• PJ Ardies

A first example of a recycled video

-disclaimer- This post contains tips & tricks for people who want to make better video.

Last week, Bob of AirTFacts asked me if I could improve a video he made. Since he's not pro in video production (he's a drone pilot) he knew there is room for improvement and he surely knows it's not easy to stand out on social media.

I took one hour to recycle his video, using 3 techniques that I would like to discuss in this blog post. The techniques are: color grading, sound effects and re-editing.

Color grading

The first look at the image quality exposes a classic "problem". Camera's standard settings are set for an ideal contrast, meaning white is white and not light grey and black is black and not dark grey. Since the camera doesn't know what's coming up you can be quite sure that your image will be overlit at some points, especially when it is sunny weather like here. So TIP nr 1 is: don't use the standard settings and underlight a little bit, in other words, make sure your brightest parts are light grey instead of white.

In this shot take a look at the shirt of the man in the middle and at the top of the sun screen on the right.

So I reduced the brightest parts a bit. As you can see, the problem is not solved, but the image is less harsh and looks a bit softer. I deepened the blacks a little and put a vignette (darker towards the edges) to give it a bit more of a professional look.

As you can see I worked on the final edit. The logo on the top right corner and the text on the bottom is still there, because I was not able to remove it since I had no source images. It would have taken me a lot more time if I had to work with the original files and so the cost would be much higher. My work here is about quick fixes! I do color grading on original shots as well, as you can see in this video:

Sound Effects

Sound effects is in my opinion the greatest tip for any video maker to stand out more. I don't understand very well how we are conditioned to choose a piece of music and then start editing on it. Of course, I did it a thousand times myself, but it is not very original anymore and if you look more closely to a video you will see that what it does is it separates the video from the audio, like the images become less personal. As a viewer you get less attached to what you see and that is about the opposite of what we, as film makers, want to achieve.

When I watched the video for the first time I was quite happy with the music choice. It pulled of the video, but after less then 30 seconds, you heard it and it gets a bit boring, so I started the video with a bycicle bell to sort of personalise it a bit more and then I went for contrast by using cycling and nature sounds as soon as the intro was over. It gives more an outdoor mood and most of all, a break! The chance that a viewer clicks away is much lower now.

At the end I brought back the music to finish the video. Now the whole video feels much shorter with less chance of clicking away.

Here you'll see both versions.

First the final version, ending at 1 minute 3 seconds and then the original version starts immediately after.


I consider editing an art and personally, I love it. And yes, it is one of the few things I consider myself good at.

Basically I did 4 things to re-edit this video:

  1. I removed all the blur-cuts. PRO TIP: use hard cuts! Most other type of cuts look cheap en unprofessional. If you don't use a hard cut, know why!! If you want to learn how to cut well, contact me!

  2. The beginning. The original version starts with 3 shots of people on the deck of a boat, followed by 2 shots without people and then the people are back to take their bikes. These 2 shots feel more generic, and therefore, they break the continuity of the story of the people going to their bikes, this way, the video gives the viewer a chance to click away. Since this video is about these bikes, I decided to start with the 2 generic shots, and then bring in the people and let them do their action without interruption.

  3. The cycling sequence. Since there is really not so very much story to tell in a video like this, it is always smart to make it short. Rule of thumb here is, Don't tell the same thing twice, because that's when you lose your viewers. The cycling sequence has the following shots in the original video: 3 low shots (close to the action, waving people included), 1 high shot (distance, time goes by), 2 low shots (waving included), 3 shots at the bridge. Instead of these 9 shots, I used 6 of them, starting with a close to action shot of waving people riding to the right (right movement is going away, left movement is going back). I built up the distance, ending with 2 bridge shots and fading to black. Going back closer would give a feeling of returning to the same thing again. Always remember: the viewer doesn't see the shots that you don't use! So don't use the same type of shot twice if you don't need to.

  4. The ending. In the original video you see the people enjoying a drink, followed by 2 generic shots of the bikes and an aerial shot. Very logical. Nevertheless, I used the "generic" shot of the parked bikes first and then the people enjoying a drink. Why? The bikes are not so generic anymore. Since the people have been riding them, they became an active part of the story. So the shot of the parked bikes doesn't feel generic anymore, but raises a question: where are the people? Answer in the next shot: enjoying Belgiums greatest: beer. The ending stays the same, only difference is in the music. I cut away on the final accent of the music, leaving a perfect spot for a final call to action: visit the website.

So this is what I do... This one I did in an hour, rendering included. And that's the whole idea. Working in hour blocks. Concentrated and fast. No beating about the bush. Affordable. One hour costs 66,55€ VAT included. for more!



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