The Editing Process

First round(s) of editing

  1. Give a brief statement on the project.  Questions to ask yourself: What is the  topic of the project? Can it be explained in 1-3 sentences?
  2. Is there a time limit to the project? If so, time out the project with a voiceover; diagram out themes. If timing is within the project parameters, go to #7.
  3. Listen for any redundant/slang/awkward statements.
  4. Show, don’t tell.
  5. Look for too many examples that show a topic, or if the sequence is too long to explain a topic, and loses the viewer’s interest.
  6. Go back to #2 – how’s the time now? Too long? Repeat steps 4-6 🙂
  7. Work on visuals (use a Ken Burns effect, or use other media).

More Editing Tips and Tricks!

Voiceover tips

Think of voiceover as reading a poem (i.e., “expressive reading”):

  • Give pause to statements and commas/periods.
  • Give inflection to voice, rise with a question, drop with a statement.
  • Place emphasis on keywords or phrases in the text.


Many people’s go-to transition is a cross dissolves. Use jump cuts as well, such as at the  end of a sentence or statement, or “on the beat”, such as when a note is struck in the music, or a word is spoken in the narrative.

Cues for a new chapter/idea/section

These are just possible cues to help the viewer change to a new topic – there’s always more to discover. And experiment with using a few together.


  • Music cues – change music to different tone/instrument.
  • Lack of sound – end on strong statement, give 1 second pause.
  • Long strum of guitar can indicate an ending or a beginning (ken’s at 1:36).


  • Fade to black.
  • Hold on still image for 1 second.
  • Titles can indicate new chapter.


  • Keep titles short, and have them display long enough to read out loud; try to not have voiceover or motion during this time.

End credits

  • Don’t use bold.
  • Use italics for books, magazines, etc.
  • Call to action on its own slide at the end of the credits, such as a website url.

Possible editing workflow

  1. Focus on tightening up the edit (edit down to the approximate time allotted for the project, if there is one).
  2. Work on finalizing composition of images. Break up shots; don’t use Ken Burns every time, try to use other media or clips..
  3. Work on transitions between scenes.
  4. Adjust volume levels (make sure all voices are at same levels, have quick fade up/down at beginning/end of audio clip as needed, sound duck music when voice over occurs).
  5. Work on pacing. Give pause between different sections or topics; can break it up with titles to indicate new topics, use fades, use a different soundtrack, raise the volume of the soundtrack, etc.
  6. Perform any color correction, if needed.