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The Top 5 HD Video Editing Tips

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/25/2010

Here are some editing tips for those working specifically with HD video.

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    The HD Evolution

    The switch over to high definition has been a difficult transition for much of the consumer public. Most of this issue has been with the vague terms that have been used to discuss it, the lack of understanding of the technology, and the variety of HD formats. For most digital video producers the reality is that HD footage of any feather tends to look better than that shot on standard definition DV tape. The accuracy and specifics of this digital video format are unique and stray somewhat from what has become expected from those used to editing standard definition footage. Here are the top five HD video editing tips worth learning.

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    1. Avoiding Mixed Media

    When you are working with your editing project you will find that your HD footage has a resolution that is high above anything you had in standard definition. You are even going to find this change in bit rates between different types of HD formats, such as between HDV on standard DV tapes and HD CAM. When you are finally viewing this on an HD LCD or plasma screen monitor you will definitely be able to see the differences between the footage. This is not so much the problem as is the difference in sequence settings for each video type. When you have a certain type of HD video your sequence will conform its settings to that clip, and when a different type of footage pattern comes in it will not look correct under the original sequence settings. This is called including mixed media. This can be dealt with depending on the type of video editing software you are working with, such as Final Cut Pro 7, but it is going to be easiest if you shoot your entire project on a single type of HD format.

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    2. SD Footage Remains Standard

    If you are going to include older standard definition footage, like stock footage or news clips, you are not going to want to conform them from 4:3 to the widescreen ratio of your HD footage. It is going to look terrible and it not going to blend it what so ever. Instead what you want to do as an editor is to acknowledge that this footage is different and allow it to take up a smaller frame, that way it does not appear as though you are suggesting the footage should blend with the HD clips. The HD should be the standard format for your film and if the other stuff is injected allow it to come in obviously smaller so that they audience separates it immediately from your HD clips.

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    3. Importing HD Footage

    Oftentimes with HD video editing, you are going to be importing your HD footage from a digital storage device like a P2 Storage Card. You will have a special format for these files, such as an MXF file. They will not simply come in as complete QuickTime files and instead you will have to go through a transfer process where these files will be converted into complete video files used during editing. It is important to save these base MXF files whenever possible to lower the chance of a problem. This will act as a secondary back up to your standard capture scratch and will give you an extra set of options.

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    4. Press Delete

    HD footage tends to be of a larger size than standard definition video and therefore takes up more space. Editing projects already tend to be dramatically large, but with HD video editing, they become like dinosaurs. As you are working with your HD video editing project the best tip to follow is to delete footage that you know you will never use under any circumstance. This will lower the overall size of the video editing project and will allow you to stay organized.

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    5. Export

    Perhaps the most important tip for HD video editing is observing the proper exporting methods. The same problem can occur as when you have the incorrect sequence settings and your final exported video will look incorrect. Though exporting an HD video as SD will usually just downgrade the image quality, it can also create a very choppy video sequence with terrible resolution. Since you already shot and edited your HD film you should ensure that it can be viewed in that format when you are exporting it.