Video editing tutorial: simple, free, professional software for businesses (Davinci Resolve 15 tutorial)

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Davinci Resolve is a free professional-grade video editing tool that is often overlooked in favour of more trendy tools. Premiere Pro, Final Cut and even iMovie are among the first recommendations people have, and even newer computer and mobile apps that you have to pay for that have less functionality than Davinci Resolve.

I’m recommending Davinci to my clients who do their own editing because of its intuitive interface, professional range of functionality (feature films have been edited on this!) and easy accessibility. You could start using Davinci Resolve 15 for free within minutes by downloading it here. And no, I don’t have any affiliation with the company behind the software.

If you’re looking for a simple and free video editing software, then this would be the place to start. Watch the tutorial below to learn how to use simple editing techniques to create a great video for your business, non-profit or project.

You can even download the exact media files I used here so you can follow along.

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Set in and out points - To specify which section of a piece of media you want added to your timeline, double click on the media in your media pool and set your “in point” (by pressing the “i” key when the playhead is at the correct point), and “out point” (by pressing the “o” key). Now when you click and drag the media thumbnail onto your timeline, only the section you selected will be added.

Trim clip - Sometimes we add too much of a media clip on our timeline and we want to make it shorter, or cut it up into smaller sections. There are many ways to do this. The most simple are to click and drag at either end of the clip until the desired point to make it shorter. Or to split a clip in the middle, take the timeline playhead to the desired point, and click “Control” and “B” keys simultaneously to split the clip at that point.

Edit size of visual media - By selecting the correct media clip in your timeline, then clicking on the “inspector” icon in the right corner of your workspace, a list of that media’s properties will appear. Visual media, such as images or video clips, can have their size adjusted. Look at the current value of its size by finding the “Zoom” property and checking the numerical value next to it. You can click on this number, and drag your cursor to the left or right to increase or decrease its size. 

Add text - Text can be added by itself, or overlaying another piece of media by selecting the “Effects Library” in the top left panel. Select “Titles” and then click and drag the “text” option onto the desired section of your video. You can adjust the text’s content and properties in the “inspector” tab at the top right of your Davinci workspace. Make the rectangle representing your text effect shorter or longer to make it last for more or less time.

Adjust opacity - You can adjust the opacity of visual media in the “inspector” panel, which can be selected in the top right corner of your Davinci workspace. Make sure the correct media clip is selected in your timeline, then scroll to find the “opacity” property in the inspector work area. The lower the value, the more transparent the media clip will appear, therefore exposing whatever visual layer is below it. If there is no other visual layer underneath your media clip, then this defaults to black so your image will just appear to get darker. 

Adjust audio levels - By selecting your chosen audio clip, and clicking on the “inspector” panel in the top right of your Davinci workspace, you can see the properties of your audio clip. Volume is the first property. By double clicking on the numerical value and making it higher or lower, you can adjust the volume of your clip.  You can also click on these digits and drag to the left or right to adjust its value. Recording good quality sound in the first place will give you more options in post-production. Be wary of amplifying poor quality audio too much, as it will make imperfections in the sound more apparent.

Keyframes - The value of a property on a media clip can be made to change across your video’s frames, which can create some interesting effects. For example, the volume of audio can be adjusted to create the effect of getting louder or quieter. The size of a graphic can use keyframes to make it grow or shrink. Keyframe your media’s opacity to make it fade in or out. To add a keyframe, make sure your playhead is at the point you want to add a keyframe and the correct media is selected on your timeline. Click on the diamond next to the value of a property to add a keyframe. Navigate your playhead backwards or forwards to add another keyframe. Remember that any section of your media clip before your first keyframe will adopt the value of the first keyframe for that property (in terms of your timeline chronology, not the order you add them in), and anything after the last keyframe will keep the value of the last keyframe for your selected property. This can be rectified by adding other keyframes if needed.

Cross dissolve transition - For an easy way to add interesting transitions between visual clips, there is a list of “Video transitions” in the “effects library” panel (top left of your Davinci workspace). Click and drag on a transition and add it to the start or end of a clip, as desired. A small rectangle will appear on your media clip which signifies the duration of the effect. You can then click and drag on the edge of the rectangle that represents the effect to make it shorter (and therefore quicker), or longer.  The cross dissolve will make the clip selected fade into the next one. If there is no other media on the layer your chosen media sits on, it will simply fade from or into black. If there is another graphic on the selected layer, then the two images will merge into one another for the duration of the cross dissolve effect.

Don’t forget that you can edit along with me using the exact clips by downloading the media I used here.

Do you still have any questions about Davinci Resolve? What would you like to see on a follow-up tutorial? Let me know in the comments!

How to Caption Videos for Social Media

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Subtitles and captions... they can seem like more technical details when it comes to video campaigns & content marketing strategy, but they can be really important in making your video engaging.

You may have heard people before saying that you need to make sure you include subtitles in your videos, but here’s some more info on the reasons behind doing this, and how to save yourself some time when you do it.

Subtitling with simple editing software such as iMovie can be tricky, since usually only more advanced editors like Premiere Pro or DaVinci include functionalities that allow you to generate captions within the software itself. But I've got a trick for you that'll speed up your time creating subtitles or captions if your editing suite doesn't have the capability to generate captions.

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Subtitles are a great idea if you’re creating video for social media platforms where people are likely to be scrolling, as they may not have (or want to have) their audio turned on. In this case, subtitles are a great way to make sure that your audience can follow your story when there is dialogue involved. Let's not forget helping out our hearing-impaired friends, too!

Another instance where subtitles can be a great decision, is when you have a video that you need to distribute in more than one language. Of course it’s almost always easier to engage an audience by including dialogue in their own language, but for whatever reason, sometimes this isn’t an option, and this is where subtitling comes in.

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Creating subtitles for your video can be time-consuming. Here is my favourite trick for quickly creating subtitles for numerous social media platforms that should save you some time transcribing!

1. Upload your video to YouTube as a private video. Even if your final video will have a different format or export settings, export a temporary version that you can upload to YouTube for this step.

2. Find your auto-generated captions for the video by going to your YouTube Studio > Videos > Select (your video name) > Transcriptions. You'll see your auto-generated captions there.

3. Now click on where it says "published" next to the auto-generated captions to enter into the editing screen.

4. Select "edit" at the top right of the screen, and correct any mistakes on the auto-generated captions by typing your corrections in the left-hand window. Make sure they appear at the correct timecode by watching the video back on this screen, too.

5. If you’re only uploading to YouTube and you don’t need to translate into other languages, then your job is done here! Remember to save your changes by clicking "Publish Edits".

If you’re using the subtitles for another platform…
6. When you have saved your caption edits on YouTube, stay on the same screen and click on the "actions" button, then select ".srt" to download an srt file of your auto-generated captions. (This is one of the industry standard formats to work with captions and subtitles)

7. If you need to upload the subtitles in more than one language, save a second copy of the original .srt file and translate each phrase on the document in a program like “Text Edit” or “Word Pad” (right click on the file, select "Open with" and select your preferred program). Remember to respect the format of the file (where page breaks occur etc.). These files can be uploaded to your video on YouTube, Facebook and more!

Option A) If you’re using the subtitles for a native Facebook video…

- Once your video is uploaded on Facebook, click on "videos" along the left menu on your Facebook page to manage your videos. Select the video you want to upload your subtitles to by clicking on it.

- Click on the three dots at the bottom right of your video, and select "edit video".

- A pop-up edit window should appear. Click on "Subtitles & Captions" on the right menu of this window.

- Select which language your video is in at the top.

- Delete the automatic captions (third field on the pop-up window).

- Go to your .srt file and if your video is in English, add ".en_US" before the .srt (e.g. "captions.srt" should become "caption.US_en.srt"). If your video is in another language, continue with the following steps below and Facebook will inform you of the correct suffix to add to your video.

- Where it says "add new captions" back on the edit window of your Facebook video, select "upload" and choose your .srt file.

- Repeat above steps if uploading subtitles in more than one language.

- Remember to save your changes!

Option B) If you’re using the subtitles for any video type on Instagram (or another platform where you cant upload an srt file)…

- Unfortunately Instagram doesn’t currently offer you the option to upload .srt files directly. But your .srt file includes the exact phrases and time codes for your subtitles, so open the .srt file in Word Pad or Text Editor (by right clicking and selecting "open with" > choose your preferred program).

- Copy each phrase, and paste the text at the corresponding timecode directly on your preferred video editor and format it as easy-to-read text at the bottom of the frame before exporting.

And that's it! It may seem like a lot, but once you've done it once, you'll get the hang of it, and particularly on longer videos this will save you a lot of time from transcribing your videos manually!

Did you find this tip useful? Have an idea for a future blog post?
Let me know in the comments!