When a person watches a video, he may not even realize how much effort and. time was spent on its creation. A video editor combines his creative and technical skills to create a truly professional product. And if everything can be understood with the creative side, the technical side often suffers from a lack of knowledge. This can cause the video to appear blurry, corrupt, or not play at all.
To avoid such unwanted cases, it is necessary to study and improve your knowledge about the technical side of video editing.
Learn the technical aspects
Technical aspects play a critical role in video editing as they determine the quality, size, and format of the final video. By mastering these, video editors can ensure that their videos will be of good quality and will play correctly on all necessary devices.
Codecs (short for “compression-decompression”) are software or hardware algorithms used to compress and decompress video files. They determine how video data is stored, transmitted, and decoded, so there are various codecs available. Without them, video files would be extremely large and difficult to work with. Choosing the right codec can make a significant difference in the final output of the video, as well as the efficiency and ease of the editing process. Each codec has its advantages and disadvantages. The most common codecs are H.264 and ProRes.
H.264 is commonly used in formats such as MP4, MOV, and AVI. It is widely used due to its high compression efficiency and compatibility with most devices and platforms. Among the advantages of this codec also are high-quality output and a wide range of applications. Among the main disadvantages is that H.264 is not suitable for high-quality editing because it is a lossy codec, so it sacrifices some video quality to achieve smaller file sizes. The same thing happens with color.
ProRes is a codec used in professional video editing workflows. Unlike the previous codec, this one has fewer compression properties, which allows you to better preserve the quality of the video. This is its main advantage, but not the only one. ProRes offers a wide range of bitrates and is flexible. He can be used in different resolutions and frame rates, making it suitable for various video formats and resolutions. And also thanks to that ProRes offers high accuracy and color depth. The disadvantage may be that the videos will have a large file size, requiring more storage space and bandwidth. Accordingly, ProRes requires powerful hardware for smooth video editing and playback, which may not be available on all systems.
Resolution is the number of pixels in the video frame and as well as codecs determines the image quality. In addition, the resolution also affects the sharpness of the video. Higher resolutions offer more detailed and sharper images but require more storage space and processing power.
Common video resolutions
HD (1280×720 pixels) and Full HD (1920×1080 pixels)
They are standard resolutions for many online videos, broadcasts, and Blu-ray content. These resolutions are also used in professional video editing. Such videos do not require large loads for playback and occupy a pleasant amount of memory.
4K (3840×2160 pixels) and 8K (7680×4320 pixels)
These resolutions are characterized by a clear and high-quality video image and becoming increasingly popular. Due to the availability of affordable high-resolution cameras and displays it became easier to use 4K and 8K in video editing. However, it is mostly used for professional purposes. For “everyday” video editing, these resolutions take up too much space and require higher workloads for their processing and playback.
Bitrate refers to the amount of data used to represent video per unit of time. It is measured in kilobits per second (kbps) or megabits per second (Mbps). And affects the video quality and file size: higher bitrates result in higher video quality and larger file sizes, and vice versa – a lower bitrate will take up less space and have a worse video quality. In video editing, choosing the appropriate bitrate is important as it determines the trade-off between video quality and file size. You need to know how and for what video will be used to set the correct bitrate. Also, this choice will be influenced by the space allocated for the video (for example, it can be a flash drive) and the device on which it will be played (a different bitrate is set for a phone, computer monitor, or TV). Higher bitrates are often used for high-quality video content (music clips, commercials videos), while lower bitrates may be used for online streaming or videos for social media.
Understand video formats
When it comes to video editing, the quality of the outcome is crucial to the video. There are many different video formats available, which affect it. Each of them with its own set of technical specifications.
MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14)
This is one of the most commonly used video formats, so it is supported on most devices. It uses H.264 or H.265 compression. It makes it a perfect choice for high-quality videos. The maximum resolution is 4K. As a rule, the size of the video does not take up a lot of space.
AVI (Audio Video Interleave)
This is one of the oldest formats still in use today. AVI is a flexible format that can be played on almost any device. But the file size tends to be larger than other formats. This is due to the fact that the AVI format records data by dividing them into “pieces”. It supports both uncompressed and compressed video, and the maximum resolution is 1080p.
MOV (Apple QuickTime Movie)
A video format developed by the company Apple. It can be played on both Mac and Windows devices. It uses H.264 or ProRes compression, which makes it a good choice for use in professional video production. The maximum resolution for MOV is 4K, and the size of the video will occupy small volumes.
Choosing the right video format for your project is important to ensure that your video looks and sounds great, and can be played on the devices you intend to use it on. If you’re uploading your video to a website or sharing it via email, it’s important to consider the file size. If you’re creating a video for social media, a format like MP4 or FLV might be the best choice. If you’re creating a video for a presentation, a format like MOV or WMV might be more appropriate. If you’re creating a video for an iPhone, you’ll want to choose a format that’s compatible with iOS.
Use high-quality footage
Once you’ve chosen the right video format for your project, it’s important to optimize your footage for that format. This will ensure that your video looks and sounds great, and can be played on the devices you intend to use it on. The quality of your footage is important, especially if you’re using a format that supports high resolutions.
Why High-Quality Footage is Important
First and foremost, it ensures that your final video looks professional and polished. When the video editor receives high-quality footage, it is easier to work with it. Less time is spent on processing materials and correcting errors. High-quality footage also gives you more flexibility in terms of editing. This applies both to scaling the frame (zoom) and to painting or editing it. Quality loss will be low, so any changes will be almost imperceptible. There will be no extra noise or pixels in the frame that will distort the video.
Another reason why high-quality footage is important is that it is more visually appealing and can help draw the viewer in, making them more invested their attention in the story you are trying to tell.
How to Achieve High-Quality Footage
- Choose the correct one’s camera, tripod, lighting equipment, and microphone
- Proper framing and lighting (if your footage is poorly lit, it can appear grainy and low-quality)
- Shoot in the Right Format and Resolution
- Use a High-Quality Codec
Use proxy workflow
Working with high-quality materials can put a lot of strain on your computer. It can often lead to a slow and laggy editing experience, which can be frustrating for video editors. However, a solution to this problem is the use of a proxy workflow.
A proxy workflow is a technique where low-resolution proxy files are used in the editing process instead of high-resolution footage. And before export, the files are linked to the original. This allows editors to work with lower-quality footage, which requires less processing power, allowing for faster editing speeds and smoother playback.
Advantages of a Proxy Workflow:
- The increased speed and efficiency in the editing process
- The ability to work on multiple devices
- Proxies are useful when working with footage from different cameras. Cameras from different manufacturers have different codecs and file formats, which can be challenging to work on the same project. Using proxies allows editors to convert all the footage to a standard format, making it easier to work with and reducing compatibility issues.
How to Set Up a Proxy Workflow
Setting up a proxy workflow is a straightforward process. You need to create a lower-resolution version of your high-resolution footage. This can be done using Adobe Media Encoder or DaVinci Resolve. It’s very important to make sure that the proxies match the aspect ratio and frame rate of the original footage.
Once the proxies are created, you need to link them to your editing project. Preferably, the name of the proxy file should be the same as the original, and all proxies should be in a separate folder. It will be convenient for replacement. To replace files from the original on the proxy, you need to manually specify the new location of the video source. Or choose the original footages and then link it to the corresponding proxy files. The software will automatically use proxies instead of high-resolution footage during the editing process.
When you’re ready to export your project, you need to switch back to high-resolution footage.
Use the right export settings
Exporting your video is the final step in the video editing process, and it’s important to choose the right export settings to ensure that your video looks great on all devices and platforms. By considering factors such as resolution, bitrate, frame rate, codec, and audio settings, you can choose the right export settings for your project. In addition to choosing the right export settings, it’s important to optimize your video for each platform you’ll be uploading to. For example:
- Video format: MP4 or MOV
- Resolution: 1080 x 1080 pixels (square), 1080 x 1350 pixels (portrait), or 1080 x 1920 pixels (landscape)
- Frame rate: 30 frames per second (FPS)
- Bitrate: 3,500 kbps for video, 256 kbps for audio
- Maximum file size: 4GB
- Video format: MP4 or MOV
- Resolution: 1080 x 1920 pixels (vertical)
- Frame rate: 30 frames per second (FPS)
- Bitrate: 6,000 kbps for video, 128 kbps for audio
- Maximum file size: 287.6 MB for iOS devices, 72 MB for Android devices
- Video format: MP4, MOV, AVI, or WMV
- Resolution: 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels), 1440p (2560 x 1440 pixels), or 2160p (3840 x 2160 pixels)
- Frame rate: 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, or 60 frames per second (FPS)
- Bitrate: Recommended bitrates vary based on resolution and frame rate, but generally range from 5,000-50,000 kbps for video and 128-320 kbps for audio
- Maximum file size: 128GB or 12 hours (whichever is less)
It’s important to note that these are just general guidelines, and the specific export settings you choose may vary depending on the requirements of your project and the platform you’re uploading to. It’s always a good idea to do some testing to ensure that your video looks and sounds great on different devices and platforms.
Choosing the wrong export settings can result in a poor-quality video that doesn’t do justice to your hard work. When choosing export settings, it’s important to test your video on different devices and platforms to ensure that it looks great everywhere.
Being a professional video editor is not just about having a talent for the craft. It is not only the creative side that is a pleasant process in work. Being a professional video editor means working hard and improving your skills every day. And this development should be comprehensive! Including the technical side of video editing.
Understanding how formats work, and how they interact with codecs and bitrate will help you export your videos correctly. And for them to be of the highest quality, you should understand when you use high-quality video. Professionals also know how to optimize their work to lighten the load on the software, so they use proxy files. All this is very important for working at a professional level. And of course, don’t forget about the creative process!