I'm looking at buying some video editing software (budget up to $500) and was wondering what would be the best software to spend my money on? I have PC and just need basic editing (although I may need to do more later). At a minimum, I'll need to chapterise, cut clips, merge files and change formats (mainly to mp4, wmv, avi). I'm a bit overwhelmed with all the choices out there so please help! Thanks, Emma
Pretty much every video editing program on the market can do the above tasks without issue. There's certainly no need to spend $500. Indeed, a free editing application is probably all you need.
For PCs, I'd recommend Windows Movie Maker. As its name implies, this is an editing program made by Microsoft specifically for Windows machines. It contains all the basics a novice editor needs, including a splitting tool to cut and tailor clips, a multitude of transitions and title effects, the ability to add music and various publishing/upload options. Best of all, it's free.
If you're using an older Windows PC, you should already have Windows Movie Maker pre-installed. If you can't find it on your desktop, click the Start button and search for it in Programs. (It should be located in C:\Program Files\Movie Maker.)
If you're on Windows 7, 8 or 10, Windows Movie Maker isn't included. However, you can still download it for free from Microsoft's Windows website. Simply click here and follow the prompts.
The program requires a 1.6 GHz CPU with SSE2 support, 1GB of RAM, a resolution of 1024 × 576 pixels and a graphics card with DirectX 9.0c support at a minimum. If you have no idea what any of these specs mean, don't worry too much about it; any PC purchased in the past decade should be fine.
Windows Movie Maker is by no means perfect -- it's particularly fiddly if you're trying to sync up cuts and transitions so they match the beat of your music soundtrack, for example -- but for learning the ropes, it's a great place to start.
When you're ready to get more serious, Adobe Premiere Pro is the PC option of choice for most semi-professionals. However, its recent switch to a monthly subscription model doesn't make it very cost-effective, particularly for amateurs and occasional users. Instead, you may want to consider Sony's Vegas/Movie Studio range: prices start at $US49.95.
If any readers have suggestions of their own, let Emma know in the comments.
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