Noob Mistakes You'll Want to Avoid as an Editor

Being a noob doesn't mean you have to make noob mistakes.

Learning the craft of editing is a real challenge with so many opportunities to look like a complete and utter noob. For those of us who have ever worked professionally as an editor, we can all collectively wince as we think back unfondly at the countless mistakes we made in our early days, but for those of you who are new to editing, well, you just get to learn from our green-eyed blunders. 

In this video, Vee from Aputure lists five common mistakes new editors make that you should definitely try to avoid, especially if the project you're working on is for a paying client.

Before we get into it, let me clear some things up first. Yes, the host of the video is named Vee. Yes, Vee and I have the same name. Yes, I love f**king love that.

Okay now—what were we—oh yeah, noob editing mistakes. There are tons of mistakes that we have all made as beginners; if you're a beginner you're going to make a ton of them, too. This list is a great way to start a conversation between editors of different levels of experience about what kinds of errors we've all made and how to avoid them.

  • Naming your cuts: This is an important part of delivering your work to your clients. Name your cuts by the date you delivered them or by the version (ex: cut_date or cut_01). Whatever you do, don't call a version the "final cut," because it's that humongous detail is up to the director/producer or the project.
  • Reframing for social media: If you're changing up the aspect ratio of your video for social media, don't just apply the change to the video itself. You'll have to go in and reframe each and every individual shot.
  • Transitions: I'm not saying don't use a star wipe, I'm saying please for the love of all that's holy don't use a star wipe.
  • Music: Licensing some great original music is not as difficult or as expensive as it used to be. Go to one of the many sites that makes this process easy (PremiumBeat, MusicBed, Art List), because if you use the audio tracks from your NLE you're basically stamping "NOOB" on your forehead.
  • Keyboard shortcuts: Use them. They'll help you work faster and more efficiently.

I know one thing I wish I would've known as a noob editor was the value of my work. I edited far too many projects for free thinking I was "just a dumb student" who was lucky to have clients at all. Let me tell you something—it's pretty ridiculous to ask someone to work for free just because they're a beginner. (Beginner doesn't mean bad, y'all.) Make sure your fee is fair to both you and your client, and for the love of god, please don't work for "portfolio points." (Unless, you know, that job/client will actually give your portfolio a huge boost.)

Most of you can think of plenty of mistakes you wish you could've avoided at the beginning of your career, so get to sharing them down in the comments!      

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Your Comment


The biggest mistake I made when I first started was getting too fancy in the cuts and transitions. Yes, there is a place for "fancy" but simple is best. I'm not talking about page flips, I am talking about over analyzing each cut and its existential reason for existing. Yes, you can get too much of a good thing.

September 20, 2017 at 9:32PM

Paul Newton

Something I've seen even professional editors (both video and audio-only) ignore, but which works for multi-camera classical music in particular: if you want to make a cut when it "feels" right, just play the media and create a marker on-the-fly at the moment you think it should cut, then make your cut there. You can tweak the edit point afterwards but often it will work straight away. Oh, and for smoothness, avoid cutting on the beat unless you want to emphasise the beat at that point!

September 21, 2017 at 12:06AM, Edited September 21, 12:12AM


I'm guilty of cutting just about everything on the beat. However, I also learned to cut after an action and start a cut right at the action, thus highlighting that "point" you're talking about.

September 21, 2017 at 5:51PM


Logically organize your footage. This is a huge, especially when a project is put on hold for months or is given to another editor for finishing – you'll know where everything is and you'll save time. It's the first step to do on any project.

September 23, 2017 at 7:03AM, Edited September 23, 7:07AM

Shawn Kelley
Creative Director, Filmmaker

Colour code your footage in the timeline! Makes it so much easier to see individual shots, scenes, etc

September 23, 2017 at 7:46PM


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February 8, 2018 at 11:13AM

Syeda Rehana