>>What I would like


>>What I would like is to get a video editor that is relatively easy to learn how to use and I can master the basics of editing with.<<

This is probably the easiest requirement that you have. There are a wide variety of low cost/easy to use video editing applications on the market. Adobe Systems Premiere Elements, Imovie and Windows Movie maker are three very popular ones. A bit higher up in price would be a programs like Final Cut Express and Sony Vegas.

>>However once I have mastered that editor I would like to have been setup so I can move to a more advanced professional editor such as avid or fcp without being completely swamped. Any suggestions?<<

This requirement is a little more difficult. Learning the basics of editing is a lot more about concepts and theory, about learning when and why to cut than it is about the features of your editing application. Most of the low cost non-professional (consumer and pro-sumer level) applications (and yes sorry guys but I am classifying Vegas in this group) bare little to no resemblance to the higher end products like AVID, FCP and Premiere Pro (which according to the last numbers I saw the big three held about 90% of the market). In general the consumer and pro-sumer products are built with a limited feature set and intended to be easy to pick-up and use. Professional editing packages (because most of them are bundled packages now) on the other hand are usually feature rich and often extremely complicated/difficult to use.

There are some notable exceptions in which you have companies like Adobe and Apple that build a scaled down version of their higher end application for the consumer/pro-sumer. Apple’s Final Cut Express is very similar in appearance and work flow to the higher end Final Cut Pro and Adobe System’s Premiere Elements is basically a scaled down consumer version of Premiere Pro. AVID used to have a version called AVID Free DV, but they got rid of it a while back, that was intended to be a gateway application to their suite of professional editing applications. While Premiere Elements is a gateway for premiere Pro and Final Cut Express is a gateway for Final Cut Pro I am not aware of any program that is actually a gateway for AVID at the moment.

If your goal is to work in Film and/or standard television (I am talking about for a studio or network, not a smaller/independent production company) then AVID is a requirement. The best bet for learning AVID (with as little pain as possible) would be to find a certified AVID training center and take a couple of classes. Of find an AVID editor and beg to become an apprentice (yes some people still do that). You can learn software from books, DVDs and training videos, but as someone who has created those things, I believe they are only a mediocre replacement for a good and qualified instructor. A person can convey to you the nuances of the use of the program and the craft of editing.

If your goal is to run your own production company or work in a smaller market then you have a wide variety of pro-sumer level software you can buy and learn. At that point the choice will depend on the type of work you plan on doing, the work flow you plan on creating and the feature set you need from your editing application.

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