Home - Programming - Video Editors.

No, this isn't exactly about programming, but if you do any kind of web design, at some point you're going to want to throw some kind of video in there. This was my experience, cherry-pick whatever you find useful.

I've actually built videos in the past, so I started as I always do, with the creative part, and then let that inform the tool selection. I started off going to Google and searching for "stock video" and "free stock video". Two searches because, let's be frank, sometimes you find a diamond in the rough when you go free, but sometimes time becomes a factor and it's time to just pony up some money for quality clips.

I always start off finding the clips I like and using something like Flash Video Downloader (FVD) to pull the demo clips down. These usually have a watermark, but I don't intend to use them in the final product. Once I've created a draft of the video I want, I then go back and purchase the video clips in the size and resolution I need and build the final version of the video. This saves me a bit of money on clips I won't use, and I'm free to play with the videos to try out any video I like until I'm ready to buy.

Then it came time to edit them together. I've used Windows Movie Maker to create some pretty decent work in the past, but this time one of the clips that I really wanted to use was causing problems. For some reason, Movie Maker choked when cutting the clip in half so I could use just the first few seconds of it. So it looked like it was time to go find a new tool, something probably with more features, and definitely able to handle that clip.

Little did I know that finding a new tool would cost me an entire day... I started off looking for something Open Source. I prefer to support the guys that push the envelope and have nothing to hide. That didn't work out so well, as I'll recount.

I installed and re-installed this a few times, checked the web to make sure I was working with the latest version (0.97.1 as of Nov. 29th, 2016), read StackOverflow and the user documentation, and generally killed the better part of the day on this. I'd read such glowing reviews, but on my Mint Linux (a derivative of Ubuntu) virtual machine, this software not only didn't have the same features that were shown in the videos and documentation, but it would lock up after simply clicking around a bit. I finally gave up and went to the next free Linux editor on the top ten lists.

This one looked great right after installing it, but usability sucked. I couldn't drag the clips from a file explorer into the editor. I couldn't slide a clip down on the timeline -- what's the point of having a timeline feature if you can't slide clips back and forth? I could cut the clip that gave me a hard time, but I couldn't line up clips the way I needed. I also couldn't figure out how to speed up and slow down a clip. And then it locked up. I was already out of patience and time, so on to the next editor on the list.

AVS Video Editor
This one wasn't free and it's for Windows, but the trial is free and the software only costs $50.00 USD, so why not?

I took a snapshot of one of my Windows VMs and dropped it in, then started it up. I had expected a non-linear approach, but no such luck. It has a track for videos, one for overlays, one for sound, one for floating text, and one for voice recording. So, okay, let's continue. I added a handful of clips into the project, pulled nine of them into the video timeline, and then started cutting, deleting, rearranging, and modifying the speed of the clips. It went pretty smoothly, no issues, no lockups.

At the end I selected "Produce" and checked out my new video. Nice.

But, just like you can't stack video, you also can't stack any of the other types. So you want to pop an image of a computer program into the video of a monitor, *and* you want to have your company logo in the bottom corner at the same time. Sorry, can't do that. Want to mix audio from three source files at the same time? Nope, sorry, you'll have to do any fancy audio work outside the program.

The search continues...

Todd Grigsby