Though it’s overwhelming—and often impossible—to keep pace with the innovations in multimedia technology, the good news is that whether you understand them or not, these innovations level the playing field between consumers and professionals. This is the case with video cameras, and it’s also the case with the video editing software you’ll need to produce multimedia clips.

Each of the programs I’ve outlined below really deserve they’re own blog post, but since I’m working in this medium, a few hundred words will have to do. As always, I’m happy to respond to follow-up questions via E-mail or the comments field below.

For Apple Computers:

iMovie 08
Packaged in the iLife Suite $79 (Preloaded on new Apple Computers)

The Good: Compatible with most cameras and video file types. Also, its interface works seamlessly with iPhoto and iTunes for quick importing of other media. Projects can be exported directly to YouTube, iWeb, iDvd and a variety of video formats.

The Bad: Limited transition and audio editing capabilities may become restricting rather quickly. While its user-friendly, the interface is not standard within the video-editing world and it’s missing some editing staples that can be very handy. (IE: There is no timeline for edited video, just a series of thumbnails)

Overall Value: Ideal for novice editors and simple projects that don’t require much editing beyond a few select transitions and title sequences. If you are looking to learn non-linear editing at a low cost this is the ideal program for you.

Final Cut Express $199

The Good: Professional-level software, Final Cut Express looks and feels the same as its more expensive brother Final Cut Studio. It provides unlimited transition options, video filters, audio editing options and title sequences, so you’re less likely to get stuck in a creative box. Even better, there are many online resources (including video tutorials) that can coach you through using the software.

The Bad: Unlike iMovie, some video cameras and file types will not work without an added codec. The learning curve for this program can be steep and its more advanced options can be tricky to learn. Some features, including advanced audio editing, 3D graphic design, and advanced exporting are not available.

Overall Value: The workhouse of online video editing, Final Cut Express is a very powerful, yet well-priced editing system utilized by many newspapers and magazines. I would highly recommend this system if you have an Apple and are serious about getting a job producing multimedia.

For PC Users:

Windows Movie Maker $0

The Good: Free and easy to use, this program offers simple editing tools including fades, titles, and exporting options.

The Bad: Most users will find this program to be too simple and limiting. Unlike iMovie, which has some pro-level features built in, Windows Movie Maker is a very stripped down entry-level program. Think Word Pad vs. Microsoft Word, or Paint vs. Photoshop.

Overall Value: Perfect for first time editors, this free program is a great way to learn about non-linear editing. If you do decide to use it though, remember there are a limited amount of transitions and editing capabilities, which may be frustrating at times.

Pinnacle Studio Ultimate 129.99

The Good:
Relatively cheap compared to Final Cut Express, but still extremely powerful. Lot’s of new features including: Color correction, HD compatibility, and straight to DVD exporting.

The Bad: As with Final Cut Express, the learning curve is steep, it’s a bit limiting in motion and 3D effects, and some cameras/video files may require an added codec.

Overall Value: Pinnacle’s flagship editing program, I would highly recommend this as an alternative to Final Cut Express for PC users. A good selection of video transitions, audio options, and exporting options make this an appropriate setup for someone who has a PC and doesn’t want to spend more than $150 to edit video.

Looking to edit video the same way Hollywood pros do? Then consider Final Cut Studio 2 ($1,299) and Adobe Premier ($799). Both systems are professional grade and come with everything short of your own personal genius. If you’re really serious about editing they might be worth looking into, but since I started this series off with “How to Create Video Without Losing your Shirt,” it’s not the most economical option out there.


  1. There’s another program that your readers who use PC might want to consider — I really like Vegas Platinum, which is the little sister of Sony’s Vegas Pro.

    While it doesn’t have all the features of Vegas Pro, it’s a good compromise at approximately $129. And when people are just starting to learn video editing, the large pro programs are usually more than they need. Vegas Platinum is easy to learn and has a lot of advanced features for those who want to move beyond the basics.

    Love your blog!

  2. Corel’s Ulead Videostudio 11 is some pretty powerful software, and is just a touch cheaper than Pinnacle.

    There’s not much you can’t do with it, but the learning curve (similar to any “prosumer” editing platforms) is steep.

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