Hello, everyone! I've joined just so that I can ask foradvice on which software I should obtain. After hours of surfing I'm nowhere nearer finding an app which will do what I need. Apologies for the big post, but experienced video editors may be able to quickly scan my requirements and suggest an app without reading it all.
Whilst I shall be wanting to edit home video camera footage later, my initial interest lies in editing early talkies, where cameras were mostly static and scene pacing slow, often shot more like a person sat watching a stage show would see things. I want to re-edit these to make them more interesting and thereby gain practice and experience for subsequent creations of my own.F iles will usually be AVI but any of the common formats (which can be converted using the freeware sw available) are ok. I will not be editing in HD and I'm prepared for my edited movies to be lower than desired quality, but the quality of the viewed end product is not really the point. Forgive me if my terminology is not correct, but let me know what I should be saying if I'm wrong. I'm providing scenarios to explain exactly what I mean and want to achieve.
1. Crop the image and thus change the Aspect Ratio, so that the movie is viewed in a more modern standard. As 16:9 might be too ambitious (by losing too much of the image) I'll probably pick 14:9 to begin with. I know I could do whole film crops using existing freeware, but I would like to be able to decide the crop perimeters for each scene, as the best top & bottom of each scene will vary. Ideally, instead of just top and bottom, if I could have a visible overlaid frame in my chosen aspect ratio which I could enlarge or decrease, I could then adjust the left and right positions (necessary to re-centre or balance the artistic framing of the scene).
2. Panning. Example scenario: a character enters through a doorway and walks across to a person or group and delivers a line of dialogue. I could visually follow the character before cutting to full-frame when the person or group retort.
3. Varying zoom. Example scenario: a character is sat at a desk talking. I would like to be able to zoom in or out from the character's face gradually, such as IN when a dramatic speech is concluding, or OUT if the dialogue is simply setting the scene or providing exposition.
4. Combined Pan and Zoom. If I can combine points 2and 3 that would be even better, but it's not essential. Example scenario: view the character in 2 from head and shoulders, zooming out whilst panning across the room, so that when the retort comes we have achieved full frame, and more smoothly than previously envisaged.
5. Multiple video timelines. If I could have three video choices on the timeline I could easily flip from one framing shot to another. Example scenario: a scene is a lengthy one with two people talking, one being sat and the other stood. Using the facility mentioned in point 1, I could have timeline A being full-frame, B being a close-up of the standing character and C a medium shot of the sitting character. Each timeline contains the same scene just different cropping choices, allowing for quick shot changes to highlight facial expressions and such like.
6. Simple wipes or fades. Example scenario: a character walks off screen to the left and the scene ends, cutting to the next scene. I could have a simple wipe follow the character, revealing the next scene behind him/her. If the wipe is not available, I could perhaps fade out, and clip an extraneous second or two from the movie before the next scene begins. A transition with one scene fading out whilst the next fades in at the same time would be another option (like Freemake Video Converter can do when joining two videos).
7. Overlapping audio. By this I mean I can take the audio from the end of one scene or shot and have it overlap the adjoining shot. Example scenario: scene A is someone talking. Scene B is another person entering the room, walking over to the first person and then relaying a message. I could dovetail the two scenes. Scene A runs visually half its length, but all its audio is played, whilst scene B runs all its visuals but only half its audio. This would mean I can quicken the pace by omitting the time-wasting "walks across room in silence" part but include all the necessary dialogue.
Well, there you have it - I hope it makes sense. Most of what I have listed will allow me to take a clunky, plodding early talkie and make a more polished movie akin to what we have become used to today.
I've searched for free and paid apps, but I'm confronted with either information overload or not enough information, just vague promises of "all the editing tools you'll need". Here is a review site, in which CyberLink PowerDirector looks good, having lots of ticks, a relatively low price, and the facility for "Pan Images": http://video-editing-software-review.toptenreviews.com/ . Would this be good enough for what I want? Is it easy enough for a newbie to use? I'm not asking for explosion effects or 3D modelling sophistication so could I get something else for free?
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Most NLE's will have a free trial you can download so you can play with them and see if you like it before buying
Unfortunately there aren't any good free NLE's (Lightworks looked promising , but they changed their business model to subscription fee - you can still get a "free" cut down version)
Thankyou for the replies. I've spent several hours looking at videos and website reviews and comparisons and I think I've narrowed it down to two apps (the fact that I wrote the original post helped me, as I'd logically stripped down my requirements to the bare essentials). Whilst I have an old version of PowerDirector I don't like it for both its user interface and specs, and I don't think the latest version will change my mind.
The two I think will be the best choices for me are:
Sony Vegas Movie Studio
- good for multiple video tracks and switching between them
- easy to use wizards for novices
- seems to have the transitions/fades/wipes/whatever that I want
- good for zooming and panning
- obvious multiple video tracks, but not sure how easy to switch between them
- clearly laid out screen
I'll keep reading up on them but at the mo I'm leaning towards Vegas Movie Studio. Either way I'm looking at laying out £60+. If anyone has any knowledge of why one of these is not suitable or whether there is something I simply MUST know before spending the money, I'd appreciate it if you could post the info. Thanks.
The editing programs you listed should work fine, but I would also suggest you use the trial versions before you commit to purchase. The more versatile and powerful an editor is, the steeper the learning curve. And you don't want to learn it all twice.
Since you are asking about working with old videos, you might want to look into low loss/lossless video formats like Lagarith or HuffyUV to convert to. That way you can thrash the working video all you want and still should be able to get a clean output. The downside is they do generate large files, but do preserve quality.
And I hope you have lots of hard drive space. Most of my PCs have at least three 500GB HDDs for editing and encoding, along with the boot drive.
And welcome to our forums.