Video editing software is the primary tool of the editor’s trade. Moreover, just as the tools of a craftsperson fit their needs, the video editor selects their software to accomplish the task at hand. This allows editors to work efficiently and with precision.
Regardless of the trade, there is deep reasoning behind the use and preference for each item in the toolbox. Of course, the selection and choice of video editing software can be a daunting task for the video editor. Yet, it doesn’t need to be. You can easily identify the video editing software that best suits your needs with a little thought and a good set of carefully considered questions.
What are you making?
There is a wide range of video editing software available on the market. While many of these software packages share similar tools and workflows, they aren’t the same. Their nuanced workflows and different strengths position them to address the needs of video editors in different ways. So, the best way to start determining which software to choose, is to make a full assessment of your role in the production.
What kind of video?
The first thing you should ask yourself is, “What kind (or kinds) of video am I making?” The needs of a documentary film will be different than those of social media marketing posts. You’ll be better prepared to assess and prioritize the different features of each software package by understanding which kind of video they make.
The first thing you should ask yourself is, “What kind (or kinds) of video am I making?”
Who is this for?
Another important question you’ll need to answer is, “Who am I making this video for and with?” Altogether, collaboration is common. In fact, good collaboration is the key to success in video production. Consequently, if you’re working as a contractor, you’ll need a software package that’s compatible with your client’s post-production tools and environment.
What’s the delivery?
It’s important to understand that final delivery should influence your choice of video editing software. In short, a video that is being streamed on YouTube has different delivery parameters than a video that needs to be delivered as an uncompressed 4K video. Likewise, the final deliverable might need to meet specific accessibility standards. So, you’ll need to consider how you’ll meet and deliver those standards.
It comes with a price tag
Video editing software comes at a cost. The cost of the software is often a deciding factor in deciding which package to purchase. There is free software (DaVinci Resolve), software licenses that can be purchased (Final Cut Pro X, DaVinci Resolve Studio), and software subscriptions (Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer). Even within those purchasing models, there are options that can scale to the different needs of each video editor.
Features, tools and possibilities
Video editing software packages differ in the features they offer. For the sake of this article, software features are inclusive of tools, workflows, plugins, software integration and software customizations.
While most video editing software packages offer similar tools, there is some variance in how those tools function. There is also a difference in the quality of the tools across the different software packages. Some are stronger at handling certain tasks than others and vice-versa. While software package A might be stronger at color correction than software package B, software package B might have more robust media management tools.
A video editor should know what tools are a priority for the work they do. With this knowledge, you can compare and contrast the different toolsets of each software package to determine which programs best fit your needs.
Workflows help facilitate the efficiency of video editing. Different genres of video will prioritize different stages of video post-production. As an editor, you should consider software that helps you establish a workflow that prioritizes your post-production needs. You’ll also need to consider video editing software that is going to help you deliver within your budget and on-time.
Plugins make life as a video editor easier. They expand the capabilities of the video editing software and simplify tasks. When considering the tools available in a video editing software package, you should consider how that package can be expanded through its compatibility with available plugins.
Video editing software, like most software packages, has some extent of built-in customization. This can be as simple as customizing the arrangement and appearance of the software UI, or as complex as building custom macros and automating frequently executed tasks. Customization features vary across the software packages. Therefore, you’ll want to look at how you work and see if you’re able to adapt the software to your needs.
Another consideration is how the video editing software integrates with other software tools. In today’s production environment, video is often only one piece of an integrated media campaign. These utilize a variety of graphics, animations and audio components. With this in mind, you’ll need to look at which media integrations are beneficial to your workflow and choose your software accordingly.
You are not alone
It’s important to consider your place in the overall post-production industry when choosing your video editing software. Any software package you choose will have its own place in the video industry. If you’re the type of video editor who collaborates with a great number of producers and clients, you’ll want to choose video editing software that has a high rate of industry adoption. This way you can share production files and find user support when needed. If you don’t collaborate with others, this may not be as important of a factor.
Video editing software is complex. It takes a great deal of time and experience to thoroughly understand all of the intricacies a package has to offer. It’s also common for video editors to come across unforeseen problems with their software. This is why it’s important to understand the technical support that is offered for any given piece of video editing software. Detailed documentation, an active user community, and direct contact with support teams are all valuable for the video editor who works under tight deadlines.
Don’t forget the hardware
Software is tricky. It offers a great deal of promise to the end user. However, your software is useless if you don’t have compatible hardware. Thus, there are two critical hardware situations you’ll need to consider when choosing your software. First, you’ll need to make sure that your computer is capable of running the software they select.
In a similar vein, there are many video formats that are used in production today. That means you’ll need to consider what video cameras are being used in the productions you’re working on. Some software packages handle particular video formats better than others.
Video editing software is packed with robust features. Their unique capabilities help video editors find solutions to a diverse set of problems. However, not all problems or productions are the same. If you understand your post-production needs, you’ll be ready to choose a video editing software package that meets those needs. A great place to start is with the Videomaker Buyers’ Guide to video editing software.