is organization. Labeling and organizing footage makes post-production much easier. Making multiple copies of files is a good idea, too, and be sure to keep a copy in a separate physical location to reduce the chances of losing the raw footage.

Post-production is where the editing takes place. The Editor uses the raw footage to tell the best story. By employing techniques like cutting, changing chronology, transitions, speed changes, and special effects, video editing techniques take a collection of different shots and weave them into a narrative that captures and holds the attention of an audience.

Video Editing Techniques

Video Editors use technical knowledge to create videos, but they also employ various creative techniques to make the video more interesting. Start by watching the raw footage and marking preferred shots, then cut the shots out and put them in order according to the storyboard. This will create an approximation of the structure of the video.

The most common technique Video Editors use is cutting. Fine cuts are used to clip pieces of footage that you don’t want, such as long pauses, vocal fillers like “um” or “uh,” or anything that is boring or slows down the narrative. Jump cuts are used to change perspective, as in the case of two people talking, or to speed up time.

Transitions are the way a video moves from one shot to another, and they add variety to a video and can be used to change the pacing. There are three basic kinds of transitions: dissolves, fades, or wipes.

  • Dissolves - This technique involves gradually moving from one scene to another so slowly that the shots actually overlap for a time. This is used to show a connection between two subjects, the passage of time, or a transition to a surreal scene.
  • Fades - This technique moves from a scene to a solid color, usually black or white. A fade in is used at the beginning of a video, while a fade out is used at the end.
  • Wipes - Wipes replace one scene with a different one that moves in from the side.
  • B-roll - B-roll is used to control the pacing of the video and set a mood. B-roll footage is usually shot at the same time as the main images, but it is composed of environmental shots, such as closeups of trees, flowers, the sky, nearby animals, interesting architecture, or anything else that will convey the feeling the filmmaker wants to give the video.

In addition to cuts, Video Editors can use software to correct some aspects of a video. While it is best to try to get the highest quality shots possible, mistakes happen and video editing can help fix them. Software can alter the color of a shot to make it brighter or darker. Sound can be fixed as well with mixing software to add a musical background or make voices more prominent.

Popular Video Editing Software

There are many different options for video editing software. Although these are used by professionals and amateurs alike, they can be complicated to master. Tutorials and classes are available to help.

Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro is the industry-standard for video editing software. It offers many powerful editing tools and an easy-to-follow organization system. Premiere allows Editors to import files and organize them into bins; place shots in a sequence; and correct color, audio, and more. Premiere Pro is part of Adobe Creative Cloud along with more than 20 apps for creating great videos. Premiere works with other Adobe software that is sometimes necessary for special applications.

Final Cut Pro

Apple’s Final Cut Pro is another editing platform popular with professionals and amateurs alike. The latest version of Final Cut Pro includes the ability to make proxy files, auto-cropping for social media, and faster rendering. Final Cut Pro only runs on MACs and runs best on the MAC Pro.

After Effects

After Effects is a specialized Adobe product that allows an Editor to insert animations and special effects into videos during post-production. Create titles, move objects, correct color, or use an extensive library of special effects.


Audition is also by Adobe and allows an Editor to fix audio problems or add audio effects and music. Audition edits audio in much the same way as Premiere edits video.

Cinema 4D

Maxon’s Cinema 4D is designed to provide a wide range of creative tools, in an easy-to-learn format. Create three-dimensional images and stunning motion graphics with numerous plug-ins for movement and textures. Cinema 4D also works well with other editing software.

It’s easy to learn video editing and start a new career. Check out Noble Desktop’s video editing classes. Choose between in-person sessions in NYC at Noble’s location or sign up for live online video editing courses and attend from anywhere. Use Noble Desktop’s Classes Near Me to find other courses in video editing in your area.