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Video editing for beginners – tips on how to edit like a pro

This guide will introduce you to the fundamentals used by professional editors, helping you start the journey to creating captivating videos like a pro.

We’ll cover everything from organising your project files to adding voiceovers and enhancing visuals with effects.

A person sits behind their desk editing video on two screens.

Once you start editing, Dropbox Replay offers review and markup tools to streamline the video editing process. Try it out to accelerate your video editing workflow.

Table of contents:

What is video editing?

Video editing is the art of manipulating and refining raw video footage to create a narrative. It involves cutting, trimming, adding effects and incorporating audio.

Video editing is essential for anyone looking to create quality videos. It allows you to remove unwanted parts, enhance visuals and add context.

It’s the key to transforming ordinary footage into compelling stories and visuals that resonate with your audience.

What do you need to edit videos like a professional?

To get professional results from your video project, you’ll need a few things:

  • Video editing techniques: Knowledge of things like cutting, trimming, transitions, colour grading and audio editing, which you need to understand how to create engaging videos.
  • Video editing software: The program that lets you edit. With user-friendly interfaces, they let you apply your video editing techniques with built-in features.
  • Video editing hardware: To handle editing tasks, you need a system with enough processing power to smoothly manage your footage and run the editing software.
  • Video review tools: These are tools, like Dropbox Replay, that allow you to easily share your work with others for feedback and review. These are essential for effective editing as a team and for projects with multiple stakeholders.

You’ll be on your way to editing videos like a pro with these essentials in hand.

The building blocks of the video editing process

Here are the core concepts and techniques used by professional editors:

Organising your project files

A file system will save you time and frustration during editing. Tips for organising include:

  • Creating main folders for each project
  • Using subfolders for video, audio, images or other assets 
  • Keeping file names consistent

Cutting and re-cutting your footage

The editing timeline is the hub of your video editing software. It’s where you organise clips, sequence them and add audio and effects. Basic techniques include trimming (shortening), cutting (removing) and rearranging clips.

Adding voiceover, dialogue and music

Importing audio files into your project is a key part of video editing. Whether you’re adding voiceovers, dialogue or background music, syncing audio with video playback, or just adjusting volume levels – it’s crucial for a polished result.

Enhancing visuals with effects

Effects, transitions and colour correction can elevate a video. Experimenting with these to enhance the visuals will help find what works best for your style. Dropbox integrates with many visual effects programs, like Adobe After Effects.

Adding titles and text

Titles and text add context and creativity to your videos, helping engage viewers and convey your message. Tips include using fonts to fit a project’s tone, matching colours with the video’s palette and keeping titles concise and accurate.

Exporting your final video

Once you’re satisfied with the edits, it’s time to export your video. Settings vary by platform, but common options include choosing a video format and codec, selecting audio format or quality settings and specifying an export destination.

Reviewing and practising

Practice makes perfect. Tips for beginners include:

  • Reviewing your work critically to find areas for improvement
  • Creating short projects to apply new skills 
  • Using Replay to share, review and get feedback on your edits from collaborators

Developing advanced techniques for future exploration

As your skills progress, you can delve into advanced techniques like colour grading, where you adjust colours and contrast. Other techniques include audio mixing or stabilisation to reduce shaky footage and improve video quality.

Choosing the right video editing software

Here are some factors to consider for beginner-friendly video editing software:

Features suitable for beginners

Look for software that offers basic structural editing features like cutting, trimming, splitting and joining clips. You can also look for tools with pre-set export options for popular formats and beginner templates for editing.

Apple’s iMovie or Clipchamp for Windows are free beginner-friendly options.

Advanced video editing features

As your skills progress, you may look for features like colour grading to adjust visuals, speed control to create slow-motion or time-lapse effects, image stabilisation for shaky footage or tools with strong compatibility.

Take a look at our Advanced Video Editing Tips for more.

Other factors to consider

For beginners, tools with free trials and pricing plans can help fit your budget. You should choose software with responsive customer support, too. Editing tools with comprehensive tutorials and resources can also help with learning.

YouTube videos and social media can often help find answers if you get stuck.

Getting to know your editing software

All editing software includes common features. Familiarise yourself with importing media in your tool, creating a project for arranging or editing media and setting project properties like resolution and frame rate. Experiment!

The right software choice will help you be the best video editor you can.

Use Dropbox to improve your video editing projects

Practice and experimentation are key to mastering video editing, but Dropbox is a reliable tool throughout the process – helping store, share, edit and more.

With Replay helping you review clips to collaborate and progress your project, you can make the process even smoother and more enjoyable.

Dropbox is the perfect partner for video editing, with world-class storage and app integrations for many professional tools.