Don't assume that the gold membership is enough, although it did not state that for me on my system at the time. Absolutely ridiculous. I was unhappy but willing to pay some money for this software as it is useful, but to be barraged everytime I open it with a message about Gold and Platinum memberships and then to be told after 4 hours of work that I cannot export my video unless I pay the ridiculous price is horrible.
As easy as CyberLink makes this software to use, there may be times when you need help. To that end, the company established DirectorZone, a community of videographers, filmmakers and aspiring editors. This allows you to connect to, collaborate with and learn from other video makers. DirectorZone is a great resource for editors of all skill levels.
The Edit menu also contains the new Stabilization choice if you're running Windows 8 or 8.1, as well as play speedup and slow-mo (this retains the audio, so you can have fun making you and your friends sound like chipmunks or lions). As in iMovie, all editing is done in the same thumbnail/timeline area—no popup windows for trimming like you find in other video editors like CyberLink PowerDirector.
When asked if he had any advice for newbie editors learning the software, he recommended third-party resources. “Classes are great if they’re available and affordable,” Dutcher said. He also advised new video editors to “buy the manuals that are not published by the software companies, such as 'Final Cut Pro for Dummies,' because they’re written by actual users, and written in language that’s more accessible.”
Other great inclusions are the program’s instant auto-save functionality, which works flawlessly in the background, and the ability to select Avid and Final Cut Pro keyboard layouts if you refuse to adopt Lightworks’ default design. Despite its brawny capabilities, it’s quick and on-point, and the full-screen interface is polished and well organized as well. Also, given the open-source nature of the software and steep learning curve associated with the freemium product, the program’s forums are more bustling than most.
Apple’s Final Cut Pro X software falls into what we call the “prosumer” category because it treads the line between a product for consumers who want to up their video-editing game and one for professionals who need powerful editing tools. It lacks a traditional timeline-track interface, which is enough to scare some users off, but the software is intuitive and powerful nonetheless. It has great organizational tools like libraries, ratings, tagging, auto analysis for faces and scenes, and automatic color coding for track-specific clips, useful keyboard short-cuts and drag-and-drop media importing give Adobe’s Premiere Elements a run for its money. Unfortunately, you can't directly open projects from Final Cut Pro 7 or earlier, but there are many third-party plug-ins that will help you out there.
We evaluated each program’s interface and workflow to see how intuitive they are. We tracked the number of clicks it takes to access and use common tools. If a tool is difficult to find, awkwardly implemented or counterintuitive, it can slow down your edits. We quickly discovered that the more accessible everything is, the better the editing experience will be. We gave each program an A to F grade based on this evaluation.
A lot of people ask what sort of gear we use for the Stark Insider YouTube channel. We don’t do vlogs, but I would suggest this is a highly flexible camera rig for just about every possible scenario. You could use it for weddings (though if you have the budget the Sony a7S is superb in low light and one of my top 5 camera buys), interviews, sporting events, birthdays, documentary work, live concerts… and, on and on.
Tech support and documentation: One of the big distinctions between paid and free software is the level of documentation and tech support; paid software has more-explicit and -detailed documentation and guides than the free versions. That said, many software packages post instructional videos of the most popular features to YouTube, and more-complex free packages may offer extensive documentation.
Particularly intensive is the process of rendering your finished product into a standard video file that will by playable on the target device of choice, be that an HDTV, a laptop, or a smartphone. Most of the software can take advantage of your computer's graphics processor to speed this up. Be sure to check the performance section in each review linked here to see how speedy or slow the application is. In rendering speed testing, CyberLink and Pinnacle have been my perennial champs.