How can I get these files into family videos?
April 22, 2011 7:10 PM   Subscribe

What are the best user friendly video editing software programs?

I have a Canon FS200 Digital Video Camcorder for taking videos of the kids, sports, vacations, etc. I also have a digital point and shoot camera. I would like to find a user friendly software that can be used to put together family videos with the photos and videos. It does not need to be really advanced, and should allow for playback on a pc or tv. I thought I could just use Windows Movie Maker but it does not accept the file type from the camcorder for some reason. Help me find something that works that will not require a major in video production and tons of time, nor cost a small fortune.
posted by maxg94 to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Try out Adobe Premiere Elements. It should accept just about anything and let you do whatever you want. Costs about $100 when it goes on special (often) and you get Photoshop Elements with it too.
posted by sanka at 7:27 PM on April 22, 2011

FS200 files should work with Premiere Elements as sanka suggests. The files your camera spits out are more or less DVD-Video compatible but the container format is a stumbling block for some applications.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:44 PM on April 22, 2011

Hamster and Format Factory are two good, free programs for converting between and compressing various video file formats. They might enable you to convert the camera files into something Movie Maker can use. Good programs to have in your video toolkit in any case.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:20 PM on April 22, 2011

ASFBin, also.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:23 PM on April 22, 2011

Sony Vegas is very good. They have a simple version that costs $100 or so.
posted by meadowlark lime at 8:32 PM on April 22, 2011

I use Corel VideoStudio (I have X3, but the current version is X4). I find it quite easy to use, lots of nice effects, etc. It's about $80, but I got mine on sale when Corel was having a bundle sale when you bought Paint Shop Pro. There's a free trial on the site if you want to try before you buy.
posted by katyggls at 8:50 PM on April 22, 2011

I'm not personally familiar with the camera, but according to this webpage, it records in .mod format which many programs don't read natively:

The FS 200 movie files are stored in .MOD format which has to be converted in order to work with Final Cut, Premiere or any of the iMovie releases prior to the horrible '08 version. You can simply change the .MOD suffix to .MPEG and the files will import fine. BUT you will only get picture and no audio. You need converter software to do the job correctly.

I use PowerDirector by Cyberlink, and some googling suggests that it can handle .mod files but I've never tried it myself. At any rate, using a program to batch convert your files from .mod to .mpeg adds a step but shouldn't be insurmountable, and then you could probably still use WMM that's already installed on your computer.

If you are looking to go a step up in video software, I've been very happy with PowerDirector. It's intuitive in a way that Premiere never was for me, and it does everything I want without being too bulky or unwieldy (again, my experience with Premiere.) Many of these programs have free trials so I suggest downloading one or two and just playing around and see what feels comfortable.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 10:12 PM on April 22, 2011

ZenMasterThis: "Hamster and Format Factory are two good, free programs for converting between and compressing various video file formats."

Hamster has been brought up here before - personally, though I'm not by any stretch a hardliner on open-source, I'd steer clear of it. Format Factory is a handy tool to have, as is ffmpeg with or without one of the many front ends.

From Bella Sebastian's link: "You can simply change the .MOD suffix to .MPEG and the files will import fine."

Strictly speaking, .MOD is a non-standard MPEG program stream (PS); it contains (IIRC) some of the same sort of error-correction capabilities of a broadcast-style transport stream (TS). Although you can often just rename them to .MPG, the extra data can confuse many editors & players.

ProjectX is designed to roughly edit & extract TS to PS, so it's a handy tool to have; if you use it to convert .MOD files to convert them to PS, .MPG, or demuxed MPEG-2 video and audio you should be able to use any MPEG-2 editor and/or converter software.

(Yes, that ProjectX site looks as dodgy as hell, but that's the place to get Windows executables. It's a Java program, open-source, and the MPEG-2 format is tangled up in IP issues, so the developers only release source code.)

And again: "BUT you will only get picture and no audio."

Probably because it uses MPEG-1 Layer 2 audio, which is common in PAL / DVB countries, but much less so in NTSC / ATSC places like the US. There's a few converters that'll convert the audio (yet another reason to demux to video and audio streams rather than convert to encapsulated PS or muxed MPG); ffmpeg will do it IIRC, or use something like BeSweet.

And, now that I look at the Wikipedia article on .MOD, it includes a suggested ffmpeg command-line to renecapsulate the video to PS & convert the audio to AC3.

As for editors: my personal choice under Windows would be EditStudio, but each to their own. It's probably overkill for most people, but it's a remarkably full-featured editor for $90 (and also has a free 30-day trial version)
posted by Pinback at 12:06 AM on April 23, 2011

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