Edit Videos Faster: 3 Things to Drastically Speed Up Your Editing

Whether you're making YouTube videos, screencasts for your course, or audio for your podcast... keep on reading: these tips might just save you a few hours!

The most time consuming part of editing for me was always the rough cut, and that's the place I'll focus on in this post and the video below.

Learn to Rough Cut Faster

I was slow as molasses at editing when I started out. I mean, I REALLY dreaded it.

I'd spend an hour recording, making a million mistakes... then another hour or 3 editing... and in the end I'd end up with a 3 minute screencast. It was bonkers.

The rough cut comes after you've got your raw material on the timeline. If you're anything like me, your video will be like 95% bad takes by volume -- lots of bad takes punctuated by a handful of good ones. Chop out the pauses between takes, delete the bad takes, and you're done.

There's lots of ways to do this, but it usually looks like lots of clicking with the razor tool and dragging clips around, or clicking and Ripple Deleting.

Once you get the process down (using some of the tips below), you can play through at 2x speed or scrub to the important parts.

The 3 things that made my editing drastically faster:

You can use these techniques in any editor – from ScreenFlow to Final Cut, DaVinci Resolve to Adobe Premiere.

Check out the video below to learn how you can edit in way less time:

Record with Editing in Mind!

Editing is a lot easier when the source material was made to be edited.

You might've heard this called "in-camera editing", which is a tongue-in-cheek way of saying "do it right the first time and then you don't have to edit it."

But honestly? Unless you've had a lot of practice or are naturally gifted at doing videos or screencasts, the chances of getting things 100% right are pretty small.

Instead, aim to record mini perfect takes.

Rather than trying to speak perfectly for 5 minutes, aim for 1 perfect single thought. It might be only a sentence or two.

Say it over and over until you get it right, leaving a pause between each try. Then move onto the next one and repeat.

Also: never stop the recording. Just let it keep rolling between takes.

It'll be easier to scrub through a single big file, than it will be to remember which of the 25 tiny video files had the good takes.

At the end, you'll have a string of good and bad takes, with silence in between. Then you can delete the silence and the bad parts, and string together all the good mini takes.

Clapping Between Takes

Another thing you can try is to clap between takes. This makes a spike in the waveform that you can pick out by eye. Some people swear by this method.

Personally, I've tried it, and I think it's easier to visually spot the silent (flat) parts of a waveform than to pick out the claps (spikes). Flat parts are always silence. Spikes could be claps, but could just as easily be the excited start of a sentence.

Plus, you can chop the middle of silence anywhere... but if you start talking too fast after a clap, it might take some extra fiddling to cut it just right, and fiddling is slow!

Use Keyboard Shortcuts

If you're using an editor like Adobe Premiere, DaVinci Resolve, ScreenFlow, or Final Cut Pro, it will have keyboard shortcuts to automate common actions.

Stuff like like splitting the clip at the playhead, or deleting from the playhead back to the previous cut -- things you probably do very often!

Learning these shortcuts can speed up your editing a ton.

How to Remember Keyboard Shortcuts

It can be hard to remember all those weird key combinations. Here's the method that works for me.

Rather than just memorizing a bunch of random shortcuts (which you'll instantly forget), learn one at a time and practice it in context. Start with ones that you'll use all the time.

Example: Split Clip at Playhead

Making a cut through every clip under the playhead is a pretty common operation when you're rough cutting. Get the playhead to the right spot, make sure no clips are selected (so it'll cut through all of them, not just the selected one) and press a key.

I go in with the assumption that there's probably a shortcut for the thing I'm doing -- because there usually is! -- and then I look for that shortcut, and learn it, and try it a few times so that I don't forget.

Search the Menus for Shortcuts

Every Mac app has (built-in!) the ability to search its menus for actions. Click Help, and start typing into the Search box to find menu items that match.

Then hover over the search results, and the app will highlight where in the menu the item is.

This is a great way to find actions, whether you're just exploring, or you forgot which darn menu has the thing you wanted.

You can also use this to unearth keyboard shortcuts: look at the right side of a menu item for a key binding, if it has one.

Customize Shortcuts To Be Single Keys

I'd rather hit 1 key than 2. It's faster, it requires less motion, and it keeps my hands more relaxed.

So, for the most common shortcuts, I remap those keys to some shorter variant.

In ScreenFlow, for example, the Ripple Delete key is Cmd+Delete. That's a big stretch, or even needs 2 hands, depending on how you hit it. Remap it to X and you can just tap a single key.

While we're talking about remapping things...

Cluster Shortcuts to Reduce Hand Strain

The fastest motion is no motion at all :) Put all of your commonly-used shortcuts under one hand, and that hand will have an easy day.

I cluster common keys like "split clip" and "ripple delete" under my left hand as C and X so I can keep my left hand in one spot, and my right hand on the mouse, to quickly slice and dice.

Record Your Own Macros

Check out the video above to see this in action!

Sometimes you'll have a string of actions that you do together, and frequently.

One example is the action to "ripple delete from playhead to previous cut".

When I'm editing a screencast I move the playhead from left to right, and insert a cut wherever a good take ends. Then I play forward until the next good take begins, and delete the bad part in the middle.

ScreenFlow doesn't have a single key for this, but there are 4 keys that can, together, get it done:

These keys are all over the place, though... and even though it's pretty fast, it would be even better if it was a single key.

There's a Mac app called Keysmith that can record custom key sequences like this (called "macros") and replay those keys when you press a single key. It's pretty awesome, and it's free for up to 5 macros. Give it a try.

(There are also special keyboards like the Kinesis Advantage 2 that can record macros right in the keyboard itself!)

Automate the Rough Cut

A lot of this stuff comes down to practice. Just gotta put in the time to get faster.

But one surefire way to save a ton of time is to get the computer to do the rough cut for you 😎

Software like Recut can analyze a video to find all the pauses and gaps, and then automatically create a cut list that you can import into your editor.

It saves a ton of time over using the blade tool to do the chopping yourself, and it's awesome because you can still tweak things in your main editor -- whether that's Adobe Premiere, DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut, or ScreenFlow. Basically, anything that can import a project from an XML or EDL file.