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Best Video Editing software

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Most people don’t really realize that video editing is an art. Contrary to popular belief, video editors do not just cut scenes and piece them together. They are the faceless storytellers behind the scenes who convey stories visually. They create the pace, tone, feeling, and the narrative flow of a story. Not only is video editing an art, but it is also a tough art to learn. It exacts an immense amount of practice and experience to master. We hope that this article will serve as a guide to make it simpler.

In the larger scheme of things, video editors are the ones who construct the films we see. With the help of professional video editing software, they piece together disjointed and separate elements to create something that is cohesive and compelling. 

The process of video editing involves rearranging different shots and scenes to create a whole new, meaningful output. It could involve using video editing software to string together different shots and scenes using simple video transitions, or it can also be as complex as adding CGI and special effects. It may also involve adding audio and generally tying together various such elements. It can take hours, days, months, and even years to accomplish. It may be achieved over a shoestring budget or may even involve millions of dollars.

Simply put, a video editor uses footage, sound, and graphics to tell a story convincingly. A typical day in the life of the video editor may involve developing treatments and storyboards, working on scripts, producing and editing videos and photos editing software for multiple platforms. The video editor could be working on short-form daily content that is generally used for social media platforms and also long-form series. While doing so, a video editor may even have to source or create graphics, animations, special effects, music, sound effects, and sound bites. 

You may think that all a video editor needs to do is know how to work with a professional video editing software. However, there is more to it. Video editors are also required to use their expertise to make decisions that will best optimize the content for the distribution platform. A video editor may also be responsible for audience development, working alongside the editorial team, and other departments to ensure a steady stream of content designed to meet business objectives.

Modern video editing involves three stages- pre-production, production, and post-production. 

Pre-production: You may say that this is the compositional stage. The outline of the video is created in this stage.

Production: This is when the filming takes place based on the outline.

Post-production: This is the most important stage in video editing. The recorded footage is taken to the editing room. A video editing software is used extensively to organize and stitch all the footage together to help realize the vision that was determined in the pre-production stage.

Each stage is built upon the work that is done in the previous stages. A common misconception is that video editing comes into the picture only in the post-production stage. A good video editor will not just be technically proficient but will have a deep understanding of the different stages of video editing and at which stage the various techniques must be applied. In doing so, the video editor eliminates the need to work on footage that will never make it to the final edit. 

The video editor can enjoy a great amount of control in shaping the final video. In other words, a good video editor can play an integral role in ensuring that the footage that reaches the editing room in the post-production stage needs minimal editing.

Learning video editing may seem overwhelming. It is very complex and very technical. However, becoming a professional video editor is not an unachievable proposition. Aspiring professional video editors must consider the following -

1. What type of videos are you editing?

Think about what kind of videos you want to edit. There are various genres of videos, such as short films, vlogs, feature films, documentaries, and even home movies. Each genre requires a different style and approach to editing. 

2. What kind of video editing software must I use?

The video editing software may also vary based on the genre of the video. Depending on the task at hand, decide whether you want to opt for a basic video editing software with drag-and-drop features or a more professional video editing software that can create high-quality visual effects. Sometimes all you need is a simple online video editing tool to get the job done, while on some occasions you may just need to use video effects software, the best video mixing software out there or even video cropping software. For some genres, you may need a full-featured video maker software.

3. Does my computer enable video editing?

Your computer may not necessarily have the specifications needed to perform video editing. The memory, processor, a graphics card, and storage are all important considerations. For example, your computer must have at least 8 GB of RAM. It’s best to have as much memory as possible. You must also choose a powerful processor. The Intel Core series (i5 or higher) and the AMD FX series are great options. Ensure that you have a processor with a speed of at least 2.6 gigahertz. Storage capacity is also crucial. While 1 TB of storage is recommended, do not go any lower than 500 GB.

In general, personal computers that are designed for gaming will have all the required specifications. Mac computers, especially the Mac Pro series, are widely regarded as topmost choices for video editing.

Once you have your equipment in place, keep the following points in mind when you begin to edit videos -

  • Choose the correct clips by watching the footage multiple times.
  • Organize your footage well. Make folders and subfolders so that you can identify and retrieve content easily.
  • Be present on the sets during the shooting. If possible, obtain multiple takes of a single scene so that you have many options to choose from to bring out the best results.
  • Less is more. Do not go overboard with effects.
  • Ensure that you take a break every now and then so that you obtain fresh eyes’ perspective to determine what is or isn’t working.
  • Choose background music with care. Do not opt for anything that may distract viewers from concentrating on the scene.

Professional video editing is a serious business and can determine the success or failure of the content. It requires instinct and experience. Much of all these come from consistent learning and practice. It is a very creative process and an ever-evolving field of work. 

There are different types of edits and cuts that you can use to put together a story. Learning and mastering these editing techniques and understanding when to apply them can make your projects more entertaining. They may also help you develop a signature style over time. Here are some cuts and transitions you should know:

  1. Standard Cut: Also known as a hard cut, this is the basic and most common cut. It simply puts two clips together, connecting the last frame of the first one and the beginning frame of the next. 
  2. Jump Cut: It is a cut that takes you forward in time within the same frame or composition, often used within montages.
  3. Montages: A montage is created to depict the passage of time and sometimes also to give an overall context to the story with quick cuts. 
  4. Cross Dissolve: It may involve using overlapping “layers” or dissolves to show multiple stories or scenes happening at the same time. The scenes are featured even though they were shot at different times.  
  5. Wipe: A digital animation “wipes” the first scene away into the next scene. 
  6. Fade In/Out: A clip fades out to let the next one fade in. 
  7. J or L Cut: Suppose you have two clips - A and B. When you want the audio from clip A to continue when clip B comes in, you use an L cut. The J cut is when the audio from clip B comes in while one is still seeing clip A. 
  8. Cutting on Action: The name of this cut is pretty much self-explanatory. This is when you cut at the point of action because that’s the viewer’s eyes and brain are naturally expecting. For example, when someone kicks open a door, you generally expect to see a change in angle when the door is kicked. You don’t expect to see it flying open and swinging.  
  9. Cutaway Shots: To create more tension and foreshadowing, and also to create an extra context to the scene, cutaway shots are used to take viewers away from the main characters or action. 
  10. Cross Cut/Parallel Editing: Generally used in heist movies to create tension, this is when you cut between two different scenes happening at the same time in different locations. 
  11. Match Cut: A match cut gives a context and continuity to the scene without disorienting the viewer. It is to either move between scenes or move around a space, with the goal of keeping everything coherent. For example, shooting someone’s back as they open a door and then cutting to the opposite side as they walk through it. 
  12. Smash Cut: The smash cut is used when you have a loud scene that immediately cuts to a quiet scene or vice versa.  
  13. Invisible Cut: The goal of invisible cuts is to keep the shot looking like one continuous take, and it takes a highly-skilled video editor to achieve it.

Let those creative juices flow. Play around and experiment by using multiple cuts at the same time, and you may land up with something truly remarkable.

The days of complex and expensive video editor machines are long gone. Today, we have video and audio editing software for personal computers and workstations. Typically, top video editing software come with tools to convert file formats, trim or cut segments, join and re-sequence clips, rotate or crop footage, adjust brightness/contrast, add sounds or transitions and even special effects. 

While video and audio editing software can be used to record footage, it is used more for post-production design and editing of raw footage in digital file formats. The resulting video file is generally compatible with and can be viewed on most mainstream devices. Video editing software can also upload videos to video-sharing platforms. The videos can also be exported to external media, such as a data storage device or a DVD.

The following are the four main types of video editing. You can choose the best video editing software solution for you based on the type of video editing you plan to undertake:

  1. Film Splicing: A splicing machine is used to line up the film footage while cutting or splicing it.
  2. Tape-To-Tape/Linear: A very outdated method, it is still used on rare occasions. Video is copied from one tape to another.
  3. Digital/Computer/Non-Linear: Specialized video editing software is used to edit video footage on a computer. The finished product is then recorded on an optical disk or tape.
  4. Live Editing: Commonly used for live television coverage, multiple cameras are routed through a central console. The footage is mixed and edited in real-time.

With so many options for video and audio editing software available, knowing what features you need in the software can help you get closer to selecting an ideal solution. Here are some key features that are usually available in the best video editing software that you may not want to miss:

  1. Automate Titles to Sequence: With this feature, you can create a series of markers for titles to land if you need to lay down a number of titles in a sequence.
  2. Import Clips: You can use a standard media browser tool to import clips and navigate your operating system to find files.
  3. Move-Insert Edit: This feature enables you to move a clip in a sequence without creating any gaps.
  4. Conform Audio Levels: This feature allows you to select multiple audio clips with different sound levels and thereby conform the audio levels.
  5. Top and Tail Editing: This feature lets you cut the in or out point of a clip, which has a ripple effect on all the adjacent clips in the timeline after the edit is done.

The best way to begin looking for a video and audio editing software is by visiting the websites of popular video editing software providers and signing up for a free trial or demo of the program. Use reviews and rankings on various websites, forums and blogs to shortlist the best contenders for this activity. The free trial will help you get to know the product and experience it first-hand. You can test the application’s features free of cost, compare them with each other, and determine the most suitable video editing tool for your needs.

When you select a professional video editing software solution, try and choose one that offers you the following benefits:

  1. No Need for Plug-Ins: You must opt for a video editing tool that does not require you to install any plug-ins. It should enable you to record the video on your smartphone or a small camera and edit the footage on your computer.
  2. Cost-Saving: Top video editing software solutions will largely equip even amateurs and novices to edit videos easily so that you do not have to spend too much money on professional fees to highly-skilled video editing professionals.
  3. Video Quality Improvement: Select professional video editing software that lets you convert poor quality footage into high definition and high-resolution videos.
  4. Music: A thrilling background score can take a video to another level entirely. Choose a solution that allows you to do that well.
  5. Superior Effects: Effects can make videos more engaging and compelling. You must choose a solution that freely enables the addition of a wide variety of effects.

The market is flooded with professional video editing software solutions, and it is a difficult choice to select one out of so many. Here are some of the best video editing software solutions for Mac and PC:

  1. Windows Movie Maker (PC): One of the easiest software to use for video editing, the Movie Maker can give budding video editors the perfect introduction to video editing. Older Windows computers had this software preloaded. A free download is also available on its website. 
  2. iMovie (Mac): As far as free video and audio editing software goes, iMovie is a solid option. It comes with more features than the Movie Maker. It allows users to add text and animation effects. The iMovie is also very easy to use and great for beginners.
  3. Final Cut Pro X (Mac): The Final Cut Pro X is designed for professionals. However, if you are looking for a professional video editing tool that does not overwhelm you with a complex interface or too many features, this would be a worthy contender.
  4. AVID Media Composer (Mac/PC): AVID Media Composer is a little more complex than the Final Cut Pro X because AVID itself is quite a complex program. If you are serious about kickstarting a career in video editing, this is a highly capable and professional video editing tool.
  5. Adobe Premiere Pro (Mac/PC): Not as complex as the AVID Media Composer and a little more so than the Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premiere Pro is also a great professional video editing software. Reasonably priced, it is fairly easy to use once you get used to the interface.
  6. Lightworks Free (Mac/PC): Lightworks Free has all the capabilities of a professional video editing software with the user-friendliness of other video editing software designed for beginners. Being a highly feature-rich application, it is one of the top video editing software available and would be our pick from this list.

Video editing is a craft, an art form, that takes many years to master and get perfect. However, it only takes a few months to learn enough about the process in order to start editing videos. Evolving into a skilled video editor requires unrelenting determination, and endless will to learn new things and even unlearn what you already know. You will find yourself constantly discovering new ways of assembling video clips into compelling narratives and grabbing the viewer's attention. If you have the right tools in your arsenal, editing video is not as difficult as it may seem.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Videos have become almost like the language of the internet. It seems like every other day, and a video goes viral. They have also made their way into corporate presentations. It seems like every other person is a YouTube vlogger. Today, everyone, including children, have a basic knowledge of video editing. With so much talent at every other corner, an average job will not cut it. You must choose the best video editing software that will help you differentiate yourself and stand out.
  • It goes without saying that premium video editing software versions come with more features that offer various advantages. They make the best use of high-end hardware while giving you resources for creating better effects, eliminating common bugs, automatic updates, more flexibility, and control with regard to the interface, etc. Free video editing software versions are not as feature-rich and may not be able to produce videos with as much finesse as the premium versions.
  • We have already discussed how video editing goes beyond just techniques and how it is almost an invisible art. Apple’s iMovie has been used in recent years to make good movies using just an iPhone, and these movies have gone on to win awards at film festivals. There are many great free video editing applications out there. They surely have their limitations, most commonly with encoding and exporting. They have sparse, entry-level features. Free versions also stick a watermark over your video. They do not really come with technical support. However, there is a difference between free commercial software and free, open-source software. The former is offered for free just to give you a taste, while the latter is usually a complete product volunteered without any expectations of a financial reward. Open-source software may lack the polish or the user-friendliness of commercial versions, but they may give you all the features you need to do a professional job.
  • YouTubers do not have elaborate budgets and tend to go for simple, effective and affordable video editing applications. iMovie enjoys massive popularity among YouTubers. Easy to use, it comes free with their MacBooks, iPhones or iPads. iMovie has all the cutting, titling, and transition effects that you will need to create a straightforward YouTube video. The green/blue screens supported by the application also lets you have more fun with the footage. If you do not have a Mac, Microsoft Photos application for PC is an underrated gem. The Adobe Premiere Pro CC which is an entry-level version of Premiere Pro is very popular among YouTubers too. Another great free application that is widely used is Lightworks, which can be used on Windows, Mac, and Linux devices. It supports integrated YouTube exporting and offers really impressive real-time effects. It appears complicated but it is actually fairly simple to use. The HitFilm Pro, DaVinci Resolve, and the VSDC Free Video Editor are also popular choices and can yield great results.
  • There is no straightforward answer here, and it depends on the level of professionalism you are referring to. It also depends on the industry or the sector you are thinking of when you ask this question. In Hollywood and most major TV studios, you are most likely to find the Avid Media Composer Ultimate. Ad agencies, indie film studios, and businesses churning out YouTube films generally use the Adobe Premiere Pro CC or the Apple Final Cut Pro X. They may be used in combination with associated apps such as Adobe’s After Effects, motion graphics, and visual effects app. All of these are excellent tools that can provide high-quality results.

Shrushti ChawaraBy Shrushti Chawara | Last Updated: October 21, 2020

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