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Reality bites: Vlog editing for beginners

In this guide we’ll reveal how to edit vlog videos for total newbies, giving a definition of what vlogging is and the ways to begin filming.

Nowadays, it’s virtually impossible you haven’t watched a vlog of some sorts.

Vlogs and vlogging is an incredibly popular online trend enjoyed worldwide. It’s what drives platforms like YouTube and TikTok, while making stars out of content creators with the biggest audiences.

The really exciting thing is that anyone can do it. With vlog editing software like HitFilm available to help everyone get started, there’s nothing stopping you!

But before we get to that bit — what IS a vlog and what is vlogging?

What is a vlog?

Vlog stands for “video log” and is the video version of a blog. You might then wonder, what is the difference between blog and vlog?

Originally blogs or “weblogs” were used to post text-based stories online, like diary entries on a web page. As streaming video became possible, the vlog format was born. 

Vlogs are now like homemade TV shows on every subject that viewers can comment on, like and share. 

Examples of popular vlog types:

  • Daily – Regular updates, stories and events from the vlogger’s real life.    
  • Travel – Showing a journey to an interesting place, visiting landmarks. 
  • Shopping – A trip to buy stuff, showing off a “haul” of goods or “pickups” 
  • Review – Giving an opinion on something, rating a product or experience.

✔️ Vlogging is the verb for making vlogs and “vloggers” are the creators themselves.

How to start a vlog

Vlogs tend to start with an idea, but more often than not, a chosen platform in mind.

The platform is important because it is where your vlog video will be published, watched and shared. Sometimes the best way to start is to consider the options and take inspiration from vloggers you like.

Picking a platform

To help choose a vlogging platform that suits you best, here’s four popular options worth considering:

Great for longer, regular width videos (16:9) that are edited, produced and uploaded from the desktop.A more social platform for posting photos and fairly short (1-60 minutes) vlog videos from phone or desktop.Similar to YouTube, Vimeo is a popular platform that tends to host professionally produced videos for corporate users.Hugely popular video sharing platform for very short (60 seconds) and funny vlogs recorded on and for mobiles.

All these platforms are free to join and create channels or accounts for your vlogs. They also have lots of support tools to help beginners get started, along with mobile apps for creators on the move.

TIP: Thumbnail images and snappy titles are both great ways to grow a YouTube channel.

Finding a theme

Vlogs work best as a regularly posted series. They are often short, simple and follow a story format that is fairly easy to replicate.

Key tips for developing an effective vlog idea:

  1. Ending points. Set clear narrative goals to take viewers on a journey.
  2. Naturalistic style. People respond positively to realism and personality.
  3. Calls to action. Think of creative ways to have your followers interact.

Ideas for a vlog subject can often start with a title. You might pick a trending topic that fits your own interests or go for something totally random.

✔️ Random Vlog Idea Generator is a fun tool for finding possible themes quickly.

Basic vlogging equipment

A common question for beginners is what is the best camera for vlogging?

For many the answer here will be a smartphone. Taking the iPhone as an example, these devices can record video from 720p HD up to 4K resolutions at 30-60 frames per second.

This is adequate picture quality and being handheld is an advantage too. Not only can you shoot anywhere, but the main vlogging platforms have apps to help you.

Extra equipment for a vlogging newbie:

  • Tripod, gimbal or selfie stick. Video hands-free or at a distance while moving.
  • External microphones. Help to capture better, clearer audio when shooting.
  • Lighting rigs. Free-standing LED ring lights add extra illumination.

TIP: DIY video lighting hacks can help you add mood and get a more professional look.

Filming a vlog

Be sure to watch our guide on cinematic smartphone footage (above) for how to shoot impactful mobile video.

Vlogs are normally filmed by the star subject themselves. So most sequences are speaking directly to the camera, shooting close static shots of head and shoulders.

Travel vlogs or those following daily interactions vary this to show the changing environments and situations.  

In either case, a good first rule is to record as much footage as possible during filming. This will help to tell the story more effectively when you come to edit.

  • Shoot care-free. Don’t be embarrassed or scared of shooting in public. 
  • Get “B-roll” footage. Shoot lots of incidental scenes of places or things. 
  • Chronological order. Capture shots or sequences in the order they happen.

How to edit a vlog with HitFilm

Choosing the best video editing software for vlogging can be tricky for beginners. Some will wonder how to edit a vlog on a phone, or whether to even try?

HitFilm is a better choice because it puts simple, timeline-based editing onto the PC desktop. A bigger interface, drag-and-drop effects and versatile export presets all combine for better vlogging. 

To illustrate, let’s look at some practical vlog editing steps and how HitFilm can help.

Fundamental edits

We’ll start with three important points for general vlog editing:

TipWhy do it?
1) Organize and identify your vlog footage.Get familiar with all your clips inside the editor so you know what you are working with.
2) Start with a hook.Using a later dramatic scene as an intro makes viewers want to see what happens.
3) Use a small number of simple transitions throughout.Simple cuts and transitional effects are better for a smoother, less confusing watch.

And now let’s look at how HitFilm helps you do it:

  1. The Media Panel. All the video and audio assets for the project are gathered here. Everything you import is listed and clips can be dragged in to add for later use.

Thumbnail previews and using label colors are great for organizing assets while editing.

  1. Timeline & Trimmer. HitFilm’s editor timeline has unlimited tracks for adding video and audio. Use the trimmer tools to make cuts and simply drag your clips into sequence.

Making the right cuts will help direct the flow of a vlog and keep things moving. Check out Essential video editing techniques you need to know for more advice on cutting.

  1. Transitions. Included in the Effects library, HitFilm has built-in transitions too. These can simply be dragged onto a start, end or join point between clips to instantly add fades, wipes or dissolves.

Additional steps

With the basic vlog structure in place, it’s time to add some finishing touches…

  1. Stabilize the footage to correct unwanted shaky camerawork.

    HitFilm uses Trackers to track a point in shot and remove any wobble. This is great when filming vlogs handheld, especially on a smartphone.

    • See How to stabilize shaky footage in HitFilm.

  2. Add a voice-over to narrate and explain certain sequences.

    HitFilm has built-in recording for capturing spoken word audio. Adding a voice to vlog footage can be a nice change from talking directly to camera.

    • See How to record a voice-over for your videos with HitFilm.

  3. Use music over footage to “score” the action.

    HitFilm makes it easy to drag in and sync audio files to your clips. Music helps to add atmosphere and set mood, especially during “B-roll” cutaway sequences.

    • Now you can find Artlist music, sound effects, and templates in HitFilm’s Creative Library, so you don’t need to go far to find what you’re looking for.

  4. Overlay text to create titles, chapters or descriptions.

    HitFilm’s Text tool can be combined with layer effects to quickly add words onto video:

    • Follow how to add text to a video in HitFilm.
    Make travel vlog animated titles with the Edge Distortion effect.

Vlogging off

With your vlog edited into shape, you need to export the video and share it. HitFilm has lots of presets for exporting in the right format for YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and more.

Above all else, enjoy the process and see where the blogging journey takes you!

For more on how to use HitFilm try visiting the FXhome blog and YouTube channel for essential practical tips.

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Mark Billen

Mark Billen

I'm a freelance artist, musician, and writer based on the south coast. Passionate for video and filmmaking, I'm the former editor of Web Designer magazine and I regularly contribute creative tech articles to iCreate and Broadband Genie. @Mark_Billen
Mark Billen

Mark Billen

I'm a freelance artist, musician, and writer based on the south coast. Passionate for video and filmmaking, I'm the former editor of Web Designer magazine and I regularly contribute creative tech articles to iCreate and Broadband Genie. @Mark_Billen