Skytopia > Projects > Technology/science articles > Video Editing Software Comparison   (article created on 01/08/2008).

Video Editing Software Comparison

Windows Movie Maker: Cheap and cheerful (well free in fact, as it comes with Windows). But is it really up to the job?
What's the best and cheapest video editor available for Windows? Something which doesn't cost a fortune, and yet offers more than the limited feature-set from Windows Movie Maker. That's what I wanted to know for myself a short while back, and also what this article sets out to report.

Hopefully, this comparison will eventually do for comparing video editors what our Media Player Comparison did for music players. At the moment, it's still in its early stages, but we did try out all the programs listed below before coming to our (preliminary) conclusions. Over the next few months, a full comparison detailing all the differences and quirks of the editors will come, and needless to say, the final results could change over time as we come to grips with each program.

All tested around mid-2008
  • AviTricks Classic Video Editor 1.64 (free, 1.06 MB)
  • AVS Video Editor 3.5 ($40, 87 MB)
  • CyberLink PowerDirector 7 ($70, 244 MB)
  • EditStudio 6.05 ($90, 24 MB)
  • Jahshaka 2.0 (free, 19 MB)
  • Pinnacle VideoSpin 1.1 (free, 149 MB)
  • Sony Vegas Movie Studio 8.0c ($65, 81 MB)
  • Ulead VideoStudio 11 ($70, 140 MB)
  • Video Edit Magic 4.47 ($70, 13.7 MB)
  • VirtualDub 1.8 (free, 1.4 MB (!))
  • Wax 2.0e (free, 2.6 MB)
  • Windows Movie Maker 2.1.4 (free, ? MB)
  • Zwei-Stein 3 (free, 3.26 MB)

    Taking price into account, we found that out of all the players listed above, the ones which stood out were Pinnacle VideoSpin 1.1, EditStudio 6.0.5, and Vegas Movie Studio 8.0c. The first of which is free, but is restricted in many ways (such as only allowing two audio channels, limited editing features, bloated, and with in-built advertising). AviTricks Classic 1.64 (also free) may be worth a look too, but you may have some problems actually loading movies in the first place as people have found out here.

    That leaves EditStudio and Vegas Movie Studio. At first, I almost bought EditStudio. The interface seems very streamline, and although it lacks the feature-set of Sony's offering, it actually allows unlimited video and audio channels which is something even Vegas Movie Studio lacks.

    However, it was Vegas Movie Studio which shone out in the end. At first, this was particularly surprising for a number of reasons:
  • Number 1: It's by Sony, and to be honest, I was half-expecting multiple program 'wizards', and an overly easy-to-use but cumbersome GUI.
  • Number 2: It uses Microsoft's .NET runtime (which itself requires a separate install).
  • Number 3: It took ages to install initallly (despite being 'only' 85.75MB in download size). I frown upon bloatware almost by default. I was expecting the worst when I loaded it up...

    The user interface of Sony Vegas Movie Studio. Feature packed and easy to use. Click pic to enlarge.
    Such things would usually put me off straight away, and even once the program loaded I can't admit I wasn't biased to begin with. However, almost like a miracle everything went uphill from there. I kept trying to find things wrong, but it wouldn't let me :) - the program was very responsive and full of features; the GUI very intuitive and flexible (detachable/draggable screen areas), and there were no bugs as far as I could see. (Oh yes, the program is quick to load up thereafter).

    Features such as importing multiple audio sounds at once, VST plugin support, surround sound, DV + HDV + SD + HD-SDI + XDCAM format support, nested projects, dragging and dropping, multiple undo/redo, automatic fade in/out, audio looping, voice-overs for video narration, fast preview, and audio/video slow down (or speed up) were also found. Any movie I could throw at it (including obscure AVI formats) would actually load - unlike many of the other editors I tried.

    It appears they spent a good deal of time on the bare bones of video editing too. Snapping a clip to the beginning/end of another clip was a piece of cake. Zooming in on an area was a dream; just click on the timeline, and use the mouse wheel to zoom in at that point. It's easy to move or copy (use RMB) a clip too, and it does all of this at lightning speed (with no lagging, momentary pauses, or glitches). Also, the timelines can be shrunk, expanded, resized or colored to your whim. Another nice touch is how frames of the video are strewn across the video clip bar in the editor - making it much easier to navigate quickly.

    Plus there are tons of video and audio effects which can be employed (such as including scrolling text, motion blur, or sound processing such as echo). Many are calculated on the fly, and others are saved out separately (to save on CPU usage presumably).

    Yes, it's true that many other video editor programs support most of the above features, and some of the expensive editors (such as Avid Media Composer Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro) will support maybe all of them. However, I doubt you'll get the quantity and quality of features at the low price that which Vegas Movie Studio offers.

    The demo version comes with a 30 day trial period. After that you'll need to buy the full version which costs about $65 (the full Vegas Pro edition is at around $800 if you really want to go pro, but all of the features I've mentioned above are available at the cheap price).

    Sony Creative Software Inc. - Vegas Movie Studio


  • Sony Vegas 6 Pays Off @ rates Vegas at 9.1/10.
  • Sony Vegas Video 8.0.217b scores 9/10 from forty ratings.
  • Comparison of video editors at Wikipedia.

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    Skytopia > Projects > Technology/science articles > Video Editing Software Comparison   (article created on 01/08/2008).

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