HOW I MAKE MY VIDEOS by an amateur.
Hey! You’re probably here because you want to know more about how I do my videos (as stated in the title). Just to give you a little bit of context, I got into video editing in my first year in Secondary School because I was working on promoting a train simulator project I coded. What really got me into making tons of videos was the fact that over the next few years, people kept asking me to do a number of video projects since I was the only guy around who could do it (well I didn’t want to refuse). I’ve worked with a couple of software over the years transitioning first from Windows Movie Maker, then onwards to Sony Vegas Pro, afterwards to Premiere Pro for a substantial amount of time, and finally, currently, Final Cut Pro. Thanks to these random projects, I got a chance to learn more about video editing and work on a couple of skills and techniques in dealing with video editing. Yes, my first year of Secondary School was like 7 years ago, and you’re probably thinking making videos will take you quite a while to learn how to do, but that’s why I created this guide as a shortcut for you. This guide is basically a streamlined version of all you need to care about and all you ever need to know to create awesome content for yourself. It’s basically whatever I learned thus far. This guide isn’t as comprehensive as what I want it to be but then again, it’s all you need to know to kick off. Well, just a declaration; I’m not a professional so this is more of a guide from an amateur to another.
First Thing’s First Software To keep things short, if you have a PC, get Adobe Premiere Pro. If you have a Mac, get Final Cut Pro. Don’t look any further. You won’t go far as an amateur like me with other software like iMovie, Movie Maker, some mobile applications, and some other professional software that I’ve personally never heard of or used such as Da Vinci Pro. Reasons are: • They have steep learning curves. • Support is limited online. • Some of this software are limited in what you can or want to do. • Free downloadable add-ons available online such as effects and transitions are limited for this software. This is the opposite case for both Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro (at least that’s how I feel). Equipment Anything you have! Personally, all I have is my phone. I’ve never used a camera in my life to make my videos. Reason is that most of the time I make videos of my travels and the main purpose of my travels is to basically have fun and experience all that is there. Having a camera to film for me is a huge distraction. So, having a phone is pretty easy. I’m using a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 by the way!
Have a Goal Understand the purpose of why you want to make these videos. Maybe you want to make a vlog, do something informative, maybe you want to create a cinematic or even a normal school project. To be straight up, this guide is mainly for cinematic videos and maybe travel vlogs but some aspects of this guide can be applied for some of the above purposes as well. Get Yourself Acquainted This is a crucial step. Thing is if you’re not used to viewing or following quality videos, or videos that you want to sort of “imitate”, then the standards of your videos are just going to remain at wherever it is. Start spam following Instagram accounts, Facebook pages, and YouTube Channels you like, and maybe watch and appreciate them from day-to-day. They will give you an idea of what you want and what your end goal is. I can’t give much of a recommendation since most of the videos I follow on Instagram are largely Indonesian, so you’ve got to start searching them up yourself! Once you’ve taken care of all of these, you’re pretty much good to go!
The Filming Process Know What You Want To Film Say, if you’re travelling, maybe beforehand, get to know what you want to film so that you don’t regret anything later on in the editing process. For me, I don’t plan at all since my rule is to just take whatever that I see interesting. For beginners, I suggest that you recognize what you need. Lacking sufficient footage later will be frustrating. Some examples of what you want to film can and I suggest you include are small random shots of buildings/attractions, some human activities that is happening around you, yourself participating in some form of activity, and of course something that is unique to that particular location. How Do I Film? A few guidelines here of how I usually film my cinematic travel videos. Record like you’re taking a photo. Like I mentioned earlier, my purpose of travel is not to film, but to essentially have that experience of travel. When I take photos of interesting things, I might as well take a short 5-second video of that thing itself. I’m telling you upfront that 5 seconds is already enough for you to edit later on. Most of my raw footage are less than 5 seconds. Don’t be afraid of missing anything out because you probably won’t. Unless, you’re recording something like a band or a performance then I guess it’s all up to you. To continue, the reason as to why I mentioned that you should record like you’re taking a photo is because technically they are the same medium; it’s just that one is a moving photo and the other is
just well, still. So, rules do still apply like the rule of thirds, and giving enough space for your subject et cetera.
Stabilization. I believe a number of people asked if I used a stabilizer or anything for my footage. Fact is that I don’t. Having steady footage will help you in your editing process later on. Plus, for those who are interested in cinematics then this is a must. So, if you can, try your best to keep your hands steady. I’m not sure of any tips I can give but normally, the culprit of not having steady footage is not your hands, but your legs. Use That Telephoto Lens. For those that do have that 2x telephoto lens be it on your phones or cameras (? I have no idea how they work), use it as much as possible! It gives your footage that awesome depth kind of feel. If you’re using a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 like me, it comes with a telephoto lens. Just go to your camera and press the 2x zoom and voila, you’ve switched! I must caution however, that you should only use it when it’s appropriate. The only times when you don’t want to use it is when you want to capture things from a wide angle, or in the dark. The footage will
come out ugly if you use your telephoto lens in low-light situations (for mobile). If you really want to use the telephoto lens in low-light, then I suggest you lower down the exposure settings to reduce the graininess.
The Editing Process I assume that you’ve downloaded Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro. Now, get used to getting yourself around the controls. There are a number of tutorials available for this software so if you’re not too sure about something, there’s nothing a Google search can’t do. Maybe you’re not too sure how to slow down footage on Final Cut Pro; you can start Googling, “adjust video speed Final Cut Pro” or, “slow down footage Final Cut Pro.” Curate Footage So now you have this whole bunch of footage to work with, probably in the hundreds or less (or more if you’re crazy). Believe me, it can be overwhelming. I personally have procrastinated on my video production just by looking at the number of videos I have to look through. You don’t really have to worry much. Remember that you are the one who took those videos. So, take a step back and mentally think through of what you have and what you want. Slowly, you’ll eventually start getting rid of footage that you don’t like and footage that you definitely want inside the video. Start Selecting Music With regards to the purpose of your video, choose music that actually suits the mood of the video. You don’t want like metal music for a slow cinematic video, do you? I suggest getting music from “Royalty Free” sources on YouTube. There are free downloads available and they are copyright-free. If you intend to use music by other artistes, then there is going to be an issue of copyright and you won’t be able to upload them on Facebook or Instagram. There is a workaround though but you’ll need to either speed up or slow down the song which will normally come out weird sounding afterwards. Music is an essential part of the video since it forms the base of how you want the video to be. Imagine music being like the
drums to a band. Without the drums, the band can’t really set its pace. It applies the same to videos. For some people, they don’t add any music to the videos but rather use sounds from the raw footage, and I think that’s fine, but then again, you have to look back at the main purpose of your video. Arrange Your Footage Now that you’ve gotten rid of footage that you don’t like, you can start seeing from a glance what you roughly want your video sequence to look like. So, start dragging videos into your timeline. Your initial arrangement probably won’t work so over time, you’ll eventually switch in between places and so forth. You don’t really have to cut your videos in this process but if you need to, then go ahead. Personally, just a guideline for myself, I normally start the video with a shot of something unique to the travel location and end off with something else that is unique as well. In between, I don’t really have any fixed sequence; they are all at random. If you don’t have any idea on a sequence you want then maybe you could just follow my style of doing things.
Start Cutting Your Footage Now that you have all of your footage in together with the music, you can start cutting up your footage. There are a number of important guidelines here. Cut out unnecessary parts from your footages. Maybe in the first 2 seconds of a perfect shot of a building, someone is blocking your view, and then you get a clear shot for the next 5 seconds. Cut out that first 2 seconds then. It’s up to your discretion of what you want people to see in your video. Make sure that your videos are in sync with the music. This is crucial because it’s annoying if they don’t. Imagine that Primary School friend next to you singing the national anthem at assembly out of sync with everyone else. Yes, it’s that bad. Once you’ve cut out the unnecessary parts of your footage, cut it some more to make sure that your videos follow the beat to the music. If it’s impossible to do so, then look at the next step. Slow down the video if it’s too extensively cut. Let’s say a music rhythm gives roughly 3 seconds in between changing shots but you have a footage that you really want to be in the video which lasts about 1 seconds. In that case, play around with the speed settings to extend that video to 3 seconds. Also, I think not many people realize this but when you slow down your footage, it gets really choppy. So, to solve that, change your time interpolation or video quality to “optical flow.” It should be under your speed settings for each video. No idea how to do it, again, Google is your friend. Just to add on as an extra tip, slowing down your footage actually makes your videos look more cinematic so maybe you want to check that out.
Visual Adjustments Now that all of your footage is in place and synced with the music, you can start making visual adjustments to give your video magic. Software Stabilization. Both on Premiere Pro, and Final Cut Pro, there are options to stabilize your footage. This helps especially if your footage is still a little bit too shaky for your liking. Do take note however, only use this option if there are no sudden movements in your footage or else your stabilized footage is going to look ugly. If your footage does have sudden movements, then bo pian. Color Grading. I apologize for the all caps but, THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP TO YOUR VIDEO EDITING PROCESS. To be brutally honest with you, whenever I scroll down social media feeds, the reason why I chose to ignore a number of videos is due to the fact that either, they are not color graded at all, or the color grading is a pain to see. The first impression of your video is your color grading. Like I mentioned before, treat your videos like your photos. If you bother to color-grade or add filters to your photos, then you should do the same to your videos as well. Imagine spending hours on your video to have nobody watch it thanks to your color grading. So, for color grading don’t go to the extreme or don’t underdo it either. There are a number of tutorials online to help you with color grading and I apologize if I can’t help you in this guide. This is why I asked you to get Final Cut Pro or Premiere Pro. There are tons of free LUTs (Color Grades) available for download online. You can use them for your footages! On top of that, if you love the color grading of some of the vloggers or content creators you know, maybe you’ll get lucky just by searching “how do I color grade my videos to look like XXX.” Of course, I’m limiting creativity here but as an amateur you’ve got to start somewhere. Over time, you’ll
learn how to do it yourself once you get the hang of things and create your own signature color grading based on your personality or what you want or whatever. Just to share with you a tip, if you edit photos regularly, then you’ll eventually get better and better at color grading your videos. Both carry the same base concepts. But of course, you’ve got to do it manually. My suggestion for a place to start editing your photos is through Adobe Lightroom. There’s a free mobile application for that so you can experiment your color grades on the go and later on you can sort of copy that into your video footage. If you intend not to go through the long and hard process of adjusting the colors yourself, I suggest using VSCO. If you don’t know already, the VSCO mobile application can color adjust videos so just slamming a filter there will do. Adding Text. Well, most of my videos have minimal text. If at most, I just add the title at the beginning of the video. Again, it depends on the mood and purpose of your video. Special Effects and Transitions. Repeat after me. Special effects and transitions are the last thing I’ll ever need to be concerned about. Honestly, once you’ve completed the steps above, you already have an awesome-looking video! Special effects and transitions are just some extras that will add the cherry to your ice cream. It’s nice if it’s there, if it’s not there it’s okay either (I don’t eat the cherries by the way). However, if you really choose to add a couple of effects, there are a number of free downloads online and tutorials as well (most of them you’ll find them on YouTube). You can start Googling “free transitions download for Final Cut Pro X OR Premiere Pro.” All you need to do is drag and drop. For the fancier transitions where you’ll have to manually do things, you’ll have to refer to YouTube tutorials. For these effects and transitions, I must caution you to use them appropriately and not to overuse them either.
Audio Adjustments Although audio is something that people largely disregard in video editing, it is actually crucial. I really do suggest that if you’re editing videos, use your earphones. Cut out Unnecessary Audio. There is bound to be unnecessary or distracting audio from your footages. Cut them out completely with whatever means possible. For me, what I do is completely mute all of my footages so that I don’t have to worry about this. Even if you cut out just parts of the audio of there’s bound to be grainy background noise somewhere which is pretty annoying. Fade In/Fade Out. I strongly suggest for you to make use of this tool if you intend to use the audio from your footages. This will give smooth transitions in between footages. You can pretty much adjust how early or how late you want the fades to come in. Again, Google. The reason why this is important is due to the fact that not fading in or out audio will have this annoying abrupt transition. One footage will definitely have more grainy noise than the other. Volume. After you’ve settled everything above, make sure you review your video both with earphones and with your laptop speakers. Check if your video is too loud or too soft. Maybe you also want to check if your music is drowning out some of the audio you wanted to play in your raw footage or maybe the contrary is happening. Audio Effects. Unlike visual effects, I have to say that audio effects are actually important. In order to enhance your video, add some audio effects that you can download online. There are tons of free sounds online so use them to your advantage. To give a picture of how important audio effects are in the case for transitions, there is a difference between a quick zoom with no
sound, and a quick zoom with a swish sound. I don’t know if you can imagine that but it’s like slapping someone’s face and there’s no “piak” sound. I guess that is all for this guide. I’ll add on if I need to! All the best!