Video Production

How to Edit a Music Video

Learn some useful tips to help you edit music videos in Premiere Pro, or any other video editing software

Music videos are a great way to easily elevate both the professionalism and success of a release, and to greatly expand its audience. With more media being consumed than ever before, it’s more important than ever to ensure your videos stand out from the crowd! In an ever growing, tech literate, multi-media world, knowing how to edit a video to a professional standard is difficult.  

Below is a handy guide on how to get over the various hurdles that you may face when beginning your journey as a music video editor.

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How to edit a music video in Adobe Premiere

All the advice below is focused on editing - we’ll assume you’ve already got footage and audio files and are ready to start putting them together!

How to Edit a Music Video

Importing Your Video Files 

It’s important to remember, when importing your video files – to set your resolution to the highest possible quality. Recording your shots with high end equipment only to import at a low resolution is like catching the winning touchdown at the wrong end of the field.  

How to Edit a Music Video

Fear not though, most software will come preloaded with templates to help easily match up your frame rate with the resolution of your camera. When importing, a few helpful tips to get you started are to set your full-resolution rendering quality to Best and, if your software allows it, it’s generally best to disable resampling. Once you have imported your video files, they will appear in your Media Library, ready to be added to the project.  

How to Edit a Music Video

Once you have imported all of the project files into your media library, you can simply drag a scene and drop it onto the project timeline. Note, if your process is to start at a specific part of the song, or at the end, you can drag to an individual location.  

Creating Proxy Files

Proxy Files are low resolution versions of your raw film footage, made to withstand your computer’s processing power and reduce latency. Most computers will struggle with 4k footage, unless they have been purpose built to withstand its processing. So generally, creating Proxy Files is an easy step to avoiding a loss of your unsaved progress.

Reducing Lag in your footage is super important in the process of editing any video. It’s a small step that will save a lot of time in the long run, and stop you from banging your head against a wall as you wait for your files to load. In most video editing software, there will be a way to create a Video Proxy from within the Media Library. In Premiere Pro, you can simply highlight all of the footage you wish to use, right click and go to Create Video Proxy. 

How to edit music into a video - building from your song

The central focus of all top music videos is the track itself. This should be no different when it comes to your editing process. 

The first step is to drag the song file onto your Timeline. For videos that focus around the performer lip-syncing the lyrics, it can be handy to listen through to the track and pin-point the drops and/or choruses. An easy way to do this is to note down the time elapsed on the Project Timeline. That way, when it comes to dropping in the footage of the performer lip-syncing, you know the exact moment where it needs to be placed. In Premiere Pro, you can simply press the M key to add a Marker

Once you have matched up the video with the track, play it together with the camera audio, to ensure the two audio files sync up perfectly. Often, by zooming into the audio file from the footage and the track, you’ll be able to see the visible soundwaves match up. Before you move onto your next shot, make sure that you have muted your previous camera audio file, to minimize bleed

For Narrative videos that don’t focus around lip-syncing, importing short B-Roll footage on the start of the beat and transitioning to a main scene for an important part of the song, is just as effective for emphasizing the importance of a particular phrase or lyric in the track.  


How do you sync music clips?

Fortunately syncing music clips is really easy. We’ve got a comprehensive guide to it over on our blog. In that article we cover a really easy way to sync audio files in Premiere Pro, and another simple method that can be used in any video editor or NLE.

Artist Credits / Title Cards

Most music videos will begin with a Title Card of some sort. The title car could be the logo of the Artist or Videographer, the title of the track or text that relates to the feel or look of the video. Some editors may use Title Cards as exposition, setting the scene with a time or location. Title Cards are often the only text in the video, immediately grabbing the attention of the viewer, so it’s important that they remember the content of the text for the right reasons. 

In Premiere Pro, you can add a Title Card by navigating to Windows > Workspaces > Titles. Remember, the title needs to grab the attention of the viewer but not undermine the feel of the video. If the vibe of the project is dark and mysterious, try to match the font of the Title Card to the emotion that you are trying to convey.  

How to Edit a Music Video

For overlaying a logo over footage, add the image or video of your logo into the Media Library. Next, drag it onto the Project Timeline on a separate track above the existing footage you have in that part of the song. Your logo will play simultaneously with your desired footage. 

If you wish to increase or decrease the duration of the video/image, simply drag the ends of the clip either side.

Fading Clips

The way in which your footage transitions between one another, is an important factor in the overall feel of the project. You don’t see many rap music videos with the famous Star Wars screen wipe.

There are various types of transitions that fit particular purposes, but the one that you’ll likely use most often is a simple fade. To fade a video - simply highlight the individual clip on your timeline and apply a dissolve from the beginning of the footage, or keyframe the opacity of the clip, from between 0-100%.

The strength of your fade determines how fast that particular piece of footage moves on to the next clip. For sections of the song where it becomes slower, before leading into a big chorus or drop – fades at the end of this clip will work well to follow the emotion of the music and hint at something big about to occur in the track.

Changing The Playback Speed 

Some scenes may be crying out for a classic slow-motion effect. There are three main ways to do this in Premiere Pro.  

The first is by right clicking and opening the Speed Duration dialog box. From here set the speed to 50% and select Time Interpolation, then Optical Flow.  

How to Edit a Music Video

The second is to click Effect Controls, then Time Mapping and from there you can manually add keyframes to increase or reduce the speed of a particular scene.  

Finally, you can use the Rate-Stretch tool in your clip toolbar.

Exporting Your File 

So, you’ve imported your project files, synced all of your footage to the track, edited all of your transitions and fades, and you’re ready to export your project?  

It may seem as though the hard work is over, but when it comes to exporting your project, it is a testament to your hard-work to get the last step right. Although it may seem it at first, it’s not as complicated as it’s made to look.  

Your first step is to open the Export Window. You can get there by going to: File > Export > Media, or by following the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + M (Cmd + M for Mac users). From there, it’s important to know the purpose of your finished project. Whether directly uploading to YouTube or sending the file over to a client, ensuring that you have correctly compressed your video at the right format. 

How to Edit a Music Video

Premiere Pro does make it easier for you. It comes loaded with tons of presets for every potential export necessity, that you can use to determine the correct file format for you. If none of these presets match the requirements of your project though, you can export more precisely via the Matched Sequence Settings tab.  

Universally, the most common format for web-based playback will be H.264. This will generally be your go-to option for the bulk of your project exporting. 

For more information on video formats, we have a guide to the best video format for YouTube over on our blog.

Bit-rate determines how big your file size is. For a final cut of the Music Video, opt for the highest bit-rate maximum and ensure that the target bit-rate is half of that. As your finished project bounces, Premiere Pro will ensure that your export is done as efficiently as possible, checking its process twice over. 

You have now successfully exported your first Music Video! To save yourself the hassle of running back over these settings, you can save your preset export settings for next time, to ensure a fast export when needed (trust me, there’ll be a time when you need it.) 

→ Check out our guide on editing audio in Adobe Premiere

Final Thoughts 

You now have everything you need to know how to edit music videos, no matter the genre, the feel or the vibe of your next big project, the best advice we can give is to go ahead and start creating. Making music videos is a creative process, and when you find your rhythm and flow, there’s no limits to what you can make.

January 19, 2021
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