Video Essentials

Setting the Pace While Editing: Video 101

The following lesson was created by Vimeo for its Vimeo Video School. It’s used here with permission. Look for a new lesson each week.

Alright, today we’re learning about pacing and cutting! Of course making compelling videos takes practice, but by following just a few simple rules we’ll cover in this lesson, you can easily set the mood you’re aiming for. Controlling the number of shots and pacing them in a deliberate way is a BIG part of establishing the feel you want.

In the video below by Peter John Ross, you’re given a quick overview of how the length of each clip and the variety of shots together affect the feel of your video. Take a gander for a more detailed explanation with some great examples.

Deciding how to shoot and then to edit your video depends, to a large extent, on what you want to convey. Ask yourself what you want to evoke from your audience. Is it an intense action sequence, or a tender romantic scene where you want to emphasize the characters facial expressions and reactions? Think about what’s important to show and when. Is there something that deserves emphasis like an object in a characters hands, or a subtle glance worth capturing? Think over these points carefully before you start shooting and come up with a list of the shots you need. This will help speed up your production and it’s a good way to make sure you’re capturing all the footage you want. Once you start editing, play around with cutting shots at varying lengths, you might be surprised how an extra moment or two can completely change the feel of scene.

Let’s compare a couple of videos that use different cutting styles. First up is, Solitude:

This quiet, introspective video takes it’s time with each shot but it is by no means tiresome. There’s a lot of detail to notice in each shot and the creator has intended for you to take your time as a viewer. Also notice the shot variety, you’re presented with a combination of close ups and wide shots that help keep the visual information interesting.

Let’s compare the feel of that video to this one by Moop Jaw:

Fun stuff right? This video has a vibrant, exciting feel to it and part of that feeling is established by having quick cuts. Some cuts are so sudden that you may not notice them and others are obvious. Regardless,there’s also a lot of shot variety. We’re primarily shown whole body scenes of the dancers but it’s mixed in with shots of feet and waist up medium shots as well. Obviously music plays a huge role in this video as the tempo leads the pace of editing.

So here we have two very different videos that use different editing paces to establish a mood. Music, framing, and many other elements of shooting will have an unquestionable effect but keep timing in mind when you’re telling your story.

Getting a good feel for pacing can take years of practice to learn and apply properly but with a bit of luck and persistence your videos will only get better. Remember in life and videos, timing is everything.

Ready for more? Learn how to create a tilt-shift effect or view more lessons at the Vimeo Video School.


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