When I switched from xvid to x264 many years ago, learning Avisynth seemed like a good idea, so I switched to MeGUI and I'd still recommend it as a way of easing into Avisynth.
You don't need to know anything about Avisynth to use MeGUI, as it's Script Creator lets you adjust cropping & resizing etc in it's GUI as you would for most programs. MeGUI creates the script as it operns a source video then updates it if you you change something. It's easy to edit MeGUIs scripts manually and preview the changes, but should you make a mess of things, adjusting something in the GUI (an extra 2 pixels of cropping ir whatver you prefer) that causes MeGUI to re-write the script is a simple way to reset it back to a working atate.
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I have been using MeGui for a long time. And indeed, the way you describe it was my first meetings and babysteps to getting somewhat familiar with Avisynth. I've been using MeGui's AVS preview function for as long as I can remember.
Browsing the internet, to me it's amazing to see what people can do with it. I don't have the time however, to take a really deep dive and learn more about its abilities. So every now and then, when I wonder if something could be done with Avisynth, I browse the internet for an answer. It is so world-widely used; I feel one has to do his best to come up with an issue that cannot be addressed to with an avs script
I take my hat off for people who can type all those long codes & scripts with all these characters and switches/parameters that have to be set, without losing track. Sometimes it plainly dazzles me just reading them.