7 Basic Editing Tips for Creating TikTok Videos On-the-Fly


Here are basic video editing tips for TikTok, including building your edit while you record, moving clips around on your timeline, and more.

TikTok is an impressive, powerful app. Its quick, simple workflow allows users to edit real videos on-the-fly. (FYI, you can take an up-close look at the app as a whole and how it relates to the future of video content right here.) It makes total sense that it’s the most popular website and application globally.

So, how does TikTok work? What’s the interface like once you’ve downloaded the app and recorded your first video? After a few years of updates, we’ve tried to come back into this article to keep all the information as up-to-date as possible.

So, let’s take a look at what you can expect to see, learn how to get the most out of the app’s features and effects, and explore what to do with your videos once you’ve shot them.

1. Basic Cutting

Screenshot of how to edit a TikTok video while you shoot
Edit while you shoot.

Like Vine back in the day, with TikTok, you edit your video while you shoot. You can start and stop recording as you go, and the app automatically adds clips to your timeline as you shoot them.

You can hit the red Record button once and let it roll, or hold and release to record a specific length. Once you’ve recorded all your clips, you can still go in and edit them further.

Here’s Rachel Pederson going over all the essential functions of TikTok and explaining what to do once you’ve recorded a video.

To start editing your footage, go to Adjust Clips on the right side of your screen and pick the clips you want to tweak. Each clip has a tiny number over it that reveals its length, and you can move them around on your timeline as you see fit.

Just hold down on the clip you want to move, drag it to the right spot, and hit Save. Now, it’s time to start adding sounds, effects, and titles!

2. Audio

Right off the bat, look at the top of your screen for Sounds, and tap it to look through the music. Once you’ve picked a song, you can choose where you want it to start and play it as you record to better sync your shots with it.

Additionally, you can add a voiceover and sound effects. (We’ll take a closer look at sound effects in a moment.)

Currently, you can only add one song per video inside the app. Of course, you can always edit in other apps, add whatever you want, and then upload to TikTok.

Screenshot of audio adjustment in TikTok
Choose the music and sync it with your video.

With all of this audio stuff in mind, I feel like one of the handiest features of TikTok is how it lets you work with multiple audio layers in a video.

For instance, you have your recorded clip with in-camera audio, music, sound effects, and anything else you’ve added. TikTok lets you lower the volume of the camera’s audio while raising the music (and vice versa).

To do this, just hit the arrow on the side to bring up more options and choose Volume. You’ll see two sliders, one labeled Original sound, and one labeled Added sound. Added sound refers to the music you chose. Original sound refers to in-camera audio and voiceovers.

3. Sound Effects

Screenshot of how to add sound effects in TikTok
Search for sound effects or add your own.

Under Sounds, you can search for sound effects or add one of your own. To search for sound effects in the Sounds library, enter a descriptive word (boom, bang, splat, for instance), plus the words “sound effect.”

To add your own recorded sound effect, hit Voice-Over on the right side of the screen. You’ll see this when you’re recording the video. Like with other audio you add, you can edit your sound clip audio to start whenever you need it to and play with the volume.

4. Using Transitions

Once you’ve recorded or uploaded the clips you want to use, go down to Effects, look toward the bottom, and choose Transition. Find the ones you like, and figure out how you want to use them. To place a transition, just tap on your timeline—the effect will be added to that spot.

The app’s transitions are perfect for transformations and reveals. Just make sure you replay the clip over and over to ensure you’re getting the desired result, and tweak accordingly.

5. Working with Text

Screenshot of how to add text to your TikTok video
Adding text to your video is easy.

To add text or a title to your video, hit Text at the bottom. You’ll have the option to choose the font, color, and size of your words. Setting the orientation for the text is available, too, so choosing left-oriented or right-oriented will help you frame up the text in a visually appealing and consistent way.

You also have the option for “speech to text” that dictates what you say into your phone’s microphone. If you’re familiar with Instagram’s fonts, TikTok’s will feel familiar. Once you’ve entered your words, you can choose where they appear and how long they appear on the screen.

To do this, tap the title once. A box-outline will pop up around the text and offer two options: Set Duration and Edit.

Choosing Set Duration allows you to pick time and length, as mentioned before. Tapping Edit returns you to the screen where you choose your font, color, and size.

6. Effects

Screenshot of how to apply effects to your TikTok video
Make your video unique by adding effects.

Effects are where TikTok shines. There are two ways to apply them—before and after you record. Once you have your video recorded, you can speed it up, reverse it, and add filters, including interactive AR filters as you see on Instagram and Snapchat.

For the most part, though, the “Filter” option is your standard filter that gets applied on top of your footage to make it look atmospheric in a certain way.

To apply an effect while you record, tap the Wink face icon next to the red Record button. This brings up a ton of different effects to choose from.

As of right now, you can only apply one effect at a time. Which is to say, while you can add multiple effects throughout your video, you can’t stack two effects on top of each other. One effect must end before you can add another one.

Here are a few other effects you can choose while you record and then after you record the clip, and a brief look at what these effects do:

Before recording:

  • Flip: This just flips the camera from the front facing to selfie mode.
  • Speed: Choose the Speed option on the far right side of the screen while you record. You can record in slo-mo (0.3x, 0.5x) or speed things up (2x, 3x).
  • Enhance: Choose Enhance on the far-right side of the screen while you record. This provides a small amount of face smoothing, adding a slightly polished look to the person featured in the video. Basically, this just smooths out the image, “removing” blemishes and just generally makes the image feel more . . . dreamy?
  • Filters: Choose Filters on the far-right side of the screen to apply preset looks to your shot. There are lots to choose from, so be sure to poke around before you settle on one.
  • Voice-over: Choosing this option allows you to record the sound of your voice so you can narrate the TikTok.
  • Timer: This option allows you the ability to set a count down to record (you can hit this button then set your phone down on the ground before you record), as well as set how long you will be recording for.
  • Reply: This option allows you to answer a question that’s been asked by followers. It places the question on the screen so people can see what question you’re answering as soon as your video pops up on their feed.
  • Flash: This just runs the flash for the entire time you record. This option is meant for darker recording scenarios.

After recording:

  • Filters: Choose Filters on the far-right side of the screen to apply preset looks to your shot. Some of the options available are: Normal, Original, Sunny, Vitality, Warmth, Island, Vlog, Dim, Peach, Pink, Movie, Youth, etc. There are lots to choose from, so be sure to poke around before you settle on one.
  • Adjust clips: This is where you will “edit” your video.
  • Voice effects: These effects can be applied to whatever audio you have recorded in your video. The effects range from Cat, Flute, Chipmunk, Baritone, Megaphone, Robot, Low Battery, Vibratro, Electronic, Echo, Synth, Helium, or Giant.
  • Voice-over: This allows you to record narration over your footage.
  • Captions: This will auto-populate captions to lay over your footage. Sometimes these aren’t entirely accurate as it’s reading the voices that it hears and can’t be too reliable, depending on the sound quality of the recording.
  • Enhance: Just like above ^^.
  • Noise reducer: This option “attempts” to lower the background noise to smooth out the audio. In my opinion, this option doesn’t work well so be aware, it might not sound like you want it to.

7. Export/Publish

Screenshot of how to post your TikTok video
Now publish for the world to see!

Once you’ve finished your video and locked down the audio, effects, and text, it’s time to publish! Just like with Instagram, you have the option to add hashtags and tag friends and other accounts in the description box.

You can send the video to Public, Private, or only your Followers, as well as disable comments. You also have the option to allow people to use this video for reactions and Allow Duets, meaning they can play off of your content in fun ways, usually with the hopes of going viral.

It’s an excellent way to get your video seen by others. Allow Stitch enables you to let others use your TikTok in their own TikTok. Consider this a way to permit people to react to your TikTok on their own.

You can also save your video to your phone. (Actually, permanently save it to your phone, just in case.)

Finally, you can also publish it to Instagram and Snapchat, and send it directly to friends through text messaging.

Try Out Instagram Reels

If you haven’t seen for yourself, Instagram Reels are arguably just as popular as TikTok. The format is almost the same as TikTok, recording and uploading videos suitable to the interface. The effects, music editing capabilities, filters, and user-to-user experience is pretty much the same.

In the tutorial above, you can try it out yourself! This is just one way you might need to upload your work or deliver to a client. It’s more important than ever to know what to expect from potential projects and clients.

Explore more topics related to shooting creative video content for social and streaming:

Cover image via taa22.


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