4 Tips For Editing A Live Session

4 Tips For Editing A Live Session

how to edit live music video

In a previous article I talk about how there are three main ways to film a live session, in this article I want to go into greater detail with the editing process. We’ve been growing Reload Sessions for a few years now, and have edited 300+ live session videos. Being the main editor for Reload Sessions, my workflow in the editing process has changed throughout the years, but I can now say that I have a streamlined methodology to editing a live session.

I mention in a previous article the way we film our sessions is in a complete live setting, we don’t take footage from different takes nor do we use pre recorded audio. Everything you see and hear in the final video was all recorded from one live take. One of the main reason for this was because of the editing process, I’ll explain why in this article that this method makes it easier for the editor.

Make Sure You're Organised Before The Shoot

A lot of times whilst filming I always have the editing process in mind. On the day of filming it’s really easy to neglect this, but when it comes down to the day of when you find yourself in front of the computer editing all the footage, you don’t want to find yourself swamped with inconsistent files that’s all over the place. This will give the editor a headache to sift through all the right footage and just add unnecessary hours for him/her to edit the project.

So on the day of filming, you want to make sure that every footage taken is labelled correctly. Especially when dealing with a multiple camera set-up, if you’re footage isn’t labelled correctly you’re going to be going through tons of footage that just doesn’t make sense to you.

So a useful tip when you start recording a session is to let the editor know what take the artist is on. When filming a live recording of a performance, we give each artist a handful amount of takes to get the best performance out of them. With that in mind, before every take you would hear me say out loud what take we’re on. Other videographers would use clapboards that have the take number written on it, for visual reference. However, for me personally I don’t really use the clapboard as I find it a nuisance to go back and forth in front of the camera between every single take. Which one is the correct method? It’s really down to personal preference, but just make sure each clip is labelled correctly. Most importantly, make sure the label of the track is seen or heard at the beginning of each take, just so the editor doesn’t need to sift through unnecessary footage to allocate what take they’re on. We’re really trying to make the editor’s job as easy as possible, trust me, it can get really irritating when you’re sitting down for hours wasting time as an editor.

Don’t Forget To Clap!

Knowing what take you’re on isn’t enough,  straight after I announce what the take is I immediately follow that up with a clap. Why? This is to recreate the effect of a clapboard, that clap will help synchronise the footage later during the editing process. Make sure each camera’s microphone is on so they capture the audio of the clap, if there is no internal microphone a visual clap will do too. It’s easy to forget this, but it really speeds up the process when it comes down to editing the footage.

Final Cut Pro vs Adobe Premiere

People always ask me what is better, Premiere or Final Cut Pro. For a person who has used both programs over the years, I have come to the conclusion that Premiere works better for me. However, it’s really down to personal preference, these programs are just tools that help you create your final product. Engineers/scientists/artists use different tools to get the same results. It’s no different to editors, find what interface suites you best and use the tools to the best of your advantage. If you find that iMovie caters to your needs, then stick with that.

Time To Edit

Now that each recording is properly labelled, all you need to establish is what take the artist preferred on the day. Once both parties have come to an agreement it’s time to let the editor know which take they preferred. If you’ve correctly labelled each track, the editor will be able to find the right files in no time. On our channel we use a multiple camera set up on the day of filming, because of this we use the multi cam feature on Adobe Premiere to help piece the footage together. Before I use this feature, each footage from the same take needs to be in sync with each other. Remember when I mentioned not to forget to clap? This is when that clap comes to affect. Place all the correct clips on the timeline, select them all and using the synchronise feature, set it to audio. (Highlight all clips > Right Click > Synchronise)

The program will sift through each clip and find a consistent audio point in each file. If your clap was loud enough, there should be a spike in the audio and the program should be able to align all the clips at the right time. Next it’s time to nest the footage in one timeline. (Highlight all clips > Right click > Nest…)

Once this is done, make sure the multicam is enabled. (Right Click Nested Multi-track > Multi-Camera > Enable)



Then all that’s required of you is to watch the footage over in real-time and click on what angle you would like featured in the final edit. There are times where I go back and watch over the edit again, just in case I need to make subtle changes in the timing of the cuts. If you’ve done all of this correctly, you’ll find that it’s a pretty simple process.


You can colour grade and add additional graphics after the edit, again what programs you want to use for that is down to personal preference. I won’t go into too much detail about that, but I personally use DaVinci Resolve for the colour grading, and Adobe Aftereffects for the moving graphics.

The following are a few examples of our work that shows a complete live performance, the video was filmed and edited exactly the way I mentioned in this article:

If you thought this article was helpful why not share it to someone else who you think would benefit from this, if there are any questions that you think haven’t really been answered I’ll be happy to answer them via email over at info@reloadsessions.com.