The following descriptions are not tutorials, but present a very basic high level overview of the various software editing tools in what they offer in terms of features and functionality, along with a short comment if there are any points worth noting or is not in the literature.
If you are looking for more descriptive tutorials on the specific video tool of interest, the information may reside as a DVD right in the retail box or be viewed on the vendor’s respective web sites.
NLE or Video Production tools to Review (not in any order of preference or price)
Tip: If you are a beginner or new to the product you intend to buy, don’t feel intimated by the user interfaces as they present themselves. Just navigate around and get the idea on what they do and how they work (use small test files the install disks or the vendor web-site may have). It’s really quite straight forward. Push buttons, click tabs, explore. What is the worst that can happen? If there is no way out of what you did, then close the application and reopen it, until you get the hang of it.
Better yet, read up on how to use the edit tool before committing to your project. It will save a lot of grief. There is lots of user information on the install disk or as FAQ’s on the products web-site. Getting used to the video terms and understanding the work flow processes will make a big difference in how you tackle your project and ultimately its outcome. Many user interfaces and workflows in these software tools generally follow a common theme or metaphor. Learning one tool would give a good head start on the next if you feel the need.
The prices for these products range from free to a very reasonable $125 or so, depending on what the product offers. It’s also very easy to own one or more of these software packages. Several are available (Pinnacle, Vegas, Roxio to name a few) from your local electronics retailer like Best Buy, Futureshop, Staples – Business Depot and Frys for example or from the software vendors web-site directly as downloads. The higher the price, the more features.
DV Edit and DVD Author tools Product list—free & retail
- Windows Movie Maker v2.1 – sometimes referred to as v5.1 (for Windows XP & XP Pro)
- Pinnacle Studio, Studio Plus and Studio Ultimate – v12
- More coming. If you have a software tool that you want us to explore and post here, just contact me and ask for Bill.
Windows Movie Maker v2.1
Key Features—High Level
- no MPEG transcoding facility, necessary for DVD author
- not a DVD authoring tool, requires third party software to complete your DVD title
- simple video compositing facility due to single timeline
- simple edits — cuts, pastes and re-organizing edits or other clips
- mix mulitple video clips and images on the same timeline
- transitions, effects, title insertion features and single track audio support
- single timeline video and image insertion from a visual pallette
- frame accurate editing
- NTSC or PAL DV capture and wmv video compression support
- Standard Definition – DV video support
- Firewire capture interface for direct DV device import. Firewire 1394 card required
- realtime WMV capture and transcode (transcode done real-time in software)
- pre-set WMV compression settings for bandwidth limited applications Ipod, LAN etc
- comes free with Windows XP, SP2 and SP3
- intuitive, very easy to learn
A great introductory tool to learn. If you plan to do very simple DV related projects or just want to trim and re-organize your DV videos, then use this tool. Hey its free. It has very straight forward and intuitive interfaces. If you haven’t upgraded to SP2 or 3, and you have XP or XP Pro, download this great edit utility free from the Microsoft web site.
An all round great tool for intermediate and advanced users. It will be a bit daunting for beginners, so it may be worthwhile to stay with the ‘Basic’ version until you get the hang of it. You can always upgrade later at a very reasonable cost. The tool has everything you need to capture video, edit, author and burn DVD’s and Blu-ray disks if you get the ‘Ultimate’. Grow into the more advanced features like special effects and the concept of layering when you feel comfortable. Pinnacle has done a great job at keeping things simple and intuitive.
If you intend to move or experiment with High Definition video, the ‘Plus’ or the ‘Ultimate’ versions will work for you. To commit to full HD work of course, you will have to invest in an HD camera (supporting HDV or AVCHD via Firewire, SD or hard drive), a Blu-Ray burner/reader, an HD ready display and maybe a faster, resource rich computer. It is a big leap that will not be cheap. You could wait until the prices really drop in a year or so, but what’s the fun in that? Your wife can put you in the dog house only once.