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Going Mobile: Video editing

If you are an experienced video editor you will find editing on a phone a frustrating process. There are now increasingly more APPs that let you edit video on the phone but all are constrained by the size of the screen and the accuracy of using a finger to select points at which to edit. However if you keep things simple and use one of the more basic video editing APPs like iMovie you will find it is possible to get good results.

If you step back and think about what you are trying to achieve – shooting, editing, compressing and sending full HD video on a device that sits in your pocket – it’s astonishing what a phone can do. So work within it’s limitations and try not to allow your stories to become too complex.

In the first of four videos D J Clark introduces the iMovie APP and sets up the story to start editing.

When shooting the video try and think about your task of editing on the phone. Keep your B Roll locked down to 10 second clips with a good mixture of wide, medium and close-ups. Try and write an outline of the voice over as you go along so you can shoot specific shots that help illustrate your points. Unlike a computer the small screen on a phone makes it difficult to look through too many clips so having the right clips in the first place will save you time later on.

When interviewing your subject I suggest having a chat with them before you start rolling the video. Try and work out what are the key questions and ask your interviewee to be brief and to the point with his or her answers. Remember unlike a computer editing program that allows you to cut and splice an interview with B-Roll over the top to hide the edits, in the simple edit programs for the phone you only have one video track so you need to get the quote you want to use in one bite. You can then lift that out and place it with your voice over.

When editing I would suggest you think of the proces in three steps. First layout the story by recording a voice over then edit in the sound bites you want to use from the interviews. To do this, start by finding a clip you want to open the video with and put it onto the timeline. Then record your voice over in full. It will go much longer than the original clip. Then use the split command by selecting the clip and swiping your finger downwards at the points you want to add the interview bites. Find the bits of the interview you want and then insert them into the places you have spit the voice over. Once this is complete you should be able to listen to the whole package and check the story is complete.

In the second video D J Clark edits the voice over with B Roll and the interviews to finish the package.


For the next stage you need to go back to the beginning of the story and start adding your B-Roll. If you have shot ten seconds for each clip you should be able to take three or four seconds in the middle of the clip which should not have any shake from pressing the button to start or stop the recording. Try and drop the video clips into the pauses in the voiceover, normally where there is a comma or fullstop in the script. This way the edits look more natural as they play to the rhythm of your voice. Once this is complete you should now have a completed video that you can play from start to finish and it will have both sound and pictures the whole way through. However the sound levels will be wrong, the edits all dissolves and there will be no text to introduce the piece. Give lower third introductions to interviewees and give youself a credit at the end.

In the third video D J Clark edits the voice over with B Roll and the interviews to finish the package.

In the last stage you need to go back to the start and correct this. Start on the first clip by adding a fade in and an introduction text if that is the style you want. As you go through the piece change the edits from the default dissolve to “none” to give a straight cut. The only time I recommend a dissolve is when moving a scene in time or place, in which case it is OK. You can add lower third introductions to your interviewees and a final credit to all the interviewees by simply double tapping on the clip. If you want to add a title on only a part of the clip then make sure you split it first at the point you want the title to come in.

Once you are happy with the edit it is time to export, compress (if need be) and send. The share button in iMovie gives you a number of options. If you have Youtube, Facebook, Vimeo or CNN iReport accounts and that is where you want to send your video then you can do that straight from the share button. iMovie will export the movie and upload it to any of those services as long as you enter your username and password.

To export the video and send to your news desk you need to use the camera roll option which gives you four different sizes to choose. The size of the file will all depend on what networks you have available to send it. The full HD – 1080P option is obviously the biggest and best quality but you will need a 4G or wifi connection to send it in a reasonable amount of time. the smallest option works best for just a 3G signal but still may produce a large file which will be hard to send quickly if the 3G signal you have is slow.

The best option I have found is to export as the full HD – 1080P video and then to compress it to a smaller file using another APP like Video Compressor or Video Squishy.

And here is the final video as edited in the last four instruction videos.

Continue to the next section: Going Mobile: Mobile photography