How Long It Takes to Learn Basic Video Editing

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video-editing

As someone who hasn't done a lot of video editing in the past, I wondered how long it might take for a beginner to learn the basics of editing a video for upload on YouTube. So I spent some time doing some research from experienced users to get their insights.

How long does it take to learn the basics of video editing? It depends on the software program and what level of competency you want. A simple program like iMovie may only take an hour or two to learn how to import footage, cut and edit, add audio and titles, and export the finished product. For a high end program like Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro, it may take as short as a couple hours or 2-3 days to learn the basics.

Speed of learning depends on what tasks you need to accomplish (creating online courses, short YouTube videos, etc.), what software you learn on, and how you go about learning. We'll walk you through typical basic tasks, how to speed up the learning process, and simple and free video editing software to help you become familiar with editing without getting overwhelmed by programs that are too complicated for what you need.

What Steps You Need to Learn for Basic Video Editing for YouTube

 
  1. Import video – In this step you simply take your raw video files that are on your computer and import them into the software program for editing. This is typically very simple and quick.
  2. Get rid of any video you don't want – Now you are starting to actually edit. Look through your raw video and if there are individual files you don't want (filled with mistakes, unhelpful information, etc.) get rid of them now. Always think of what your viewing audience will really want to see.
  3. Add your video to a timeline – Add your raw video shots to a master timeline that will help you create a final version.
  4. Timeline editing – In this step you can clip shots to make them shorter, get rid of more video you don't want in the final version, and reorder your shots if you want to put them in a more logical order for your viewing audience.
  5. Add text, graphics, sound, filters and other effects – Most editing programs will give you anywhere from a few to literally hundreds of options to enhance your video with all kinds of extras. Learning how all these effects work and what you can do with them can be quite time consuming.
  6. Check your sound – This is where you make sure the audio is properly synced with your video, the volume is at the level you want, various audio sources are properly balanced, and so on.
  7. Color corrections – If your lighting wasn't great or if you want to enhance the intensity or shade of color, your software program will typically give you plenty of options.
  8. Export the final video in a YouTube approved file format – YouTube accepts the major video formats but MP4 is often the most recommended. Exporting can take some time depending on the software program and the power of your computer and video card.

How to Speed Up the Learning Process

 

Although some people prefer to open software and start experimenting, I know for myself that isn't often the most time-efficient way to do it. I would rather have an experienced individual walk me through what I need to know and the best way to accomplish the tasks to get to base level proficiency.

Fortunately, there are a lot of free and low cost ways to learn from experienced people.

  1. Watch tutorial videos from the software maker (if available) or on YouTube for each of the basic tasks. Try to go through the exact same steps yourself actually using the software as this will reinforce what you are watching.
  2. If you can't find good tutorials from the software maker or YouTube, try short courses on Lynda.com/LinkedIn learning. There are a lot of technical type tutorials on that site. Sometimes you can even get a free subscription to the site through your local library and avoid paying the monthly fees.
  3. Avoid learning features and techniques you don't need right now. Video editing can be very deep and you scan spend countless hours learning things that may not be relevant to what you need as a beginner.
  4. Avoid doing too much too quick. Get the basic steps down so you can remember how to do them without having to refer to extra help. Establish a solid foundation and then build skills as you need them.

What Free Software Programs You Can Use to Edit YouTube Videos

 

If you are new to video editing, or not sure how deep you want to get, there is no reason to spend hundreds of dollars on high end software. There are some very solid options that you can use for no cost whatsoever. Here are the ones that get recommended often.

Free Video Editing Software for PC

 

HitFilm Express

Review site Tom's Guide raves about HitFilm Express and has given it their top choice of best free video editor the last couple of years. This free version contains a whole lot of what the professional version offers including free video tutorials to learn their system. Available for both Windows and Mac. – https://fxhome.com/hitfilm-express

DaVinci Resolve (free version)

DaVinci Resolve is a very powerful editor that offers a lot to users in its free version. Since it is a stripped down version of the commercial Studio version, the complexity may be a bit higher though there seem to be plenty of training resources available. If you learn on the free version and want to step up to paid at some point, you will have a good foundation in the basics. – https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/davinciresolve/

OpenShot

OpenShot is an open source video editor that is completely free and often gets cited as fairly easy to use. It includes plenty of basics features and has a nice looking interface. There are quite a few video tutorials on YouTube to help get you going. It may not be the fastest when exporting or offer the most features, but for most YouTube tasks, it may be all you need. Learn on this one if you don't plan on ever wanting or needing to pay for commercial versions of the free options above. – https://www.openshot.org/

Free Video Editing Software for Mac

 

iMovie

iMovie, which comes free with Mac desktops and laptops, gets recommended all the time for beginner and basic video editing. The software is very easy to use and lets you do quite a bit for a free program. Also if you shot video on your iPhone or iPad, you can integrate with iMovie right away.

iMovie includes advanced features that many other programs charge for like working with 4K video. Exporting speed is reported to be fairly quick so you don't need to wait around as long as some other programs.

Another great plus with this program is if you want to move up to a higher end program like Apple's Final Cut Pro, you will already be familiar with much of the interface and basic steps as iMovie is regarded as a “lite” version of Final Cut Pro. – https://www.apple.com/imovie/

Related Questions

 

How long does it take to edit a 5 minute video?

This really depends on the complexity of what you are trying to do. Some YouTubers can edit their videos in a couple hours. Some spend much more time if they expect their video to standout in competitive markets. Some give a rough estimate of 1 hour per minute of video. Given the range of responses I found from my research, I would say the answer to this question isn't really possible to estimate and needs to be tailored to each individual and their goals with their video.

Is a high end program like Adobe Premiere Pro hard to learn?

For those who are new to editing video, Adobe Premiere Pro may have a steep learning curve. There are lots of tutorials and courses out there to walk you through all the things you can do with it. However, one seasoned professional with over 15 years of experience felt that it would take about six months of editing 20 hours or so a week to achieve a base level of skill with the program. However, depending on what kind of videos you want to make for YouTube, this may be much more than you need. If you want to eventually get good with Adobe Premiere Pro, you can always start with the less expensive Adobe Premiere Elements and upgrade to the Pro version later.

Is it more strategic to edit your own video or pay someone to do it?

The answer depends on how much time you are spending on editing and how cheap you can get the kind of editing quality you need. One way to do this is to calculate the value of your time. For starters, let's say your time is worth $50 an hour. If you are spending 2-3 hours editing a video, your time cost is $150. You can probably find a freelance editor to do it for much cheaper. Also calculate the time it takes to learn a video editing program.

Additionally, make sure your videos are truly earning enough to at least cover the cost of making them. Calculate the time it takes to shoot the video and everything else in relation to producing it. Breaking even in the short term is fine (cost=revenue) because over the long term the residual benefits of your video will probably work in your favor. If you are just starting out and don't know how much your videos will make, it is probably worth finding someone to edit the video for as cheap as possible so you can test the revenue against the cost. Look for video freelancers on places like Upwork.

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Jim Rosenquist

Jim Rosenquist

Jim started earning a living online in 1999 and became a solo entrepreneur in 2001. He started Solo Intel in 2019 as a way to help solo entrepreneurs and small operators become more strategic with their online business.

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