11 Guidelines and Rules of Video Editing you should know 


When it comes to video editing, there are obviously rules that you should follow if you are new to editing videos. 

However, those rules don’t necessarily have to be followed all the time; I say this because that is somewhat the fun of being in a creative field. 

When you are working as a video editor or in any other field of creativity, you are actually able to break some rules and have fun with it because creativity cannot be confined to certain rules, and sometimes you actually get some great out of breaking some rules. 

That being said, if you are someone who is new to this field, then you should obviously learn some of the rules so that you when you get good at it, then you are able to break these rules and guidelines and are able to create something new. 

So, with all that said, here are some of the Rules and Guidelines that you can follow while you are editing a video. 

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180 Degree Rule 

The 180 Degree rule is a fairly common rule in the world of video editing. The 180 Degree rule comes in very handy when you are cutting together a conversation scene between two individuals who are sitting across from each other. 

The rule basically states that imagine there is a straight line passing between the two individuals in your frame. 

So, when you are editing between their shots, you should not cross the straight line between the two individuals. 

This is because 180 Degree rotation between the line allows a sense of continuity when you tip over that line, you end up making the scene look a bit too jarring because the continuity background has shifted. 

So, you are generally advised not to jump over that line. 

B Roll 

B Roll is also something that you can look at while you are editing. B Roll is actually some extra shots that you shoot while you are shooting a particular sequence. 

They can actually be used for anything, such as establishing a location, establishing a conversation, putting in some metaphors, or something else. 

They are at the end of the day, not the final shots, and if they are used properly, they can actually be used in enhancing the entire story, as well. 

So, using B Rolls during your edits is also quite important. 

Jump Cuts

Jump Cuts are also something that you should use quite sensibly. Jump Cuts are often used for many different reasons in a particular scene, and you have to make sure to use them wisely, as well. 

This is because if you use a jump cut abruptly with a continuation error, then it can also be very jarring to the audience, and they will be very quick to notice it. It is not very easy to ignore a poorly cut scene. 

So, when you are using a jump cut, make sure that you are using it properly by also looking at the other elements of your scene.

Creative transitions

There are a number of different transitions that you are able to use on a video editing software, but most of them don’t require much of an effort. 

However, you can always try to get a little creative with your transitions by focusing on one particular element and then using that element to transition seamlessly into the next sequence or scene. 

It is not always necessary to do this, but if done right, you will be able to create a visual language and storytelling for your film. 

45 Degree Rule 

I have already discussed the 180 Degree Rule, and now there is also a 45 Degree rule that you should know about, as well. 

When you are cutting together a scene, the Director of Photography would have had shot certain angles with keeping the 45 Degree rule in mind, as well. 

The 45 Degree rule helps in making the overall switching between the shots a little more seamless. 

Otherwise, the cuts would end up feeling like jump cuts, and they are always not the best way to go about for editing any particular sequence. 

Changing focal lengths 

This trick can be a little more useful in editing YouTube videos because YouTube is all about maintaining the maximum audience retention, and a lot of editors do give out the trick of using jump cuts. 

However, what they actually mean is to change focal lengths. If you have shot a particular subject from a wide lens and a macro lens, then changing between the cuts would help keep the flow of the shot and the viewer more interested. 

That being said, I don’t fully believe in that because every scene requires a different edit based on the overall mood of the scene, so you don’t always have to change the focal lengths to keep things interesting.

Cut on Motion 

This is also a trick that you can very easily use, especially if you are shooting something like an oner (a oner is basically a scene that is stitched together with hidden cuts to make it look like a one-shot sequence) and you want to hide your cuts. 

Cut on motion is exactly what it sounds like; you cut to the next sequence or shot while the camera is in motion. 

This is a useful trick, and if it is done right, you actually have a sensation of one seamless cut that didn’t happen. 

Parallel Cuts

Parallel cuts are also something that you can try out if you the story demands it so. Parallel cuts are something that is exactly what they sound like, actually. 

They are two simultaneous shots that are intercut with one another to tell the story that these two events are happening parallelly in the story and, at some point down the line, they are both going to intersect. 

Parallel cuts are tricky to pull off because if they are not done right, then it can get a little too bizarre for the audience to understand what exactly is going on and not get the point as to why these two sequences are cut like this. 

Wipe Cuts

Wipe is a fairly simple transition that is available in all video editing formats, even in Powerpoint presentations, as well. However, that is not the wipe cut that I am talking about. 

You must have seen this type of a cut in many movies and tv shows where a certain individual or an object passes through the screen from left to right or vice versa, and while that person or object travels, the scene slowly changes behind them, as well. 

It is actually a pretty neat little cut, and it actually requires a little planning on the shooting time to pull off something like that. 

So, you can easily use a wipe cut to narrate your story, as well. 

321 Rule 

This is a fairly common rule in the world of video editing, and it is also not compulsory to follow, but it is something to keep in mind while you are trying to edit your first few projects. 

The 321 Rule basically says that you should save at least three copies of each cut that you make and store it in two different places and you should have had at least one copy with you at all time. 

This is more of a precautionary thing, more like a necessary thing that you have to follow all the time, but it is a good rule nonetheless. 

This is because while you are editing, things can get really messy, and you are dealing with a lot of files and videos, so having a backup of everything is really important. 

I say this from personal experience, something like this where we lost all of our hard work that we spent on shooting only because we didn’t back up our files, and lost everything. 

Maintain all your files

This is sort of part 2 of the point I made earlier, but you should maintain all your files. Video editing is not an easy job, and the more clumsy you get with handling all your files, the more problems you will create for yourself. 

So, it is quite simple to maintain all your files so that when you are editing, you don’t have to worry about finding the right shot and audio, and you can only focus on editing your video. 

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Well, there you have it. An article discussing some of the guidelines and rules that you should follow for video editing. 

As I mentioned at the starting of this article, these are not rules that you necessarily have to follow all the time, but they are more like guiding steps that you should try out to become a better video editor. 

It does take a lot of time to be good at video editing because each video has its own sets of challenges, and each scene has a different style that requires its edit, and you will learn all of that by just editing. 

I have written a number of articles on video editing softwares and some tips and tricks for video editing, as well. So you can easily read those articles and start to learn about video editing, as well. 

As always, these have been my thoughts on this particular topic. What about you? Do you agree with some of the rules and guidelines that I mentioned in this list? 

Or do you think that I missed out on some of them? Whatever your thoughts and rules are about video editing, tell us about them in the comments down below!

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Sanjit Mansingh

Sanjit Mansingh is a Journalism and Mass Communication graduate. While studying in this field he quickly realized what he wants to do in his life: Filmmaking. His interest in writing scripts is what made him give a try in the world of content writing. Sanjit's an avid Movie Geek and is an award winning Director as well.

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