Video Editing Basics - How Video Editing Programs Work

Posted by shaumik424 on February 12th, 2020

Whenever I see an "online video guru" claim that video editing is easy, I cringe.

Why do they lie to people? Is it because they have a product that won't sell if people know it really is NOT as easy as they claim?

Look, video editing is not rocket science, but it is confusing as heck for beginners. I have taught hundreds, if not thousands of people to edit video on a computer and I'm here to tell you that the vast majority of them pull their hair out before they get it. Once they "get it" then they wonder why they were so confused, but up until then they are ready to take a baseball bat to the computer!

I will tell you EXACTLY what the single biggest stumbling block is.

No genre of computer software packs as much onto the screen as video editing. In video editing, you have at least four or five different windows that all work independently but also function together as an integral part of the process. These windows can be swapped out for other, almost as important windows that function altogether differently. Video editing is a process of going from one window to the next to the next to the next and performing the little detailed tasks that make up the process as a whole.

Until people get this one basic fact, they are SUNK. You have to know what each window is, what it does and how that task fits into the whole process.

Once you get that fact down pat, video editing becomes MUCH easier.

Video editing programs are more alike than they are different. Every single one of them, from the professional programs like Final Cut Pro, to the simplest ones like Windows Movie Maker, work on this principle. The layout of the individual windows might be a tad different, but the windows themselves function in much the same way.

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Here are the four main windows all programs have, although they might be called something different in each one.

Window that shows a list of the elements you have placed in the project
Window where you can look at those elements
Timeline window where you build your movie. You take the individual elements you want and put them in the timeline.
Window where you watch your output, or what is in your timeline.
There you have it. Those four windows are universal in every program. Using a car analogy, you could refer to these four essentials as the steering wheel, the tires, the engine and the brakes. The basics you need to get the dang thing from point A to point B!

Camtasia studio works using those basic windows. So does Sony Vegas. Final cut and Windows Movie Maker are laid out almost the exact same way. The biggest difference is that FCP allows the editor total control over every tiny aspect of the video and WMM is more template and default based. As a beginner, that is what you want.

Manipulating each and every detail of your video is great, but that is also what takes so much time to learn. If you just can accept the templates and defaults, editing goes MUCH faster and you do not have to know all those detailed commands.

If you learn one video program, the next one you try will be easier to learn. This is because the basic principles are the exact same. Just the details are different.

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Now, if I hear anyone else claim that video editing is easy, I will look to see if they can even explain this one basic fact. Unfortunately, most of them can't which is why their products on how to make video are not as wonderful as their sales letters sound.

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