How to Edit Video

by Alexis Lawrence ; Updated September 22, 2017

Even if you are an amateur when it comes to video, you probably want software that makes it easy to edit. The majority of computers come with basic movie-editing software, and the standard software is among the easiest to use. The standard Windows software is Windows Movie Maker; for Macs the software is iMovie. There are other programs with more features than these standard software, but these two will help get you started with basic video editing.

Windows Movie Maker

Capture the video to your computer or pull in a digital video file. In Windows Movie Maker, both of these options appear under the “File” menu. Once you have imported the video, it will appear in the middle section of Movie Maker, above the time-line.

Transfer video to the time-line. To transfer the video files in the program to the time line, simply drag and drop them. Before moving them to the time-line, check the content of the clip by double-clicking it and playing it in the preview window on the right of the screen.

Use the tools to crop and move the video. The arrow tools in Movie Maker can be used for both. To change the length of a video clip, click on the clip’s end. While holding down the mouse button, move the end of the clip back and forth. To move a clip, click on it and drag it. A cursor will appear between other clips on the time-line when. When the cursor is in the spot where you want to place your clip, drop it.

Make sound alterations. To show the video’s corresponding sound file in Movie Maker, click the "plus" sign by the “Video” line. When the audio track appears, click on the audio clip to get several editing options like “Fade In,” “Fade Out” and “Volume.”

Add transitions to your video. Click on the clip that you would like to add the transition to and press the transitions button. This will bring up a list of the transitions you can add to your clip. Select the transition you want, and it will automatically be added to the chosen clip. Once you have added transitions, you can export your movie. The option appears as “Publish Movie” under the “File” menu.

iMovie

Import video into iMovie. You can use the “Import from Camera” selection to use record video using the built-in camera on your computer or you can import digital video files already saved to your computer with “Import Movies.” Both of these selections appear under the “File” menu.

Transfer the video into the time-line. The time-line in iMovie is the empty pane to the left of the preview screen. When video is pulled into iMovie, each clip will be in several pieces. These pieces can be moved up into the time-line separately or in groups. When you click on the video pieces in the lower pane, a yellow box will appear surrounding a portion of the video clip. You can alter the selection by dragging either side of the yellow box to make the selection bigger or smaller. When you have everything that you want to move to the time-line selected, simply drag it into the time-line window. You can also drag an entire clip at one time by right-clicking on the clip and selecting the “Select Entire Clip” option.

Use the yellow box to make further edits. Once the video has been moved to the time-line, you may find a few more changes you would like to make. When you click on the video clips in the time-line, the yellow box will appear again. You can use the box to select places in the clip that you would like to delete. When you have made the selection, just press the “Delete” key on your keyboard to remove that section of the clip.

Work with the sound by clicking on the “Audio Adjustment” button. This button looks like a speaker tube with a sound wave coming from it. Simple adjustment tools that appear on the “Audio Adjustment” screen include “Volume,” “Normalize” and “Fade Out.” When you have completed your sound adjustments, click the “Done” button to make the changes take effect and return to the main screen.

Click the “Transitions” button to get to the list of iMovie transition options. The “Transitions” button appears at the far right of the tool buttons and looks like two triangles touching at their tips inside a square. Transitions can be dragged just like video clips up into the time-line. When you have finished adding transitions to your movie, you can export the movie. The options is available in iMovie under the “Share” menu.

About the Author

Alexis Lawrence is a freelance writer, filmmaker and photographer with extensive experience in digital video, book publishing and graphic design. An avid traveler, Lawrence has visited at least 10 cities on each inhabitable continent. She has attended several universities and holds a Bachelor of Science in English.

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