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.
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.

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.


Adobe is an instantly recognisable name to most, and its Premiere Elements 15 program is a great choice for both beginners and experienced editors. It isn't as complex as the more heavyweight Premiere Pro video editor (listed below), which is best suited to full-time video editing professionals. But Adobe Premiere Elements is packed with excellent features, such as face detection, audio effects and bundled soundtracks. And it's friendly to use, too.
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. Appleā€™s iMovie, the lone Mac-only app, is not included in the timed comparisons.
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