When it comes to making videos, one of the most frequent questions I get is, “what video editing software do you use?”. These days I subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud - I signed up under a special deal and for about $30 a month which gives me access to the entire Adobe library as I need it. If you consider yourself a professional or even an amateur, this is the way to go. But what if you don’t have the extra cash for the cloud membership? There are a few options I’d recommend for anyone editing on a budget. Let's start with YouTube's Video Editor.
YouTube Video Editor
If you’re making video for YouTube, and let’s be honest here, if you’re making content online you should be posting there at the very least, they have an online video editor you can use directly on the site.
To get started with the online editor, head over to YouTube Video Editor, or check under Creation Tools in your Video Manager settings for the Video Editor. One slight drawback to using this editor is that all clips that you wish you use in the video must be loaded to YouTube. So if there are some clips you don’t want published, make sure they are set to unlisted or private. But don’t worry, if you accidentally leave the editor, it will remember your changes for a time via some delicious cookies.
Before trimming or cutting clips, you have to actually drag one into the editor. Simply drag and drop any clip from your video library directly into the timeline. Once there, clips can be adjusted by dragging the blue sidebars to the start and end of the clips, or you can create a cut by clicking on the scissors. A cut can be moved to any point in the clip while it is being created. If you want to make sure you make that edit at exactly the right point in the video, there is a magnifying glass tool in the lower right that will allow you to zoom in or out on the clip to make sure you make the perfect cut.
When a clip is selected, there are some options that can improve or enhance the quality of the clip. Under the Quick Fixes menu, the clip can be auto-corrected with the Auto-fix option, brightness and contrast can be adjusted, a pan and zoom effect can be enabled, a slow motion effect can be applied and you can even stabilize the video or rotate it. And if you’re unsure of any of these options there is a checkbox that will allow you to preview these effects side by side with the original clip.
There are some other basics options to enhance the clips as well. A basic text banner can be added and adjusted to give your video a little flair and audio can be adjusted. But the real fun comes in the filters. The YouTube Video Editor has an equivalent filter to just about every filter on Instagram’s photos and a few extras that can really add some personality to an otherwise bland clip.
One great thing about the Video Editor is that it has 16 basic transition effects that are pretty much standard in any editing software. It has everything from a basic crossfade all the way to a radial wipe. But who are we kidding, if you’re making videos on YouTube we all know it’s all about the jump cut.
If you’re still not happy with the end-product, the editor does allow for adding pictures to the project. You can also add audio to the project via YouTube selection of free audio tracks. There are also a lot of videos that can be added to the project via Creative Commons that make for great b-roll footage. You can even add titles as separate clips either at the beginning/end of the video or in-between existing clips.
Once you're happy with the video, simply click on the blue Publish button in the top right, and YouTube will automatically render and post the video for you.
Built-in Editing Software: iMovie or Movie Maker
If you don't want to use YouTube's editor, the most direct route to go would be to use the editing software that comes with your computer. It may not have all the bells and whistles, but it'll definitely get the job done. If you are on a Mac this would be iMovie. While it won't make a blockbuster Hollywood movie for you, it does have an introduction video for beginners and is one of the easiest ways to make a quick video on a budget. If you're on a PC, you would use Movie Maker. Again, it’s not the most powerful tool, but if you want to cut together simple home videos or make a slideshow, it’s a free option. If you haven't chosen to install it with your OS, it can be downloaded for free through Microsoft.
Another great inexpensive option would be to use a piece of software like Corel VideoStudio or any number of other editing software options under $100. These options all pack more of a punch than iMovie or Movie Maker and can offer some unique special effects that make your videos stand out. If you frequently watch online video, you can spot an iMovie creation a mile away and video editing software in this range will certainly give your videos a more unique look. As somebody who learned to edit on Sony Vegas though, I found the keystrokes used for many of these programs a bit awkward and it caused my workflow to really slow down. As with any editing software, learning the proper keystrokes can save hours or even days on an editing project.
Whether you have money for editing software or not, there is no excuse for not making content if you are interested in it. Whether it be the software that comes with your OS, a paid option, or the YouTube Video Editor, there is an option out there for everyone.