I’ve been editing video since the fall of 2000. Ever since I took a class in college on TV production I’ve always wanted to play around with producing a video. Now computers have made this possible without the need for a studio full of equipment. I started with Pinnacle Studio DC10+ and my VHS-C camcorder and upgraded to Studio 7 when I bought a miniDV camera. They were good as a starting point, but I outgrew them quickly because of the need for more video tracks and a more stable environment. I discovered Sonic Foundry VideoFactory 2.0 and eventually upgraded to their flagship Vegas Video 3. I now use Sony Vegas Pro and DVD Architect Pro for all my video work. I have been extremely impressed with the stability of Sony software and would recommend it to both beginners and advanced users.
Non-Linear Editors (NLEs):
The term non-linear editor refers to the fact that, unlike manipulating videotape in which the scenes must be manipulated in a linear fashion as they appear on the tape, a non-linear editor allows you to jump to any section of the video and cut, copy, paste, and insert just as you would in a word processor. You’ll spend most of your time in a video editor like these so selecting one that streamlines you workflow will give you a huge advantage time wise. I’ve found that Sonic Factory makes solid computer programs that perform consistently without problems. Since then Sony has bought their NLE and music software line. These programs work through direct manipulation as an interaction technique. This means that instead of searching through menus for what you want to do, you can often do it right on the media you’re manipulating. I find this really speeds up your workflow.
For example: if you want to adjust the transparency of a clip, or add a fade in or out, or adjust the length, or stretch the time, there is no need to look for a menu item. You just drag the transparency bar on the clip, or adjust the fade bar on the clip, or move the end of the clip in or out to trim, or hold the Ctrl key while moving the end of the clip in our out to do a time compress/stretch. It’s that simple.
This direct manipulation technique sometimes confuses new users who are use to searching for menu items to do everything but once you realize its just one click away instead of 3 or 4 menu clicks, you see how your workflow becomes much more streamlined using Sonic Foundry products. I highly recommend their entire catalog.
Sony – Vegas Pro
Probably the best Non-Linear Editor for the money bar-none is Sony’s Vegas Pro. Many users of other NLE’s have come to find that Vegas Pro has a more productive workflow and allows some very complex compositing to be done right in the editor without needing expensive add-on programs. It is also the most rock-solid running software I have ever used. Vegas lets you concentrate on your creativity and not waste time fighting the software to get it to do what you want.
Sony – Vegas Movie Studio
Vegas’ little brother Vegas Movie Studio is almost as powerful and just as rock-solid a performer as its big brother. It has 10 video and audio tracks that you can use to composite video with alpha channels. Probably its biggest strength is the ability to to Pan, Zoom and Crop video. This can make a collection of still images come to live ala Ken Burns style of telling a story by adding motion to still images.