Trust me when I say this — when starting or growing a YouTube channel, there are a lot of mistakes that you can make. Like, a lot a lot. And even if we only talk about the production process (scripting, shooting, and editing a video), then there are a million things that can go wrong.
Still, while video editing can be very tricky, it can also be simple. After all, you can edit videos from your smartphones these days. (Or even edit your videos on YouTube after uploading them, which is still nuts to me.)
So today, let’s go over some of the biggest and most common video editing mistakes filmmakers and content creators make when editing videos specifically for YouTube.
We’ll also explore some of the simple video editing fixes and movie editing basics to keep in mind to help make sure your videos are well received (and don’t get taken down) on YouTube.
1. Not understanding the YouTube algorithm
Before we dive into the more nitty and gritty video editing mistakes to avoid, we have to start with one of the most powerful forces in deciding the fate of your YouTube channel: the YouTube algorithm.
Unless you’re making private videos for a select audience, the goal for most YouTube videos and content is to find the eyes of new viewers. And to do that, you need to understand what the YouTube algorithm is and how it works. To help, here’s our full guide on how to beat the YouTube algorithm and get your videos to rank.
The trick is to focus on your YouTube video ideas, as well as optimize your content in each stage of production. That should mean that by the time you get to video editing, you’re really looking at making sure your video is in line with your algorithmic strategy so the content is primed to rank.
Of course, keep these additional tips below in mind. That will also help to make sure your videos are properly exported, optimized, and free and clear of any copyright issues or strikes.
2. Inconsistent audio levels not optimized for YouTube
The second biggest mistake that is usually made with YouTube videos isn’t one that people see at all. Instead, it’s one that they hear — or, more specifically, don’t hear.
Sadly, in the world of film and video editing, audio is often an afterthought. There’s so much focus put on cameras and cinematography during production that audio can easily be ignored and quickly become a problem.
The same is also true in the edit and post-production process. Editors love to edit together videos full of fancy video clips and challenging video cuts, yet often edit audio either at the very end or sometimes not at all. The final result is a video that looks stunning, but either bombards a viewer with loud sections or sequences which can barely be heard at all.
For an ideal edit, audio clips should be fully EQ’ed from start to finish with the goal of keeping audio levels consistent throughout. This means manually editing all elements of sound including dialogue, voice-over, audio effects, soundtracks, and music to stay in the optimal zone (which should usually stay around -12db).
3. Licensing violations and not clearing content with YouTube
Similarly, when working with your audio mix and levels, there’s an even bigger concern to keep in mind: copyrights, codes, and licensing.
No one wants to upload a video only to have it taken down a few moments later (or even worse: result in you getting a dreaded copyright strike against your channel) because of your music track, audio components, or your background music being in violation.
A good video editor knows that the number one cause for these copyright strikes by far has to do with music licensing. If you’re serious about becoming a legit YouTube video creator then you should read up on everything you need to know about music licensing.
Remember: Unless you’re working with royalty free or specifically purchased copyright music or content, you’re always going to be at risk for having your YouTube content flagged or taken down.
Always err on the side of caution and make sure you’re working with the right music, footage, and assets to keep your channel up and in good standing.
4. Color grading for your monitor, not your audience
Some more common editing mistakes that I often see when watching videos on YouTube have to do with inconsistent, if not often just odd, color grading decisions.
While there are many reasons why your coloring may be off in your videos (like poor color grading techniques or just downright forgetfulness), you’d be surprised how often amateur video editors are simply using the wrong technology.
The new golden rule for video editing in today’s digital age warns that just because a video looks a certain way when played back with your footage, on your computer, and with your monitor doesn’t mean it will look the same way on every viewer’s monitor and device.
A good way to circumvent this issue with your YouTube video is to make sure you’re working with a monitor that offers true colors (one of our tenets for our list of the 9 best monitors for video editing).
If you’re tight on budget or editing from your smartphone, it can also be helpful to simply export your video and then try to watch it on different devices (and at different playbacks) before finally making your video live. It might take a few more steps, but it will give you a better (and perhaps more true) chance to view your videos as your audience actually will.
5. Exporting with the wrong specs and quality
Similarly, once you’re actually at a point where you feel that your YouTube video is perfect and ready to go, there’s still a lot to consider before you hit export in your video editing software of choice.
And if you’re creating video content specifically for YouTube (or with YouTube as part of your distribution plan), then you really should be using the best (or at least recommended) specs for exporting for YouTube.
Keep in mind, YouTube is quite capable of working with lots of different types of video and footage. However, as you’ll see with colors or audio quality, YouTube can only do so much with footage exported improperly.
To help you ensure that your videos will be viewed as truthfully and in the best of light as possible, make sure you follow YouTube’s own guidelines for their recommended upload encoding settings. (That covers everything like preferred file types, video and audio codecs, bitrates, resolutions, aspect ratios, and all the different video frame rates.)
Hopefully if you follow these helpful tips you can rest assured that your videos will look and sound great. And as an added benefit, your content will have the pieces to find a growing audience on YouTube for years to come.
If you’d like to read up on some additional video editing guides, tips, and tricks, check out these articles below from the Soundstripe blog:
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