If you’re just joining us then you have picked a good juncture to start reading, this article can be approached without the prior 5 parts as it discusses something which can be jumped straight into and can and does fill discussion boards throughout the web, what software should I edit my film with?
There really is no simple answer to this question and a lot of it is decided by your budget which is why TechWench has decided to give you, the reader, a rundown on just what packages are available out the to the pro-sumer and to those just beginning their filmmaking career. Regardless of your ability level there is software out there suited to your purposes and skills and if it is outside of your range then you’ll have to roll with the punch and get working, filmmaking can be low budget but that does not mean it’s not effort.
Compromising in price does not always mean that you will be compromising in quality, in fact it mostly falls to a matter of requirements. Just how are you editing your film? Is it a simple cut and stitch of your source footage or is it a special effects bonanza? If you are just starting out in filmmaking then it is worth keeping your first few projects to simple cut and stitch jobs as this will allow you to familiarise yourself with the software and to become adapted to the grammar of the editing process.
One of the simplest tools for achieving this is the Windows Movie Maker, free on Windows computers and allows you to perform the simplest of tasks such as trimming your footage, adding audio and captions, transitions and some basic special effects. You may want to steer clear of the special effects however as they are less than seamless on the eye. One of the benefits of Windows Movie Maker is that it takes a fairly wide range of formats being designed to make video editing an option for all levels of users who do not necessarily know or care what format their footage is saved as. A good starting point for editing.
At the other end of the freescale is Lightworks, an extremely powerful yet free tool. So intuitive is the editing process in this software with its smart trimming and layer based approach that it has been used to edit many Hollywood films; The Kings Speech, 28 Days Later and The Nutty Professor to name but a handful of the proven track record of this powerful editing freeware. However, as with all power-package software expect a steep learning curve though one which will teach you highly transferrable skills if and when you transfer to other software packages.
This really comes down to two choices at the moment, Adobe or Apple? Both have recently updated their editing packages, Premiere Pro CS6 for Adobe and Final Cut Pro X for Apple. Both are extremely powerful editing packages, their older iterations are still used as standard throughout the creative industry. This choice may be made for you in your available hardware as Final Cut Pro X does not operate on Windows machines, it is an OS X only package, proving once again Apple’s interest in Monopoly over hardware and software.
Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 is as powerful as Final Cut Pro X though comes with just as prohibitive a price tag (Final Cut Pro X – $299, Premiere Pro CS6 – $799) but what you get in return for that are project files which can be shared cross platform, you aren’t limited to only working on Apple computers, which, if you are buying a license is a major consideration. The Macbook or PC you are working on now may not be your hardware platform down the line, if investing in either of these then it is key to bear this in mind and it may be worth spending the extra on Premiere now to save yourself buying Final Cut Pro X and needing Premiere later as your new high powered edit deck runs windows.
Both software packages have similar features, being pro-tools they need to have all options covered for the video editing process. Where Premiere has the lead for beginners however is that the interface is a lot less aggressive than in Final Cut Pro X, many just starting their careers as editors may find the interface confusing and certainly extraneous as to begin with you won’t need all the extra widgets and doodads that are kept onscreen always as standard. Premier escapes this with a minimalist GUI and is more approachable as a result.
That about wraps it up on TechWench’s lowdown on video editing packages, both free and paid, available to the low budget filmmaker. In conclusion, it can be seen that you do not need to commit to pro-tools to get the pro-look of a film, as a low-budget filmmaker the price of editing software can be extremely prohibitive and by removing this it allows you to focus on expanding your skills as an editor. Be sure to return when TechWench explores the options available for distributing your film.