emotional editing for video ads

Emotional Editing: How To Shape Video Ads To Invoke Visceral Emotions

At its simplest form video creation is, first and foremost, an art of communication. This is as true for cinema as it is for video ads.

People will enter an endless argument on whether visuals or story is king and, regardless what what drives your video, what’s most important is that it conveys a clear message and invokes emotion. This is video’s true purpose.

And whether it’s great cinematography or a beautiful story that brings these emotions into the frame, it’s solid editing that will effectively deliver them. The stitching of videos together to deliver a thought, a feeling, is a different art altogether.

Creating a video ad or film while successfully conveying genuine feelings, can be quite tricky. So here are some tips to guide you for your next project:


Each video has its own pacing to follow, and the guide that it follows is the theme. Romance, drama, comedy, suspense–these themes affect, not only the cinematography style and story but the flow of the editing as well.

Themes act as guides in the decision-making process of the whole film or video. It serves as a good navigation tool in assessing the correct rhythm to be used in editing. You may notice that different genres of films utilize different cuts and transitions.

Edgar Wright is one of the many directors that utilize unique editing to build up excitement or break down tension. At the center of his creative decisions is the theme, whether it’s a high-speed chase from Baby Driver, a gesture of time from his Cornetto trilogy, or a heart-racing battle in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

Learn more about how he does visual comedy with this video from Every Frame a Painting:


To be brutally honest, more often than not, sound becomes an afterthought for film and video projects. The reason for this is because its active role comes so late in the production, as it’s mostly done in the post.

This is a common mistake, as sound plays a huge part in moving people to greater heights. Soundtrack or music score is the accompanying audio for the visuals, carefully crafted and curated by the director or cinematographer.

It can be in different forms such as dialogue, a theme song or soundtrack, the diegetic sound on set, or a sound effect.

Sound plays various roles in films, but one thing is for certain: it is one of the most powerful tools in setting the mood.

Even with the absence of visuals, the viewer can assess the arrival of a hero, for example, with the use of the right music. Typically, this comes in an uplifting anthem, just like how the Marvel Cinematic Universe uses their signature score to signify the emergence of the heroes.

The absence of sound is also as powerful, as cleverly used in A Quiet Place. The use of sound, the small details like gain or fade, can instill fear or suspense. The menacing, unsettling score used in introducing antagonists is an example of this.

In an interview that featured composer Joe Hisaishi, the creator of music for most of Studio Ghibli’s films, primarily working alongside Hayao Miyazaki, he mentioned that when trying to portray the feeling of flight–a common theme in the Ghibli universe, “I tried to connect with this feeling of hope, to the  spirit of these scenes. Music that is slower, that allows the audience to experience what’s in the space between movements.”

And true enough, My Neighbor Totoro’s flight during the night, as Chihiro abode the dragon in Spirited Away, and even the combative flights in The Wind Rises–this music created by Hisaishi speaks for itself.

How does this relate to video advertising? When you video optimization reaches the point where background music is in the mix, consider the feel you want your brand to convey.

An offer for a meditation product wouldn’t use rock to set the tone, nor should an offer for a MMO product use neon chill for its background.

Cinematography Reveals

As an editor, choosing the raw footage and placing it in a meaningful, creative order is key to crafting a video that harnesses emotion.

Cinematography reveals can be any camera movement or style that exists to present, introduce or reveal an object of importance, a significant action, or a pivotal moment of your video.

These are curated by the cinematographer and director, sure–but at the hands of the wrong editor, these shots could go to waste, or at the best-case scenario, show great impact to the overall film.

Commonly utilized during plot twists, cinematography reveals, when placed at the right time, can be groundbreaking. Frankly, these are crucial when it comes to the narrative, as it plays an integral part of the film.

Learn more on the greatest cinematic reveals as ranked by Indiewire:

L and J Cuts

Nofilmschool does a good job of simplifying the complexity, and explains the L and J cuts in its simplest form. In layman’s terms, a J cut is named so because it resembles a J in your editing timeline, and the same goes for the L cut.

A “J” cut is when the audio of the next shot precedes the video, and an “L” cut is when the current shot’s audio extends to the next shot.

It may sound confusing, but this is one of the simplest, easiest editing tricks that come handy in film or video editing. They are helpful because they create a smooth transition from one shot to the other while creating more meaningful, more purposeful storytelling

That said, these may appear small, but in actuality, an L and J cut allow the viewers to let a scene linger, painting a bigger picture. These can accentuate a shot and deliver an emotional punch when the timing is right.

Here’s a video to help you understand further:


Montages are, by definition, a single pictorial composition made by juxtaposing or superimposing many pictures or designs. It is an editing technique used to narrate, usually in a fast-paced manner.

They are one of the most useful elements in storytelling and in editing. Not only do they indicate the passing of time, but they can provide depth to your characters, create contrast between different situations, and weave a backstory or storyline between your muses.

Perhaps one of my personal favorite montages come from Celeste and Jesse Forever. Its opening sequence, along with the opening billboards, is in the form of a montage.

It effectively narrates the relationship between the two main characters, Celeste and Jesse, starting from the very beginning, and ending at the present. It also shows the progression of time, without it dragging on.

You can watch it here:

In conclusion…

These tips may appear tricky, but mastering the use of these will come in handy in narrating a story and painting a picture to convey a more impactful video.

Be it the use of one, or a combination of all of these, these will surely bring you the push you need to create that perfect, emotional moment your video ad needs.

Further Reading

  1. https://blog.pond5.com/19085-5-editing-techniques-guaranteed-create-emotional-impact/
  2. https://blog.pond5.com/11099-13-creative-editing-techniques-every-video-editor-should-know/
  3. https://www.cnet.com/news/i-tonya-movie-editing-tatiana-riegel/
  4. https://www.epidemicsound.com/blog/music-and-emotion/
  5. https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/arts-entertainment/article/1780283/studio-ghibli-composer-joe-hisaishi-talks-about-how
  6. https://nofilmschool.com/2017/10/editing-101-what-are-j-and-l-cuts-and-why-should-you-be-using-them#targetText=To%20explain%2C%20a%20J%20cut,next%20shot%20precedes%20the%20audio.