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Five Low-Cost Windows Video Editing Programs : Page 2

Check our rundown of five sub-$100 video editing programs that we have used and found to work competently on most decent hardware running Windows XP, Vista or 7.


Corel VideoStudio Pro X3

It costs $69.99 and does an okay job, although the main selling point of this program is that you can use its Express Edit mode for quick and dirty, beginner-level editing, and later progress to fancier, more advanced techniques. VideoStudio also has about as easy a DVD-burning utility as you'll find in any video editing package, even expensive professional ones. Well worth a look -- and yes, there's a trial version available for free download.

Adobe Premiere Elements 9

It's pretty good for visual work, including great titling. But sound editing? I've never liked Premiere's sound editor. But this new version of Premiere Elements has some very cool built-in, automated audio tools, namely Audio Polish, Auto Mute, Cleaner, Hum Remover, Noise Fader, and Noise Reducer. I did a fast test of Noise Reducer, and it's at least as good as the equivalent utility in the free Audacity audio editor, but not as good as Virtos Noise Wizard -- which costs $59.50 or more, while all of Elements only costs $99.99. Hmm. An interesting value proposition. An even better one is a Premiere Elements and Photoshop Elements bundle for $149.99.

One note: several friends have called Premiere Elements the crashiest video program they've ever used. I had it crash once while doing a simple AVCHD video test edit. This is not good. But then again, most 32-bit Windows video editing programs tend to crash, while 64 bit ones are more stable. And none of them are stable in Windows Vista. Windows Vista is simply not a usable operating system for video editing.

A second note: Adobe Premiere Elements isn't the world's easiest program to learn. It's up there with MAGIX and some of the other pro-level programs -- which shouldn't surprise anyone, seeing as it's a cut-down version of Adobe Premiere, which costs well over $1000 these days.

Sony Vegas Platinum

Sony Vegas Platinum is the hardest to learn of all the editing programs listed here, but becoming proficient with it will put you 90% of the way to professional-level video production -- and once you're familiar with the sub-$100 "consumer" version of Vegas, you will have 90% of the skills needed to make full use of the $600 "pro" version, which is used by many top-end video and movie producers because it is fast, not too hardware-hungry, and handles virtually any kind of standard definition or high definition video file there is.

Another Vegas advantage is that it crashes less frequently than any consumer-priced or even pro-priced video editing software running on typical home or small-office computer hardware -- with the caveat that, like any complex software package, it less stable on Vista than on other Windows versions.

For best results, use multiple hard drives

One trick that saves me grief in Vegas (and can save grief in almost any video editing program) is to use one hard drive for the program and another for video data. The video data hard drive can be an external USB 2.0 or Firewire drive. Either IO protocol is fast enough to deal with even the most data-intensive AVCCAM or AVCHD video formats, and it's these formats where you're most likely to see frames drop if your data and program are on the same hard drive.

But whatever editing software you use, and no matter how many hard drives you have, knowing how to turn out decent-looking (and decent-sounding) video is both fun and potential career-enhancing, so it's knowledge well worth acquiring.

Robin 'Roblimo' Miller is a writer, editor, and online community builder; author of three IT-related books; and a skilled video director, editor, and producer. He's been covering technology, politics, and business since 1985 for assorted print and online publications, and was a Slashdot editor for 10 years under his "Roblimo" nom de net.
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