If you’re wondering how creating videos on TikTok works, I can help. I posted a video and went through the whole process to tell you what to expect, how to use each feature for best results, and how to put a video together. The TikTok I made is below in the last section, but don’t skip ahead just yet. Check out each of the following steps.
1. Creating a Video with Imported Clips
I recorded an overhead video with my phone of me modifying a cheap arcade stick with better parts. But, I made the mistake of recording in 4K, which TikTok doesn’t accept. I only realized when my phone stopped recording because it ran out of storage. It was also about forty-five minutes worth of footage, which would have been a pain to cut down on a small device. So, I exported to DaVinci Resolve and figured out how to edit videos for TikTok, cutting down the footage to just over a minute, and applying a minimal color correction.
I opened up TikTok, went to the Record page, selected Upload on the bottom-right corner of the screen, and chose the video I had imported from my PC. From there, I had to adjust my clip because it was a few seconds over the sixty-second time limit. It’s also possible to select multiple clips to cut a video following the steps in the section below.
2. Basic Cutting
Editing on TikTok starts on the recording page, where you can choose to record fifteen-second or sixty-second videos. The red record button works in two ways: touch it once to shoot continuously, or hold and release it to record a specific length. The start-and-stop method works nicely because you can start editing as you shoot your video. You can also shoot with filters and other effects from this page, or add them later.
When you head to the next section, you can select Adjust Clips on the right side of the screen and select how long each clip should be. You can touch either end of the pink frame and adjust it to change which part of a clip is selected. Hold the clip thumbnail to move it and change its order. If you need to tighten up your video or change the order of the clips, this is the place to do that.
The process is slightly different to edit TikTok videos using imported clips.
Like any other video, TikTok videos need good audio to shine. Luckily, the app provides a huge library of music to choose from in thirty-second or sixty-second clips. Just pick the track, and the app does the rest. There are also sound effect options to spice things up and the option to record a voiceover. You can select sounds and songs from the recording page by selecting Sounds at the top of the screen before recording. You can also add music or sound afterward by again selecting Sounds on the editing page.
With the clip’s original audio, background music, and sounds effects, it can all sound a bit messy. Thankfully TikTok has a simple (yet useful) sound mixing feature. Select the Sound setting on the bottom of the screen and head over to Volume. From there, you’ll see two sliders—one for Added sound and another for Original sound. The former adjusts the volume of the music track, and the latter adjusts the volume for the camera audio or voiceover.
4. Sound Effects
You may not need sound effects for every video, but you can easily find them on TikTok when you need them. Again, click on the Sound icon and select the search icon labeled More. This will open up the sound page, where you’ll find mostly music. Type the sound effect you’re looking for in the search bar followed by the words “sound effect” to find your intended sound.
When the Sound page doesn’t have what you’re looking for, select Voiceover and record your sound effect. Recording sound effects is easy. You’d be surprised what you can achieve with just a few household items. You can also adjust the length and volume of the recording. I wasn’t able to use the Voiceover feature on my android phone because it wasn’t available to choose, but I was able to use it on my iPad.
5. Effects on Recording Page
There are multiple ways to apply effects on TikTok, and you can start applying effects as you record. To the left of the record button, select the Effects icon to open up the menu. The effects are separated into different tabs, but it always opens to the Trending page, where you’ll find the effects that other TikTok creators are using.
Effects on this page are similar to those of Snapchat or Instagram Stories, which can alter the background or the subject’s face, add an overlay, or interact with the subject via a gesture. There are hundreds of these effects to choose from.
On the upper-right side of the Record page are other icons labeled Speed, Beauty, and Filters that can each alter the content in different ways. The Speed icon either slows down or speeds up the video, while the Beauty icon applies a smoothing effect to faces. The Filters icon is similar to the Instagram image filters, which alter the image’s color—they’re basically LUTs.
6. Effects on the Edit Page
Another icon labeled Effects on the Edit page is different from the one on the previous page. This section is split into five tabs: Visual, Effects, Transition, Split, and Time. Having three separate Effects menus is super confusing, especially since each one is so distinct. Regardless, you can use a combination of effects from different tabs. However they’re not allowed to overlap, meaning one has to finish for the other to begin.
The effects in Visual are more like the ones found in video editing software, so you’ll find light leaks, smoke, and other lens effects. The Effects tab has a small selection, including the Nine Camera effect. The effects here are okay, though mostly unnecessary.
The Split tab is literal in that it splits the clip into two, three, four, six, or nine separate windows. Unlike the Nine Camera effect, however, there’s no delay between each window. Finally, the Time tab applies reverse, repeat, or slow-mo to the clip.
7. Using Transitions
The Transitions tab gets a separate section because they’re the most worthwhile effects to use on TikTok. Their simplicity makes them unnoticeable, which is a trait that other effects on TikTok sorely lack. Transitions are simple to apply, and there are several options. To add a transition, play the clip to the desired location and select the transition you wish to use. That’s it.
When used sparingly, transitions are a clever way to smooth abrupt cuts or to use for transformations or reveals. Next time you want to make a video look better, think about using a few transitions.
8. Working with Text
The Text feature is an essential part of TikTok videos, where most people prefer to type out their thoughts. Text is often the better choice because it’s more accessible for viewers who may not be able to listen to the video, which leads to more views.
After shooting a video, the text option—labeled Text—is available to choose. It works like any other social media. Type out the message and choose between different letter outlines, fonts, and colors. That’s all very straightforward, but of course there’s more to it than that. After exiting the Text feature, touch the text on the screen, which brings up three options: Text-to-Speech, Set Duration, and Edit.
Text-to-Speech activates the automated voice, which reads whatever is written on the message. This may make it easier for people to follow along to your videos, especially those who are visually impaired. The Text-to-Speech function didn’t appear as an option when using my Android phone, but it did work when using my iPad.
The second option, labeled Set Duration, simply allows you to change how long the text remains onscreen. Finally, the last option, Edit, opens up the text editor again to make changes. You can also touch and drag the text anywhere on the screen if you’re not happy with the original placement.
Remember that Sea Shanty video making the rounds a few months ago? It all started with one guy who sang the sea shanty, “Wellerman.” Soon enough, it caught on, with more and more creators adding to the original. They did that by using TikTok’s unique Duet feature, which allows anyone to “duet” almost any video (only videos that have been approved for duets by their original creators are available for this feature).
If you see a video that you want to add to or comment on, click on the share icon and select Duet from the options. From there, you can record a new clip alongside the old clip. It’s a really fun feature that opens up collaboration between creators.
Once you’re done editing, hit the pink Next button to post. Before hitting the Post button, though, there are a few minor steps to go through. Like most social networks, you need to say something or add hashtags for people to find the video or know what’s going on. You can also include your friends by tagging them in the post. Next to the text description, you can click on the image to select the thumbnail for the video.
In the section below, you can change who can view the video—whether that be everyone, friends, or only you. It’s also possible to select whether viewers can comment or Duet by toggling either setting. Lastly, you can toggle to save the video to your device.
Now you can post the video.
For more TikTok tips, tricks, and advice, check out these articles: