How to Edit Videos Like a Pro: Software, Tips, & Tricks

Ever wanted to know how the pros at Bigfish do it?

As far as I can remember, we at Bigfish have always been able to offer clients a great variety of video production services. Often, we’ve worked together with external video editing professionals to bring our storytelling to life. However, over the past year, we’ve been able to bring that service more in-house. Our video production and animation workflow has improved quite nicely, and as a result, so has our ability to take on more video and animation projects.

Our clients’ needs change from time to time and we always strive to be ahead of the curve when it comes to their creative necessities. Dabbling into video and animation reflects the changing priorities of marketing teams everywhere.

Today, we would like to showcase a handful of tips and best practices we use inside our video and animation workflow, and how they can improve the overall end result of a video project.

All the Plug-Ins!

As designers, we often reach a point where our workflow and skills are limited by the capabilities or aspects of the software we employ on a daily basis. This is where plug-ins come in! It is common for most design or editing software to have built in support for plug-ins, extensions, scripts etc. these are pieces of software that can complement your workflow extensively.

These tools enable stock software like After Effects and Premiere Pro, to perform actions or effects much quicker than if you were to painstakingly do it by hand. A couple examples I use for After Effect are: Motion2 and Overlord.

Motion2 allows me to play with vector shapes, key frames, smoothing out effects, creating parenting structure between layers, and overall giving any shape I am animating a more interesting look and feel. Overlord makes it incredibly easy for me to set up Adobe Illustrator files while working with live shapes between Illustrator and After Effects. Previously, I would have to set up a complicated layer structure and save elements in Illustrator separately. With Overlord I am able to bring designs into After Effects on the fly.

Set Up a Clear Folder Structure

Something I love about Adobe InDesign is the fact that each file acts as a container that allows you to import items such as images by linking them from a specific folder path. This is great, because it reduces the processing power of your machine to have linked objects, rather than embedded ones. The only downside of this is that, when moving files and folders from their original location, items can become unlinked, creating headaches for anyone that has to work with those files. This is why having a consistent folder structure is a must.

I often create a root folder and number every folder element within. It is good to have a 01 Assets folder, 02 Cuts folder, and 03 Working folders. Inside Assets, I would have subsequent folders such as Premiere Pro scratch disks, Audio Files (music, VO), Video Files (shot or stock), and a Graphic Files (Illustrator, Photoshop, etc). This way, everything you create, edit, save, render, exists within that folder ecosystem and once it has to be moved, things should link accordingly or be easily accessible when needed to be relinked.

Templates and Presets are Your Friends

They are there for a reason! Often, people avoid using presets or templates built into Premiere Pro or After Effects, but this is a huge mistake. These settings can help you get a head start on a specific animation or effect you are trying to achieve. In After Effects, there are plenty of animation presets that can be customized and tinkered with once they have been applied to shapes or layers. The challenge is filtering the endless ways you can modify them into a cohesive creation. In combination with other tools such as scripts, plug-ins, or expressions, presets can be used to your advantage.

Premiere Pro presets are often overlooked as well. They are incredibly powerful and range from visual effects to animated transitions. These presets are powerful because you are able to craft sequences in how effects are applied to specific clips. Once you have a desired end result from a combination of effects, you can save it as a preset and apply it to other clips when needed. It’s that simple! In fact, there are lots of resources around the web, both free or paid, which provide users with custom made presets for Premiere Pro that you can enable at will, giving your edits that final creative push you were looking for.

Don’t Skimp on a Good Video Rig

I can’t stress enough the importance of a good video editing rig. Although computers have gotten incredibly fast in recent years, the software strain from video editing programs has always remained a steady challenge to overcome. Standard hardware on your average computer can’t handle video production as it was meant to be used. Advancements in video formats and video files also create a big gap in what kind of machine can handle footage while editing. 4K footage for example, takes a massive toll on a computer’s performance.

Depending on your editing needs, your machine should be equipped with the necessary hardware for your editing workflow to stay undisturbed. I truly believe that investing in a good custom built Windows or Apple machine can go a long way when it comes to maximizing your video editing workflow.

Some parts I would recommend: an Intel i5 or i7 processor, 16 to 32 gigs of DDR4 RAM, SSD for your main OS and working environment, plenty of storage for assets, and a decent mid to high tier Nvidia graphics card. I have seen better results in my workflow when working with Nvidia, especially since most Adobe products have a direct software relationship with those cards.

Work Local

This last point is more of a personal workflow practice. Previously, I have found myself struggling whenever I had to edit files that are not locally available in my machine’s hard drive. We have a pretty fast working server in our office, but even when working out of a portable 3.0 USB hard drive, or Thunderbolt hard drive, the experience while editing is always way faster when all the necessary files are available locally.

Besides using the machines processing power to your advantage, being able to have your files undisturbed in case of network shortage or peripheral malfunctions can be a lifesaver when you are working on that tight deadline.

These 5 production pointers allows us to translate our creative storytelling ideas into a physical medium much quicker than before. Thanks to that, we have been able to create awesome videos for brands like Pieology and Cisco

We are constantly learning new tips and strategies when it comes to video editing. We hope these tools help you improve upon your existing workflow. If you have any tips and suggestions let us know!

We are always looking to partner with great people and incredible brands, so let’s chat.

About the author

Sebastian is tuned into everything digital, from audacious tech start-ups to trending apps and [...]