So, you’ve spent countless hours watching TikTok videos, training your For You page to match your niche interests, and explaining to others that you are not too old for TikTok. Now you want to post your own. First step? Learn how to edit videos on Tiktok.
We know it can be intimidating to learn (and follow) the editing trends, unwritten rules, and best practices for making videos for TikTok. Luckily, you don’t need professional video production skills to do well on TikTok.
To help you get started on your TikTok creator journey, we’ve rounded up 15 creative tips for editing TikTok videos.
Bonus: Get a free TikTok Growth Checklist from famous TikTok creator Tiffy Chen that shows you how to gain 1.6 million followers with only 3 studio lights and iMovie.
How to film TikToks
You have two options for creating videos on TikTok:
- Filming with your camera and editing the video in an external app
- Filming and editing within the TikTok app
Or, you can do a combination of adding photos and/or videos from your camera roll and editing them in the TikTok app.
Whether you use the native app or your phone camera, here are our top tips for making creative and visually engaging TikTok videos.
(If you’re literally opening up the TikTok app for the first time, check out our beginners’ guide to TikTok for tips on setting up an account and navigating the platform.)
1. Use the countdown timer
Within the TikTok app, you can enable a countdown timer that will give you a 3- or 10-second countdown before the camera starts recording.
With this feature, you can record clips hands-free. You can access the timer on the first screen after hitting the plus icon at the bottom of the screen.
2. Use filters, templates, and effects (like the green screen)
TikTok offers many video effects within the app, including filters, transition templates, and A/R effects.
Some of the features can only be applied when you’re filming your video content directly in the app — others can be applied to pre-recorded clips.
One of the most popular and versatile effects is the Green Screen, which allows you to use a photo or video as your background. TikTok creators often use this effect to record themselves reacting to something, do a voiceover narration, or create a clone of themselves.
There are many creative ways to use the green screen, so we recommend keeping an eye out for examples in your feed for inspiration.
In this video, Morning Brew used the green screen effect to insert background photos to create the setting for their story.
3. Create looping videos
On TikTok, when a video ends, it starts playing again from the beginning unless the viewer scrolls away.
Video completion rate is an important metric on the platform, and having viewers watch your video more than once tells the TikTok algorithm that your content is engaging (and should be surfaced on more For You pages).
So, matching the ending of your video to the beginning of it to create a seamless loop can help you keep your viewers hooked — and it can benefit your reach and engagement.
The example above explains how to create a looping video using words.
4. Ensure you have good lighting and audio
It only takes a few pieces of inexpensive equipment to upgrade the quality of your lighting and audio compared to your phone’s camera and mic. Good lighting and audio can make your content appeal to more people, helping you boost your views and engagement rates.
Chances are you’ve noticed how popular ring lights have become. They’re easily available and pretty cheap, and they can give you bright, even lighting, even if you’re filming in a dark room or one without much natural light.
Arguably having good sound is even more important than lighting. You’ll notice some TikTokers use the microphone on their wired headphones to record their voice. It’s a slight upgrade compared to the phone microphone, but if you don’t have any gear, making sure to record in a quiet space without distracting background noise will do.
How to film and edit TikTok transitions
Adding transitions to your video is a great way to hop on trends and keep viewers engaged.
On TikTok, transitions can mean two things:
- The visual effect that you apply between two video clips during the post-production process (kind of like slide transitions in PowerPoints)
- An effect that you enact or capture during your filming process (i.e. a sequence of frames that makes the transition between two video clips visually seamless)
Below, we’ll discuss the second type of TikTok transitions. If you’re interested in post-production transitions, we’ll cover those in our TikTok editing tools section below.
5. Use jump cuts as basic transitions
Jump cuts are quite easy to master and apply to almost all of the other transitions below. A jump cut simply involves placing one clip after another with no effects in between. However, the key to making it seamless is ending the first clip and starting the second clip with the subject (whether that’s yourself or an object) in the same place within the frame.
Our best tip is to film more than you need for each clip so that you can cut down the clips to align the subjects as close as possible. Watch a full tutorial to creating jump cut transitions here.
How I film my transition videos ❤️ (with result)
In this example, the creator records the same scene wearing two different outfits, then adds the jump cut in the middle to show the outfit change.
6. Create quick transitions with the finger snap
The finger snap is a variation on the jump cut where you snap your fingers to transition to each new clip. Often this transition is paired with a song with multiple beats so that you can align your snaps to the beat (this track was a popular choice for a while).
This creator used the finger snap to transition between a list of different travel destinations:
7. Cover your camera for a before and after reveal
This one’s fairly simple: to make the transition, you bring your hand or an object up to the camera, making sure to cover it completely. In the second clip, you start filming with the camera covered and then remove your hand or the object.
This creator put her hand to the camera to create a transition between a before & after home makeover.
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8. Jump for a simple and fun transition
With this jump cut (pardon the pun), you can use a jump to cut between scenes, creating the illusion that you’re transporting somewhere. This transition takes a little more effort as you need to manipulate framing and camera movements. Watch a full tutorial here.
This photographer recorded their subject jumping up and down in two different places, then used the cut to create a “magical” transition between the locations.
9. Get inspired by transformation challenges
This tip is less of a transition style itself and more of an example of how to use transitions, but worth mentioning because of how popular they are.
In the example above, the creator used their arms to create a transition between two different looks as part of the #handsupchallenge.
Many TikTok videos use text on top of video footage, a.k.a. captions.
On TikTok, it’s common to use captions even when in videos without spoken audio to help narrate the video or tell a story throughout the clip.
As a social media best practice, you should always add captions (or subtitles) to videos with spoken audio. This not only makes your social media content more inclusive and accessible but also caters to viewers scrolling with sound off.
Here are our tips for adding captions to videos:
10. Add text manually for effect and emphasis
Much like adding text to Instagram Stories, you can add text within the TikTok app. Here’s how:
- Tap the record button (plus icon) at the bottom of the app to record or upload your clip(s), then hit “next”
- Hit “text” at the bottom of the editing screen and type in your desired text
- After you’ve entered your text, you can change the color, font, alignment, and background; to change the size, use two fingers to pinch it bigger or smaller
11. Use text-to-speech to narrate your videos
The text-to-speech feature adds a voice to your video that automatically reads your text. Not only does this make your video accessible, it also makes it more engaging.
To enable text-to-speech:
- Tap the plus button at the bottom of the app to record or upload your clip(s), then hit Next.
- Hit Text at the bottom of the editing screen and type in your desired text.
- Tap Done.
- Tap on the entered text and a menu should appear where you can select Text-to-speech.
Note that if you make any edits to your text, you’ll have to re-apply the text-to-speech option.
Here’s a video tutorial:
12. Use automatic captions to save time
Auto captions convert any voiceover or spoken audio in your video to closed captions.
To enable auto-captions:
- Tap the plus button at the bottom of the app to record or upload your clip(s), then hit Next.
- At the editing stage, select Captions on the right-hand side.
- Wait for the audio to be processed, and then tap the pencil icon on the right of the Captions section to review and edit any transcription errors.
- When you’re happy with the captions, tap Save at the top right.
Auto captions are a great way to save time when you have spoken audio throughout your whole video.
Tip: When adding text to videos, make sure you’re not using words that may violate TikTok’s community guidelines. While a definite list of “banned” words doesn’t exist, avoid language related to death, self-harm, sexual content, profanity, violence, and weapons.
How to add music to TikToks
A TikTok without sound is like a fish out of water: it’ll flop. The sound you use can play a big part in the success of a TikTok, especially if it’s a trending audio clip or part of your video’s comedic payoff.
We’ve collected our top tips for getting the sound just right to make your TikToks take off.
13. Start filming with an audio track in mind
Don’t let sound be an afterthought. Instead of selecting a song after you’ve finished editing your video, have one in mind from the start. This will allow you to sync video footage cuts to the beat.
Or, you can use TikTok’s handy auto-sync feature to match the sound to your video automatically. Note that this feature requires multiple clips in order to use it. Here’s how:
- Tap the plus button at the bottom of the app to record or upload your clips (you must have more than one to use auto sync), then hit Next.
- You should advance directly to the sounds menu. If not, tap Sounds at the bottom.
- Select the track that you wish to use; TikTok should sync it automatically to your clips (ensure you’re on Sound sync, not Default). Note that TikTok will automatically shorten the clips to match the beat of the track.
- Tap Adjust clip if you wish to rearrange your clips or modify their lengths, then hit Auto sync to re-sync the track to your new edits.
- If you decide you don’t want to use auto sync, select Default to use the clips’ original audio
- When you’re happy with the audio, hit Done.
14. Use trending sounds
Trending sounds help TikTokers capture more views from people looking up that sound. However, keep in mind that trends come and go quite quickly, so it’s best to jump on a trend as soon as you have a video idea for it.
Note: Some audio clips are protected by copyright and licensing agreements. If you have a business account, you’ll have access to a limited library and you may not be able to include some trending sound effects in your TikToks.
Bonus tip: Whenever you come across a video with a sound you like, save it to your favorites (so that it doesn’t get lost among your likes). You can do this by tapping and holding down on a video. You can access your favorites from your profile.
15. Align your edits to the track
Although TikTok is no longer just about recording videos of yourself dancing, there is still a strong trend of aligning a video to the beats of a music track. To do this best, you need to do it manually using a 3rd party editing tool.
Here’s how to edit your video to match a music track:
- Find a TikTok video featuring the sound or track you want to use.
- Tap the share button and select Save video.
- Open your video editing app and select the downloaded TikTok video from your camera roll.
- Extract the audio (the exact steps will vary depending on what app you’re using).
- Delete the original video clip.
- Add in your own clip(s) and use the extracted audio as a backing track to guide your edits.
- When uploading your finished video to TikTok, tap Sounds and select the track from the original TikTok video that you saved.
- Uncheck Original sound and/or tap Volume and slide the volume for the original sound to 0
This video shows a tutorial on how to extract audio from TikTok videos and use it to guide your editing.
Can you edit a TikTok once it’s posted?
Unfortunately, at this time you cannot edit a TikTok or its caption after your video has been posted. However, there’s a quick workaround that doesn’t require re-editing your whole video again.
Here are the steps:
- If you plan to reuse your hashtags or caption, start by copying them. Then, save them to your notebook app.
- Go to your profile and find the video you want to repost.
- Download the video by tapping on the share icon and selecting Save video (note that a TikTok watermark will be added to your video during this process).
- Tap the plus sign to upload a new video, and select the saved video from your phone gallery.
- Add the new caption or hashtags and post the video.
Note that by using this method, you are creating a brand new video and will lose any views and engagements from your previously uploaded video. However, if you’re able to delete and re-upload the video again relatively quickly, you should be able to make up for any lost engagements.
3 TikTok editing tools
With the ever-increasing popularity of TikTok and Instagram Reels, many TikTok editing apps have popped up for both iOS and Android.
These apps can help you combine clips together, insert music, add video effects, transitions, text, and graphics, and more.
Here are 3 tools you might want to check out:
All-in-one video editor: InShot
It seems that there’s no shortage of all-in-one video editing apps. Our top recommendation is InShot, as it provides a ton of powerful editing features for free.
With InShot you can trim clips, split and rearrange clips, adjust speed and volume of sounds, extract audio, add filters and transition effects, and much more.
In this TikTok video, InShot demonstrates which settings you need to create your own version of the “2021 recap” video trend:
Zoomerang is an all-in-one video editing app, with one key feature that sets it apart: it offers in-app tutorials that walk you through how to create TikTok challenges and trending video formats. Best of all, it’s free!
In this tutorial, Zoomerang demonstrates how to use its app to mimic a trending TikTok effect:
TikTok’s own editing app: CapCut
CapCut is an all-in-one video editing app made by TikTok itself, so many of the features are tailored for TikTok including trending stickers and custom TikTok fonts.
The CapCut TikTok account often posts tutorials about how to edit videos for TikTok, such as how to create this transition between two different looks:
Exporting videos for TikTok
Use recommended settings to optimize your video for TikTok
If you choose to edit your TikTok videos in a 3rd party app (mobile or desktop), make sure your video settings match TikTok’s file size and quality requirements.
According to photographer Corey Crawford, the best export settings for TikTok are:
- Resolution: 4k (or next highest option)
- Size: Vertical 9:16, 1080px x 1920px
- FPS: 24
- Bitrate: 50k
And there you have it: our top 15 creative tips for editing your TikTok videos! Now, you can start posting your first videos on TikTok with confidence.
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