Are you new to the video editing scene? Reading a bunch of manuals and still not exactly sure what goes where? Well, for the most part, video editing is extremely intuitive and is an easy skill to develop. There are some key words and terms, however, that people throw around without explaining sometimes. Here’s a simple glossary that should clear some of those up for you! 

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Alpha Channel: An alpha channel is a graphic or video that is on top of a transparent background. As a result, the graphic, picture or video can be placed on top of another video and it will seamlessly float on top. The transparent layer of the alpha channel is typically represented by a grey and white checkered layer.The most frequently used example of an alpha channel is a lower third graphic. 


Chroma Key: Chroma key is when your video editing software recognizes a particular color and replaces that color with translucency. This practice is most often used when working with green screen footage. Your editing software will ask you to recognize a color and then the program itself can automatically remove all of that color from your video. Most of the major video editing platforms include some sort of chroma key or green screen tool, but not all do, so make sure to double check that your program will support this effect before you get too invested in a green screen project! 


Cross Dissolve: This is probably the most popular video transition and it is offered in practically all video editing programs. The transition works by overlapping two different video clips while one fades out and the other fades in. As a result it looks like the clips are fading into each other. Cross dissolves are an easy way to create a gentle transition and they also are a good way to show passage of time or place when you’re telling a story. 


Preview Window: The preview window is typically window in the upper right corner of the editing program. This is where you can see your project play. 


Rendering: Rendering is the process of calculating effects in a video editing file to produce final video output. This is a necessary step before exporting your final video. 


Timecode: Timecode is a series of numbers that is used to record the time and sequence of your video. Video timecode follows the following format: HH:MM:SS:FF, meaning hours, minutes, seconds, frames. The timecode can be seen or hidden and is a great tool for logging and synching video when working on a big project. 


Timeline: The timeline is the foundation of video editing. In most video editing programs, it will be the horizontal window at the bottom of the screen. This is where you compile your project. There are typically multiple video tracks and multiple audio tracks. You can use these to layer clips and apply graphics and effects. Aross the top of the timeline you will see a counter. This will help you keep track of how long your project is. 



Do you have a question about a term that is not covered on this list? Leave us a comment and we’ll add it to the glossary! 


Download a free stock footage clip to use in your projects! 

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