Increasingly, new capabilities trickle down from professional-level software to the consumer category. That's a good thing for nonprofessional movie editors, since the more-consumer-oriented software makes formerly difficult procedures a cinch for them. Read on for a survey of the latest trends in video editing software and our top picks in the field.
For the most advanced, least fiscally prudent of beginners, there’s Apple Final Cut Pro X. $299.99 might be a little steep for a product you may well have a difficult time understanding; but for those among you who enjoy a challenge, and who aspire to some level of professionalism in video editing, why not go for it? Apple has made the transition from iMovie to Final Cut Pro more painless than ever—so if you’re the kind of guy or gal who enjoys him/herself an Apple product, and has worked with iMovie to the point of mastery, it might be time to splurge on Final Cut Pro. The power is still daunting; the interface, significantly less so.
Like iMovie, Movie Maker uses a simplified version of the standard video editor timeline, with clips represented by "long thumbnails." The first frame is shown at full contrast, while the following ones are faded, in a distinction between this look and iMovie's. The thumbnail tracks optionally show you the audio waveforms along the bottom, so you can see where the loud and quiet parts of your video lay. You get five size choices for the thumbs, which is probably enough, and a zoom control at the bottom lets you stretch out these clip representations. You can trim or split clips using the cursor insertion point combined with edit buttons. It's quite easy once you get used to the unique editing system used by the app: you click at a point in your clip, and can then drag the resulting insertion line around the timeline.
We installed each video editor on a Windows 10 PC running on an Intel Core i5 processor and an Nvidia dedicated graphics card. We used each suite to edit the same two videos: a 4K NASA video from inside the International Space Station, and a 1080p game capture video from Overwatch. We tested most of the filters and transitions in each suite, and cut the same edited versions of each video in each program. We then exported the videos to various file formats and media, as well as web services, to test output quality and speed. Where software offered a notable special feature not supported in the other products, we tested it when our hardware and software setup allowed it.
Compared to HitFilm's high-energy interface, VideoPad has a simple, soothing look which makes it more approachable for novices. It works with both Macs and PCs and still lets you edit 360-degree video with the same ease as you would traditional movies, though adding text to 360-degree clips can be a bit tricky. VideoPad also lacks some of the advanced features you'll find with HitFilm, like multicam editing, high-end special effects and motion tracking, but you can purchase a number of add-ons to expand VideoPad's feature set.
For our speed comparison, we tested all of the Windows and cross-platform video editing software on an HP Spectre x360 convertible laptop running Windows 10 Home. The laptop's 64-bit Intel Core i5 processor, with a 5200U CPU, runs at 2.2 GHz on an Intel HD Graphics 5500 system and has 8GB of RAM. We tested iMovie on a MacBook Air (late 2013) with a 1.7-GHz Intel Core i7 processor, Intel HD Graphics 5000 and 8GB of RAM, and running macOS Sierra v. 10.12.1.
After struggling with GoPro Studio's constant glitches and quirkiness, I finally got fed-up enough to search for an editor that fits my needs. For me that was something simple, reliable and actually usable. I didn't need a lot of features yet, just a means of basic editing without freezing-up. Very reliable! Two things I noticed that were minor issues for me: 1. - audio/video syncing during editing/preview was an issue that was solved by rendering often, 2. - I'd like the fade transition to be more smooth and adjustable but maybe I have to look into this a bit more. Overall a pleasure to use. I actually look forward to using it compared to the dread I felt using GoPro Studio, which isn't even available to download any more. Another appropriate review I read of GoPro Studio was that it was free, powerful and dysfunctional.
Every other program has dedicated tracks for each type of media such as video, audio, images, etc. The fact that you can use any media on any track makes this software much more dynamic and provides more control over your project. However, the DVD authoring tools in this program fall short of the best we tested. For example, you don’t get the ability add bonus features or save a disc image to your hard drive. While neither of these things are a deal-breaker, they’re both found in our top pick for this category.
A new standard for 4K video processing - simple, fast and quality-oriented. Edit, shrink, resize and encode 4K/5K/8K and HD/SD videos with minimal effort. macXvideo is engineered for peak performance in processing 4K videos. The unique GPU processing speeds up the workflow to where others can't, ending computer overheating or freezing. An exclusive compression engine is made to compress video like no one else, with minimum output size and every detail reserved. Within a few clicks, you can make amazing movies like a Pro.
Other measures of performance include startup time and simple stability. Again, video editing is a taxing activity for any computer, involving many components. In the past, video editing programs took longer than most other apps to start up, and unexpected shutdowns were unfortunately common, even in top apps from top developers such as Adobe and Apple. The stability situation has greatly improved, but the complexity of the process, which increases as more powerful effects are added, means crashes will likely never be fully eliminated, and they often raise their ugly heads after a program update, as I found with the latest version of Pinnacle Studio.