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How to Edit Videos for YouTube

Last Updated on Jun. 15, 2021 – by David Morgan
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How To Edit YouTube Video

How to Edit YouTube Videos for FREE

In this article we’ll show you how to use PC Mag Editor’s Choice for best video editing software, PowerDirector. It’s one of the most popular video editors among YouTubers (especially beginners) because of it’s user-friendly interface and low learning curve. To get the most out of this article download it for FREE and follow along.

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YouTube Video Editing Basics

Before we get started, it’s important to understand the fundamental tools, processes, and elements of editing. You’ll need to know the basic layout of editing software, the editing workflow, the elements of an edit, and the basic editing tools you’ll use.


Overview of a Video Editor

The modern digital video editor, regardless of what software you use, will almost always be composed of these essential parts:

PowerDirector features as Video Editor for YouTube
  1. Preview Window - The preview window shows the playback of your current video edit. Using the timeline, you can jump to any part of your video and play it back in real-time to see what your edit will look like here.
  2. Library - All of the media elements of your project will be here. When you import your files, you can browse and select which media files you want to place into your edit. This includes video, images, and audio files.
  3. Tools - All of your basic editing tools to modify your clips, audio, titles, or effects. We’ll cover these more next.
  4. Timeline - This is where you arrange your media files over time. From the library, media files are placed, trimmed, and sequenced here for your edit. There are also multiple “tracks” to allow you to place multiple layers of video, effects, and audio.

A great video editing tool is essential for creating eye-catching YouTube videos. If you don’t have the most popular video editor yet, you can download it for free here.


Video Editing Workflow

No matter what kind of video you’re editing, it's important to have a reliable process to follow each time you edit. An editing workflow or the steps you take to make an edit and the best order to complete them is essential to make sure your edit goes smoothly.

While there are a lot of ways to approach this, here is a very common workflow to help you get a bird's eye view of the editing process:

  • Import your footage: Simply put, this is the process of moving your video footage from the camera to where you’ll be completing your edit. Typically this means plugging your camera into your computer and downloading the clips to the hard drive but since shooting and editing on smartphones is now a popular option, we’ve outlined two different ways to do this:
    1. If you shoot on a digital camera or your phone and want to edit on a computer, you will need to connect your device to the computer to download your footage. Once it’s on the computer, you can then import the files into your editing software.
    2. If you shoot on a phone and want to edit on your phone, you will want to use your mobile editing app to select the clips from your phone’s memory and import them into your editing project.
  • Get Organized: Once you have your clips imported we suggest reviewing each one and renaming them to help identify them easily when editing. Some editing software like CyberLink PowerDirector will automatically organize your files based on media type by video, photo, and sound. If your software of choice doesn’t, we recommend creating a folder or bin and separating them manually. Just like trying to cook an elaborate meal in the kitchen, having all of your ingredients organized will set you up for success.

  • Select and assemble your clips: Start selecting which clips you’ll be using in your edit and add them to your timeline. Next, you’ll want to pick or ‘Trim’ where you want the clip to begin and end by trimming off the ends of the clip for the desired portion to be used. Now you can move and reorder your clips into your desired sequence. Continue doing this until you have assembled your first cut. If you haven’t done so by now, it’s a good idea to save your project!

  • Tighten up your edit: Watch your cut from beginning to end. Chances are the overall flow won’t be perfect the first time so it’s time to go back and polish up your video. Try shortening and lengthening clips and don’t be afraid to reorder things – you can always use the “undo” feature! Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and great edits aren’t made in one cut. Continue to review your edit until the flow is perfect and all your clips are ordered exactly how you want them.

  • Color correction: Depending on your project or how you shot, you may want to adjust the color of your clips. Consider white balance, color matching between clips, and any stylistic color you might want to add.

  • Go beyond the basics: Time to do a little more than cutting together video clips. Next, you’ll add transitions, titles, graphics, and effects. Drop in some music, too, and try out some sound effects. Here you can also use tools to fix shaky video or clean up any sound issues.

  • Mix your sound: Make sure your sound levels are balanced. At this time you’ll want to raise or lower any dialogue, voiceover, or music so the soundtrack is balanced and you can easily hear the most important parts.

  • Export and upload your video: Watch your video a few times to make sure you haven’t missed anything then output your video file. For more information on what formats are best for YouTube, you can check here.

For more inspiration, check out how other creators edit. If you admire their style, you can try emulating it and adding your own touches.

How to Edit YouTube Videos with PowerDirector

To get your hands dirty and start editing some videos, download PowerDirector and follow these simple how-tos.

1. Import Your Media Files

The first step of any project is importing your photos and videos into PowerDirector.

2. Add Media Files to the Video Timeline

PowerDirector Video Editor

Open PowerDirector 365 and on the launch screen select “Full Mode.” Click the button and select “Import Media Folder” to import your media files. Browse to the folder on your computer that contains your media files, select it, and click “Select Folder” to import all the folder’s contents. All your media files in the folder will be imported into the PowerDirector media library. Once you have your media files in the media library, you can begin putting your video together by adding your photos and videos to the video timeline. Add the media clips in the order you want to tell your story in. To add a video file to the video timeline, select it in the media library and then drag it to the video timeline.

3. Split and Trim Clips

The video clip you are using in your video project may have portions at the beginning or end that you want to remove. Here are two ways you can go about doing that.

You can split a media clip into segments on any track in the video timeline.

PowerDirector Video Editor

Move the video timeline slider to the position where you want to split the clip, and then click the button. Once you’ve split the clip, select the portion that you don’t want and then click the Delete key on your keyboard to remove it from the video timeline. Select the “Remove and Fill Gap” option when prompted so that the video clip fills in the empty space on the video timeline.

The single trim function allows you to trim the beginning and end of a video clip. Select the video clip and then click on the button above the video timeline. Drag the mark in and mark out position yellow sliders to your preferred positions and then click “OK” to finish trimming. Now that you have added and trimmed your first video clip, go ahead and add more till your story is complete. For a more detailed overview splitting and moving clips check out this tutorial.

4. Add Transitions Between Clips

Smooth transitions can help make your videos look more professional so let’s look at how to add a transition effect between two clips. Go to the “Transition Room.” Click and drag a transition between two video clips. For a more detailed look at adding transitions, take a look at this transitions tutorial.

5. Add Title Text

Adding title text helps to capture the attention of your audience and increase the overall appeal of your video. Let’s add some text to the video.

Adding Title Text in PowerDirector Video Editor

Go to the "Title Room". Click and drag a title text template to the title track on the video timeline. Select the added title template and then click the “Designer” button above the video timeline. In the “Title Designer,” enter in the text you want to use. Select the text, click on the “Character Presets” option on the left, and then select a preset to modify the text. Click “OK” to close the Title Designer and save your changes.

Learn more about how to add texts and titles.

6. Adding Music

No video is complete until you add some music to it. You can import your own audio or use one of the background music tracks that are included with a PowerDirector 365 subscription.

Adding Music in PowerDirector Video Editor

Go to the media library window and select “Background Music” from the “Media Content” drop-down menu. Preview and then click the button to download the background music track you want to use. After it has downloaded, drag it to an audio track on the video timeline.

Check out our written tutorial on editing and importing audio to your projects for a more in depth look at adding music to your videos.

7. How to Produce and Upload to YouTube

That is it…you’ve learned the basics of creating your first video. It’s time to render your video project (produce) as a new video file.

Produce Video in PowerDirector Video Editor

Click on the “Produce” button to export your video. On the Standard 2D tab, select your preferred video format. We suggest going with the H.264 AVC option (with the MP4 file extension), as it is one of the most popular and accepted formats. Select an output folder where the new video file will be saved then click the “Start” button to produce the file.

Upload Video to YouTube

To upload your video directly to YouTube click the “Online” tab. Select the “YouTube” option and then enter the video title, description, and other information. Click the “Start” button to render your video and upload it to YouTube.

Best Ways to Go Beyond Basic Editing

The most popular YouTube videos are more than just video clips put together. Since there is so much you can do to videos beyond basic editing we thought it might be helpful to break down the top 2 things we recommend doing after you create a basic cut.

Sound Effects

I’m sure at some point you’ve seen someone clapping together coconuts to create the sound of horse hooves. It’s a really great visualization of sound effects. Now, you probably won’t be riding a horse in your video but that doesn’t mean you can’t enhance your videos with a few, well thought out sound effects. Try watching through your video to see if any moments could be more dramatic or heightened by adding a sound effect or two. A lot of video editors come with built-in sound effect libraries. Check to see if yours provides one. If not check out the one available in PowerDirector.

Video Effects

Using and creating video effects is definitely the most complicated thing to do on this list but having good video effects is one of the quickest ways to make your video stand out. From using chroma key to replace a green screen to using a blending effect to add a lens flare, putting time into adding a few video effects can really make a big difference in the enjoyability of your video.

The Best YouTube Video Editors

If you’re ready to take your editing to the next level, you’ll want to consider some more fully-featured editing tools. These video editing tools have many more tools and effects that will give you substantially more control over your YouTube videos. Many of them are quite simple to use as well!

CyberLink PowerDirector

CyberLink PowerDirector for YouTube Videos

Starting off our list of best YouTube video editors is CyberLink PowerDirector. If you are new to video editing this is the best choice for you. PowerDirector’s interface is highly intuitive and designed to make it incredibly easy for editors of any skill level to make pro-level cuts fast.

Don’t think for a second that it’s ease-of-use means it’s lacking in capabilities. It’s jam-packed with powerful tools and effects. It has whole libraries of drag and drop transitions, sound and video effects, particles, and titles. The built-in Action Camera Center makes it a breeze to fix footage including a video stabilizer and a whole area dedicated to video speed effects.

It even has a wide variety of advanced editing tools like chroma key, motion tracking, and a mask designer. To top it all off it has a huge built-in stock library of commercial-free use music, photos, and videos you can use in your YouTube videos.

iMovie

iMovie for YouTube Videos

It’s a free video editing software for Mac devices that allows you to create excellent content in a few simple steps. Though the features are very limited you can create 4k high-resolution videos very easily and quickly with almost no knowledge of video editing. It allows you to create great-looking clips with filters and transition options. You can also create mobile-friendly videos and choose to add animated titles.

DaVinci Resolve

DaVinci Resolve for YouTube Videos

This is a great free choice for the professionals out there. It’s a high-end video editing software that provides plenty of useful and powerful options. It has features like color correction, video effects, audio production, and motion graphics. If this is your first time editing be prepared to invest some time into learning DaVinci. DaVinci Resolve is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The software also offers 2D and 3D workspace to the user for creating compelling video content.

Lightworks4

Lightworks4 for YouTube Videos

Another good choice for editing is Lightworks 4. It allows creators to quickly create 4k high-quality video content and publish it to any social media platform. This tool is suitable for MAC OS X, Linux, and Windows.

On a simple user interface, you can smoothly perform editing and trimming in your video. The software also provides user access to publish content right to their YouTube channel. The one downside to Lightworks is it isn't as feature-rich as some of the other options on this list.

Final Cut Pro X

Final Cut Pro for YouTube Videos

Final Cut Pro is another popular software for YouTube video editing. Not a surprise as it is a popular professional choice. It has been used for years to cut movies and TV shows. This tool can satisfy any video editing need but is made only for pro video editors. You will need to be skilled in editing if you want to fully enjoy the functions of this tool.

Final Cut Pro X is rich with advanced features and functionality, the software helps you create any kind of video the way you want.

However, this software is only available for Mac devices, and it also isn't free.

Adobe Premiere Pro

Rounding out the list is probably the most popular choice for professional editors on this list. I mean who hasn’t heard of Adobe. These guys know what they’re doing when it comes to creating software for the creative professional. If you are dead set on becoming a professional YouTuber and are committed to putting in the hours of work this is your editor. The reason why is this editor has all the bells and whistles. From basic and advanced editing tools to color correction and effects. Anything it doesn’t have Adobe has put into After Effects which is a great companion software to Premiere.

Here's the bad news. It’s going to take time and patience to learn on top of having a pretty big price tag and only being available through a subscription. But if you got the determination this software is for you.

Getting Better at Editing

Creating a simple edit can be as easy as re-ordering some clips but editing a video that works well for an audience is a completely different undertaking. It takes time and a sense of your audience to grab and keep that viewers' attention.

Nowadays, YouTube can be just as much about building a brand as it is publishing content. As you continue to develop as an editor, it’s important to consider who you’re editing for and how other people in your field are working to give you some perspective and set your expectations.

If you want to continue honing your editing skills and edit your YouTube videos to be unskippable, here are a few things you’ll want to consider in six simple steps.

Take inspiration

As Picasso famously said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” Now Picasso isn’t saying to steal content, he’s suggesting that what you are hoping to accomplish in a lot of ways has already been created. If you don't know how to edit videos, analyze your competitor's channel. You don’t need to “reinvent the wheel, you can take these ideas and use them for your creation.

What visual elements are they using? What audio elements are they using? How are they structuring their story? However they’re creating content, you can discover elements they’re using to make their video content appealing and apply them to your own work.

Keep it Readable

Whether you're creating a funny or informative content, try to keep everything in order. The 'intent of your content' must be easy to understand. Otherwise, the audience will not stay even for 10 seconds on your YouTube video. When editing, it's a great idea to have a plan before you start cutting so consider creating an outline of your video to make sure your video will make sense when you edit!

Keep it Meaningful

Each video should be edited to have a message or goal. Whether you’re telling a story, teaching a lesson, or telling a joke, ensure that your content is descriptive and satisfying the content's main objective. Everything else you should cut out! That’s one of the best parts of editing, it allows you to sequence the most important information and cut out the rest! So, create content that is meaningful to your channel – it's what your audience will thank you for it!

Wrapping Up

So these were some of the best suggestions for you to start editing video like a pro. If you’re looking for minimal editing, then you can go with the YouTube video editor. On the other hand, if you want more advanced features with an easy to approach editor, consider choosing Cyberlink PowerDirector software. It is a great option for both beginner and advanced video editors and you can use it for free.

Whatever you choose, consider this article to guide you to fulfill your creative vision and check out more of our articles to keep learning the best of video creation tools and techniques.

Happy editing!

If you liked reading this article, you may like reading our ultimate guide to becoming a YouTuber. Check out our blog section to view even more great articles

Edit YouTube Videos for FREE with PowerDirector.

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