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Photography

How to Review, Edit, and Export Video with Adobe Lightroom

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You probably know Lightroom as a photo management program, but did you know that it can handle video too? Lightroom offers basic trimming and visual correction options for video files. You’ll need another application to edit that video together on a timeline, but if you’re already comfortable with Lightroom you can continue to use the photo management program you already know for basic video work.

In this tutorial you’ll learn how to import, review, trim, correct and export video files in Adobe Lightroom.

Import Your Video Files

Importing video files in Adobe Lightroom follows the same process as importing photos. Access the File > Import Photos and Video menu, and then browse to the folder where your videos are stored.

According to Adobe, Lightroom supports working with most common digital video files, including “AVI, MOV, MP4, and AVCHD”. In this tutorial, I’m working with 1080p, 24fps files from my Canon 5D Mark II.

Lightroom will render thumbnails of compatible video files. I choose to Add them to my catalog and not move them from their current folder, but you can use any of the usual Lightroom import options, such as the option to Move or Copy the original files.

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Point Lightroom to a folder with video files and choose Import to add them to your catalog.

Filter For Video

To find all of the video files in your catalog, ensure you’re working in the Library module. Choose View > Show Filter Bar to turn on the filter box or press backslash on your keyboard. The filter toolbar will appear.

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The Lightroom Filter Bar can help us find just the video files in our catalog. Choose View > Show Filter Bar from the menus or press backslash on the keyboard while working in the Library module to show it.

On the leftmost box, click the text labeled Date and change it to File Type. Select Video, and you’ve now filtered to simply the video files in your catalog.

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Scrub and Trim Video Clips

One key function that Lightroom offers is the ability to trim and edit the length of your video files. Check out the video below to learn how to trim your video files.

Adjust The Look

If you’re accustomed to using Lightroom’s Develop module to adjust the visual look of images, the video adjustments are similar but lack the full set of options. Video files can’t be opened in the Develop module at all.

This means that your editing will take place in Quick Develop panel in the Library module. Using the arrows on this panel you can adjust exposure, clarity, and vibrance.

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The Quick Develop panel in Lightroom allows videos to be adjusted using the exposure, clarity, and vibrance values.

Advanced Image Corrections with Presets

If you want to create more advanced corrections, you can use Lightroom presets to create looks and then apply them to your videos. Grab a still from the video and build your look in the Develop module and create a preset to apply to the entire video.

These settings are available to apply in Lightroom to video files:

  • White balance
  • Basic tone settings, including exposure, contrast, whites, blacks, saturation, vibrance
  • Tone curve
  • Color treatment
  • Split toning

Export Video

Export options for video in Lightroom are limited. After you’ve applied trimming or visual corrections, you can export a video by right clicking on it in the film strip and choosing Export > Export.

Most options for exporting are the same as photo exports, including file location and rename options. The unique part of video exporting is the quality option, to modify the resolution of the exported video.

Exports will be MP4 files. I suggest leaving the Video Format option set to H.264 as it is typically the most compatible with other applications.

The quality dropdown gives several options for the resolution of the exported files. In the case of my 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixel source video), here were the options:

  • Max: preserves the original resolution of the source file
  • High: the same resolution as max, but Lightroom tells us the bit rate might be slightly lower
  • Medium: 1280x720 (720p) exported video, advised for web sharing
  • Low: 480x270 export, perfect for sharing quickly and on low-powered devices
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The quality dropdown features several presets that will impact the file size of the exported video.

Recap

While Lightroom is not a full featured video editor, it’s plenty powerful for basic trimming and exposure corrections. For photographers wanting to dip their toe in the water on the video format, the functionality in Lightroom is enough to get started.

Are you using video with Lightroom? If so, make sure and let me know with a comment.

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