For those just getting started in motion graphics and compositing, it can seem like the gateways to higher-end video editing are expensive and closed off. And, while it’s true that you can’t do much animation and 3D modeling with your smartphone as easily as you can edit a TikTok video, it’s also not as expensive or hard to learn as you might expect.
Take Blender for example, which is a completely free motion graphics software. Blender can be used by all types of creatives for everything from video editing and visual effects to animated films and 3D modeling.
While you will need a solid video editing computer with enough processing power to handle all the features, the cost to get started is really as little as watching some helpful tutorials online. And for that, we have you covered… But first!
What is Blender?
As a basic definition, Blender is a free and open-source public project. It’s a 3D computer graphics software toolset which can handle a wide array of features and uses. While we’ll be going over its video editing prospects, it’s also a great program for all types of 3D modeling, UV unwrapping, rigging and skinning, and tons of other types of simulation and rendering.
For video editors though, Blender is akin to other higher-end motion graphics softwares like Adobe After Effects, Cinema 4D, Maya, and Nuke. However, as a free option and with a relatively accessible ease-of-use, Blender has quickly become one of the more favored 3D computer graphics softwares in the video industry.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s dive into how you can get started with Blender.
Blender video sequence editor tricks
So, the great thing about working with Blender is the built-in Video Sequence Editor (VSE), which in many instances is simply shortened to just be called the “sequencer”. This Sequencer is a complete video editing system which is pretty similar to what you might find in Adobe Premiere Pro or with Final Cut Pro.
It allows users to load multiple video clips and lay them end-to-end (or even overlay them) as you would with any other timeline-based NLE. It also has all the features for combining multiple video channels and even adding effects, which is where things get interesting because, man, does Blender allow for some crazy VFX.
Blender video editor basics
Now that we’ve gone over the sequencer we can actually dive into using Blender as a real video editing software. Of course, as with any video editing software, there’s a lot to cover. Combine that with Blender’s integrated high-end motion graphics and VFX capabilities though, and it would almost be impossible to go over everything.
Luckily there are some great resources and tutorials already covering a lot of the basics online. To help you get started, let’s go through this series put together by YouTuber Ryan King Art which does perhaps the best job of any taking you through all the steps of video editing with Blender.
Part 1: Default Setup and Settings
Before you try to edit videos in the Blender software, you'll need to learn how to do all the very basic functions like live preview, video preview, and other various complex tasks within the user interface. This first video will go over all the basic and default setup and settings.
Part 2: Shortcut Keys, Basic Editing
From there you'll want to learn everything you can about working with shortcut keys, video tracks, video masking, waveform visualization, speed control, and all the other Blender interface features for basic editing.
Part 3: Text, Meta Strips, Fade In/Out
Moving on to some more complex tasks for your video cuts, this next video goes over how to add more personalized content and work with different video strip and audio strip controls when adding video content to the sequencer.
Part 4: Color Grading, Photos, Effects
Similar to other software options with other tools which provide luma waveform visualization, chroma vectorscope, and histogram displays, you can also use the Blender video editing software for handling all these different video functions which usually take convoluted adjustment layers.
Part 5: Blur a Face/Logo
Now this is actually a cool trick which you can achieve in other programs like Premiere Pro and the like, but with the Blender software this can be done completely free — which is always a nice perk. It's also arguably simpler than what other editors might find on their NLEs.
Part 6: Speed Up/Slow Down Video
Here’s another basic technique that has to do with frame rate conversion and other special effects and new features with Blender. Speeding up and slowing down videos has never been easier with this straightforward yet powerful trick.
Part 7: Convert Video Frame Rates in Handbrake
Finally, when it comes to converting and exporting footage in the Blender video editor, it can be a bit complicated at first. But once you learn the new workflow (which incorporates the Handbrake program) into the process you should be good to go.
We’ve covered everything from the default setup and settings to converting your final video in Handbrake, which should give you about as total of a walkthrough as possible.
Keep in mind though that Blender is meant to be an open-ended platform for a myriad of creator types, so there is no exact way to edit a video or build a composition per se. While it’s helpful to learn the basics, it’s up to you to figure out your best workflows.
Other compositing video editing software options
Speaking of which, just because we’ve gone over how to use Blender for video editing doesn’t mean that this is the only high-end VFX and composing software out there. In fact, along with Blender, there are actually tons of other video editing software options which you should definitely also check out.
Here are some other video editors for compositing and VFX options:
- Adobe After Effects
- Wondershare Filmora
- Blackmagic Fusion
- Autodesk Flame
- Autodesk MAYA
- Pixologic ZBrush
For editors with less experience, I’d also recommend building up your skills in NLE softwares like Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, and DaVinci Resolve first. Once you’ve mastered all the basic VFX and frame point techniques, it really makes sense to upgrade to one of the more advanced options listed above.
If you’d like to hone your video editing skills and explore some more editing theory, be sure to check out these articles from the Soundstripe blog:
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