Video editing really is fun. It’s one of the most rewarding things you can do with digital media. Sure, shooting with a camcorder is great too. You’re right there, in the moment, capturing the excitement of the event.
Editing is where the different pieces of video, sound, photos, titles, graphics and effects are brought together to create a finished product. Your creativity can shine while telling the story you want.
Today’s consumer digital video editing software is quite sophisticated. They’re based on professional systems. A few are actually close to what the pros used not that long ago. This is Non-Linear Editing (NLE.) It’s called non-Linear because you can access points in the video almost instantly to cut and paste, move clips, insert transitions and more with ease. It’s actually more like editing film than linear video editing. Think of it as a word processor for video and audio.
Just how much does inexpensive video editing software cost?
Right, free video editing software is the best kind of cheap. Microsoft offers Windows Live Movie Maker and the old Movie Maker 2.6 for free download. Apple includes iMovie in newly purchased Macs. Current versions can also be downloaded for $14.99 from the Mac App Store. The video editing software in this roundup can cost anywhere between $45 and $100.
There certainly are products priced below that. However, don’t offer that combination of great features and ease of use. Spending just a little more gets you video editing software that does both simple projects, plus has the capability for more sophisticated, complex videos as you gain experience.
Think of what’s already invested in a camera and computer. Considering the importance of video editing software, $45 or even $100 might well be viewed as cheap or inexpensive.
FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN video editing software
Video editing can seem daunting at first. Today’s programs for consumers are amazing. So many features are layered upon each other through menus, icons and keyboard short cuts that it can be intimidating. Don’t let that bother you. Keep in mind, the more you use a tool, the quicker you’ll become a pro at using the software.
There are many similarities among the five products below. The layout and positioning of preview windows, clip bins, timelines and workflow has trickled down from what’s been proven to work in professional video editing software. When picking a program that’s right you consider these features, but ultimately select an option that works with your existing setup and will let you easily do what you want.
Tools should be easy to find and use
Workflow should feel intuitive
Check the specifications or tech specs for manufacturers minimum standards for OS, CPU, RAM, HDD and graphics specifications and make sure your system complies
Importing video clips, music, graphics, photos, etc., should be simple
Easy exporting, burning, and uploading
Video and Audio Formats
Must handle a number of popular input and output formats
Able to convert to many output file formats and devices
High-definition (HD) support is a must
Supports your camcorder output format
Video color correction (brightness, contrast & hue) and filters
Able to adjust audio levels and eliminate noise
Easily upload your video directly to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, etc.
Themes and Effects
Differs greatly among products, look for themes you want
All have plenty of effects from wipes to exploding stars
Keyboard and Shuttle/Jog
Keyboard shortcuts that can control play, pause, reverse and jump-to
Compatible with Shuttle & Jog hardware controllers is a big plus
Find out type, cost, and how long it lasts
Method of communication – email or speak to someone directly
Upgrade or update policy
Regardless of which video editing software you choose, you should get a separate Hard Disk Drive (HDD) to store all your media elements, including the video you want to edit. The benefits are two fold: the video editing program will run better and you’re saving a ton of storage pace on your computer.
5 INEXPENSIVE VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE PROGRAMS
Remember, price doesn’t necessarily correspond directly with features, capabilities and effective operation. For other comparisons, there are many video editing software reviews online worth reading before purchasing.
1. Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD 11 – $44.95 – Windows only
Movie Studio HD 11 is the entry-level video editing software in the Vegas family.
It’s packed with features. Getting at them through the numerous icons and menus feels complicated at first. The timeline is well organized and easy to modify tracks.
Sony’s default method of inserting video tracks on top and audio tracks on the bottom of viewer makes everything clear. This is how professional systems operate. Tracks can be juggled if needed. The on-screen, stereo master audio fader is a nice touch.
It will take some effort to become proficient. Don’t let that put you off, though. You’ll catch on as you go. Surprisingly, complex effects can be accomplished early in the learning curve.
2. Pinnacle Studio HD – $49.99 – Windows only
Pinnacle used to be its own company, but was acquired by AVID some time ago. AVID is the gold standard in professional video editing. The company’s entry-level editor is $2,499. Last year, Corel purchased the Pinnacle product line, along with AVID Studio and AVID Studio for iPad. Corel has indicated Pinnacle products will still be available and supported. Corel has a similar line called VideoStudio Pro, which is reviewed below. Like Sony’s Vegas Movie Studio HD 11, Pinnacle Studio HD is the lowest priced in their consumer line.
Studio HD has a clean, first class user interface, and we particularly liked the timeline. Clip bins, preview display and the timeline are all clear. Workflow is smooth. This is probably one of the easiest programs to use if you want to get into editing video quickly.
3. CyberLink PowerDirector 10 Deluxe – Windows only
PowerDirector is simple to use considering the number and depth of features. Capture, Edit, Produce (output), and Create Disc present unique full-screen interfaces, letting you focus on that function.
It does a very nice Chroma Key (layer tow images or video streams together based on color hues) with ease. Though we did have some difficulty setting the duration for transitions between clips. On the plus side, you can manipulate the video and do a variety of special effects quickly.
The ‘Track Manager’ for adding video and audio makes the timeline confusing. Audio can be positioned over video, title tracks under audio and so on. Many people find stacking video on top and audio below is easier to understand, but pick what works best for you.
Note: There is a newer version of this program called PowerDirector 11 Deluxe available for $69.99.
4. Corel VideoStudio Pro X5 – Windows only
Ulead was acquired by Corel and repackaged Ulead’s video editing program. VideoStudio Pro includes plenty of features and has an easy to learn workflow. The program is not as intimidating as some might initially find Sony Vegas.
Some of the more noteworthy features are the point to point control for audio levels in a soundtrack on the timeline. It also has a better track manager than CyberLink’s PowerDirector. It stacks video on top and audio on the bottom, but places overlay tracks under the main video track.
Note: There is a newer version of this program called VideoStudio Pro X6 available for $79.99.
5. Adobe Premier Elements – $79.99 – Windows and Mac
One of the more costly inexpensive video editing software programs is Adobe Premier Elements 10. The software can trace its lineage back twenty years or so. Back then; it was only able to make postage stamp-size QuickTime movies. Including movies in multimedia titles on CD-ROM (DVDs didn’t yet exist) was a major use.
Today, Premier Elements is the entry-level video editing software from Adobe. It delivers on all the key features and is capable of doing about everything you’d imagine with video.
The project media bin keeps track of all the elements added to the timeline. Titles, themes, and clip art all automatically key perfectly over video. Setting clip in and out points are conveniently done in a separate preview window. Plus, Premier has an excellent audio mixer.
What is the best inexpensive video editing software:
We wouldn’t call the above cheap video editing software, but they are inexpensive enough to be affordable. All have the same basic features and similar interfaces. Some are easier to use than others, or have deeper layers of capabilities.
There are many video editing software reviews on the Internet to learn what else in available. Be sure to read user reviews as well. Ultimately, the best way to find the video editing software that works for you is to download a trial version. Most programs are typically available for a 30-day free trail. Take your time. First impressions aren’t always right when it comes to video editing software. They do so much; it could take a bit of time and tries to get comfortable with how each works.
Whichever you pick, read the user manual or online help (YouTube tutorial videos can be quite helpful). It may be dreary, but with complex software, the manual or tutorials will help greatly in starting out. Beyond all else, you should have a good time while editing video. It can be great fun. Watching and sharing your finished video is one of the most satisfying parts of working with and enjoying digital media.