Michigan Ross iMpact

Leading in Thought & Action

Editing Techniques



Save incremental versions of your files
(MyProject1, MyProject2, MyProject2a, MyProject2b, etc.), as you go - it's a lot easier to go back to the last good version than to recreate the whole project from scratch. 


You can record narration with the video editing software, however you will have better results by recording voiceovers. The best technique is to record the voiceover as video using the camcorder and the supplied lavaliere microphone. During editing, you can use only the audio portion of the video.

  • Find a quiet enclosed space, away from fans and other sources of noise.
  • Script out what you want to say and practice before recording.
  • Keep the volume and tone of your voice even.
  • Don't worry about getting it all in one take - you can cut and mix different portions of different takes.


A cut away is an editing technique where you let the speaker keep talking while showing just the video portion from a different clip.
  • It helps illustrate what the speaker is talking about
  • It lets you gracefully assemble segments of a longer interview in a way that makes the most sense for your story, rather than in the linear order a speaker talked about them
  • It lets you "mix and match" between multiple takes of an interview if a speaker stumbles over a word, or phrases the answer better on a different take


Perhaps a company wants to give you promotional or supplemental video they've already shot, to include in your project, or you have some interesting video from other sources. This video can come to you in many different video formats and standards:

  • The video may be on any number of tape formats (including VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS, Hi-8, Betacam (Beta), Digital Beta (DigiBeta), DVCPro, DVCAM, Digital-S, U-Matic 1/4 inch).
  • Depending on where in the world they were shot, they could also conform to different video standards (PAL, SECAM).
  • The video might already be converted to computer formats (Windows Media Video, QuickTime, RealMedia, MPEG1, 2, or 4) at any number of sizes and frame rates, or even to distribution-only formats on disk (VideoCD, SuperVideoCD, or DVD) that are especially hard to edit.

There are some tradeoffs you may need to plan for:

  • It's alright to blend DV-quality video with some lower quality video, but the general rule is to start as high up the quality ladder as you can, to ensure a quality final product.
  • Depending on format and standard of the video you get, you may have to pay for professional conversion to a format and standard you can use.

What To Ask For, If You Get The Chance 
You may have to just accept what a company gives you, but it never hurts to ask. Some companies have an internal video production group, or they may be able to contact the vendor that provided the video.

  • Ask for NTSC MiniDV copies (or dubs) made from professional quality source tapes. Typical formats for professional tapes include Betacam (Beta), Digital Beta (DigiBeta), DVCPro, DVCam, and Digital-S.
  • Ask for NTSC VHS dubs from the professional quality source tapes. The quality will be noticably poorer than your MiniDV footage, but you can transfer these directly to the workstations, without professional conversion.
  • Ask for dubs of the professional quality source tapes themselves. You will have to pay for professional conversion, but the quality will be comparable to the footage you shot yourself.

What To Do With What You Get

  • Video Tapes 
    If you have access to a camcorder or deck that's compatible with your tapes, you can use it to transfer the video to the workstation, which will automatically do the conversion to our standard format. You can also take your tapes to a professional video house, and pay to have them converted. If the source tapes are of professional quality, get MiniDV dubs if you can.
  • Computer Video Formats 
    Computer video files are encoded into different formats using specific software widgets called codecs. If the workstation's editing software doesn't accept the format, or have the right codecs to play back and edit the video, it won't be usable. Codecs are also used to compress video, to reduce file size before distribution. If the computer video file was heavily compressed, it will have very poor quality once it's stretched to match NTSC DV video size and quality, then recompressed for delivery.
  • Distribution Video Formats 
    If at all possible, avoid video in distribution formats. Commercial movie DVDs have built-in copyright protections to prevent conversion, and may also be locked down by international region. Most other distribution formats, like Video CDs (commonly used in Asia and India), are so highly compressed, the quality will generally be worse than VHS. You can use Video CDs, but they will have to be professionally converted.