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Video Editing Software Buyer's Guide

The range of the video editing software market has been remarkably stable over the past decade or so, with a clear divide between "consumer" tools in the $50 to $100 to $150 range, and "professional" tools from the likes of Adobe, Apple, Avid and Sony, starting at around $700 to $800.

While the pricing has held, the capabilities have soared, as new technology has poured into the pro products, especially:

  • Higher quality - from HD video, surround sound, deep color and 24p film editing
  • Expanding format support - from DV to MPEG-2 to HDV, to tapeless AVCHD, to video DSLR and pro cameras
  • Faster workflow - from real-time preview to graphics acceleration and 64-bit editing
  • Broader sharing - via syncing to portable devices, uploading online, and burning to DVD to Blu-ray

Even better, these technologies not just for the high end -- New capabilities are flowing down even more quickly from the professional tools into the consumer tools, and at the same time some of the interface improvements are propagating up from the entry-level tools.

So "consumer" no longer means "beginner" for video editing. Consumers no longer want to be limited to an easy step-by-step tool. Instead they want access to the kinds of effects they see on television, with multi-track editing and lots of effects.

And professional tools provide more creative freedom from more precise controls, deeper integration with pro cameras and capture equipment, optimized performance for heavy-duty editing, and a focus on the entire end-to-end workflow, including integration with a larger suite of tools.

For an overview of consumer and professional tools, see my Video Editing Software Buyer's Guide in the October issue of Videomaker Magazine:

Also see my Video Editing Software Gallery for more on consumer and professional products.

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