Last month, I had the privilege of helping lead the Northwest Multimedia Workshop in Yakima, Washington. Forty photojournalists, journalists and web producers attended the two-day video boot camp. My job was to teach them Final Cut Pro 6 in less than three hours. It was a challenge, but I pulled it off. The students all finished their projects on time. I was amazed at how fast they were able to start editing. It wasn’t that way for me.
I remember my first time trying to edit in Final Cut Pro. I felt nothing but fear as I looked at the program interface for the first time. I had been an iMovie man for sometime. It wasn’t until I attended the 2005 Platypus Workshop that I crossed over for good. iMovie is great for amateurs, but if you are doing any type of serious editing, then you really should move up to a real video editor like Final Cut Pro/Express or Adobe Premiere Pro.
What a true video editor gives you is the ability the easily unlink audio tracks from your video track and move them independently. This makes it easy to do a split edit. Split edits are what really set apart a professional edit from an amateur production. The best way I can describe a split edit (also called an L cut) is when you hear the person talking before you see them. I call it leading my audio. In a way a split edit is like a transition. Without it, the viewer is jarred when they see a speaker as they start talking.
One of the best features professional video editing software has is the ability to add audio cross fades. A cross fade is like a cross dissolve transition that you would add between two video clips. It fades out the outgoing audio over the incoming audio clip. Cross-fades really help smooth out those jarring audio bumps. As I’m editing my videos, I always put my playhead at the beginning, hit play, close my eyes and just listen. It is amazing at what you hear with you aren’t looking at the timeline. If something is not smooth, I stop and add a cross-fade. The default cross-fade is usually too long so I shorten it up until it sounds just right.
When I watch a lot of newspaper-produced video, these two things usually standout if not used properly. A video production should be as smooth as warm butter. Nothing should take the viewer out of the moment.