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Recording Lectures
The Cutting Room Floor: Editing Media

Similar to writing, being concise in a video is key. You don't want your video to take any longer than it absolutely has to. You'll want to remove any extraneous material through editing. And just like writing, editing video takes time. Depending on the complexity of the material, one minute of finished video can take hours of editing. Hours of editing may not be necessary for a quick demo or screen movie, but it's worth keeping in mind the time involved in editing media.

Best Practices

  • Start at the beginning, and end at the end. Viewers probably don’t want to see you setting up the camera, checking your notes, or clearing your throat, so make sure you remove any extraneous material at the beginning of your raw video. The finished video should start when the content starts. Likewise, as soon as the material is finished, the video should end. 
  • Don’t be afraid to cut out stuff in the middle. It’s no problem if you stumble over your script or pause to take a drink. Just keep it tight in the edit by removing the unnecessary chunks. An extra tip: when cutting out spoken material, don’t cut in the middle of a breath. Make your cut just before the beginning of a word or sentence.
  • Avoid “jump cuts.” If you chop out something in the middle of the video, there will be a visible “jump” from one section to another. If possible, cover that jump cut. Keep your audio continuous but cut away to another visual, for example an image or demonstration. If this is not possible, try “fading” or “dissolving” between shots. (For screen capture movies, however, this jump might not be noticeable.)
  • Add visuals. If your video is mostly a “talking head,” keep it interesting by cutting away to relevant visuals that illustrate or complement your point.
  • Use only copyright-cleared material. If you find it online, that doesn’t mean it’s legal to use. Either use content that you created yourself, or look for public domain or creative commons material. See the Copyright in Online Courses for more information.