The fundamentals of consumer video editing software haven't changed much over the past few years: You want a program that lets you import video, stills, and sound to your PC from whatever camera or source you have, easily join and trim what you shot, and maybe add some transitions and cool effects. Also unchanged is the need for fast, crash-free performance on non-professional hardware. Finally, you want the software to be able to deliver your creation to the places you care about, whether that means to a file format suitable for your mobile device or big-screen TV, or to an online community like Facebook, YouTube, or Vimeo.
But if that's all you need to do, you could rely on the simple video editing software that comes with both Windowsthe much-improved Windows Movie Maker, and with Apple Macintosh computers' iMovie app. The programs in this roundup let you go far beyond those tools, offering multitrack production for advanced effects like overlays, picture-in-picture, and keyframe effect animations, which give you ultimate control over what your video FX will look like, and where and when they appear in your finished movie. Indeed, capabilities found in professional software costing hundreds of dollars like Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro is making its way into these consumer packages, with the added benefit that they're generally easier to use.
I'm happy to report that this class of software as a whole has gotten more reliable and much fasteraddressing performance and stability problems that result from video editing's vast demand on a PC's hardware. In addition to that, some very cool new video tricks have come along since we last rounded up products in the category. Corel seems to be leading the pack in these new capabilities with both the recently acquired Avid Studio and its own VideoStudio Pro and, which recently introduced motion tracking that lets you add an object or effect to something moving in your video. The company also leads in tools that help you create stop-motion movies, now supporting remote DSLR control.
CyberLink continues to impress with our Editors' Choice video editor, PowerDirector. The latest version gets even more speed with its support for 64-bit CPUs and OpenCL graphics hardware acceleration. New "design studios" in the program help you customize effects like picture-in-picture, titles, particles, and menus. It also adds support for 4K Ultra HD resolution video, AVCHD 2.0 and exporting MKV files (a flexible, popular, open-source format). Support for 4K may seem like an unnecessary frill, until you note that the popular GoPro Hero3 Black Edition camcorder already can shoot at this resolution.
There are far more Windows options for video enthusiasts than Mac options, probably because Windows PCs offer more upward mobility in terms of storage and graphics and the simple fact that over 80 percent of installed desktop personal computers in the world still run Windows. Mac users, nevertheless, are well-served by Adobe Premiere Elements and by Apple's own excellent iMovie at the low end and Final Cut Pro X at the high end. Final Cut Pro X is far more novice-friendly than previous versions, making it a viable fit for enthusiasts as well as pros. It does, however, cost three times as much as most other products here, which will be a consideration for the budget-conscious.
To see what's new in enthusiast-level video editing software and decide which best meets your needs, dig into the review links below.
FEATURED IN THIS ROUNDUP
%displayPrice% at %seller% CyberLink continues to impress with its high-power enthusiast video editing software, with cutting edge capabilities like support for Ultra High Definition (4K) and 3D video formats. Despite its wealth of powerful effects and tools, the program interface is very clear and easy to use. It's one of the only products that doesn't slow down on a midrange tower PC when performing demanding multi-track overlays. Direct sharing to the popular video websites and strong audio and disc authoring capabilities round out the package. Read the full review ››
%displayPrice% at %seller% Apple has built a completely new, faster, cleaner, and more intuitive digital video editing package. It gives prosumer video enthusiasts a less daunting upgrade path from iMovie to a high-powered, full-featured Mac video editor. Its magnetic trackless timeline makes for a clean visual interface, and background processing with the fast new. Good organization tools let you apply ratings and tags to clips, and auto analysis finds faces, scenes, and more. Powerful multicam and chroma-keying live in harmony with simple direct Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo uploading. Read the full review ››
%displayPrice% at %seller% Corel VideoStudio Pro X6 is a surprisingly power-packed yet easy-to-use video editor. It leads the pack in some things like stop-motion capturing and motion tracking effects. The interface is clear and easy to use, and the program performs quickly and stably. Included is a screen-cam utility, support for the new 4K Ultra HD video format, and the ability to create HTML5 web video code. Read the full review ››
%displayPrice% at %seller% The latest version of Adobe's consumer video editing software gets a welcome simplifying makeover. Quick and Expert modes let you choose the level of interface right for the task, and a new project assets panel helps you get organized. Filmlooks effects can give your movie a Hollywood feel, but the program still lacks support for 3D and 4K video content, and slows down noticeably when you apply some advanced effects. Premiere Elements is the only non-Apple product here that also runs on Mac OS X. Read the full review ››
%displayPrice% at %seller% Magix has been in the video editing software game for more than 20 years, and the experience shows. The attractive, easy-to-figure-out interface belies a ton of powerful, near-pro-level tools. You also get screen-cam capability and HTML5 video code output, and strong music and audio editing tools. Magix only slightly trails other offerings such as PowerDirector in helpful tools, speed, and support for new formats like 4K Ultra HD video. Read the full review ››