Video Editing Software Review
What’s the Best Video Editing Software?
There are many good choices. You can use simple video-making software for years and be perfectly happy, but when you’re ready to up your game a bit, you need the best editing software with the most advanced tools available. Here is a recap of the programs for Windows that came out on top in our comparison:
CyberLink PowerDirector 15 Ultra continues to top our charts, earning the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for striking the delicate balance between usability and functionality with precision. It has all the tools that hobbyists and prosumers want, combined with an intuitive interface for the newcomer. It also has the most robust video editing community with its DirectorZone network.
MAGIX Movie Edit Pro Plus is another such product: It offers some unique features, such as object-based editing, meaning that any media type can be placed on a track. That makes this movie editor one of the most flexible programs we reviewed. Plus, it offers some fun extras like the ability to create faux movie trailers. It earns the Top Ten Reviews Silver Award.
Corel VideoStudio Pro X10 has always been a great video editing program. The latest version is no exception. It offers plenty of effects, transitions and themes to satisfy casual users but contains sophisticated tools, such as ScoreFitter and motion-tracking settings, so more skilled editors can make something truly special.
Why Buy Video Editing Software?
Today, nearly everyone can make videos to share with friends or post online. Capturing footage is as easy as few taps on your smartphone. You can even post your video online right from the device you recorded it on. This works great for sharing quick moments like the winning score at a soccer game or a cute video of your cat. But if you want to make something more involved, more special, more engaging, then you need more power and more tools than your phone offers. You need powerful video editing software that can transform your raw footage, audio and other media into a compelling narrative that will attract and keep the attention of a wide audience.
Video editing software does more than simply splice together footage. The best video editors are virtual post-production houses, complete with the ability to publish media online or author a ready-to-play disc. Movie editing software is where your raw media comes together to be transformed into something greater. It's where you prepare your project for an audience.
Audiences are larger now than they have ever been. Any video shared online has a potential audience of billions. Even if you have an audience of one, video editing programs can help you build a video you're proud to share.
Video editing software for Windows is easy to use. It doesn't matter if you've never edited video before or have rudimentary skills; these movie editor programs are increasingly intuitive and offer training and tutorials for all their tools and features. They even offer easy editing modes and automatic video creation. The best video editing software programs provide you with the tools you need to make polished videos. They educate their users and help you become a better video editor.
These Windows video editors also have advanced capabilities – perhaps not as powerful as those found in professional video editing software – but they’re still quite powerful. Nearly all movie editing software lets you choose between the simpler workflow of storyboard mode and the more advanced timeline mode of editing, so you can switch between the two modes with your edits intact. The software comes with a full array of preprogrammed video and audio effects, transitions, titles and much more. These tools can be useful to movie editors of all skill levels.
The best movie editing software applications help you build your videos quickly and easily, with a minimal learning curve. In addition, they publish your videos to online sharing sites like YouTube and Facebook. The best movie editing software applications let you set up chapter markers, design disc menus and insert closed captions for the hearing impaired.
Some programs' tools rival their professional counterparts in terms of quality and granular control. Advanced features such as multi-camera capabilities, compatibility with the latest action cameras and customizable export options give you a high degree of control over the quality of the final product.
Video Editing Software: What to Look For
On the consumer level, the best video editor software for any person is the one they feel most comfortable using. Nearly all the video editors for Windows on our side-by-side comparison chart offer a free trial. If you’re new to video editing, consider trying more than one movie editor to find the one that meets your needs. In addition to the free trials for there are some totally free solutions you can check out.
The best video editing software for Windows is both simple to use and offers a robust video tool set. This requires multiple editing modes. Many of the movie editors we reviewed offer basic, intermediate and advanced editing modes. You can upgrade to premium versions that have even more tools.
You should take your own skill level into account when choosing which video editor software application for Windows is right for you. If you've edited video before, the learning curve for any program is likely about the same.
If you've never edited video before but have experience editing audio or photography, you can probably expect not to have problems learning even the most advanced software. But if you've never edited anything, you could experience a tremendously frustrating learning period and would probably benefit from a program that has a basic or easy mode.
Once you're finished building your video, your export options are very important. This is one of those areas where video editors for Windows must strike a balance between usability and functionality. Exported files can be configured in infinite combinations. However, a few preset options are always nice so you can choose the right export setting for your project. The best movie editing software exports a file specifically optimized for social sharing sites like YouTube and Facebook. The software even uploads your video automatically.
Basic Tools You’ll Need
All movie editors help you blend your footage, audio clips and images to create new and unique videos. All the programs we reviewed offer basic nonlinear video editing tools. Timelines, storyboards, effects, transitions, titles and audio editing are all common fare for the products we reviewed.
Likewise, they all offer multiple editing tracks in your timeline. Some offer only a single video line to work with, while others offer up to 100 or more. Others don't limit how many tracks your video project can have. It may seem like a trivial distinction, since most small projects won't require you to use more than a few tracks – they may even take just one or two. But complex projects require more editing tracks, and more tracks give you more flexibility and precise control over what appears on the screen and when. You may not need infinite editing tracks, but you will eventually feel the restrictive effects of applications that limit the number of tracks to just a few or a dozen.
Video editing software doubles as video effects software. The effects libraries of movie editors are quite important. These preprogrammed enhancements include simple filters and transitions as well as more complex ones like particle effects and animation tools.
The number of effects you get with any piece Windows video editing software varies. Some offer fewer than 100 effects, while others offer hundreds. There's even a video editing program with more than 1,500 effects. However, an effects library that exceeds 500 objects is usually sufficient for any project produced at the non-professional consumer level.
The truth about video editing software’s basic tools is that you could load your footage into any of the products we reviewed and achieve roughly the same (or at least similar) results. The question for the novice video editor becomes which simple video editor best serves his or her needs.
To answer that question, we tested each application's tools, built test projects, and analyzed workflows and common tasks. We compiled data from these tests to determine an application's usability score. This rating simply refers to how easy it is to use the tools and features of the program to their fullest potential.
Simple video editor programs have an easy or basic mode for beginners. These modes are distinct from the familiar timeline and storyboard modes. Easy video editing software has modes that often reduce editing to its most basic concepts and tools.
Some movie editing software goes beyond beginner modes to make the process even easier. Many of the programs we reviewed scan your media and create a video for you automatically. This tool works well for small or large amounts of footage. The best video editing software for Windows lets you manipulate your automatic video after it has been compiled.
The availability of basic themes and templates is also important for easy video editing software. You can build simple (as well as more advanced) projects by customizing templates for topics such as a child's birthday party, a vacation highlight reel, or even mock movie trailers starring you, your family and your friends. These applications not only produce high-quality results, but they help you learn and polish your video editing skills.
Advanced Tools to Look For
Once you’ve cut your teeth with the basic tools in video editing software, you can move on to the more powerful tools. The best video editing software is compatible with all the latest video and audio technology on the market today. For example, the best video editors can import, edit and export the ultra-high-definition 4K resolution. This makes your videos crisp, clear and enjoyable on today’s large, ultra-HD televisions.
Another advanced tool worthy of note is the multi-cam editor. This tool combines videos of the same event taken at multiple angles on different cameras. It even automatically syncs them so you can switch angles to make the best video version of the event possible.
The best video editing software has tools that allow you to capture, edit and produce videos recorded by growingly popular action cams like GoPros and Drift Innovation’s Ghost-S. These action cam tools are generally as good as or better than the software that comes bundled with the cameras themselves. They allow you to stabilize shaky video, correct fish-eye distortion, enhance color and even pan and zoom around your footage. You can even slow down the speed and reverse the video.
Even though 360-degree video is in its infancy, there are still multiple consumer-friendly cameras capable of capturing video in this advanced format. The best video editing software allows you to build a compelling story out of your 360-degree footage. You can create real-to-life views as if your audience were standing in the middle of your story.
Export & Production
Once your video project is finished and ready to share, Windows video editing software gives you plenty of options. All applications export your project into a video file. This option usually gives you the most control over the size, frame rate and other details.
The best video editing programs for Windows easily export your film to popular file formats such as MP4, MOV, AVI and WMV. Normally, the software has presets for each format. Some video editor programs we reviewed allow you to export into lesser-used formats. This is useful in some cases, but for the most part the most popular formats will meet your needs.
All the video creation software we reviewed has at least some capacity to optimize your videos to share on sites like YouTube and Facebook. The best applications can upload your finished videos directly from their export menus.
Since people are watching, storing and sharing videos on mobile devices, it has become increasingly important for a video editing program to export finished videos directly to these devices. Nearly all the movie editing software we reviewed has this ability to some degree. The best programs have companion mobile apps that you can sync with their desktop counterparts, making the transfer of data faster and more secure.
The disc authoring tools are another essential feature to consider if you intend to distribute DVDs or Blu-ray discs of your video. The authoring options can be quite extensive, such as inserting chapter markers, building disc menus and including extra features just like the Hollywood movies you buy in retail stores. The best video editor programs for Windows give you a lot of options in this area.
Help & Support
No matter how simple these video clip editors become, video editing is difficult and time-consuming. There will be times when you need help, especially if you have limited experience. This help can come in the form of online chat, FAQs, a knowledgebase or free tutorials.
The most useful tool a manufacturer can offer is a community dedicated to video editing. These are places where editors can share, learn and collaborate. The potential usefulness of these communities is significant, especially for editors refining their skills.
Video Editing Software: What We Tested, What We Found
In addition to evaluating each application's editing tools, ease of use, sharing options, and help and support, we conducted the following tests:
Usability – Most users of the video editing software we reviewed here are not professionals. So, it’s important that all the tools and features be accessible, understandable and learnable for the average user. In our usability test, we evaluated the interface of each product and tracked how easy it is to perform basic tasks. We found that all the products in our review are relatively simple to use, given the proper time to learn their specific workflows.
Timing – Creating videos can be a very time-consuming process. We used each of the programs to create an identical test project. We timed how long it took our in-house video editor to complete this task. We also timed how long it took each program to export our finished test project. We found that once you learn each product’s workflow, it shouldn’t take you too long to create and export a finished project, depending on how complex it is.
Quality – The quality of your finished video should be as crisp and clear as possible. Our experts examined videos created by each product we reviewed. The best video editors produced a perfect or near-perfect picture compared to the source material. Others had significant problems that were noticeable and distracting to the viewer. Each video editor for Windows was given a letter grade (A being the highest and F being the lowest) based on this expert evaluation.
The best video editing software for Windows is an application that expertly walks the line between usability and function. These programs cater to users of all skill levels. Even professionals use some of these applications. All the programs in our review have something positive to offer, some more than others. The real test is how well it works for your video editing projects. For more information about home video editing software, consult our articles and reviews to help you make an informed decision.