10 Tips to Be a Faster Editor (Which Can Massively Increase Your Income)

Top 10 Tips to be a faster editor

For those of us who create videos or edit for a living, being able to edit quickly and efficiently is directly related to how much money we can make. In this video I’m going to teach 10 tips to be a faster editor. Have any questions? Please send me an e-mail at [email protected]

10 tips to edit videos faster, pointing to head thinking and an alarm clock

Hello everyone, my name is Jacob Landis-Eigsti, and I’d like to give you my 10 tips to be a faster editor.  I’ve worked professionally as an editor in Hollywood on a variety of projects.  And at one point I had a job interview where I was asked to complete 16 editing tasks in 15 minutes. I finished with about a minute to spare and the person hiring told me no one had ever made it past step number 7, and I wanted to share with you some techniques I used to meet that really difficult deadline.  Now, this is just what has worked well for me and what has helped me meet deadlines for work and I encourage you to look up what other people have to say regarding the subject.

via GIPHY

These aren’t editor specific, although I’m planning some videos in the future with more tips that are more specific to editing platforms.  I’m using Final Cut X in this tutorial, but I’ve used Avid, Premiere, Final Cut 7 and they have their pros and cons.  Final Cut X has worked well for recent projects because of it’s ability to digest and sync footage quickly as well as upload directly to Vimeo and youtube, but I do choose different editing programs depending on the project and the strengths and limitations of each editing platform.

Tip #1: When you have a really tough deadline, have a good editing game plan before you begin. 

Taking a couple minutes to think about the best order to get your work done really makes it so you’re following steps you’ve laid out in your mind rather than making it up as you go.  If you have to transcode clips, transcode the ones you can do the most with first so you can begin organizing and editing those, while the rest of the clips are transcoding. 

Make a plan in a document to edit faster in final cut pro x
Failing to plan is planning to fail -Alan Lakein

If you need to do any graphics work or work in any other program, try to work on that when you are rendering your clips in your editor so two things are happening at once.  And if I have multiple things I need to upload online, I get the first one edited and uploading as quickly as possible, so I’m working on other projects while that one is uploading.  You want to minimize your time twiddling your thumbs and waiting for a render or upload.

when I have a really tough deadline the most important thing to do is have a good game plan before I start.  Take a couple minutes to think about the best order to get your work done. This really makes it so you’re following steps you’ve laid out in your mind rather than making it up as you go.  If you have to transcode clips, transcode the ones you can do the most with first so you can begin organizing and editing those, while the rest of the clips are transcoding. 

If you need to do any graphics work or work in any other program, try to work on that when you are rendering your clips in your editor so two things are happening at once.  And if I have multiple things I need to upload online, I get the first one edited and uploading as quickly as possible, so I’m working on other projects while that one is uploading.  You want to minimize your time twiddling your thumbs and waiting for a render or upload.

Tip #2: Organize your footage both in on your hard drive and in the editing program

Now here I think balance is important, like when I had to do the 16 tasks in 15 minutes I could have easily spent the entire 15 minutes organizing and labeling clips and making subclips. But, I ended up dedicating about a minute to just really efficient organization.  Now, your main goal is to understand where everything is, and not waste time later on looking everything.  Set it up in a way that you should able to find everything you need in a couple seconds .  I highly recommend separating your audio, stills, and clips into various folders both on your hard drive and in your editor.  And if you are working on something enormous like a feature film or TV episode I recommend taking a lot of time labeling every single clip and segment or you’ll get really lost in the future.

Tip 3: Know your hotkeys to edit way faster

The less you use your mouse the better.  Dropping your clip in the timeline is something you do over and over and over, so make sure you have one key to drop it at the playhead, and another to drop it at the end of the timeline.  Take the time to memorize these and realize what they do and how that can impact your editing.

Tip 4: Use markers in your edit

Faster editor in fcpx use markers

You can place them to time your edit to music, sync audio manually, and indicate important moments. Placing and labeling markers help you to keep things organized and show where various elements go in your timeline.

Tip 5: Understand Multicam & when to use it to be more efficient

is have a good understanding of multicam and when to use it.  Some projects it’s faster to line things up in the timeline, but on others it’s absolutely worth the time to create a multicam clip.  A lot of times it let’s you edit in real time and work much much faster.  Becoming really comfortable with creating a multicam clip in your platform can really speed up your workflow on projects where you can utilize it well.

Tip 6: Create a core edit quickly. 

Now it varies from person to person the exact order they do their edit, but I’ve found getting a quick edit that has your dialogue and a general idea of timing is a good starting point.  Sometimes I’ll close my eyes, just to get the timing and flow of the dialogue down.  Building a solid foundation of a piece is important. You can really tweak the exact frames and cuts and music and b-roll later on, but getting down a overview of the piece and it’s core elements has really helped me to move forward.

Tip 7: Use realtime editing

  The ability to look over your work and edit it at the same time will really speed things up.  I’ll usually play the video all the way through two to three times and I’ll be tweaking the cuts and adding in clips as I go.  It’s really helpful to get a feel for the edit, but you can also analyzing what needs to be added and what’s missing. You can changes things as you’re going:inserting clips, tweaking audio levels, and changing where clips stop and start.  I usually can get the edit 80 to 90 percent of the way there just using this method and then do my fine tuning at the end.

Tip 8: Take a break. (trust me)

Kick Up Feet to edit faster fcpx

This may seem counter intuitive but research has shown you’re actually more effective if you take some breaks every hour or so.  Find an activity that helps you recharge in a couple minutes.  If you are watching an edit over and over again and making tweaks, stepping away can actually help you to come back with a fresh pair of eyes.  And sometimes I can even get tired of a specific task or program that’s becoming repetitive and I’ll switch over to another task just for a few minutes.

Tip 9: Know each program & its strengths and weaknesses. 

For example, I knew what format we compressed all of our videos to at work, and I ran a test with 4 different programs to see which could compress the same clip the fastest.  And the one we were currently using took 20 minutes longer to compress a five minute clip, which translated to tons of time lost since it was a task we were doing several times every day.  Figure out what programs are best at each task, and get better at the programs that excel in certain areas. 

Tip 10: Watch your work as you are uploading. 

Sometimes we’re more familiar with a program and use that one instead, but really look into the capabilities of of a number of programs can help you be faster in the future.  And don’t be afraid to run tests.  Depending on where you work, they may require you to work exclusively with certain programs and a workflow, but many jobs I’ve been at have given some freedom especially when it comes to something like compressing files.

Sometimes there’s an issue with a clip or something you didn’t notice something in your edit.  I recommend starting to upload it online but then immediately watching it to make sure everything is perfect.  If possible have someone else watch it with you to have a fresh pair of eyes.  If there is an issue, you can cancel the upload and then make the change and then upload the new one.  It’s awful to spend 45 minutes uploading a clip and then notice once it’s finished that you have to make a change and start the uploading process again.

Bonus Tip:

never stop learning.  A few summers ago I had been using Final Cut 7 for about 10 years, had done it full time as a professional editor for several years.  But I took an online 8 hour crash course one weekend and even though 97 percent of what they covered I already knew, the additional 3 percent really helped me to speed up my workflow. 

Interested in a FREE course. Try taking my 100 minute course on shooting, editing, and uploading videos.

I also recommend asking others about how they work and their tips.  Sometimes I’ll even take a short project and 3-4 times with different workflows, to try to figure out which one is the most efficient. Don’t forget to memorize your hot keys, don’t be afraid to tweak your workflow and just figure out what works best for you.

If you want to see my entire editing process start to finish, you can see it in this video:

Conclusion: You are now a fast editing machine

Now that you have the 11 tips, you’re ready to edit lighting fast. This can lead to saving time and earning more money. Congratulations!

Thanks so much for reading this blog. Click here if you’d like to see 5 videos that you can be creating for your business

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