Yet another guy looking for software advice with specific requirements

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    • #91801

      Hi all.

      Which of current popular video editing software for Windows would be most appropriate for my requirements?

      Usual use case: friends or relatives ask to create a short video stitched from various sources with different quality, file formats, white balance, brightness, audio volume; and often I don’t have much time because the video might be needed as part of a show for someone’s birthday party.

      More specific requirements:
      – budget – under 100 USD / EUR
      – appropriate for occasional use – workflow and basic UI controls are intuitive, not too much tied to specific shortcut combinations (I will forget them if I use the program only once a month or so); supports usual key combinations for scrolling/zooming in the timeline, undo/redo, copy/cut/paste (I don’t like when mousewheel and Ctrl + mousewheel does not work as expected)
      – ideally, it would be great to have some basic preset which normalizes the result; that is, makes all audio clips the same volume, adjusts white balance and brightness of each video clip to be “optimal”, and then provides controls to tweak each clip as necessary, in case the “optimal guess” was not quite right
      – timeline based, non-destructive (non-linear editing)
      – imports most popular video shooting formats and containers – AVCHD, XAVC, mp4, MOV (both progressive and interlaced; up to 1440×1080 and 1920×1080; I don’t really care about 4K yet), mp3, jpg, png
      – it is enough to have just a single format mp4 H.264 (AVC) + AAC as export; every modern video player will support this
      – exports audio track for more advanced editing in another software (noise cleanup etc.) and importing back
      – allows inserting still images and stretching them to be displayed for certain time (also it would be great to be able to stretch a single source video frame over some timeline frames to get a “freeze” effect)
      – has simple tools to create a slideshow video from series of images (ideally – create something basic with a few clicks and then tweak)
      – text titles with keyframing
      – simple transitions (crossfade, crossfade with static background color)
      – panning, cropping
      – per-clip effects with keyframes, per-track effects with keyframes
      – chroma key (essentially, green screen with custom adjustments)
      – audio and video noise filters
      – basic sets of reasonable quality effects for everyday use (brightness, contrast, saturation, white balance, vignettes); I don’t want to buy a software and then discover that I have to buy a bunch of additional plugins even for some very basic stuff
      – supports custom presets and provides sane default presets for effects and export
      – stability and non-interrupted work; I’d prefer older and maybe less feature rich but more reliable products which won’t have issues on Windows 10, 64 bit, and also won’t nag me with upgrade recommendations which cannot be turned off
      – does not require a beefy computer to work. I have an i3-2120 machine with 8GB RAM, and I plan to upgrade, but not higher than i5
      – nice-to-have: supports GPU processing for rendering (I have nVidia GTX 960)
      – nice-to-have: video stabilizing (oh, those shaky hands…)

      In general, I admit, I am too lazy to download and try “them all” (and the time is short because currently many sellers offer special X-mas discounts which will not last).

      I hope I’m not asking for too much – nothing highly professional; just a reliable workhorse for home video editing. If someone has had requirements close to mine and has already done the investigation, I will be really grateful if you could share your experience and the reasoning behind your choice of the software.

    • #214994

      Always start with what’s free – Windows Movie Maker is far from amazing, but it is fairly intuitive and will do 90% of the stuff you listed. You will run into problems with larger/longer projects due to your computer’s specs, so you may have to cut projects down into smaller chunks to work on them. If you are new to editing, I would suggest starting here.

      Next, if you have some experience with editing or would like to learn something new, DaVinci Resolve 12.5 is free and includes decently powerful editing capabilities, plus you can throw on some simple color grading and wow your friends. Output is limited to 1080p. I find the interface very pleasant to work in. The only real downside is that you need a piece of hardware that costs $137 (plus a second monitor or TV) to output full screen previews while you’re working. So if you don’t spring for that, you’re stuck editing on the small screen.

      Finally, my main workhorse software for editing is Adobe Premiere CC (and I typically roundtrip to Resolve for color grading). Fairly expensive and a very non-intuitive interface (for me, at least), but very powerful. This is the only option that has stabilization that is quite good, and of course offers all the other fancy stuff you mentioned. One reasonable option for Premiere is to buy it one month at a time for $30, and only buy it when you have a project that requires it. Have your friends kick you a few bucks each time and it won’t be too expensive. You might also be able to find an older non-cloud version of Premiere that fits your budget (but may not have Warp Stabilizer).

      I used a mix of these three for years, and I think that model could work well for you too – Windows Movie Maker for the stupid simple projects, Resolve for fancier projects, and Premiere once in a while if you need video stabilization or other high end features.

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