How to Trim Videos

Over the last decade, there has been a lot of talk about attention spans decreasing. Whether or not this is true, what is certain is that we are constantly competing for people’s attention. That means the need to cut to the chase with our video is more important than ever. Hollywood has been making this shift for some years. Movies used to have long opening credits but have shifted to openings to movies that start right into the action. More realistically for us, it’s not opening credits, but everything from our web camera video to the main content, to our screencasts.

The lesson for us is we need to trim the fat and get to the purpose of the video.

Trimming is one of the most fundamental elements of editing.Trimming usually refers to taking off either part of the beginning or ending of a video clip.
Showing Trimming with Snagit

Sometimes this is referred to as trimming the top or tail (beginning or end).

Why Trim Videos

First, trimming is critical to making sure that your video starts quickly and you don’t lose your audience’s attention. Your first five seconds of video are important to draw your viewers in and to set them up to be engaged and stick with the rest of your video. Trimming helps you to cut out any unnecessary introduction content or dead space.

If you’re following best practices recording your video, you usually want to start the camera running before the action starts. Starting your audio and video recording before the action will ensure you don’t miss any part of the shot that you’ll need later. It can also be an opportunity to add a sound that allows you to sync your audio and video.

If you’ve ever seen how movies are made, you’ve seen the use of the clapperboard before the director calls for action.The clapperboard is used to synchronize audio and video. Clapperboard is used to sync mediaYour talent can clap their hands or make some other noise and coordinating action to find your syncing point. As useful as this section of the video is, it doesn’t need to be included in your produced video, and can easily be trimmed out.

How to Trim Videos

Depending on the tool you use, how to trim videos is accomplished slightly differently, depending on the tool you use. However, the concepts are the same. For the first example, I’ll use Snagit.

1. If you’re capturing a screen recording, your video will automatically open in the editor when you’re finished. If you’re editing an existing recording, open the file in the Snagit editor.

2. Use the playhead’s in and out points to select the portion of the clip you’d like to trim. In & out points used for trimming

3. Use cut to remove the selected portion. (Note: In some other programs you can use Delete, which will remove the portion entirely. Cut will remove the clip, but save it to your clipboard so you can paste it somewhere else if you wish.)Chose cut to trim selected video

4. Save your newly trimmed clip. If you want to preserve your original clip, use “Save as” and save the new clip under a new file name.Save trimmed files

Other Trimming Options

You can also use a video editor such as Camtasia to trim your video.

1. Add your video to your video editor and then click and drag it to your timeline. If you recorded your video in Camtasia, it will be added to the editor automatically.

2. There are three methods for trimming in Camtasia:

A. In the editor, using the playhead’s in and out points, select the portion of the clip with the marker you want to trim.
Use in and out points in Camtasia to select
Use cut or delete to remove the selection, typically at the beginning or the end of the clip.
Cut to trim in Camtasia
B. In some video editors, you can drag the end of the clip to trim the video. Be sure that you are trimming the video and not just moving it. Move your cursor over the end of the clip. Usually, your cursor will change to indicate that you can drag and trim.

Click and drag the end of the clip to the point that you want to trim. If you trim too much, you can click and drag the end of the clip back out.
Drag to trim in Camtasia
C. The final method is to move the playhead to the location you want to cut and to split the clip into two clips, then delete the part you know longer need. You can learn more about trimming, splitting, and other editing in the Editing In-Depth 1 tutorial video.

Want to continue growing your skills?

Trimming is just one way to enhance or edit your videos. Learn more about video editing and creation below!

Learn how to merge your video content
Learn how to make videos Part 1 and Part 2
How to get perfect lighting for your video

Posted in Tips & How To's
Author
Matt Pierce

Matt Pierce is a Learning & Video Ambassador at TechSmith. A graduate of Indiana University’s School of Education’s Department of Instructional Systems Technology, he has ten years of experience working in learning and development with a focus on visual instruction. He has directly managed the training, user assistance, video, and other teams for TechSmith. Teach him something @piercemr