Video Editor Roundup

So… um… I spent my sick days playing around with several different video editors, only to come to the ultimate conclusion that my current editing program is probably where I “need” to be at right now, even if it is a my love/hate relationship.

To set the stage, here’s how most episodes of CFTP come together… there are generally 3 main elements – the movie, the riffing, and the “frame” that sits over top of everything else.  The track with the riffing (which is recorded via Hangout) is used multiple times, because it has not only the main screen (the big window at the top) but the preview windows – each of which is cropped/masked and then placed independently as a separate track on the timeline.  That means that, barring any special effects or extra elements, I usually wind up with 7-9 tracks just for those 3 elements.

Adobe Premiere – Yes, ok, so you’re the best around.  Nobody’s going to begrudge you that.  But you’re too powerful for my system to run comfortably (read: at all) and your lack of support for lower-powered systems knocks you out of the running.

Also, your interface is horrible.  Fuck you, Adobe.  Die in a fire.

Pinnacle Studio – Actually very good, all things considered.  Effect management was a bit wonky but I could get used to it.  Big problem I had here was preview rendering – there was no way to turn quality down, so no way for me to sync/edit the stuff I needed to do in real-time.  Maybe if you’re not doing a 10+ track edit or have a more powerful rig, you’d be great, and I certainly will revisit you when I upgrade, but for now…

AVS Video Editor – Fast, light, feature packed, and simple.  Probably a bit too simple, unfortunately.  There were ways to get it to do what I wanted it to do (masking, resizing images, etc) but I realized as I was working on it that it would be far too effort-intensive to be able to get it to do what I needed it to on a regular basis.

Corel VideoStudio Pro – I am a big fan of Paint Shop Pro.  This was sort of like Paint Shop Pro, and I am giving it points for that, but… despite being ABLE to do multi-track editing, it was clearly not DESIGNED for multi-track editing and fought me every step of the way.  “What do you mean, you don’t want your main video element centered and the entire project resized to match it?”  “This sure doesn’t look like a wedding video.”

AVID – I love Avid.  I was trained on it in school, and it remains the gold standard for video editors for me.  Unfortunately, CFTP is much more of a copper-to-bronze sort of operation, and not only would AVID’s $999 price tag kill me (and so would my wife if she thought I spent that much on a program) but my hardware is nowhere near the level I need to run Avid properly.

And so… the winner… again… is:

Cyberlink PowerDirector – Supporting multi-track editing, incredibly low-quality (fast render) previews, and limited budgets, PowerDirector is a good solid brick of software.  It’s buggy.  Buggy as hell.  Crashes all the time, randomly forgets to render video elements, and does some stuff I just DO NOT UNDERSTAND…. but it supports everything I’m trying to do.

More or less.

It’s basically the Derpy Hooves of video editors.  Things go wrong, I look at it angrily, and it shrugs and goes “I just don’t know what went wrong.”  It’s hard to hate it.

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