Recommend a cheap video editor

Movie Maker for Win10 is OK, but I miss all the features that were in the XP version: customizable fades, overlays, blue- (or green-) screen effects, split screen, picture-within-a-picture, etc.

I don’t do a lot of video editing, so I’m not looking to lay out a fortune for a professional package. I just like playing with special effects for fun. Under $100 would be good, under $50 even better, and free would be great. But it’s got to run on Win 10, and I’d like it to be able to import mp3, mp4, jpg, and gif (or tiff – something with a alpha channel) files and export mp4. If it can import wav files too, that’s even better.

Premiere Elements is about $60.

There are many others in the under-100 category, including some freebies, but one rule of thumb I follow when recommending creative software to someone who asks the way you do is point them to something that has an upward path. You can spend years with some freeware tinkertoy or E-Z-Amateur tool that has no carry-forward except general techniques, or you can spend the same number of years with something you could go semi-pro or even pro with.

Thanks! I’m far less likely to become a professional video editor than you are to become a Professional Barbarian, but I’ll look into it. The price is right, but some of the reviews I just looked at on Amazon say that APE v14 is buggy and 11 or 13 were more reliable.

I use GIMP almost exclusively for my image editing, so I don’t mind working with freeware.

It’s just a different way to think about things. If you can put the same effort into something that might have a future, however unlikely, that you do into a dead-end… no brainer. In 30 years or so of dinking around with new technologies, I often opted for a commercial version of something and learned the process the “right” way while friends used shareware and freeware; I lost count of the times my marginal experience with the real thing paid off in opportunities that never would have come to me if I’d used amateur tools.

Free advice, worth every cent.

Understood and appreciated. It is very good advice, and if I were 30 or 40 years younger, I’d take it to heart. But at my age, I’m not looking for opportunities, I just want to play.

I think I’m right in saying that there are two main workflow models for video editors - linear and nonlinear.
Windows Movie Maker is linear - you just plonk your clips in a single line - you can control stuff like transitions between clips, and apply an effect or two to each clip.

Most of the others (especially those with a price tag) are nonlinear and use a layered model - so you arrange your clips across multiple lines - and you can apply more (perhaps unlimited) effects and transitions just by adding them in parallel on another layer.
(This also makes working with multiple cameras much easier - you just put the footage from each camera on its own layer - synchronise them, then a control layer just ‘punches through’ to the camera you want for any particular moment)

Adobe Premiere and Sony Vegas are two of the big players in this market and they are both nonlinear/layered - in fact, they are very similar in appearance and function - and are mimicked by many of the lower tier of paid-for video editors.

I can’t affort either of those, so I use one of the lower tier editors - CyberLink Powerproducer. I don’t love it (in fact, it can be infuriating), but it is a fairly capable, layered, nonlinear editor that can handle up to 4K video, and it’s sort of cheap-ish, if you buy the mid range package.
(although annoyingly, the product does contain ads for the top end package, and spurious ‘ending soon!’ offers for version upgrades).

I previously used PureMotion Editstudio, which again was pretty much a Sony Vegas wannabee - I loved Editstudio, because the object model was very powerful, but the version I had couldn’t handle HD. I think later versions did, but it looks as though the product development is pretty near frozen now.

I just found out yesterday about this one: Davinci Resolve.

It looks really good - capable of movie quality output. The free version appears to lack only the collaboration features that you would need to have a team of people working on the same project simultaneously.

Also, I find professional video editing software easier to use than “consumer” level. I can’t make heads or tails of YouTube Editor, Windows MovieMaker and their ilk.

But Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro make sense to me. Now, I admit this may be because I am a professional editor but I find that when companies try to dumb-down and idiot-proof applications it’s extremely hard to figure out how to make it do certain simple things. You end up having to figure out enormous Rube Goldberg type workarounds just to fade the audio (for example).

I think this is true of many applications and devices… not just video-editing software.

Wow. I had never heard of DaVinci Resolve. Thanks, Mangetout! I am downloading it now to try it. From what I’ve read so far, this looks like a very good, full-featured, professional-level video editor.

I haven’t used it yet, but it looks like what you should get, Cartoonacy.

If you download it it might seem daunting at first. The key thing to remember is: you don’t have to use all the fancy bells & whistles. You can wait until you need them for something or never use them at all. The basic editing will have a slight learning curve but I expect it to be intuitive and once you have the basics you can play for years.

Davinci is Da-perfect! Good find Thanks

It does look good, doesn’t it? I gave it a quick try and one of the questions it asks during first run is whether you have previously used Adobe Premiere and a few other mainstream NLEs - I think it tailors the layout to make it familiar.

I had a little play and the rendered output I got had ‘choppy’ audio, but I suspect this might have just been because in my haste, I did something wrong (wrong output framerate maybe), or it could be that my PC isn’t up to spec for this program.