How to make a video montage.

Tell your story — and tell it fast — with a video montage. Learn when and why to use this filmmaking technique, and how to make your own with Adobe Premiere Rush.

Editing a video on a mobile phone with Adobe Premiere Rush in front of a collage background

Visuals by Se Park

What is a video montage?

A video montage is a series of short video clips sequenced together to tell a story. A documentary might use a montage to set the scene at the beginning of the film, while a drama montage might show various scenes that advance the plot cut together to build suspense. Another popular use of montage is to showcase sports highlights or specific athletes. “It’s an intentional sequence of video clips and sound that provide information or emotion — or both — in a short time frame,” says video editor and YouTuber Se Park.

 

When to use a montage.

Montages are excellent tools to pack a lot of information into a short video. In the same way that a photo montage or slideshow might tell the story of your recent vacation, a video montage tells your story in motion. The uses for montages are practically unlimited, but here are a few popular ones.

Video by Se Park 

Show the passage of time.

A montage is a great way to give viewers the general sense of story progression over time, without skipping ahead entirely or slowing down to show each moment. With a montage, you can show the passage of time without actually taking up all the time. While you can see this technique in many of your favorite films, you can also use it yourself to tell stories, like a fitness transformation or a child growing up.

 

Set the scene.

When you switch the setting or date of a scene, you need to orient your viewers in the new scene, or they will be lost without context. One way to do this is to use a montage. Whether you show a series of clips of a cityscape or spring foliage in bloom, a montage is a great way to immerse viewers in your world and convey more than a traditional transition. A montage also makes a great YouTube video intro.

 

Recap a special event.

Travel videos, weddings, and any events you want to remember or showcase in the future are perfect for a montage. This form of video can help tell the story of the day, trip, or event in a natural way that doesn’t feel overly produced.

 

Showcase a product or brand.

To effectively use a montage for marketing, highlight the audience’s problem and present a solution to it with your brand, product, or service. “Identify or highlight a conflict in the beginning and provide a resolution at the end,” says Park. “The middle of your montage should complement these and tell people why they should purchase from you or take interest in your solutions.”

 

Best practices for video montages.

Set expectations in the first frame.

The establishing shot (or first frame) of your video will set the scene, tone, and feel for the rest of the montage. Just like a good book starts out with a hook to draw you in immediately, a montage should kick off with a shot that makes the viewer want to keep watching. 

 

Use your first seconds wisely.

“In the 21st century, we have an attention span shorter than a goldfish — nine seconds. So engage the audience as much as possible as quickly as possible,” says Park. Don’t wait to get into the good stuff. Lead with strong shots and you’ll have a much better chance of retaining viewers’ interest from beginning to end.

A videographer holding a camera and standing on a cliff overlooking a shoreline
A photo of a person standing in front of two palm trees looking up through them at the sky

Visuals by Se Park

Use clips that provide visual variety.

Go from wide shots to tight shots, balance people with things, or speed up and slow down your clips to play with pacing. If all of your clips direct the eye from left to right, switch it up and make the viewer’s eye travel in other directions. The more shot types you can offer, the more visually compelling your story will be.

 

Create for the platform where the montage will live.

Details like length and video format can shift depending on where you plan to upload your montage, so do what you can to optimize your video for its intended home. For instance, you’ll want a vertical aspect ratio for an Instagram Reel, but a landscape video for your YouTube channel.

 

Choose audio that matches the mood.

Music plays a huge role in how viewers will interpret your video. Make sure your audio complements the mood and narrative arc of your video. You want your music to add to the experience rather than distract or even detract from it. If you want, you can even sync beats or peaks in the audio with your clips to emphasize certain parts of your story.

 

Steps to plan out a strong montage.

Once you have all your clips, you can go about editing however you want. “Get into the rhythm of creating videos systematically first, and then work on the creativity after,” advises Park. It can be easy to get hung up on creative choices and details when you first start editing, so stick to the essentials and come back to the creative pieces later. Below is an example workflow you could follow. 

 

Make folders for your media files.

An organized workspace is the most efficient workspace, especially when you have lots of video clips to juggle. You can organize it by file type, such as a folder for audio files including sound effects, voice-overs, and background music. Park recommends you keep two separate folders for your B-roll clips — one for the climax moments and one for rest of the footage.

 

Figure out your who and why.

Before you dive in, make sure you're crystal clear on who your audience is and why people should care about the video. Every clip you select while editing should tie back to your video’s core purpose.

A blank storyboard sketch

Storyboard your video.

Storyboarding is when you map out the shape of the video. A storyboard can be frame-by-frame sketches, notes on the story progression, or anything in between. “The beginning is very important to capture people’s attention, and the ending is also important because that’s where your call to action or the final takeaway is,” says Park. “So I like to work on those parts first and then fill in the middle later.”

 

This stage is also where you develop the story and sequence of your clips. This is one of the most important steps, so be selective. “If it doesn’t serve the purpose of the story or help engage the audience, then it’s got to go,” says Park. “If you can solve that story problem, no matter what kind of montage you make, it’s going to be a high-quality video.”

 

How to make a video montage in Premiere Rush.

Follow these steps to make your own video montage in Premiere Rush, or check out this tutorial.

 

1. Tap the plus (+) button to create a new video project.

 

2. Select Add Media to choose which video files you want to import. Then click Create. The clips you selected are added to your project’s timeline.

 

3. Use video editing tools to fine-tune your montage, including special effects, transitions, overlays, watermarks, and more.

 

4. To save your new video montage, tap the Share icon.

 

Bring out your inner filmmaker. 

Montages are some of the most versatile — and fun — videos you can make. Anyone can do it, and even experts take a montage one clip at a time. Remember that a little planning can make the process much smoother for you down the road.

 

Get started on your next montage with Premiere Rush and shoot, edit, and share from anywhere, whether you’re on your iPhone or desktop computer. Download Premiere Rush on the app store for iOS or Android, and make a new montage for free today.

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