I’ve been video editing for almost as long as I’ve been blogging. It’s a constant learning curve and there is always more to discover.
And if I had to summarise the lessons I’ve learned over the years into… say, thirteen easy points, one for each canonical Doctor (plus the War Doctor), then they’d go like this. If you’re an editor yourself, please feel free to add your own!
1. Be a pioneer
If someone has already produced the video you were planning on doing, ask yourself whether you could really improve on theirs, or add something new. If the answer is yes, then go ahead. But pick and choose. The world does not need another montage of the Tenth Doctor and Rose scored to Adele.
2. How to get round copyright in a nutshell
Mirror and reverse (if you can) are a good start but software is becoming increasingly adept at finding these. Above all else, use short clips: find two related scenes and cut between them in short bursts (but avoid jump cutting). If you include music, anything owned by UMG is likely to either be blocked or have viewing restrictions.
3. Hone your craft
Always think about how you could improve, and learn from the feedback you receive. Simultaneously, don’t be obsessively perfectionist, and know when to stop. Video editing is a bit like sex. Sometimes it’s fantastic, but sometimes ‘good enough’ is fine.
4. Masks Are Your Friend
If you’re doing a music video, avoid using clips where characters are speaking – or, if you must, use them sparingly. Most of the time it simply ruins the effect. When redubbing existing characters, anyone wearing a mask is your friend.
5. Sometimes, Less is More
If a video is over five minutes long, ask yourself whether it would benefit from trimming. Internet attention spans are notoriously short, and people don’t care for self-indulgence.
6. Be Very, Very Careful of Loose Frames and Popping Sound
They’re easy to miss and they even appear unexpectedly if your computer can’t keep up with the encoding. Go through everything you’ve done at least three or four times, frame by frame, before you upload it – and then mark it as private and watch it all the way through before you actually make it public, just to be sure nothing went wrong in the upload process. If you’re not heartily sick of something by the time it goes live, you haven’t checked it enough.
7. Accept Constructive Criticism
If someone tells you that a video could be better paced, consider whether they have a point. If someone says they don’t understand a joke, put yourself in their position: is it too obscure? Your audience is not Ian Levine, and you do not need to remake Attack of the Cybermen.
8. Get Confident Stupid!
Simultaneously, have a certain amount of confidence in your own abilities. People will not always understand what you are trying to do, and this isn’t necessarily your fault. Treat negative comments objectively. If you are attacked by someone who is clearly not your target audience, put it down to experience. YouTube users are the worst of the worst, and you’re going to have to deal with that.
9. Have a Little Patience
Patience – in the creative process, in the technical side of things, in the growth of your audience – is one of the most precious commodities you can possess. Make sure you stock up. You’re going to need it.
10. ENGAGE. EMBED. DESTROY?
Videos uploaded directly to Facebook tend to get more engagement than embedded content from other websites – but copyright can be a problem, so use YouTube as a litmus test. Videos with any YouTube copyright restrictions – even ads – run the risk of being rejected entirely if you upload them to Facebook, so don’t risk it, particularly if you want to avoid Facebook’s unspoken ‘Three Strikes And You’re Blocked’ rule. (A good workaround is to set up a fake account and upload them there first.)
11. Sell Yourself
Plug your work wherever you can, but don’t spam. Facebook groups are always good for generating traffic, but do not join them specifically to post links to things you’ve done. Be an active member of the community. They’ll like you better. You might even enjoy yourself.
12. Be a Tegan
If it stops being fun, get out. Or at least have a break. You are no good to anyone if you are labouring away in creative tedium for the sake of your art: the bitterness will bleed through. Stop.
13. Do not feed the troll
So, there you have it. Thirteen nuggets of advice guaranteed to make your own carefully crafted YouTube clips more popular than the Tenth Doctor (guarantee not an actual guarantee). If you would like to read more about my exploits in editing, why not give The Loneliness of the Long Distance Video Editor a read?
You can see more of my videos over at the smallerpictures YouTube channel.