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10 Ways to Spend Less Time Editing Footage

Video production, from start to finish, can be long and labor-intensive. And for every hour spent finishing your video, that’s another hour you’re not doing something equally important. Here’s 10 ways to help you speed up your editing process so you can get back out where you want to be: filming!

Try these 10 ways to spend less time editing footage:

  1. Plan the edit. What exactly do you have to do to get your video done? Do you need to transcribe an interview or make an animation? Do you need to find music or look for stock images? Noting these details makes it easier to jump from task to tasks. No more wondering, “uh, what comes next?”
  2. Organize everything. If you’re only working with one or two clips of footage, organization is easy. But if you’re working with mounds of footage, organization is essential. Group similar footage together. And keep your project folders organized to save time when looking for a particular piece of footage.
  3. Label everything. This goes in hand with organizing. There’s nothing worse than trying to remember what shot is contained in files named like: Scrub through your footage and rename files into descriptive names. This saves time when searching for a particular shot, especially when working with b-roll or an interview sound-byte.
  4. Always match your sequence settings to the footage shot. Want to make your computer a slow as a turtle running through molasses? Didn’t think so. Make sure you’re editing your footage in a sequence where the setting matches the footage. If you need your end result to be a different format, change it later during your final export.
  5. Work systematically. Rather than working on a section of your video and perfecting it before moving on to the next, work in a system of constant refinement. Lay all the interview footage down at once. Then lay down all the b-roll. Then work in your music. Don’t waste time perfecting one area, only to have to undo it all based on decisions later in the edit.
  6. Find all your music at the same time. There’s a reason why jokes abound about how much time editors spend searching for “the right music”. The search can be endless! Instead, choose three or four tracks for each emotional space you want to create, and then work from there. Giving yourself a few options out of a hundreds makes the decision process easier.
  7. Save frequently. Your NLE can have an automatic save function, but suppose it is set to activate only every 15 minutes? Or suppose it just doesn’t work? Save time spent rebuilding work by hitting cltr > S (or command > S) often.
  8. Render effects last. Nothing will slow an edit down like waiting for renders. Especially for calculation-intensive effects like transparent video, Gaussian blurs, color-correction or time-remapping. As much as possible, lay these things in last, and then render.
  9. Make sure to sleep. It can be tempting to work around the clock just to make something happen, but editing decisions always suffer to longer you sit behind your computer. If you find yourself eating too much chocolate or chugging the energy drinks to get your project done, try a different method of attack: REST. Creative decisions are much easier with a rested brain.
  10. Don’t do the edit at all. Wait, what?? Seriously. Don’t do the edit yourself. Instead, work with us at Renegade Digital Post to assemble your footage together. Imagine what you could accomplish if the 20 hours of editing time were back on your personal calendar. If this is appealing to you, find out more about our editing services for filmmakers.

Remember: It’s not always the big things that save the most time. Little moments saved add up!

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