For an option that falls in the middle of the price range, CyberLink has one of the most impressive arsenals of tools -- and it's still easy to use. The recently revamped interface is intuitive, and the features are “content aware,” meaning that they analyze raw footage for things such as shakiness, lighting and faces to create a better final cut. There is also added support for 4K video content.
Though Mac users don't have the sheer number of software choices available for PCs, Apple fans interested in editing video are well served, by four products in particular. At the entry level, the surprisingly capable and enjoyable-to-use iMovie comes free with every Mac sold since at least 2011. iMovie only offers two video tracks, but does good job with chroma-keying, and its Trailers feature makes it easy to produce slick, Hollywood-style productions.
Credit: ShutterstockBasic Features: The watchword with free apps is often which one offers the best combination of technically complex software for which you would otherwise have to shell out the big bucks. All video editors should, at the very least, have some combination of familiar features like a viewer or playback window, library, timeline, and access to transitions and effects.
Windows' included video editing software is all about simplicity: There's really no simpler way to combine your clips into digital movies with titles, transitions, background music, and effects. In earlier releases, the program was so simple that it wasn't capable of doing things people commonly needed, but little by little, stuff like voiceover recording and even anti-shake have made their way into what is now a very useful free app for digital video editing. Let's be clear, Movie Maker still lacks a lot of effects and tools you get in Apple's entry-level video editor, iMovie, not to mention enthusiast-level products like Adobe Premiere Elements or CyberLink PowerDirector, but for basic needs and ease of use, it hits the mark.
Advanced abilities continue to make their way into accessible, affordable, and consumer-friendly video editing software as each new generation of software is released. For example, multicam editing, which lets you switch among camera angles of the same scene shot with multiple video cameras, used to be a feature relegated to pro-level software. Now this and many other advanced effects are available in programs designed for use by nonprofessional enthusiasts.
We combined a text opener with five clips linked by a cross-fade-type transition into a 2.5-minute video shot at 60 frames per second, and rendered the projects to the MPEG-4 format at 720p. We timed rendering at both 60 fps and 30 fps. We adjusted settings to take advantage of hardware acceleration for all tests whenever possible, setting them in either the preferences or the rendering controls for the best speeds. Apple’s iMovie, the lone Mac-only app, is not included in the timed comparisons.