Recommend video editing software

I am looking to update my video editing software. I currently have Windows Movie Maker and Nero Vision 5 that was bundled with Nero 8 Ultra. They both have their pros and cons but neither one can take a clip and reverse it, allow frame-by-frame image editing, insert individual frames (claymation style), or other similar types of special effects.

I am just editing amateur footage so I don’t want to pay big bucks for professional editing software, but sometimes am frustrated that seemingly simple things can’t be done with these tools.

Any ideas?

I’d say Sony Vegas is in your price range, as it’s under $100 for a fully featured app.

I swear by VirtualDub, combined with AVISynth, both of which are free. However, if you were using WMM or Nero, you probably won’t like them. They are not user-friendly, at least unless you really know what you are doing. VirtualDub only supports AVI files natively, but with AVISynth, can handle any video that can play on your computer (short of copy protection and the new Windows Media Foundation on Windows 7).

Editing video can be an extremely complex process, particularly for video from different sources, and programs like WMM and Nero make it seem quite painless. But they do so by handling the complexity in the background, and limiting options and choices available to the user. This makes them easy to use, but quite limited in terms of functionality.

For example, don’t expect to be able to do frame by frame editing on any compressed video, and just about any videos source you will work with will have compressed video. To edit frame by frame, you will need to uncompress the video first. This necessarily involves very large file sizes. Once you have done your editing, you can then recompress the video. Everytime you go through this process, some video quality is lost. And keeping audio in sync is non-trivial.

The tools I suggested above, along with many other plugins and codecs, permit the ultimate flexibility in achieving all kinds of edits and effects. But they are not easy to master.

If something that daunting seems beyond your desire, Sony Vegas is a good recommendation.

He needs a Non-Linear Editor. VirtualDub is almost the opposite to a NLE. NOT recommended.

Vegas Premium seems to have what I want. They have a free trial, so I’m checking it out. Thanks! I wouldn’t have thought of Sony for software.

It used to be made by Sonic Foundry, but Sony bought them up for reasons I am unable to determine.

I look forward to hearing what you think, as I have recommended it a few times but haven’t actually used it myself (I use Premiere Pro, witnessed friends using Final Cut, and have brushed the edges of Avid; Vegas seems to stand up well against them, especially for the price).

I have used it a little to find my way around. Seems like it is very powerful for the price, around $85. The user interface is not as easy to use as Nero but that is probably the feature set/learning curve tradeoff. So far I like it, great recommendation.

I use Adobe Premiere Elements 7 for my NLE (8 is out now). I have heard good things on the video boards about Vegas. I used to use Pinnacle, and was reasonably happy, but for me it was buggy. I only do light home DVD authoring from my raw files. Nuttin’ super fancy.

It’s a great idea to use the free trials of these. Make sure you are free-trialing versions you intend to buy. And you probably already know that your computer can make a huge difference–the more robust its memory, processor and graphics are, the better.

If I had to guess, I’d say they acquired them so they could bundle an editor with their video cameras. This makes it much easier to market the camera b/c the editing software and the camera can be made to be more compatible. There are so many format sub-types these days it can be quite a nuisance for they buyer. I still haven’t decided which fancy software to buy for my full HiDef AVC H.264 60 fps progressive video files. Any suggestions? (And of course there are subtypes of H.264…) So far I am limping along OK in Premiere but it only does 30 fps.

Another vote for Premier Elements here. I’d combine that with a more tweakable rendering software like TMPEG Enc Xpress 4.