Whether you’re crafting the perfect sponsor-me video, making your first independent surf film, or dropping a creative crew edit in Nike’s Chosen contest, editing skills are a must. But you don’t have to be an expert; start with these tips from a real pro, San Clemente’s Chris Steblay. Chris is the creative force behind the “Noticed” Neck Rash crew in Chosen, as well as a professional surf filmmaker for a laundry list of clients. Last week he gave tips on how to film surf action; today he brings you wisdom from the editing suite.
“Just like shooting, editing is an art form,” says Chris. “It takes time and practice to get it down. With applications always changing and new software coming out monthly, it’s not just about how well you can edit but also how well you stay on top of new developments. Sometimes you have to geek out a little bit and learn new ways to approach old things. Editing can overwhelm you when you’re new to it, and people tend to over-amp and try to overdo it. Here are some tips to make the most of your time behind the computer and maximize the impact of your cut.”
Chris’s 5 tips on good editing:
1. Start small. If you’re learning, don’t jump right into the big leagues with Final Cut Pro. The program takes years to learn and will make your head explode if you are on a deadline. There are tons of entry-level programs that will help you get the basics of how video editing works. Then, when you’re ready, step up and get a pro-level application. They are amazing, and once you know how to use them they’ll treat you right.
2. Log your footage! There’s nothing worse than getting asked for a clip years after you shot it and not being able to find it. The trick is to use keywords that will help you organize and find footage. Everyone has their own method of how they like to label clips, so play around and find one that works for you and your workflow.
3. Pick good music. Music is hard sometimes, especially if you have to work with a small selection of licensed tracks. The biggest trick is to not be too picky and choose stuff most people will like — not just you and your friends. You might think Weird Al Yankovic is hot stuff, but most people won’t sit through the video if they’re over the song.
4. Easy on the effects. Film burns, jump cuts, and transitions — they’re all good stuff, but only in moderation. People tend to overdo it and get too hung up thinking the effects will make their video look better, but that’s not always true. Less is more.
5.Trash the weak clips. Sometime guys get hung up on certain clips for any number of reasons. The fact is that if it sucks for any reason, you might not want it in your edit. It takes time and experience to figure out how to trim down, but it’s all about coming across to your viewer at 100%. If you’re struggling to fill three minutes, maybe chop it down to two and keep only the best stuff.
Check out more from Chris via his production company, Seeworthy Project, and check to see whose creative editing takes them to the semifinals in Nike’s Chosen contest at the end of this month.