Reader Question: Beginner Video Editing Software & Training

Michael asks: 

What's the best way to learn how to edit video? And what's software is good and cheap to edit with?

 Answer:

If you want to learn the basics of video editing and working with any software, I'd suggest you check out online tutorials. There are usually quite a lot available. Here are some of my favorite sites:

  • Lynda
  • Skillshare
  • Video Copilot
  • FilmRiot

I may even make some program-specific editing tutorial videos myself as I get more into this blog, and I will certainly be writing about it a lot.

However... If you want to understand the art of film editing, that's a different story. You might start with Walter Murch's wonderful book, "In the Blink of an Eye".

Apart from that, you'll just want to put in a lot of practice time, and find some great mentors.

As for editing software... 

I personally recommend Adobe Premiere CS6/Creative Cloud. The entire Adobe Creative suite is available now for just $50 a month as a subscription, so if you were going to do any kind of professional editing, I'd just go straight to that. Premiere Pro is fantastic and is used all over the world in TV and film production. 

"Avatar", "The Aviator", "Hugo", and tons of other major feature films and television shows were edited with Premiere Pro.

Sadly, I do not get any kickbacks for saying any of this. 

Of course, there are also many in the film industry who use Final Cut Pro X ($300), and the standard for film-editing is still Avid Media Composer ($1000+). 

 Now that I've gotten my plugs for just going straight to pro-software out of the way... An inexpensive, yet still highly effective, option is Sony Vegas. Looks like you can get it from Amazon for about $60.

http://www.amazon.com/.../dp/B008MIMIY8/ref=sr_1_1...

I haven't used it since version 4, so I'm not going to be much help on the ins and outs of that specific software, however a former roommate used to use it all the time to edit videos for work and he always found it to be easy to use. 

To be honest, the overwhelming majority of video editing is not limited by your choice of NLE (Non-Linear Editing software), because for the most part, the features you absolutely need are the ability to cut, copy and move media around on a timeline or project sequence and virtually any program can do that. The fancier stuff, like color correction, histograms, effects, transitions, and other graphical tools really aren't that necessary for beginners/amateurs... Which is partially why stuff like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker don't have many of those options.

Pinnacle also makes some really cheap video editing software, but I have literally never had a Pinnacle product function properly, so I wouldn't go there at all.

Apart from loss of features, note that the cheaper the software, the more likely it's going to be to crash frequently, be unable to handle multiple file formats, and limit you severely when it comes time to export your final product. 

Sean Malone

Washington, DC