May 26, 2017

Watch: 5 Mistakes You Might Want to Avoid When Editing

If you want your work to look polished and professional, you might want to avoid these common editing mistakes.

When you open an NLE for the first time, it's easy to be overwhelmed and excited by all of the tools and functions contained within it. Software like Adobe Premiere, Final Cut, Avid, Lightworks, and DaVinci Resolve are chock full of features that can help you turn your raw footage into beautiful pieces of cinematic art—or help you turn it into a shlocky mess. In this video, editor Justin Odisho shows you how to avoid making not-so-great decisions while editing so you can produce more pro-level work. Check it out below:

Now, I have a bit of a problem calling these "not-so-great decisions" "mistakes," because I don't like to put limits around people's creativity. However, let's just accept the fact that the things Odisho talks about in the video, like default title styles and cheesy transitions, are just plain out of style. Using them is the equivalent to wearing a bucket hat and JNCOs—you can do it (not ironically), but nobody is going to like it, namely you a few years down the road.

So, let's take a look at the five things Odisho says you should avoid when editing videos and films:

  • Bad default title styles: Titles are more important than you might think. Their design can speak volumes about your project, so leaving it up to an NLE's default to decide something like that is not very wise.
  • Bad slow-mo: Creating a slow motion shot requires more than simply changing the speed of a clip in post. You have to either capture the shot at a high frame rate (60 fps, 120 fps, etc.) and slow it down accordingly in post, or if your camera doesn't shoot anything higher than 30 fps, you can use one of your NLE's time remapping features, like Premiere Pro's "optical flow."
  • Cheesy video effects: Subtlety is the name of the game for many of the effects you'll find in your NLE. For instance, you most likely have some sort of lens flare effect in your effects panel, but just plopping that on top of your clip is going to look ridiculous. As Odisho says, learn how to build effects.
  • Cheesy transitions: I think we can all agree that star wipes and "stylish" transitions like it are just bonkers.
  • Bad timing: This is something that requires a bit of experience to really grasp (and much more time to explain than I can offer in this article). Timing and pacing is an essential skill when it comes to editing, and without getting too in-depth, you should understand what kind of piece you're editing before you start making cuts. Is it an action-packed chase sequence? Then you will probably want a lot of quick cuts. Is your actor performing a very emotional scene? Then you might want to linger on the shot a little longer. Again—this concept is much too big to unpack here, so study up on timing and pacing in editing before you dive in.

What are some other mistakes new editors should avoid? Let us know in the comments below!      

Your Comment


I think we're at the point now where people are putting in "ironic" star wipes so they're cool again. (But only ironically, if you're serious about them then that's considered bad.)

May 26, 2017 at 9:25PM, Edited May 26, 9:25PM


Only two of these are editorial mistakes, and of those two, only one is a genuine skill editors need to learn (good timing). I was hoping a video like this might talk about J and L cutting instead of cutting each shot on a line, or edit density, or too much fat in a scene.

May 28, 2017 at 3:19PM, Edited May 28, 3:19PM

Marcelo Teson
Filmmaking Instructor/Sound Editor

Timing is what I need to focus on. Great article.

May 29, 2017 at 4:54AM

Rohan Arora
Street Photographer

the most important thing in editing is on the last

May 30, 2017 at 4:05PM

Myrdal Muda
Student Filmmaker

While transitions can be problematic, I teach these two basic ones. Dip to black when you need to change locations or time. It is like blinking your eyes. Cross dissolve to soften an interpersonal moment. Not much else is needed.

June 2, 2017 at 6:09PM

Mark Hajewski
Media instructor