Whether you're editing home movies to send to family and friends or working on something more professional, it's important to have the right software. This week we're going to take a look at five of the best video editing tools, based on your nominations.
iMovie (Mac OS)
Apple's consumer-end video editing package is so ubiquitous that you can tell if a video has been edited with iMovie just by looking at the opening and closing screens and the type of cuts and swipes used over the course of the video. That said, a skilled video editor can make great-looking videos with it, it's incredibly easy to use, and the drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to apply effects, titles, soundtracks, and other tweaks to your video and then sit back, preview it, and export it to burn to DVD, upload to YouTube, or save in HD for big-screen watching. iMovie is part of iLife, and ships on every Mac. If you don't have it, it can be purchased with the iLife suite for $69.
Sony Vegas Pro (Windows)
Sony Vegas Pro isn't cheap, starting at $US599.95, but that price gets your serious power and professional-level features for the video editor that's looking to take their videos out of Windows Live Movie Maker and up to the next level. Vegas Pro offers Blu-ray disc authoring, editing tools for standard def, high definition, or even 3D video, support for multi-camera video editing, and support for more audio and video formats than you could possibly need. In addition to its video editing tools, Sony Vegas Pro also offers professional audio editing tools to match, and a drag-and-drop interface that makes getting started with the tool deceptively easy considering the power that's under the hood.
Final Cut Pro (Mac OS)
Whether you prefer the newest version, Final Cut Pro X, or the previous "classic" version the predates Apple's many changes to the product, Final Cut Pro has been a staple in video editing for years. The tool is considered by many to be the perfect bridge between consumer-level and professional-level video editing products, thanks to its easy-to-understand interface and powerful editing tools. Final Cut Pro has broad file format support for audio and video, multi-track editing that allows you to see all of your audio and video tracks in the same view, an media organisation window that shows you all of your available video and audio clips in one view, a preview mode that lets you try your edits on for size before you commit them, a comprehensive clip manager, and more, in all resolutions, from standard def to HD and up to 4K. Power doesn't come cheap though; Final Cut Pro will set you back $319.99.
AVID (Windows/Mac OS)
AVID Media Composer is a professional-level video editing tool, and has been used to produce more than a few big box office films, as well as music videos, TV shows, commercials, and everything in between. AVID Studio on the other hand is the home and pro-sumer version of the award-winning professional product. AVID Studio will set you back $US169.99, where AVID Media Composer is a much priceier $US2499.00. Both products have more than enough power to get the job done, but the one you want will depend on what you're editing video for. AVID Studio is best suited to users looking to make home videos, produce home films or independent films (while getting some exposure to the professional toolset in AVID Media Composer), and need comprehensive media management and editing tools to help make their independent movies look as professional as possible. AVID Media Composer on the other hand is a video and audio editing powerhouse used for professional video production, with a feature set to match — one that includes all of the features of the other suites in the roundup.
Adobe Premiere Pro (Windows/Mac OS )
Adobe Premiere Pro is part of the Adobe Creative Suite of design and media applications, but can also be purchased stand-alone as Adobe Premiere Elements for $145.76, or Adobe Premiere Pro for $1333.00. Despite its price tag, Premiere Pro is a video editing standard for many, and offers integration with other Adobe products, more video effects than you could possibly want, native file format editing (and, it's worth noting, supports a wealth of video, image, and audio formats without forcing you to convert first), 3D video editing, automatic colour and image corrections, multi-camera editing, and more. Premiere Pro is a favourite among people making original mashups and creations from a collection of other video, but the tool is just as effective when it comes to edit your own creations.
This week's honourable mentions go out to Lightworks (Windows), a free, open-source, and incredibly powerful editing tool with remarkable file format support. Lightworks has professional-level tools and a steep learning curve, but if you're looking for an affordable option to help you make professional films, Lightworks has a lot to offer. It doesn't hurt that it's a favourite for professional video editors in and out of Hollywood. It's also worth mentioning the free Windows Live Movie Maker option Microsoft builds for Windows. It isn't super-powerful, but amongst the free Windows contenders it remains the best option.
If none of the above meet your fancy, there's a great comparison guide at Wikipedia to all of these options and more to help you find the best video editing tool for you. Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to state the case for one that didn't get enough nominations to make the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.