During my second week in Lamar University’s Multimedia and Video Technology graduate course, I was asked to evaluate video editing software packages. While I did not stick to free software, I tried to veer away from high-dollar items such as Adobe Premiere. I chose the following three applications: Zwei-Stein, Microsoft’s Movie Maker, and AVS Video Editor. My past video experience has only included Movie Maker, so this software review was bound to be fun and engaging.
It should be mentioned that I had never heard of Zwei-Stein before this week. This software was mentioned in one of our weekly articles entitled Top 5 Free Video Editing Software Programs (2009). I honestly tried to use it, but it is not user-friendly. The graphical user interface is not intuitive and the tutorials and help files left a lot to be desired. I was able to import a media video file into the program, but stumbled around after that step. In my humble opinion, I cannot figure out how it made the Top 5 list.
Second on my evaluation list was Microsoft’s Movie Maker. This product is considered free since it can be downloaded as an add-on to Microsoft Windows XP and has been around for years. The interface is easy to use and just makes sense. Step-by-step clicks lead you through importing media, adding audio, editing the timeline/storyboard, inserting transitions and effects, and rendering the final product into a Windows Media Video (WMV).
The final software application that I assessed was AVS Video Editor. I stumbled across this package earlier this week. AVS Video Editor can be found at www.avs4you.com. The AVS package is not free, but can be downloaded as a trial version. This version will embed a logo in your video productions until you purchase and activate it. Currently, Online Media Technologies Ltd., has close to 20 products that can be downloaded as trial-ware. Normally, $199 will buy you a lifetime subscription, but through September 2010, $59 purchases a lifetime subscription to all (not each) of their software applications. These products include advanced solutions for converting and editing video, audio, and image files. They even have document conversion, firewall, anti-spam, and registry cleaner applications.
The AVS Video Editor interface looks very similar to Movie Maker’s. All of the same features are present including capturing straight from a video device. One additional aspect is that AVS allows for screen capture – a very useful and valuable element when creating tutorials and how-to videos. A second enhancement is the veritable plethora of file formats available when rendering:
• AVI, MPEG, WMV, and QuickTime movie
• various disc authoring formats such as DVD, DIVX, and Blu-Ray
• various mobile device formats including media players such as Apple iPODs and Sony PSPs, game consoles such as XBOX 360 and the Wii, phones such as iPhone, Android, and Blackberry, and other newer devices such as the iPAD
• compressed web publishing formats such as FLASH, Real Media, and QuickTime
In conclusion, AVS Video Editor is an amazing piece of software, especially when you consider the bundle of 20 applications you get for $59. Even though it is not free, this low-cost solution rivals other video editing software applications such as AVID and WAX, is as easy to use as Microsoft’s Movie Maker, and has screen capture capability like Adobe’s Captivate and TechSmith’s Camtasia. Even though this product comes from an international and off-shore company, it has excellent tech support including a YouTube channel from which you can access many tutorials in various languages.
In The Art of the Edit, Janis Lonnquist states that “the challenge is to take raw footage and within the limitation of equipment and budget, transform it into something compelling and watchable” (Lonnquist, 1994). This is not always easy, especially if you do not have enough footage to choose from. The article also mentions the fact that a good production manager considers editing from the planning and storyboard phases. Our school district’s Instructional Technology Director also teaches the Film class at our high school. He is always saying that “you can’t shoot a 15-minute film with 15 minutes of film.” Shooting scenes from many angles, perspectives, and zoom effects will allow you editing options later. This has been a difficult lesson to learn, so we must remember to pass this along to our students.
Desktop-Video-Guide. (n.d.). Top 5 free video editing software programs. Retrieved on April 12, 2009, from http://www.desktop-video-guide.com/top-5-free-video-editing-software-review.html
Lonnquist, J. (1994, November). The art of the edit. Videomaker. Retrieved on April 6, 2009, from http://www.videomaker.com/article/1691/
Here is a link to my tutorial video that I created for AVS Video Editor 5.1. Please let me know what you think.