How to Edit TikTok Videos: The Ultimate Guide

TikTok is taking the world by storm, so it’s only natural you want to get involved and start creating TikTok videos for yourself. But it’s not as simple as recording the first thing you think of and uploading it directly to the video app. Take time to edit your videos to make them stand out. Here’s the ultimate guide on how to edit TikTok videos.

Why is it important to edit videos?

Making a good video should be the same process as making a good movie. You don’t just pick up a camera and start filming — you think about what it is you’re trying to achieve. Once you’ve outlined what you want to make and shot the footage, the video is still only half done. Editing is when a video really becomes a video.

Editing a video is how you give it pace, rhythm, tone, and a general vibe that will distinguish it from everything else. It’s also a process that lets you remove mistakes and tidy up the rough edges of your footage.

In Hollywood, editing a movie can take just as long, or even longer, as the filming process. It’s easy to spend over a year in post-production making sure everything is absolutely perfect. Obviously it would be ridiculous for you to spend that long editing a TikTok video, but the point is it’s not a process that needs to be rushed, it’s an important stage that’s worth spending some time on to make sure it’s the best it can be. Particularly when the video represents you or your brand.

But how do you edit a TikTok video? There are some fairly key principles that would be helpful to understand, so let’s dive in.

Basic video edits to know

Cutting and trimming is the most fundamental part of video editing you’ll need to know. This is how you remove anything you don’t want featured in the video. Basically you place all the footage on the timeline and reorder it, cutting out the sections you don’t want, and assembling the narrative.

Adding transitions is an easy way to spice up your video so it’s not just a series of simple cuts. These can be cross dissolves or whip pans that keep the energy up and keep the video moving along nicely.

Motion graphics and text templates let you add text to the screen, for example titles or subtitles, adding call-out tags to footage of products, or anything else you want to add to create a bit of extra context, information, or just cool design.

Adding music is a vital part of the process which helps bring the video to life. It helps set the pace and the energy and good music can really make a video stand out.

Finally, adding a color filter to the footage, or color grading, makes the footage pop and stand out with more intense and vibrant colors.

It’s easy to spend hours on any one of these elements, and professional video producers can devote their careers entirely to just mixing music or color grading. But when you edit TikTok videos you’ll take on all those roles yourself so it’s beneficial to make use of video editing software that provides all of those features, like Pinnacle Studio.

How to edit a TikTok video

Editing your TikTok videos in Pinnacle Studio unlocks a full suite of tools for you to make your videos stand out. It’s a complete post-production process wrapped up in a single software package, including editing, music mixing, color grading, and motion graphics.

The first stage of any video editing process is to review all the footage you have recorded and bring it into the software.

Import your footage into Pinnacle Studio. Drag the footage onto your timeline and arrange it in the correct order. Don’t worry about being precise at this point: once you’ve got all the clips together so you can see the video as a whole you can go back and begin fine tuning.

Once you have arranged your footage on the timeline, trim clips to remove anything you don’t want to make it into the video, like mistakes or moments where you were reframing the camera. Next is where craft editing comes into play. Craft editing is turning something which is fundamentally a series of clips in order into something more creative. This involves adjusting minute details, down to the frame.

An example of a creative edit is an L-cut, or a J-cut. This is essentially an overlapping edit, where the audio of one clip overlaps onto the footage of the second, creating a more seamless edit. The name J-cut comes from the shape the edit creates when you see it on the timeline.

Something else to pay attention to is timing. When cutting to another clip, the time spent on the shot before and the point in the following clip you come in on can make a huge difference to how the audience feels when they watch it. Pacing and timing is what makes our favorite movies stand out, and it’s no different with TikToks videos. Watch other people’s TikTok videos to get a good sense of what works and what doesn’t, and you’ll soon pick up on trends. Popular TikTok videos tend to be very fast-paced, with quick cuts and lightning fast edits that get through to the punchline of the video in moments. Audiences looking for slow, pondering videos will generally tend to go to somewhere like YouTube where people make content to take time over. TikToks are for instant hits and quickly edited videos.

Next, add music. Download your preferred track from a music library and lay it over the footage on the timeline. If you’re feeling creative, adjust the edit points so the video cuts to the beat of the music. Music is a powerful tool in dictating whether your video is funny, or educational, or serious. Remember the platform you’re using as well. TikTok is, for the most part, an extremely light-hearted app that users scroll through for fun. Bear your audience in mind and try not to make anything overtly serious or dark in tone.

Mixing the audio is just as important as deciding which music track to choose. This involves refining the volume of the music so any dialogue in the video is still clear and audible. If you want to step things up a bit, try adding sound effects too. Adding whooshes to text transitions or whip pans or even adding soundscapes to scenes can elevate the quality and engagement of your TikTok videos.

Finally, use the Pinnacle Studio motion graphics templates to add text to the video. These could be titles, lower thirds, or animated subtitles to reinforce the point of your video. Motion graphics are an excellent way to brand your video and give it a consistent, seamless look and feel. You could do this through the use of fonts, colors, or just types of animation.

Motion graphics can be as complex as lengthy animations or as simple as a few words appearing on screen to support what’s happening on screen. As TikTok is a home for fast-paced, quickly edited videos, motion graphics tend to work well when they are simple, clean, and get to the point straight away. An example could be a title for the video. If you’re creating a series of TikTok videos, simply animating a title on screen at the beginning of each video in the same style of font, color and motion will create a consistent look and feel that ties the videos together into a single series effectively.

So how do you do all of this? Creating TikTok videos is as much about artistic merit as it is about technical skills, although using video editing software does require a little bit of practice to finesse. To achieve everything you want to create a good TikTok video you’ll want a video editing software package that offers a full suite of editing features, like cutting and trimming, adding and mixing music, and designing and animating motion graphics. Pinnacle Studio offers all of the above, plus extras such as recording your own voiceover tracks. It’s easy to download and start using it right away with your own footage, creating your own TikTok videos to publish and share right away.

That said, if you come away with one piece of advice from this, it’s that the story is king. Story is everything. A good story in a TikTok can be as simple as a few seconds of monologuing to the camera, or a visual gag. Making something complicated doesn’t make it better, and all of the craft editing you do should serve to enhance the story. If you try adding complex motion graphics for the sake of it you’ll quickly find your videos bogged down and unnecessarily complex, where something much more stripped back would suffice.

Always think of your audience

Editing TikTok videos should be as fun as watching them. It’s an opportunity to be creative and exercise a different set of storytelling skills. Much of the art of creating good TikTok videos comes from being brief. People don’t log in to TikTok to watch hour-long documentaries or deep dives into complex topics, they go to TikTok for quick jokes and short stories. Make sure your editing reflects what the audience will expect, or they will quickly lose interest.

It’s easy to get carried away with using effects, transitions, and vibrant filters, but remember to put the story first and everything else second. Keep things simple and straightforward but use editing techniques to enhance the story. L-cuts and J-cuts, audio mixing, filters and motion graphics are all powerful tools but they can detract from the messaging of the video if used incorrectly.

Using professional video editing software like Pinnacle Studio will give you full access to everything you need to edit a TikTok video, like an entire movie post-production team on your computer. Whether you are creating short-form comedy sketches or insightful tips on how to save money or live more sustainable lifestyles, you will find your audience on TikTok. Taking the time to learn how to edit your videos effectively will keep your audience engaged and coming back from more content.

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