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How to Edit Videos for Free [A Step-by-Step Guide]

Last Updated on Apr. 22, 2022 – by David Morgan
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How to Edit Videos for Free

Knowing how to edit videos on your computer is a valuable skill in 2022. Uploading videos to your social media pages or YouTube account is a popular, effective way to share a story or document your favorite memories with friends and family.

There are many ways to make quick edits to videos using your phone or a social media app. But what if you want to go a step above? If you are thinking of starting a YouTube channel or even want to add more pizzazz to home videos, you will need to learn the basics of video editing.

You will also need beginner-friendly editing software. We will be using PowerDirector, the best video editing software, to teach you how to edit videos step-by-step. PowerDirector is the perfect software for beginners. It is user-friendly and offers guided edits, tutorials, and ready-to-go templates to make editing your first videos quick and easy. And PowerDirector is packed with features, so it will grow with you as you become an editing expert.


What is Video Editing?

Video editing is the arrangement and manipulation of video shots. It is a way of structuring a story or cohesively presenting information. A well-edited video will create an emotional connection with the viewer.

Video editing is part of the post-production process. Post-production also includes color correction, titles, sound mixing, and more in professional settings. Home editors and content creators do these post-production jobs with easy-to-use editing software.

If you're new to video editing, it's helpful to understand a few terms and processes before diving into an editing program. Here is a bit of basic information about the components involved in video editing:

PowerDirector Interface
  • Timeline: The timeline is where you will cut, arrange, and adjust clips throughout your video footage. You can think of the timeline as the place to change the sequential elements of your video.
  • Editing tools: Most editing programs include an assortment of editing tools that you can use to adjust speed, audio, text, and visual effects in your footage.
  • Library: The library is where you will store all of the media elements that you would like to include in your video. Some editing programs also include free stock videos and photos in the library that you can add to your video.
  • Preview window: The preview window will show you the changes and cuts you made to your footage.

Best Free Video Editor

PowerDirector Logo

PowerDirector - Best Overall Video Editor

If you’re looking for a high-quality and easy-to-use editing program, we recommend downloading PowerDirector. PowerDirector is a powerful video editor with an impressive range of tools and features. This program also includes several AI-powered tools that allow you to apply top-quality edits to your video footage with just a few clicks of a button.

Along with allowing you to make base-level crops and adjustments to your footage, PowerDirector includes the following pro-level features:

Download PowerDirector today and start making stunning, professional-looking videos to impress your family, friends, or followers.

How to Edit Videos for Free

Here is a step-by-step guide to editing a video with PowerDirector.

Download it in the above section and follow along:

In this tutorial, you will learn how to crop, trim, combine, and add text to videos. Before tackling any of these steps, you will need to know how to import your media into PowerDirector.

  1. Open PowerDirector, then click Edit from the 4 modes along the top.
  2. Click the Import Media icon in the upper left.
  3. PowerDirector - Import Media
  4. Select Import Media Files.
  5. Select the media files you want to import and click Open.

Your imported media will now show up in the PowerDirector Media Library.

How to Crop a Video

  1. Right-click the video you would like to crop and choose Insert on Selected Track, or drag and drop your video directly onto the Editing Timeline.
  2. Click on Tools, then Crop/Zoom/Pan from the drop-down menu.
  3. PowerDirector - Crop/Zoom/Pan
  4. Crop the video to your liking and click Done.

How to Trim a Video

  1. Add your video clip to the Editing Timeline.
  2. Hover your mouse cursor on the left or right edge of the Video Track. An icon with adjustment arrows will appear on either side of the track edge. Click and drag the arrows to the point where you want to cut the video.

How to Combine Videos

  1. Drag and drop the videos you want to combine in the timeline in your preferred order.

    Avoid leaving gaps between the video clips in the timeline. You can add transitions from the Transition Room by dragging and dropping them in between clips.

  2. Click on Produce to select the video quality you want for your merged videos. After selecting the file format type, click the Start button to begin the video merging process.

How to Add Text to a Video

  1. With your video on the Editing Timeline, click on the Title Room marked with the T icon in the left-hand side toolbar.
  2. Choose the Text Type from the list and explore the options within each type.
  3. PowerDirector - Add Text to Your Video
  4. Choose the text template you like and drag it onto the timeline below your video.
  5. Edit the Text.

How to Customize Video Editing

We’ve just shown you the quickest way to edit videos using PowerDirector. Here are some extra steps and tips should you want to dive deeper into the editing process.

How to Crop a Video

There are 3 options for cropping a video with PowerDirector.

PowerDirector - Crop Video

Option 1: Place the cursor on a corner of the video and move the cropping box in or out. Then click in the middle to move the box to the desired location on the screen.

Option 2: Use the slider or up and down buttons next to Height and Width to change the size of the cropping box. Then use the up and down buttons next to X and Y to change the location of the cropping box.

Option 3: Choose a new Aspect Ratio from the drop-down list.

How to Trim a Video

To trim your video using the PowerDirector trimming tool, follow these steps:

  1. After adding and importing your clips to the editing timeline, click the Trim button. This button is in the top left of your screen and looks like a scissor.
  2. The trim window will open, and there you can choose between Single Trim and Multi Trim. With Single Trim, drag the playhead to where you want the video to start, then click the Mark In button.
  3. Next, drag the play head to where you want the video to stop, and click on the Mark Out button. After finishing, click OK to save changes to the timeline.

With the Multi Trim feature, you can remove multiple segments from your clip. This tool is helpful for cutaways, and it works in the same way as Single Trim.

  1. Move the play head to each point where you want the video to start and stop by marking the points using the Mark In and Mark Out buttons.
  2. After marking all the starting and stopping points, click OK to add the clips to your timeline.

How to Produce a Video

Once you’ve finished editing your video, it is time to render (or produce), so you can share it with friends or upload it to social media.

  1. Click on the Produce tab to export your video.
  2. Select Standard 2D.
  3. PowerDirector - Produce Your Video
  4. Select your preferred video format and select the Profile Name/Quality for the video file you wish to create.
  5. Click on the Export Folder box and type where you want the video to be saved.
  6. Click the Start button to begin producing your video file.

Tip: All the added effects, title text, and objects will be merged into one video so be sure you save the project file for future changes you might want to make.

Here’s how to output your video to social media:

  1. In the Produce Module, select the Online tab to upload your video online
  2. Set up file name, file location, and output format.
  3. PowerDirector - Output in the Format You Want
  4. Click Start to produce the project.

Dos and Don’ts for Video Editing

If you’re just starting out you should have a good foundation in basic editing procedures before moving on to advanced techniques. Once you are comfortable as an editor, you will know when the time is right to throw caution to the wind.

Dos

  1. Be Consistent
  2. Visual inconsistency is distracting to the viewer. Choose fonts and animation styles and stick with them for the whole project. Color correct and color grade each shot the same throughout.

    Audio consistency is equally important. Do we hear loud background noise in one scene but not in the others? Do all the songs and background music have a similar feel?

  3. Kill Your Darlings
  4. This sinister phrase is common amongst all types of creatives and means that nothing should be considered so important it can’t be cut. Even if a scene is the greatest thing you’ve ever edited, it needs to go if it doesn’t serve the story as a whole.

  5. Blur Sensitive Info
  6. In today’s world, any bit of personal info can help someone steal your identity. And if you are lucky enough to have thousands of followers on social media, you don’t want crazy fans tracking down where you live! It is easy to blur license plates, house numbers, street signs, and more from your videos.

Don’ts

  1. Go Crazy With Transitions and Effects
  2. A simple fade transition will help move to the next scene most of the time without taking viewers out of the story. There is a time and place for a fun, wacky transition, but use them sparingly and only for a reason.

    Don’t load your video with tons of visual effects that distract from the story or point of the video. It is good to experiment with different effects to know what tools are available to you and how to use them. But use sparingly and only when the situation calls for it.

  3. Ignore Continuity Errors
  4. Continuity errors are visual discrepancies from one shot to the next. For example, a cupboard is open behind an actor, then after a quick cutaway, the cupboard is closed. Or an actor is wearing a cardigan and then suddenly the cardigan is gone.

    If you are editing a video that was shot by someone else, chances are the continuity errors are not your fault. That doesn’t mean you can’t try to disguise them as much as possible. Try to cut around mistakes as much as you can without harming the look of the video. For example, if an object disappears from one shot to the next, use Object Removal to take it out of all scenes. If it is nighttime when someone walks into a store and daytime when they come out, use color correction to match the lighting in the scenes. If the weather changes drastically in real life but not in your video, a quick Sky Replacement will solve the problem.

  5. Use Licensed Media
  6. It is tempting to use popular music in your videos. But sites like YouTube strictly enforce copyright laws and will remove videos with illegal music or other content. If you use a video editor with a royalty-free stock library, you will have tons of images, videos, background music, and sound effects to choose from without the worry of legal action.

Download the Best Video Editor for Free

PowerDirector includes all the editing tools and features you need to create a clean, high-quality video from start to finish. Instead of switching back and forth between several editing programs, you can count on PowerDirector for all your editing needs.

Now that you know how to edit videos, you can begin transforming your video footage into a visual masterpiece—download PowerDirector for free today.

Video Editing FAQ

1. How Do I Edit Videos on iPhone and Android?

Here is a step-by-step guide for editing videos on your phone.

Download the PowerDirector app and follow along:

  1. Open the PowerDirector app and Create a New Project.
  2. To trim your video, add it to the timeline and move the Sliders on each side of the clip.
    This changes where the video starts and stops.
  3. Tap the Play button to preview your new clip.
  4. To split your video, move the Playhead where you want to cut. You will see a white line at that mark. You can pinch open the clip to zoom in on the video.
  5. Tap the Split icon to slice the clip.
  6. To add text and titles, click the Layers icon on the left. It resembles two pieces of paper, one on top of the other.
  7. Drag your favorite text template onto the timeline over your clip. Extend the text or title to the desired length.
  8. Tap the clip to change the text. Click the Edit icon around the text in the frame. This feature lets you tilt the text. You can also use it to enlarge or shrink the video.
  9. Click Produce Video. This step allows you to save it to your gallery, Facebook, YouTube, or other social media platforms. You can also adjust the video resolution, edit the project title, and toggle the settings.
  10. Click Next to send your video to the desired location.

To learn more about editing on your iOS or Android device, click here.

2. What Features Should I Look for in a Video Editor?

The top ten features you should look for are:

  1. Basic cutting/trimming tools
  2. Beginner-friendly
  3. Titles/text
  4. Color adjustment tools
  5. Audio adjustment tools
  6. Transitions
  7. Motion tracking
  8. AI-powered tools
  9. Fast rendering
  10. Royalty-free stock library

If you’re looking for a product that checks all of these boxes, we recommend PowerDirector.

3. What are the Best Video Editor Apps?

  1. PowerDirector
  2. iMovie
  3. Splice
  4. Quick
  5. Kinemaster

For an in-depth look at the above apps, check out the 7 Best Free Video Editing Apps in 2022.

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