Video editing has become a popular hobby these days with sites like YouTube making it possible for anyone and everyone to be a video producer of sorts. Every day, more video is uploaded to YouTube than anyone could conceivably watch in a lifetime. More videos are watched on a daily basis than there are people on the planet. So, what tools are really the best for the job? How do you create professional-quality video that doesn’t look like it was recorded directly from a webcam when in reality, it probably was?
The answer to these questions can be found in the programs listed below. Windows users get a bad rap for not having the highly recommended iMovie included with every new PC. While yes, I’d agree that iMovie would be welcome on the Windows platform for its simplicity and extensive feature list, there are plenty of great alternatives for Windows that are suited to meet the needs of everyone from home users wanting to put some fine touches on a birthday wish to a relative to professional content creators attempting to stick out from the crowd.
Being successful on YouTube can be closely associated with creating quality videos. Not only does the picture need to look presentable, but the audio (arguably much more important) as well. A good video editor will give you options that meet both of these needs. While no video editor will hold a candle to audio mastering tools such as Adobe Audition, Pro Tools, or even Audacity, there are plenty of candidates out there that can turn mediocre audio into something more rich and easy to listen to.
Here are five video editing programs that do a pretty good job of assisting content creators in turning out quality multimedia productions from raw footage.
Adobe Premiere Pro
I’m going to start this list with a powerhouse program that I’ve spend hundreds of hours using. Adobe Premiere Pro is overpriced, but it is one of the bigger contenders in the professional film industry. It served as an editing platform for blockbuster flicks including: Avatar, The Social Network, and Monsters.
Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and later runs as a native 64-bit application, taking full advantage of modern computing hardware to render video and effects at a rabbit’s pace. In addition, you can export your projects to Final Cut Pro via XML, making it one of the most cross-platform friendly editing programs out there.
I’ve personally used Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 to do editing work on a professional level to great success. I’d compare Adobe Premiere Pro to Final Cut Pro 7, though there are several key areas in which Apple’s product is superior.
Windows Live Movie Maker
Windows Live Movie Maker isn’t the most robust or technically impressive video editing program out there. That said, it is available to Windows Vista/7 users, absolutely free.
Whether you’re working with compressed WMV files or AVCHD source videos exported by many consumer and professional camcorders, Windows Live Movie Maker is fairly good about handling what you can throw at it. It does not, however, support DVCPRO HD. Transitions, filters, and other effects are built-in and available through the ribbon interface.
It supports many of the essentail needs for most home users, including full-screen preview and direct export to Facebook, YouTube, DVD, and to your hard drive via a WMV render. Unfortunately, you can’t publish video directly from Windows Live Movie Maker in Quicktime format, making it a poor choice if you wish to view the video directly on an iOS device.
If there was an equivalent, iMovie would have to be it. iMovie has more features and much better audio editing capability, though it is nerfed quite a bit, itself.
Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD
In my humble opinion, Sony hit a home run with the Vegas line of software. While the interface itself does cry for a makeover, few people I know will argue that it doesn’t pack an impressive punch. Editing quick-and-dirty projects is incredibly easy and fast, and it is more than capable of handling those larger, more tedious productions as well.
I’m not incredibly bowled-over by the audio editing controls, though Vegas Movie Studio HD more than makes up for this with a theoretically unlimited amount of audio and video tracks. By comparison, both iMovie and Windows Live Movie Maker are limited quite a bit more.
Pinnacle Studio HD
Pinnacle Studio HD is another one of those underrated video editing solutions. At just $60, Pinnacle Studio HD gives you access to an abundance of visual effects in a package aimed at home users. The UI is fairly clean and easy to navigate.
What really blew me away about Pinnacle Studio HD was just how many export options are available. Where many other solutions in its category only export to a select few formats, Pinnacle has packed support for everything from QuickTime to virtually any game console you can imagine. You can even export directly to YouTube in HD, a convenience that comes in handy when you want to get in, edit, and get out quickly.
No list would be complete without including Roxio Creator Suite. This package gives you everything and anything a budding YouTube producer needs. Everything from 3D video to audio mastering can be done within the Roxio Creator suite. What sets Roxio apart from other single-install editors is that it has dedicated software for a variety of media applications. Want to add photos to your videos? You can actually master those photos in Roxio, editing them to look exactly the way you want prior to adding them to your project.
Audio is one of my biggest gripes when dealing with video editors. Having a powerful sound editing system in the same package means that you can avoid spending an arm and a leg on additional software.
Roxio may not be the best solution out there, but it is one of the most well-rounded. That’s the true value in a software suite such as this. Adobe Premiere, an expensive product by itself, may be a more robust video editing solution, but the costs of its supporting suite of products can be through the roof. Roxio makes its 2012 version of Creator available at around $80.