Review: Four Feature-Filled Video Editors For $100 And Less
Been putting your videos up on YouTube and feel you're ready to join the pros? These video editing packages will give you the tools you need without breaking your budget.
Video editing for the PC has become a lot like image editing: easier, and a lot more automated. In both cases, users can choose from a broad range of tools to accomplish tasks that used to take a lot of manual drudgework. For example, today's video editing tools let you add canned music to fit a specific length of video, clean up image noise and fixing a shaky camera shot.
Consequently, while the level of polished in the finished product is always going to be up to the creator, novice video developers will now find it a lot easier to pass themselves off as professionals -- or, at least, as reasonably skilled editors.
For this roundup, I looked at consumer-level video editing applications from Adobe, Cyberlink, Pinnacle, and Ulead, each for about $100. All of them offer the same basic mix of functions: importing video from a variety of sources, editing, audio dubbing, effects and transitions, both timeline and storyboard editing modes, and exporting to a variety of formats (including, as one case, uploading the results directly to YouTube).
What I found most eye-opening is the smattering of pro-level features that have started to work their way into consumer video products:
HD support. High definition is no longer something that costs $50,000 to shoot -- consumer HD cameras that shoot 1080i are now available for around a thousand dollars. Likewise, drives that support the HD-DVD and Blu-ray disc formats are now available as PC peripherals, although still at premium cost. Not all the products discussed here can render out to an HD format, but they can all accept HD video as an editing source.
Direct editing of MPEG. Because the MPEG video standard is designed for playback and not editing, it’s traditionally not been supported in video editing products. However, now that more consumer-level video devices record to MPEG, many editing applications support it, typically by performing nondestructive preprocessing on MPEG files where needed.
Multichannel audio. Home theater systems with five or more channels are no longer boutique items; many electronics stores sell 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1 audio systems complete with amplifier, decoder, and speakers all as one package. In the same way, support for multichannel audio in video apps isn’t as exotic a feature as it used to be.
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