Video editing for noobs
February 9, 2010 9:02 AM   Subscribe

Best video editing software for a novice?

I saw this question, but I think I might need something more. I have a Kodak DX (something) camera, and it has a video mode, which is OK for what I want - taking video of martial art stuff, and posting on youtube. But I want to do more - edit them down, maybe add audio, effects, etc. I'm a little unsure exactly what I want to do. I'll probably find out as I start. So feel free to ask if something is not clear.

Also, I want to be able to work with different formats as needed. For example, a friend gave me a DVD that he took, but the format was something I hadn't seen before.

So, what is a good package to use? From some brief reading, I thought about Adobe Premiere, but have not seen very favorable reviews. All recommendations are welcome, as is general information I might have overlooked ("You do realize, you'll need a new Fractus Bi-modulating Polymerating card, of course!"). Thanks!
posted by ObscureReferenceMan to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Ulead VideoStudio is (as of the version I'm familiar with, which I think is 7) more full-featured than Windows Movie Maker but less cripplingly complex than Adobe Premiere.
posted by AugieAugustus at 9:05 AM on February 9, 2010

If you're having a problem reading video files, then install the CCCP.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:07 AM on February 9, 2010

I like wax
posted by terpia at 9:10 AM on February 9, 2010

If you have a mac, iMovie is really fantastic and easy to use. I don't think there's anything quite like it for PCs.
posted by oulipian at 9:22 AM on February 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

You can get a trial version of Adobe Premiere Elements, which is designed for home users, less heavy-duty than full Premiere.
posted by sageleaf at 10:04 AM on February 9, 2010

Adobe Premiere Elements is very easy to use and surprisingly feature complete, especially considering the price.
posted by dinkyday at 10:38 AM on February 9, 2010

iMovie, no doubt
posted by unixrat at 10:47 AM on February 9, 2010

Here's the thing. All of the 'novice' suites (iMovie being the best example, Windows Vista I think is shipped with something not dissimilar now, but don't quote me on that) are built with a very specific customer base in mind: a customer base that is willing to sacrifice control for ease of use. It is massively easy to make a [cut together simply+sound over top+maybe a title] movie from digicam footage in iMovie, but it is massively frustrating if you want to do any sort of advanced or highly detailed anything at all. As a quick example, iMovie has one video track and two audio tracks. so everything has to be cut into discreet clips and then put into these tracks (and trying to do an audio-in, where your audio track cuts in before your video or any other sort of fancy unlinked audio more than a voice-over? good luck).

By comparison, in most pro suites, mutiple tracks allow you to work in a more fluid and direct way, overlapping and shifting things by single frames without worrying about it butting up against the previous clip in a weird or unexpected way. They have more specific tools, and options for importing things from vector files and animation suites without having to export them as video files. They have an endless array of purpose-built plugins to make the program do nearly anything you want it to.

My suggestion: use the one that is free with your computer (iMovie, Windows Movie Maker). Download the CCCP and you can read most movie files. This will be fine for a vast majority of users, including probably you. Have fun. It's a fantastic learning tool, and very intuitive compared to the super-steep 'buy a book' learning curve of a fully featured suite.

If you find yourself getting good at this, and enjoying it, and then having a moment where you go 'why won't it let me X?' or 'i wonder if I could do Y more efficiently' or you find yourself spending way too long on a weird workaround to get the software to do some cool thing it doesn't want to, it's time to drop some coin on a legitimate movie suite. Final Cut Express and Adobe Premiere Elements are both pretty full-featured considering the price difference between them and their pro counterparts. Once you get into that realm, though, it's just preference more than anything. They will both do most all of the same things, and both have trial versions as far as I know. Hope that helps.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 11:34 AM on February 9, 2010

When I was looking into video editing software, I downloaded Sony Vegas Movie Studio and Adobe Premiere Elements, the consumer (or "prosumer") versions of Vegas and Premiere.

Premiere Elements took forever to download and to install, and when it was finished, I couldn't intuit the work flow at all. Vegas Movie Studio downloaded and installed quickly, and I managed to get a video edited quickly. I haven't looked back since.

In fact, I'm reaching a point where I may upgrade to Vegas Pro to get around some of the limitations in Vegas Movie Studio.
posted by NemesisVex at 11:51 AM on February 9, 2010

Response by poster: Doh! Forgot the details... PC with Windows XP, good graphics card, 4GB RAM. I don't know if Movie Maker came installed (not at home, but will check).
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 2:38 PM on February 9, 2010

Movie Maker is free with XP. If it's not already installed you can get it here.

I went through the same sort of issues a year or two ago, and played with Vegas and Premiere. The learning curve seemed very steep, and undoubtedly they are powerful programs, but I abandoned both and made myself content with what little I could very easily do with Movie Maker. It's too bad there isn't a middle-of-the-road type product.
posted by Big_B at 3:19 PM on February 9, 2010

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