The explosion of people shooting their own videos, downloading, building media libraries, and the surge in all types of sharing has made editing those videos an important tool for even the occasional user. That doesn’t mean it has to cost a lot of money to get started.
There are many good consumer to “prosumer” grade editing programs ranging from about $50.00 to a couple hundred dollars available. But maybe you don’t need many of the capabilities or sophistication those desktop applications offer and are looking for something that’s free. That’s not a problem.
There are plenty of free video editing software programs that you can download and run directly on your Windows computer. While looking for applications you might see another category of free and paid video editing services that are available in the ‘cloud.’ All the ‘cloud’ means is that you upload your video and edit it using a program in your web browser, and once the edit is complete you download the finished video to save on your computer. This post will deal with video editors that you download to a Windows computer, not services available in the ‘cloud.’
FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN A FREE VIDEO EDITOR
Initially, you might only require simple trimming of the head and tail of a video, or selecting only a certain portion of a long video that you want to cut out and share with friends and family. In that case, the free RealPlayer (you can download it by clicking the orange button in the top right corner of the page) can handle those tasks with ease. If you want to do more with video like assemble various clips, add a dissolve or wipe at a cut point in the video, and include a title graphic or insert subtitles you’ll have to step up to other video editing software.
Some fundamental features in a good video editor:
• Easy to use interface that is intuitive and has quick access to tools
• Imports video, audio, graphics, as well as video directly from a camcorder (or other recording device) into the system
• Handles multiple media file formats
• Add and move video and audio easily within the movie
• Can add effects like dissolves, wipes, special patterns, and fade to black
• Allows color correction, filters, and video enhancement
• Compatible with your Windows computer – CPU, RAM, HDD space, etc.
|Share Your Creation|
Once you’ve edited your video masterpiece, why not share it with friends? Save the video in your RealPlayer library and use the included social media tools to post and share the video with others with.
PICKING FREE VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE THAT WILL GET THE JOB DONE
There are many editing applications available online that you can download for free, but they don’t all offer the features needed or an easy to use video editor. When looking for these applications online seven are consistently mentioned, but only two seem to deliver on the fundamental features, especially ease of use and an intuitive interface.
In fairness, all this software is freeware; often open source or from individuals or small groups that don’t have the ongoing support available at large companies. This is also probably not an exhaustive survey of every free video editor available for Windows. Since all of these products are free, you’re not making a financial investment if you want to try them. As with any application opt for what fits your needs and gets the job done with as little hassle as possible.
Below are a list of free Windows video editors you’ll likely come across online. Each of these video editors are limited in what they offer and are not as intuitive to use as the two mentioned in the next section.
• AVITricks – This application only deals with AVI files.
• Avidemux – Does a good job at making and joining clips, but it’s not ideal for doing more than that.
• Free Video Dub – It can make clips and easily delete unwanted video.
• Mewa Film – Only seemed to recognize graphics so you could put a few pictures together and make a video.
• ZS4 – Updated Zwei-Stein. A complicated editing and compositing tool that requires a large time investment to master.
TWO FREE WINDOWS 7 VIDEO EDITING APPS WORTH DOWNLOADING
As noted above, there are two free video editors that are intuitive and feature-rich: Microsoft Windows Live Movie Maker and Microsoft Windows Movie Maker 2.6.
Both these Windows 7 video editing apps feature interfaces that are a lot simpler to understand than any of the five applications mentioned above. They deliver an intuitive video editing process. These programs let you place clips in a bin for easy organization, provide the ability to navigate within a video and place other clips, and has a direct way to add effects. This all means you’ll be able to accomplish your tasks in a straightforward, logical manner.
These are the kind of tools the typical user needs to start editing and adding features to video right away. Once working with these programs, it’s also easy to discover how to create more complex and interesting videos. The learning curve here is not steep. From simple cutting and joining of clips, inserting special effect wipes between them, adding subtitles and music, everything is clear or easily discovered.
Microsoft Windows Live Movie Maker and Microsoft Windows Movie Maker 2.6 are two different products. Live is the current incarnation of Microsoft’s video editing effort and requires a computer to be running Windows 7. Movie Maker 2.6 was originally made for Vista, and although there will be no updates or future releases, it is available for download. Both ran fine on Windows 7 and are indeed free.
The biggest difference between the two Windows 7 video editing apps can be found in the interface. Notably, Movie Maker 2.6 uses the classic timeline that lets you drag and drop into a storyboard. The newer Live version attempts to integrate the clip bin and timeline into a single workspace. Its interface is also more graphical. Sometimes the changes going from one function to another in Live seem visually abrupt. It would be nice to have the option of some dedicated tabs.
Both support a good range of video file formats. Neither will accept FLV, though. Apparently this is a Windows 7 issue. Adding special third-party codec packs may help, but compatibility with DirectShow may be a problem.
Each application has its own way of doing many of the typical video editing functions. It’s purely a personal preference as to which you’d like best. Microsoft really does provide two excellent free video editing software products worth considering.
Those are a few video editor options that work with Windows. Some are more complicated to use and others offer a plethora of features – some that you might not need. If you’re looking for something easy to use to do simple things like cutting the front off of a video you captured or trimming the end off of a video, RealPlayer will get the job done with ease. If you don’t have RealPlayer installed yet, just click on the orange button in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
What’s your favorite free video editing application for use with Windows? Let us know in the comments.