The ubiquity of video cameras and the proliferation of video-sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo have made it possible for even the smallest organizations to include short videos as part of their outreach and engagement strategies. In this article, we look at a few good options for editing the footage you shoot and readying it for public consumption.
Before the digital revolution, videos—like still photographs—were actually shot on film. Editing them involved cutting out individual frames and splicing the filmstrip back together, a tedious and expensive process that resulted in lots of little plastic squares on the cutting room floor. You also had to move through all previous footage to reach the scenes you wanted to edit, more or less requiring you to edit the film in the order in which you shot it.
About Video Editing
The Free Tools
The popular streaming video site now provides a handful of editing features. You can add up to seven of your previously uploaded videos into a basic timeline, trim them, and add transitions, titles and other effects to create a new video. These features probably won’t be the best choice for those planning on creating a lot of videos, but are a compelling option for organizations that need to edit videos only infrequently.
Windows Movie Maker(Pre-installed on all Windows PCs, or a free download from Microsoft)
Windows Movie Maker is a good tool for people just getting started with editing, and the prevalence of Windows computers means you’re likely to already have it in-house. Movie Maker handles basic tasks well, like trimming clips and adding titles, transitions and soundtracks, but offers limited file options for exporting edited videos or converting clips and files from one format to another.
iMovie (Pre-installed on Apple computers, or $50 as part of iLife)
Apple computers have a long history of being used for creative purposes, including editing video. iMovie, pre-installed on all recent Macs, is a surprisingly powerful and easy-to-use editing program designed for beginners. While Apple computers have grown in popularity, they are still uncommon in nonprofit offices—if your organization has one, this is a logical choice for editing your videos.
With an interface similar to iMovie’s, Premiere Elements is an affordable and beginner-friendly editing tool. It’s a step up from Windows Movie Maker that offers more advanced functions and allows for importing and exporting many more different video file types. While iMovie users should have little trouble adjusting, Premiere Elements requires a longer learning curve than Movie Maker.
More Advanced Tools
A significant step up in price and features, Premiere Pro has little in common with Premiere Elements, and uses a substantially different interface. It works well with other Adobe products, including the Creative Suite and After Effects, which, if used correctly, can create high-quality special effects for your video. Several blockbuster Hollywood films have been edited using this software, which means it’s certainly feature-rich enough for most nonprofits.
Final Cut Pro X ($300 for Apple computers)
Apple’s Final Cut Pro (and previously, Final Cut Express), has long been the leading alternative to more expensive editing software like Avid, and a logical progression from introductory software like iMovie. With the release of Final Cut Pro X, Apple has geared the professional-level software to a wider consumer base, simplifying the interface, which will be familiar to iMovie users, and making it more accessible to the average nonprofit user. (The previous consumer-level, discounted version, Final Cut Express, has been discontinued by Apple, but can still be found for under $200 on some websites and continues to be supported.)
Other High-End Solutions
- Carol Buckheit, Nonprofit MediaWorks
- Ben Stuart, solar4rschools.com
- Matt Taylor, See3
- Jeffrey Perkins, Indiana State University