Tell your story, not show off your fx software (and read the manual while you are at it)

If you look in any video editing forum on Facebook (or even Message Boards for vendors and their software), you are guaranteed to find two things ad infinitum.

The first is the endless repetitive questions asking the same thing over and over from multitudes of different people. In Vegas forums for example, it is about the B–roll interface that can pop up with an errant key press. Folk not only don’t know how to revert to the standard interface (there are a number of ways), but don’t even know what the B-roll is!

In a different time, back in the 90s when I co-hosted a radio show on 2GB with Brian Wilshire called “Chip for Brains” we used to get the same help question every week; “when I defrag my computer, it never ends, just keeps restarting”. The answer was simple. Turn off the screen saver.

Sadly, no manual existed that contained that information I ever found. I knew the answer to this from experience.

With editing software though (in fact the majority of software designed for video creation whether it be an NLE, motion graphics, audio, plug in, 3D modelling etc) there is almost always a decent and detailed on-line help system or PDF file. Additionally, the forums are chock full of hints, helps and tips and all are easily searchable.

So, use these. It is amazing what you will also pick up in terms of knowledge and ideas on the way through. And save yourself a lot of time and angst. (Psst! Read the manual of PDF for your smartphone too. Hell, read the manuals for all your gadgets / devices / software!)

The second question found in online forums is requests for free and downloadable transitions and effects and a lesser number of wishes for templates and LUTs.

You can tell from the nature of the query the person asking the question is usually reasonably new to editing.

If you are one of these, here is a tip.

Concentrate on the story you are putting together, NOT any flashy effects or transitions. Have a look at how some of the luminaries of this industry do it such as Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg and so on, and you will be surprised to find there are very few, if any, fancy transitions for example. The worst Lucas ever got as I recall, was a circular wipe transition in Star Wars. And who can remember that?

No, you want your viewer to remember the narrative of your film, docco or whatever, not the special effects. And anyway, for most of us, what your NLE ships with has more than enough to keep you occupied far into the future without adding on more unless they are something like products from Red Giant or Borisfx which have effects yes, but are heavy on correctional plugins for colour etc as well.

For transitions, a simple cut or crossfade is as much as most productions need.

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