Class projects involving video are becoming increasingly popular in higher education, in part due to the ubiquity of smart devices, inexpensive high-definition cameras, and a desire to provide alternatives to the traditional research paper. While it may be exciting to think of the possible projects students can create — and they will produce amazing work — it is imperative to create parameters for students to work in. The four biggest areas that require planning prior to assigning the video, aside from having guidelines for content, are selecting the editing programs students will use, figuring out how much time they will typically spend on the video, determining which tools they will use to record their videos, and providing appropriate training. Each one of those will be covered in upcoming newsletters, starting with the question about which editing program students should use. In this article, we will discuss the editing options available to LSA courses and provide links to connect with our training resources.

Before we can explore editing options, we have to discuss what instructors are asking of students when they require students to edit their work rather than submit the raw recording. Almost all editing programs require the user to understand how video files work and some basic techniques for editing. While these are not extremely difficult concepts to learn, they can be daunting for people without a background in video. Instructors assigning video projects involving editing are asking students to potentially learn a new skill. These skills can be taught in about an hour. The other aspect of this is the amount of time it takes to edit the footage down to a finished product. The time can vary from project to project, but is often significant. We’ll dive deeper into how much time it will take for students to create video projects in a later issue, but for now it is important to know that students will need to devote significant time to editing if they are to create edited pieces, especially if those projects involve skits or narratives. If students are recording themselves giving a speech, documenting an interview, or using video in a reflective manner, faculty may want to consider allowing students to just submit the raw footage of their work.


When it comes to the programs students could use to edit their projects, the LSA-ISS Media Center provides three options students while in the Media Center, in order of complexity – iMovie, Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Premiere Pro. We recommend that you have students stick to one editing platform, both to keep students on an even playing field and to prevent students from choosing software that could get them in over their heads. We also recommend that faculty members get familiar with the editing software themselves to understand what their students are going through, offer editing advice and troubleshooting, and be able to provide training to students in their classes. LSA-ISS has resources available to assist faculty who wish to implement this into their classes and also assist faculty who are training students for the first time. Faculty interested in implementing video projects are encouraged to contact a LTC consultant at lsa-iss-ltc@umich.edu or 734.615.0099.

iMovie is the least complex of the three editing software choices. It allows for basic editing, with minimal changes to the audio and video tracks. iMovie allows users to easily import, edit, and export footage with minimal expertise needed. LSA-ISS provides iMovie workshops that are open to faculty, students, and staff — our schedule can be found on the ISS website. Alternatively, students and faculty can watch our iMovie Tutorials.

While Final Cut Pro is definitely more complex than iMovie, it can be learned almost as easily and gives users a wide range of controls over image and sound. Users already familiar with iMovie can make an easy transition to Final Cut due to the continuation of certain editing features like the magnetic timeline. Final Cut Pro also makes it easy to transfer projects between computers using portable hard drives (contact us for suggested drives and hardware). LSA-ISS also provides Final Cut workshops, as well as Final Cut Pro X Tutorials.

Adobe Premiere Pro CC is the editing system of choice for many video professionals, and the flexibility that it provides cannot be matched by the other available programs. That said, the program is the most daunting to new users due to an often confusing interface and lack of user friendly features like auto-save and the magnetic timeline. If the students are expected to use other Adobe products, such as Photoshop, Audition, or After Effects, the simple to use, synergistic relationships between the programs make it a no-brainer to choose Premiere in those circumstances. Additionally, if students are already familiar with one of the Adobe Creative Cloud tools, learning Premiere will be a much easier process. This semester, LSA-ISS will be providing over a dozen workshops on using Premiere Pro to help people overcome the learning curve. We have also created a series of Premiere Pro Tutorials.

When choosing a particular editing program for students to use, it is important to consider the skill level of the class and how much they would need to learn to make a successful project. Classes that attract a lot of film majors, for example, could opt to use one of the more complex programs, while classes that have a low density of video experience should opt for iMovie. If you would like more information about the different editing programs available through ISS, or would like to speak to an instructional consultant before making a choice, contact us at lsa-iss-ltc@umich.edu or 734.615.0099.