I have worked in production for about three years now.
My senior year of high school, a friend of mine approached me with a task- edit a short film using some wedding footage he had recently shot. Needless to say, I was intimidated. Previous to this job, I had done little to no professional editing work. Nonetheless, I told my friend I would get the job done – and I did. More importantly, I did the job well enough to be offered a job in wedding editing with said friend. It turns out the whole ordeal was an interview process. From that point forward, I have been obsessed with editing.
In my line of work, I have learned quite a bit. However, I would say the most important lesson I have learned while working in production is how to fix something in production. As avid videographers are aware, you often have just a single chance to get something on film. This is especially true in wedding videography. There is no chance to shoot an event a second time in this field – you only get married once (hopefully). In essence, there is a lot of room for error – and this is where I come in to save the day.
Is the shot shaky? Did the groom mess up his vows? Did the best man really just say that in his toast? Don’t worry – we’ll fix it in post. Thus, this post will focus on just a few of the quick fixes I have learned to utilize in production.
A brief disclaimer: I use Final Cut Pro for work, so any tricks listed below will focus on this software. However, most everything I explain translates over to any video editing software worth its salt. So without further ado, here are my tips…
1. Shot Stabilization
Unless a camera is mounted on a tripod or possesses some form of internal stabilization mechanism, chances are a number of shots will be a bit shaky. Or in some cases, a clip can be excessively shaky. In fact, I once had a clip given to me where the cameraman sneezed in the middle of the shot. Gesundheit.
How do I go about fixing such an error? Easy: image stabilization. Final Cut has killer stabilization tool built right into its editing menu. All I have to do to fix a shaky shot is open this menu and check the “stabilize” box. Final Cut gives me a few parameters I can fiddle with to adjust the effect to my liking, but the program generally does a solid job on its own.
When I first started editing, I had no idea the stabilization option existed. Once I had learned to utilize this tool, my work became considerably more professional in appearance. I highly recommend this tool for shots without a lot of shake as well, as it provides a nice, smooth look to just about any clip.
2. Sound/Song Transitions
As stated previously, I mainly work with wedding footage. Weddings are romantic events in which the couple generally request some sappy music. It is up to me to use whatever music the happy couple requests in their film, but sometimes these tracks can become a boon in editing. Songs may not transition in the right place, or a climax may come too early in a piece. Considering sound makes up 50% of a wedding production, it is a shame I did not discover sound transitions sooner.
Within Final Cut’s transition library is a little transition called “cross dissolve.” In general, this transition is used for transitions between video clips. One day, however, I accidently dragged the transition over a sound clip and realized it would create a seamless audio transition. Now whenever I need to subtly cut to a particular part in a song or drop the volume in a specific section, I simply cut the soundbite in the appropriate locations and add the cross dissolve. I have gotten good enough with this transition that most people do not even notice the change in audio. I highly recommend using this trick in any kind of audio editing.
3. Speed Change/Reversing Clips
Okay, I know most of these tips may seem pretty obvious to seasoned editors, but bear with me here. It took me far too long to learn how to properly utilize the speed change tool within Final Cut. Unlike the tools listed above, I knew the speed change tool existed – I was just too scared to use it properly. One day my boss provided me with a piece of 60fps, 4K footage. I was able to manipulate the speed of this piece of video in ways I never knew where possible. I was able to slow down the piece to fit a more dramatic tone, or speed it up to create a time-lapse effect. Ever since I began toying with the speed tool, I have used it in nearly every piece since. When I need to subtly condense a toast to a specific length, I just speed the clip up a few notches. Moreover, when I want to create the effect of going back in time (which I do more often than not), I will reverse the piece. Again, this may seem obvious to some, but this tool really blew my mind the first time I used it.
Those are my top three tips for fixing a piece of video (or audio) in post production. Do you have any tricks you use in your own editing? Enlighten me in the comments.