Whether you’re filming home videos for fun, making clips for YouTube, or are into serious cinematography like short films, chances are you’ll need some sort of video-editing software to get you there.
Here is a rundown of some of the best editing software available, taking into account your experience, learning curve, and the features you need.
Windows Movie Maker
Anyone who owns a Windows computer probably has Windows Movie Maker. You may have already experimented with it, throwing some clips or pictures together for a quick video. This software has all the basic features for almost any simple and fast project. Windows Movie Maker only allows for one video track and one audio track, so you will be quite limited in those aspects. But having the ability to add effects such as brightness, contrast, sharpness, sepia, color tone, ripple, and others make up for this loss.
If you’re a Mac user, your computer most likely has iMovie installed as its default video editor. This software has quite a different look and feel, plus a slightly steeper learning curve, but it contains many more features. iMovie accommodates multiple video and audio tracks, which allows for many more effects for your clips. As with any non-linear editor, lots of different file formats can be worked with.
Sony Vegas Pro
For those who want a relatively powerful editing software with many features—but that’s still easy to use—Sony Vegas Pro is an excellent way to go. Vegas allows many tracks and layers. This is especially useful for anyone wanting to create titles or text effects. The ability to scale and move footage is also great, offering side-by-side viewing of clips and artificial panning. Plenty of other effects are also present in the software, such as vignette, color curves, color correction, pixilation, and camera-shake correction. Sony Vegas Pro is a good middle-of-the-road software and is fairly cheap.
Adobe Premiere/After Effects
Mac and Windows users alike can benefit with these options, as Adobe products are available on both operating systems. Premiere provides many advanced features that offer extreme color correction and grading. Audio effects are also present in this software, giving the user the ability to pitch shift and change equalization settings. One fantastic feature of Premiere is the integration with Adobe After Effects, which gives you incredible control and can even embed 3D objects and environments into videos. These programs come with a hefty price tag and learning curve, but for anyone pursuing filming as a profession, Adobe is basically a must-have.
Final Cut Pro
This is another editor in which the big dogs play. Many Hollywood movies have been edited using only Final Cut Pro. This software is able to perform many tasks with varying file formats very quickly (as long as your system specs are on the higher end) without the need for recoding—which is the downfall of many other non-linear editors. As with Premiere, Vegas, and After Effects, you have the capability to install third-party plugins to experiment with even more effects. This software is an essential to anyone wanting to make large projects such as films.
As you can see, no matter where your experience lies, there is a piece of software that will match your needs. A filmmaker or freelance videographer should never be held back by a steep learning curve or a difficult user interface. Find a video editor that’s right for you, and let the productivity begin.
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