Editing is the process of selecting the shots you want to use and the order you wish to place them in. Good editing is seamless and lets the story flow in a way that makes sense to the audience.

The storyboard that students developed earlier in the production process largely determines how shots will be edited together. While it isn’t necessary to stick with this exactly, it is a good beginner’s exercise to follow the storyboard. As students become more confident, they can be a little more creative with their editing.

More than just putting the story in order, editing can impact the story in many different ways.

When selecting shots, and deciding how long to hold them for on screen, it is important to consider what is going on in the story. Who should we be paying attention to? Who is talking? Is there something going on in the background that we need to see a closeup of? While the storyboard will guide this to a large degree, the pace and emotion of a story can be changed dramatically through editing.

Editing can also be used to manipulate the order of time, moving forward in time or creating flashbacks. Fast cuts can create tension, and reducing the number of edits can slow the story right down.

Getting started with editing

  • The first part of editing is ingesting the footage and starting a workflow.
  • Import the video onto your computer.
  • Arrange the shots in story order (using the script to guide you).
  • Watch the clips and choose the best one of each take.
  • Trim each shot, removing any excess footage at the beginning and end of each shot (such as when the director is calling action and cut).
  • Apply special effects transitions between shots if necessary (dissolves, fade to black, etc.).

Less is often best when editing. Too many cuts and too many special effects are distracting. The best editing isn’t usually noticeable by the person watching the film.

Don’t underestimate the amount of time required to edit. Because each story can be edited in different ways, it’s important to allow time to try out different techniques and structures.

Try out the following software:

Titles and credits

The title is the name of the film that appears at the beginning of the film and also might include a logo, a school’s name, and the names of key crew.

Credits listed at the end of the film usually include the names of everyone who worked on the film, friends who might have helped, sponsors, logos, the name of your school and anyone else whose assistance contributed. Be sure to spell everyone’s name right and to include any necessary copyright information.

Opening and/or closing credits are not required for 2-Minute Film Competition entries, but (if added) may be up to 10 seconds in total (in addition to the maximum two minute running time of the film itself).


Music plays an important role in movies. It influences our emotions as we watch a story unfold and can make a scene scarier, sadder, more fun or suspenseful. Ask students to apply different styles of music to their production to see how strongly it can impact the storytelling experience.

Please refer to the section on copyright before adding music to each production. The seriousness of adhering to copyright law cannot be underestimated and it can be a complicated field to navigate. More entries are disqualified each year for infringing copyright than for any other reason.

Editing sound

If you want to create a polished short film, spend time editing the sound in your video.

When you are editing sound, it is often best to use the camera’s audio as a guide for your soundtrack. This lets you know where you should place sound effects and dialogue.

When you are finished, you can turn off this audio and you will be left with a pristine, polished soundtrack. When you were on location, you probably recorded a couple of minutes of ambient sound. This background sound is the foundation of your soundtrack. It will fill the silence between your dialogue and other sound effects.

Consider replacing any sound effects in your film, such as footsteps and doors opening, with sounds from sound libraries or websites such as Freesound. Reproduction of these sounds is known as foley, and these versions are generally higher quality than the ones you will have recorded on location with your camera. If you can’t find the right sound effects, consider returning to your location with a microphone to record foley sound for your film.

When editing sound effects and dialogue, change the volume of these sounds so that the soundtrack feels natural and consistent.

Many editing programs also allow you to remove noise, such as the sound of a refrigerator or air conditioner that has accidentally been recorded on-location.