iMovie, you're dead to me.
March 8, 2010 11:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for good consumer-grade video editing software for the Mac that is not iMovie or Final Cut Express.

A long, long time ago when I was using PCs, I used Pinnacle Studio (versions 6, 7, 8, and 9) for video editing. It wasn't crazy-powerful, but it had just the right mix of features and ease of use. It was absolutely perfect for what I needed. Version 8 or 9 was the sweet spot in terms of features. After that they started adding on unnecessary bloat and cutesy interface stuff that got in the way of editing.

I'm essentially looking for something like that, but for the Mac. I can't stand iMovie '08 or '09, and I can't go back to the previous iMovie HD. Final Cut Express seems a little beyond my experience level, I think. Is there anything out there between iMovie and FCE, for people who have a little bit of experience in basic video editing and want a clean, open timeline with precise editing capabilities? Googling for 'Mac video editor' is pretty much a wasteland of crap.

Please don't tell me to just give iMovie '09 a try. I know they changed it since '08. Yes, it's better, I've used it. But it's still not what I want.
posted by joshrholloway to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
I like iMovie HD, why can't you go back to it?
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:17 AM on March 8, 2010

It would be very helpful if you said what you don't like about iMovie.
posted by chairface at 11:20 AM on March 8, 2010

I don't think you'll find much because iMovie and FCE together cover pretty much what 99% of people need.

FCE can seem a little overwhelming at first, but it's not as complicated as it looks and it comes with a pretty good getting started guide.

The only other major video editing software for the Mac is Avid - but that's even more pro-oriented than FCE is and probably way beyond what you need.
posted by Mwongozi at 11:32 AM on March 8, 2010

Response by poster: I like iMovie HD, why can't you go back to it?

Apparently Apple has obliterated all traces of it. They don't offer it for download anymore, even though they were for a while for owners of iLife '08 (which I am). If someone has a working non-sketchy link to the official iMovie HD 6 that Apple offered, I'd love it.

It would be very helpful if you said what you don't like about iMovie.

Pretty much everything. I want a real timeline, not a thumbnail view or a big bucket of clips. I don't really like it's integration with iPhoto and iTunes libraries. It doesn't allow for the precise editing I need. It doesn't allow multiple title, graphics, or audio tracks on top of one another. Not enough control over transitions and effects. And overall I just dislike the interface.

FCE can seem a little overwhelming at first, but it's not as complicated as it looks and it comes with a pretty good getting started guide.

Yeah, I think I might just have to bite the bullet and jump into FCE. My biggest issue with that is that Apple has not released a new version of FCE in almost three years, and I hate to learn something that they're just about to put out to pasture.
posted by joshrholloway at 11:33 AM on March 8, 2010

The Final Cut codebase is a nightmare of 32-bitness. Apple hasn't said much of anything about a new FCP or FCE yet because they've got to make it 64-bit compatible. There's a relevant Creative Cow thread that summarizes an Ars Technica article on the guts of Quicktime and why this is so.

I don't know what Apple's employee discount on software looks like, but if you have access to an Apple employee, you might want to inquire about just biting the bullet and getting FCP if it's cheap enough.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:51 PM on March 8, 2010

There is Adobe Premiere Elements...although written for the PC you can run it on the Mac using some magical incantation/emulation. Don't ask me, I'm a PC guy but I hear it talked about.

Caveat: I haven't used Elements before, I only use Pro, so I can't speak to it's features/usability. Just throwing it into the mix.

I would mention Premiere Express, also. It's web-based so platform isn't an issue. However, it may be too simplistic for your experience level.
posted by trinity8-director at 3:24 PM on March 8, 2010

I haven't used either - but I popped over to and found MediaEdit and Norrkross Movie
posted by filmgeek at 8:45 PM on March 8, 2010

Some quick googling turned up this site which claims to offer iMovie HD for download. These guys, too.

But I have no idea whether they're real.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:37 AM on March 9, 2010

Apple has not "obliterated all traces" of iMovie HD.

You can download it directly from them here:
posted by melorama at 4:15 AM on March 9, 2010

Also, just to be perfectly blunt, eschewing Final Cut Express just because a new version hasn't been released in almost 3 years is completely silly, and misses the point of FCE.

In terms of features, there is really nowhere else for FCE to go anymore without it actually becoming Final Cut Pro itself. One of the things that FCE was intended for is as an inexpensive "satellite" companion to a Final Cut Pro workflow. Lots of people complained that they didnt want to have to pay for multiple full-priced FCP licenses for their editing environments (esp. news, documentary and reality TV), when all they needed was for their editing assistants to do simple story edits that would ultimately get imported into a Final Cut Pro for the fit and finish (i.e. graphics and effects).

So FCE is just a stripped down version of FCP, but it suffices for nearly everything you'd need in a "clean, open timeline with precise editing capabilities". You're not going to find anything else on the Mac that fits the requirements of what you describe that a) isn't a closed, editing Roach Motel or b) doesn't completely suck, interface-wise.

The next best thing is Adobe Premiere Pro or Elements. But FCE is much cheaper, and unless you need every feature under the sun, it's more the sufficient for "precise" editing.
posted by melorama at 4:30 AM on March 9, 2010

melorama: "Apple has not "obliterated all traces" of iMovie HD."

This is not the full version of iMovie, it's an update which requires 6.0.2 to be installed. Of course 6.0.2 is nowhere to be found.
posted by mullingitover at 11:50 AM on March 18, 2010

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