Improving Every Part of Your Edit

Improving Every Part of Your Edit

Improving your film editing

Flickr: by Filmingilman

When you’re a self-taught filmmaker it pays every now and then to take a refresher course in your editing software of choice, partly to learn new and better ways of doing things, and partly to make sure you’re doing things the right way. With a subscription to, which you can actually test drive for free if you like, that’s an easy thing to do.

I’m a big fan of free training, and there are thousands of hours of it curated on this site, but every now and then I think a methodical, authoritative approach can be a much more efficient way to learn a new piece of software or creative technique.  In these two previous posts you can check out The Best Training on for Film Editors and The Best After Effects Training on For Film Editors.

In this post I thought I’d point to some great training that will help you improve every part of your edit, by focusing on better understanding how to cut, mix, grade and polish your project. Regardless of which NLE you are actually working with, a lot of these principles of the craft in the training below will apply across the board anyway.

To take a refresher course in your NLE of choice jump here for:

Avid Media Composer 8 Essential Training

FCPX 10.2 Essential Training

Premiere Pro Essential Training 2015

Improving your Sound Mix

Premiere Pro Guru: Mixing Audio Clips and Tracks by Luisa Winters is a pretty basic course, but it’s the nuts and bolts of everything you need to know to mix your audio correctly and understand many audio principles in practice.

On thing that is slightly surprising (and I’ve not noticed on any other Lynda courses) is that the audio commentary has itself been recorded a little bit hot, and distorts quite frequently. This is pretty distracting for a course on audio, but it’s bearable.

Either way, in terms of core content this is a great refresher course that covers finding your way around Premiere when it comes to working on your audio, correctly mixing your sound with keyframes and automation, as well as a run through of many of the common audio filters and effects.

In the free lesson below on ‘Gains and Levels’ you can see get a good feel for the kind of content and level of understanding it presumes (almost none). You can check out more free lessons on keyframes, the de-esser and recording a scratch track.

Creating Better Dialogue Edits

Introduction to Video Dialogue Editing by Ashley Kennedy is an interesting course in that during it you edit the same scene (same script and shot compositions) but with three dramatically different performances, to produce three very different scenes. Therein only the performances (a little wooden at times!) and the editing decisions are what produce the final differences.

Again, the course assumes that the viewer has very little understanding of the filmmaking process and so for any experienced editor most of it will be too pedestrian, but if you’re new to all this then it’s worth watching to get an understanding of the differences that cutting on, before or after the action/reaction can have to a scene. So more of a ‘craft’ course than a how-to (although there’s plenty of that in there too) but definitely for newer editors.

Grading – Learning to Read Scopes

DaVinci Resolve Guru – Mastering the Scopes by Robbie Carman is a more advanced course than the previous two in this post, and is well worth a watch for any editor who wants to understand each of the four scopes (Waveform, Vectorscope, Histogram and RGB parade) available in DaVinci Resolve, but obviously also available in all the major NLEs.

I’ve seen many editors simply plough into their grading without ever opening the scopes and merely ‘trusting their eyes’. This will get you so far, but it’s not a professional way to approach things, and a little bit of knowledge will dramatically improve your final work.

The sixth chapter, on applying the detailed knowledge acquired throughout the course, helps you to get practical on using the scopes to evaluate and match shots, as well as help define a look for the project.

Robbie’s style is easy to follow, and somehow manages to avoid that ‘interest-fatique’ that can occur if you watch a lot of tutorial material in one sitting.

A free lesson on why you need scopes in the first place.

A free lesson on the different types of scopes.

Compositing Quick Fixes

In this section of the list I’ve pulled out two specific After Effects courses that could potentially help you get out of a tight spot in an edit, After Effects Compositing Essentials – Tracking and After Effects Compositing Essentials – Rotoscoping Edges. Both courses are entertainingly, and some-what sardonically, presented by Mark Christiansen.

In the After Effects Tracking course, which you can preview above, you can learn how to get the most out of After Effects five different tracking features, and ‘hack’ them to create efficient and stable tracks. A good track is often the basis for an effectively rescued shot, whether that’s adding something into the scene or taking it out.

Effectively Track Motion.

The Roto and edges course takes you deep into the magical art of removing ‘that which should not be there’ from a shot, or effectively adding in something that needs some polishing work – think replacing the green screen on an iPhone an actor is holding, but their thumb is partly in the way. You’re going to have to track and roto that.

This course is a little longer than the tracking course and also covers the various tools that After Effects provides to get the job done. There are also plenty of great insights on how to tackle difficult situations as painlessly as possible. All-in-all it’s well worth the investment of time and brain power.

A free lesson on how to draw and edit a mask.


  • I have been a subscriber for over 3 years, and highly recommend it. The cost is very affordable and you can opt in and out whenever you are or aren’t in need of it. The vast majority of tutorials I have watched were well worth my time. The ability to bookmark videos for future reference makes a good resource for when memory fails me.

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