Now that professional still cameras are evolving to provide high-quality, high-definition video capture, the line between photography and video is blurring even further. Movies are called motion pictures, after all, and thanks to the ease and popularity of posting video online with sites like YouTube, photographers now have an extra outlet for showcasing and sharing their images and portfolios. With that in mind, here’s a selection of easily approachable, cost-effective and yet very capable editing programs to get you started in the world of video.
Adobe Premiere Elements 7
Adobe Premiere Elements 7 provides the basics for video editing through its simple interface with drag-and-drop placement of clips, transitions and effects. Automated options are also available for instantly editing clips into a fully fleshed-out film, complete with optional Hollywood-style effects. There are visual and audio effects like animated titles, special effects, TV-style transitions and interactive disc menus. A Videomerge function takes a moving subject from solid-color backgrounds (like greenscreen) and drops it into new settings, and movies can be output to Blu-ray disc, DVD, Internet portals, and mobile phones and other devices.
Premiere Elements 7 is also available as a bundle with Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 for creating videos and cinematic slideshows with accompanying imagery. The programs work together intuitively, so single stills or video frame captures can be added into the video with text, graphics and other creative enhancements. Images can be output as printable CD labels and DVD covers. List Price: $99 (Premiere Elements 7); $149 (Photoshop Elements 7 and Premiere Elements 7).
Apple iMovie ’09 and Final Cut Express
Available as part of Apple’s media suite, iLife ’09, iMovie ’09 comes bundled with iPhoto, iWeb, GarageBand and iDVD. iMovie itself has been totally revamped for the ’09 release, with a Precision Editor and improved drag-and-drop movie editing. There’s a browsable library for keeping videos and clips organized by events with a flippable interface for easy perusal of stills. An impressive new video stabilization feature reduces camera shake in footage and, of course, there’s integration with Apple’s MobileMe online gallery, Apple TV, iTunes, iPhones and iPods. iMovie is designed to keep the process simple, with intuitive importation of photos, music and effects, including new animated travel maps, dynamic themes like Bulletin Board, Filmstrip and Comic Book, and the Ken Burns mode for adding motion and zooms to still photos. There are 18 new animated titles, and the Title Browser provides a fast way to preview finishing touches. Voiceover recording is also possible through a microphone, which most modern Macs include.
When iMovie doesn’t have the editing power you need for an elaborate project, use Apple’s Final Cut Express 4. Final Cut Express can import video from most sources, even projects straight from iMovie, and adds hundreds of sophisticated cinematic effects and filters, like Soft Focus, Vignette and Light Rays. Final Cut Express will automatically perform scaling, cropping and frame-rate adjustments so that standard-definition and high-definition material can be mixed together into the same project. Audio controls are verbose, as well, and more effects are available to be downloaded as they’re created. List Price: $79 (iLife single user); $199 (Final Cut Express).
Corel VideoStudio X2
Corel’s VideoStudio X2 offers the time-saving Movie Wizard mode for automated, full-length edits in only a few clicks. Alternatively, the VideoStudio Editor provides more extensive options with clip dragging, resizable interface windows, and large dialog boxes and controls. The Painting Creator allows editors to draw, paint or write on video, and other creative solutions include transition and overlay tracks, auto panning and zooming, title background animation, and templates for movies and DVD menus.
VideoStudio Pro X2 adds to the features of VideoStudio X2 by adding Blu-ray authoring, NewBlue Film Effects for filters that provide “old film”-style looks and advanced MPEG-4 encoding for smaller files that are easier to e-mail and faster to upload and view on websites. A Photo & Video Bundle is also available with Corel’s Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Ultimate. List Price: $69 (VideoStudio X2); $99 (Pro X2); $149 (Photo & Video Bundle).
MoviePlus X3 from Serif uses an easy-to-understand sequential approach with its Storyboard interface to piece together movies quickly. Videos and still photos can be combined with easy edits, special-effects additions, drag-and-drop transitions, trimming and zooming. For more complex projects, the Timeline mode provides a flexible solution for mixing frame-accurate clips, images and audio with context-sensitive, button-accessible tools. Timeline skimming is also available for faster review of edits, a dual-Timeline mode provides accurate previewing, and there are thumbnail stills for keeping track of the project’s layout.
Workspace panes can be hidden or resized for better viewing, and on-screen guides provide tips, tricks and techniques. Effects include video overlays, picture-in-picture, masking for cutting out areas of the video, time and reversal playback effects, backgrounds that can be inserted behind the subject (as well as bluescreen capability for easy removal of backgrounds), animated titles, color, brightness and contrast adjustments, and re-creation of popular styles like diffuse glow and old film. There are audio effects, as well, including frequency gates and compressors for controlling volume, stereo panning and channel swapping, and reverb, bass and treble controls. List Price: $79.
Nero 9 is as much a multimedia suite as it is a video-editing solution. The interface provides editing features through the StartSmart command center with one-click tabs for playback, ripping, burning, copying and backup functions. Video-editing tools include color correction, transitions, text effects, soundtrack and special audio effects, and a Movie Wizard for a selection of templates that includes special occasion themes like birthdays, holidays and weddings. Files can be exported to video cameras, e-mail attachments and for playback on iPods, PlayStation Portables and online.
Nero 9 also acts as a media center. The included Nero Live application provides television viewing and recording on your PC, clips of which can be edited into your videos. An Ad Spotter will automatically detect and remove commercials from recorded video, too, and the Movie Grabber feature will search for music clips in video and convert them into WAV or MP3 files for later listening. Nero offers a Blu-ray disc-authoring plug-in, as well. List Price: $79 (Nero 9 Download); $99 (Retail Box); $9 (Blu-ray plug-in).
Pinnacle Studio Version 12
Available in three versions—Studio, Studio Plus and Studio Ultimate—Pinnacle (the consumer division of Avid) provides editing solutions tailored to any level of video enthusiast. With Studio, you can edit photos and standard-definition video together with
titles and animated graphics. The Pinnacle Montage feature provides 11 themes and 81 templates for fast editing, including Instant Photo, Love, Season, Sports, Video Wall and others. A Pinnacle Score fitter automatically generates soundtracks to match the video’s length.
Studio Plus and Studio Ultimate step up the program to HD and Blu-ray compatibility. Ultimate also includes a green sheet for chroma-keying effects, the ProDAD Vitascene library of customizable transitions and lighting effects, Red Giant Software Magic Bullet Looks for adjusting tone, color and focus to simulate classic film and production styles, and Boris Graffiti, a 2D/3D animation plug-in for creating exciting titles. List Price: $49 (Studio); $99 (Studio Plus); $129 (Studio Ultimate).
Available in three editions, Sony’s Vegas Movie Studio 9 offers standard-definition video editing, slideshows and DVD authoring with transitions, titles and special effects, including greenscreen capa bility. Editing is nondestructive, so you can return to your original video at any time, and it’s performed through simple dragging and dropping of frames and effects. Videos can be output with custom menus, buttons, backgrounds and navigation, or you can utilize any of the 44 included DVD themes. Two Project Wizards are also provided to help you through the process.
Movie Studio 9 Platinum Edition builds on the basic edition to add HD video editing, 5.1 surround-sound mixing and encoding, and primary color-correction tools for restoring video. The surround-sound mixing and panning tools can be used to create soundtracks, and audio can be encoded in AC-3 stereo or 5.1 mixes for best suiting your stereo system. The Platinum Pro Pack bolsters audio editing further with the inclusion of Sound Forge Audio Studio 9 software for recording, editing, encoding and mastering sound, including digitization capabilities for records and cassettes. The Pro Pack also includes Cartoonr video effects, more than 100 3D transitions, Cinescore themes for soundtracks and more than 1,000 royalty-free sound clips like explosions, sci-fi effects and more. List Price: $54 (Vegas Movie Studio 9); $84 (Platinum Edition); $114 (Platinum Pro Pack).
| Adobe (800) 833-6687 www.adobe.com
Apple (800) MY-APPLE www.apple.com
Corel (800) 772-6735 www.corel.com
Nero (818) 956-7551 www.nero.com
Pinnacle Systems (866) 446-0833 www.pinnaclesys.com
Serif (800) 557-3743 www.serif.com
Sony (877) 865-SONY www.sonystyle.com