• what is a TV promo? A reintroduction
• the TV promo production process
• how to make TV promos & movie trailers – part 1 – the paper cut
• how to make TV promos & movie trailers – part 2 – scene selection
• how to make TV promos & movie trailers – part 3 – script writing
• how to make TV promos & movie trailers – part 4 – editing << YOU ARE HERE


Editing is the step in the promo production process where (in theory) all your preparation and ideas come together according to your paper-cut plan. This episode brings the paper cut technique to its logical conclusion; demonstrating how to teach yourself TV promo editing.

As well as using scriptwriting and soundbites to communicate your promo message through sound, you also use pictures and graphics to communicate visually. This final stage ensures both your pictures and audio are working together for maximum effect.

As well, there’s some neat advice on what to do with your completed promos.

  • the two parts to editing
  • introduction to editing operation
  • which editing software system to choose
  • importing media: a rough guide
  • the teach yourself editing process
  • logging
  • re-creating promo bases
  • demo voiceovers
  • demo graphics
  • demo production music
  • editing effects: the basics
  • editing your own promos from scratch
  • getting your promos seen

Some notes about logging, etc.

I did mention that there’s no “one right way” to do this job, right? But, if there’s one thing that each producer does differently, it’s logging.

There are some producers who can watch a show, remember where the good bits are, then simply swing back and grab them when they’re editing. That’s great! Having said that, I see a lot of producers who think that they can do this; but in reality, waste loads of time going back to try and find soundbites that don’t exist; or worse still, miss really great soundbites completely. (see the video on scene selection)

Some producers use markers (as described in the video)… some producers edit programme highlights into mini ‘sub-sequences’ as they are watching.

Personally, I have a shocking memory; I need to see all available soundbites written out before me on screen, which is why I type them* all up. Yes it’s a pain, but it’s way quicker than going back later. (* since 2019, by “type” I mean “speech to text”).

But even if I had a great memory, I would still write up my soundbites. Why? It comes down to what piece of software you think promos are made with. Many producers think it’s the editing software. I strongly disagree with this. I use word processor software to create promos; and compile them using editing software. This may seem like a trivial difference, but it’s not.

Promo departments tend to focus very heavily on editing; as well as what producers do on the editing timeline… especially when you are a trainee. But ultimately, as I said at the very beginning of the course, this job is about convincing people to watch. And that is done with ideas and words. It’s a sales job, not an editing job. Yes, there are elite editors out there getting paid a fortune to make some very impressive trailers; especially in the action and sci-fi genres. It is, however, a very small club. And the queue to get in goes back around the block.


pro editing software options

Before we begin, permit me a quick rant about subscriptions. Software is often distributed these days using a subscription model. Meaning: you can pay for the use of the software month to month. Instead of forking-over the best part of a thousand bucks to buy your own copy, you can often try it for free for a short period of time (new users only, typically). You can have a play for a month or two; and if editing’s not your thing, just cancel your subscription and you’re out.

If you’re already working for a company and they have software subscriptions, then also great… no cost to you.

However, if you’re self-employed, a part-timer or freelancer; your yearly subscription fees are like an anchor. You may have to generate thousands of dollars worth of income every year just to break even… just for the ability to do your own job. Which is why I stay away from subscription software; it hurts amateurs; semi-pros; and small operators.

Adobe Premiere Pro (Mac or PC)
• very decent editing software;
• complex to learn and memorise, but with loads of online training materials;
• integrates adequately with After Effects, Audition, and Photoshop (etc)
• subscription only.

Premiere has made serious strides in the popularity stakes; and is probably now the most commonly-used editing platform; simply by being bundled with the Adobe Creative Cloud suite.

Like Avid, it uses the ye-olde videotape-style playback and record machine editing analogy. Yes, Premiere is the better bit of software than Avid for general editing purposes… but I’m guessing if your company is using it, that decision was made by someone in accounts.

Avid Media Composer (Mac or PC)
• widely used, especially in some “pro circles”;
• can get outrageously complex and fiddly;
• complex to learn and memorise; but with good online training materials;
• subscription only.

While it may be a lot more stable than it used to be, the software is really showing its age, with critical functionality embarrassingly stuck in the early ’90s. What Avid does have going for it, is that a couple of generations of editors have committed the software to finger memory, and simply brute-force their way around its short comings; and have made it a ‘cold-dead-hand’ level industry standard.

So-called “enterprise” storage and sharing solutions; plus round-tripping to leading audio software ProTools make Media Composer the top of the pile in specific, pro scenarios such as movies, television and news editing. If your company has it, it’s probably because “that’s the way it’s always been young-un… so don’t come in here with your fancy new ideas”.

Apple Final Cut Pro X (Mac)
• fantastically awesome and highly affordable (in the long run) editing system;
• super easy to learn;
• powerful with many features the leaders don’t have;
• yet, lacking simple things that Avid does way better; [e.g: the timewarp tool, to name one];
• doesn’t play nicely with its own audio stablemate Logic Pro X or motion design platform Motion;
• doesn’t play at all with other editing systems;
• expensive, old school one-off payment to purchase… but it’s yours and upgrades are free thereafter.

One of the best things about Apple products generally is that they have intuitively labelled functions located in intuitively labelled places. Computer heads tend to wear their geekiness with pride; and seem to deliberately make their software inaccessible to “regular people”. This is the case with Final Cut Pro.

FCPX doesn’t easily lend itself to multi-user, pro workflows, so it’s not industry standard… and probably never will be; as Apple appear to be losing interest in the creative industry that it pretty much, single-handedly created. The same industry that kept it afloat through its darkest years. The same industry that built the platform for Apple to become the world’s first two and a half trillion dollar company.

Whether pro or no, you will need to have a lot of spare storage around to backup and archive Final Cut libraries. Why are they called libraries, when the industry calls them projects? Don’t know.
In FCPX, projects is the name for what the industry calls sequences. Why? Don’t know.

Final Cut became the whipping boy of the industry who (rightly) couldn’t believe Apple would crap on the loyal pro customer base who invested so much time and money into the last versions Final Cut [7] & Final Cut Server. Inhale deeply through your nose, and you can still catch a whiff of the stench over two decades later.

If you’re used to Avid or Premiere, you will also find FCPX’s magnetic timeline methodology an uphill struggle. And this still sticks in the craw of many an old time editor. However… once you make sense of the magnetic timeline, you will never go back.

Final Cut is the best choice for editors who just want to tell stories, not be a computer scientist.

Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve (Mac)
• startup editing and Pro color grading system;
• FCPX-like editing methodology;
• lots of feature upgrades and additions;
• some very high end functionality. (The Chroma Key is just incredible)
• allows you to swap files between Avid and FCPX …[amazing!]
• Lite version is 100% free. Studio version is a few hundred bucks. No subscription option.

This is what happens when new players enter the market, hungry for market share. How long this will last is anybody’s guess; but right now, major kudos and hat tipping to Blackmagic for this very clever move. Could very well topple Avid’s place in pro circles. And in a fairer world, should.

a moment of silence please…

Apple Final Cut Pro 7 (Mac)
Discontinued editing system that was the preferred system-of-choice particularly for people who never wanted to be editors, but found themselves having to edit as part of their new job description. Officially out of pro circles save a few doomsday preppers.

Autodesk Smoke (Mac)
A wholly different editing methodology that is more the choice of graphic designers who use other Autodesk software. Once the centrepiece of boutique production and design agencies.

Magix Vegas Pro (PC)
Formerly Sony Vegas Pro. Respectable editing software. Sony sold it. Good night.

Quantel Editbox (proprietary)
Once “the future” of editing software. Used by businesses too broke or busy to upgrade.


video capture options

Recording of TV and movies is illegal. The information here is intended to be descriptive, not prescriptive. The purchase of devices and the use of these methods is entirely your responsibility. You should be aware that results can and will vary from user to user. These devices are not compatible with every computer set up. Do your research before investing in any of these products; and be aware that they all involve varying degrees of illegality.

Bit Torrent, Pirate Bay et al
Don’t ask me, I honestly have no idea. All I know is that people do it; and I know it is now at the top of this list, rather than hanging around at the bottom.
Involves all sorts of downloading which I have yet to be able to work out how to do… and then, obviously, converting the downloaded file to an editable media file. Seriously… I’ve never done it.

TV Tuner
Usually a device that plugs into your computer’s USB.
Has its own aerial, or connects to a regular TV aerial socket.
Cheapest, quickest way to get high quality media into our computer.
Limits you to capturing & editing realtime, broadcast TV.

Video Converters
These are external boxes which convert video output to computer recordable data streams.
Video converters typically convert HDMI to USB-C (and/or Thunderbolt 3 if you’re using a Mac). They should come bundled with software to record the data stream and convert it to an editable media file.

HDMI Splitter
The output of many HDMI sources are scrambled with HDCP.
Some HDMI splitter boxes come with the undocumented feature of stripping the HDCP signal from the outputs.

These boxes are available direct from the Chinese distributors on eBay or Amazon. The powered splitter boxes are (typically) the ones that perform this function. Though many HDMI splitters are only splitters and not strippers!

DVD Ripping
There are many software choices available online. Some cost money and don’t work. Some are free but are really hard to find.

Usually involves a process of copying a DVD to your computer, then converting the file to an editable media format.
Can be slower or faster than realtime, depending on your setup.


file types, codecs and standards

Standard Definition (SD) is a perfectly acceptable format to use for creating demo promos for your showreel. The small file sizes make it so quick and easy to download, edit, render, upload… and, most people can’t even tell the difference between it and HD. Seriously.

“Professional SD” has a screen size of 768 x 576 pixels for 4:3 screens; or 1024 x 576 for 16:9 screens

If you intend to contain your work to the internet only, your frame rates will be either 25 frames per second if you source your media from a PAL country; or 30 frames per second if you source your material from an NTSC country.

Interlaced or Progressive relates to how each frame is stored. Old-world, TV picture tubes zapped their images from top to bottom of the screen in a series of horizontal lines. (NTSC was 525 lines, PAL was 625 lines)

The lines that made each frame of vision was divided into even and odd lines; with even-numbered lines being scanned in the first pass; and odd-numbered lines being scanned in the second pass. This is where the term interlaced comes from.

New world progressive monitor panels are made up of millions of tiny electronic pixels, which are fast enough to illuminate each frame at a time. One whole frame progressing after the other.

These days it’s safe to say, just select progressive for everything. The only trouble you may have is converting interlaced video to progressive format.

There are many higher frame rates available; all making a better quality picture at the expense of bigger file sizes. You really need a good reason to go above 25/30 fps.

A codec is the name given to the many and various systems of video compression formats. Compression keeps file sizes small at the expense of quality. The more times you compress and uncompress video files, the lower the picture and audio quality.

Professional codecs use minimal compression, but at the need for large media storage capability. The trick of deciding which codec to use means working out how much disc space you can spare divided by the amount of video footage you want to work on.

Take the MPEG2 codec for example. This is the one used on DVDs and digital TV broadcast.
• One hour of footage in SD at 30fps will take about 2.2GB of storage space.
• Convert that footage to superior quality H.264 codec and you’ll need some 15.5GBs of storage.
• Use the professional ProRes 422 codec and you’ll need 18GBs.
• No compression at all… 73GBs.

High Definition (HD) is a 16:9 (widescreen) format only. It comes in 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080 flavours; and as you have already guessed, requires plenty of storage space. If you’re going to go to the trouble of capturing and editing in HD, you really should be using a professional codec like ProRes as a minimum.

You’ll need 32GB per hour of HD720 footage; and 65GB per hour of HD1080 footage.

Keep in mind that every time you copy and save an editing project you will need all that storage space again. Suddenly that excessive 3TB hard drive can be alerting you that it’s about to run out of space!

You can use strong H.264 compression on the final product and this will get the file size down to something “acceptable”.
H.265 (HEVC) is out in the wild, and offers great results at an even smaller file size.
.mp4 is probably still the most widely used codec; even though it’s sooooooo old.

A 30 second promo in HD720 at 30fps will be about 220MBs.

Check out this handy calculator.

online resources

Vimeo Film School is an amazing, every growing pool of useful stuff.
The editing section is here. But you can see there’s plenty of other topics covered too.

Avid Media Composer has a worthwhile set of videos which you can view here.

Posted by Charley Holland

Charley Holland is a copywriter, creative, communicator type.

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