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Recommended Simple or Easy Video Editing Software

Recommended Simple or Easy Video Editing Software

Easy Video Editing Software

Over the past few years all of the major video editing software companies have been battling each other in a game of who can come up with the shiniest new features to attract the attention of the public.

The end result has been that the average consumer level video editing software has become incredibly feature rich but in the process, has become quite complicated as well.

You can’t keep adding features without having to add access to those features through the user interface and this inevitably results in complexity.

They all carry the claim of being “easy video editing software” or “simple video editors” when being described by the their respective marketing departments but the truth is they have become progressively more difficult to use.

I have been asked on a number of forums and through this site to recommend some truly simple video editing programs or an easy video editor that anyone can use.

Something that has all the basic features that a user would need without the shiny “bells and whistles” and complicated interface that come with it.

I have listed what I think to be the best of this class below but keep in mind that just because they are classified as simple video editing software programs they are not crippled in any way.

They offer all of the basic features you will need to create your own videos with ease.

If you are just a beginner or really don’t see yourself spending hours alone in a darkened room editing your footage, or you just want to get your video masterpieces out as soon as possible with a minimum of fuss then you would be well served by the ones listed below.

They all cover the basic actions of cutting, slicing and dicing with transitions, audio control and a wide range of output formats.

*My standard disclaimer applies: Please, use the trials first to see how you like it and how it likes you and your computer setup before committing to a long term relationship!

Wondershare Filmora

filmora-250Wondershare Filmora is a recent re-branding of the company’s simple video editing software which comes in versions for both PC and Mac.

Previously it was just called Wondershare Video Editor and although not really an inspired naming you have to admire the efficiency of it!

In terms of ease of use and simplicity without sacrificing functionality I think you would be hard pressed to go past this one.

The guys at Wondershare have been bugging me to take a look at it for a while now and unfortunately I have always put it in the “to do later” file and never got around to it until recently.

To put it bluntly, this little editor is awesome! It’s so… well… easy!

It downloads and installs very quickly and I was up and running within minutes.

The interface is a “non-techie” dream come true with no hidden menus or menu items that you have to know in order to access them, it literally is “what you see is what you get.”

Everything is available through an icon that sits in the little menu bar smack dab in the middle of your screen.

Take a look at this intro video they created using the software itself to get an idea of what you can do with it and how easy it is.

The key to how they made it so good is in the time Wondershare put into the backend of the software rather than the interface.

“Intuitive” is a word that is often bandied about in the software world but what it really means is that within Filmora they have thought about every details of what the average person will be doing with the software and have anticipated those needs.

It doesn’t mean they don’t let you do things, it means they have designed the software so that you don’t have to keep answering endless technical questions about, “Do you want to do this?” or “Do you want to do that?”

If you want to add files to your library Filmora just asks whether it’s from your computer or another device… not which device, not which version of the device, not what kind of file.

It’s just “give us a little clue and we’ll handle the rest!”

The same goes for every step of the editing process and even then the software has a wizard based semi-automatic interface that you can use to make it even more simple.

On the Wondershare website there are 5 videos you can watch and really, if you just watch those you will have already seen just about everything you need to see to get up and running.

Filmora handles all the basic editing functions as far as cutting, chopping, slicing and dicing goes.

There is a range of filters for color correction and effects as well as simple yet effective audio controls.

It can deliver picture-in picture effects and even some still and motion graphics and on top of that can do green screen and capture still images from any frame in your video.

As far as sharing goes it comes with perfectly configured pre-set parameters for output to a wide range of mobile devices, online services like YouTube and FaceBook as well as burning DVDs.

All in all Wondershare Filmora is my new best friend when it comes to an easy video editing software program anyone can use.

Click Here To See Wondershare Filmora

muvee Reveal X

Muvee Reveal X BoxIf you are looking for easy video editing software in the strictest sense of the word “easy,” then it doesn’t get much better than totally automatic! And that is just what this one does.

Hard to believe I know but the fact is that muvee can achieve some pretty remarkable results given that the process is almost completely automated.

By using some very specialized scanning technology it can quite accurately identify various components of your videos and stills and at the same time analyze the speed of your chosen music.

In the end it slaps the whole thing together based on its calculations and voila! Movie magic!

Well ok, maybe not Hollywood magic but pretty darn good!

Although it may sound a little too good to be true there is a very large community of Muvee users who absolutely swear by the product.

Outside of the automated features it still offers a good set of manual editing tools that you can use to make final adjustments.

Click here for the full Reveal X Review

Click Here To See Reveal X

muvee Reveal Express

Muvee Reveal Express BoxReveal Express is about as easy as video editing software is going to get while you still actually do it yourself!

This is the chopped down version of muvee Reveal specifically designed for those who want to automatically create their videos and only upload to the internet or to mobile devices.

It comes with a bunch of preset styles that you can use to make the video or control the transitions, music, audio and panning and zooming on still images yourself.

Alternatively you can just load everything up in order and let muvee Reveal Express do it automatically. The results of doing it like that may surprise you and before you finish you can step in to make final adjustments.

It can handle WMV, .mov, MPEG4, H.264 and regular DV-AVI files which should cover most of the modern methods of capturing video.

It outputs to formats for all the current mobile devices and can directly upload to YouTube and Facebook.

Click Here To See Reveal Express

CyberLink PowerDirector 13

power-director13-box-250PowerDirector is my top choice at the moment for a fully fledged consumer level editing program and you can read the full review here.

From an “easy editor” viewpoint the CyberLink product contains within it a wizard based simple mode which the user can choose to enter either each time the software opens or as the default opening module.

Most of what I would describe as the “full” editors around today have a similar feature but for some, the implementation works more as an ill-conceived afterthought rather than as a genuine choice for the user.

Of the available choices I would easily rate the CyberLink offering as superior to the rest and part of the reason for this may be that the simple mode was developed as a stand alone concept instead of a hack of an existing program.

Of course any time you want to get out of the simple mode you can instantly switch over to the full editor.

This one is worth taking a look at if you suspect you may at some point get bitten by the editing bug and may want to take your productions up a notch.

You can click here take a look at my full review of the program.

Click Here to Look at PowerDirector for Yourself

Some Other Good Alternatives… and some not so

Some readers may be surprised that I have not included a number of well known products on this page. Here are a few and my reasons for not including them:

Roxio Creator, Nero Multimedia Suite, and Cyberlink Media Suite.

cyberlink-mediasuite12-box-250All of these are multimedia packages rather than just easy to use video editing software. They are all good products and if you have a use for ALL the features offered by these full program suites then yes, they are great and have good, easy to use video editing capabilities.

They all offer an image organization feature plus reasonably good image manipulation capabilities. Audio editing, video editing and disc creation along with some kind of file distribution feature such as uploading to YouTube etc.

My only reservation with all of them is that most likely a dedicated video editor will have these features anyway while offering the full editing experience.

My pick of the bunch would be the Cyberlink offering because of a superior editing feature set, image manipulation and audio control.

You can take a look at the full features by clicking this link

Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD

Although this is the bottom of the range in the Vegas line up from Sony it could never be confused with a simple video editor! The learning curve is steep and although Sony include great tutorials it kind of defeats the purpose of recommending something easy.

Corel Digital Studio

Quite simply a poor piece of software. Installs slowly runs slowly and although it is easy, it’s just not very good in my experience.

Anything Else?

There are literally hundreds of video editing software programs out there and many that claim ease of use as their selling point. You can spend the next year checking them out and still be no closer to a decision.

What I do know is that the software on this page is reliable, fits the criteria of easy or simple and will work very well for the majority of people.

26 comments to Recommended Simple or Easy Video Editing Software

  • Lance,
    It’s very generous of you to solve our editing problems! thank you.
    I’ve been cutting clips in Movie Maker and have mastered this easy but irritating program. I’m ready to step up to a “real” system (I worked as a TV producer so I know the concept and look of an AVID timeline) that is still easy to use.
    I’ve downloaded Corel Video Studio X8 and like the set up and the desktop but MOV files are jittery and out of syc. MP4 files, no prob. I’m not getting answers from their help options, but I like the software if I can sort out the MOV file thing.
    Any suggestions? thanks again.

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Gai,

      Yeah… mov files, what can I say?

      In fact I just did a search for “jittery mov files and a whole bunch of posts from all over the place come up!

      The core problem here is that the Mac vs. Windows war seems to still be on or we are at least still suffering from it.

      Jittery mov files can usually be attributed to an underpowered computer (for mov files).

      I am not saying your computer is underpowered because as you say you are handling MP4 ok. I just suspect that your system in conjunction with the program has to probably perform one or two extra steps in dealing with mov files and in that process things back up.

      The usual work around for this is to note down the parameters of the mov file and then just render it to an MP4 with exactly the same parameters. Then use that to do your editing.

      It is an extra step and a pain I know but this problem has been around for ages and since things went to high definition it it seems to have gotten a little worse.

      Just make sure that you are not using different types of video on the timeline when editing and that your project settings match the video you are working with.

  • Hi Lance,
    I am wanting to create short (under 1 minute) testimonial videos for clients.
    I require the program to be really easy to use and for the videos to be of sufficient quality to use for Facebook, youtube and on clients’ websites.
    Can you please suggest a program?

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Peter,

      Boy! Sorry I missed this question! I am supposed to get notified but for some reason I wasn’t.

      Anyway, from your description I would suggest Filmora.

      Simple, easy to use, has everything you will need and will faithfully maintain the quality to capture at.

  • George Melendez

    Hi Lance,
    Nice article and very useful. I would like to know what would be “your” choice for “free video editor for good and easy but still professional looking videos”? I have been using Wins Movie Maker but I find it to be to basic and would like try something new. I have been considering Wondershare Filmora Free but would like to know what you think. Maybe you can suggest 2 video editors for me to look at. Thanks,

    George Melendez

    Puerto Rico

    • Lance Carr

      Hi George and thanks for dropping by!

      OK, here’s the deal.

      You may have already noticed this site has no section for free video editor and there is a reason for that.

      The problem is that creating a video editing program is a hugely complex undertaking but even then the creation of the software is only about 20% of the task.

      Once it has been created then it has to be maintained in line with changes to file formats, computer operating systems, problems with other software and on and on and on.

      Most free projects start with an enthusiastic programmer or a group and from there the reality sets in and slowly they sink into apathy!

      Windows movie maker is about the best free one around for the Windows operating system.

      My choice for free?

      I am just so past even worrying about that path anymore… it is a dead end I have gone down many times.

      Even if you give the free Filmora a try you will soon see it has not much more (if at all) than Movie maker unless you upgrade to a paid version.

      Sorry I have no awesome freebie to offer you or suggest but that’s how it goes, ya gets what ya pays for!

  • Carmahgedom

    Para mi propio uso colecciono videos de conciertos de los 80’s, con 16:9 no hay ningun problema pero con los 4:3 — Uso el WonderShare Video editor para alinearlo a la izquierda, y poner algun motivo, foto o video a la derecha para rellenar y que resulte un bonito video 16:9. Con los 4:3 @ 25 FPS no tengo problemas y salen de lujo. – Pero cualquier video en 29.97 FPS o incluso 30 FPS el video resultante siempre tiene mala la cinematica (No fluye la imagen sino se notan los quiebres). ¿Que hago en WS para usar videos 29.97 FPS?? , casi me lo se de memoria y no hallo opciones.
    ________
    For my own use collect videos of concerts of the 80’s, with 16:9 but there is no problem with the 4:3 — Using Wondershare Video editor to align to the left, and put some reason, the photo or video right to fill and make it a nice 16:9 video. With the 4:3 @ 25 FPS I have no problems in and out of luxury. – But any video at 29.97 FPS or 30 FPS the resulting video is always bad kinematics (image not flow but the breaks are noted). What do I do to use WS 29.97 FPS video ?? , I almost know it by heart and find no options.

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Carmahgedom,

      Unbelievably I think I can actually understand your question!

      The problem you are having with the motion in the videos being strange is because of the difference in frame rate.

      You simply cannot expect an entry level, simple video editor like Wondershare to be able to change a 29.97 or 30 frame per second video into a 25 frame per second video smoothly.

      For every second of footage it has to somehow get rid of 4.97 or 5 frames and yet still retain smooth motion. That’s asking too much and to be honest even the top end editors have trouble with conversions like that.

  • Genie

    My son has combat footage from Afghanistan on an external hard drive. He wants to edit it to share with his fellow soldiers. He is not technologically adept nor has any equipment, including a laptop. What laptop should he buy for this purpose and which editor? This footage is important to him and his battle buddies. Money is limited. thanks

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Genie,

      Without knowing exactly in what format the video has been taken and then transferred to hard drive it’s kind of hard to advise you.

      However I am assuming he doesn’t really want to go into too much complication in the editing process so the Wondershare product on this page is probably the best.

      As far as a laptop goes I can’t really help there except to say that all you can really do is go for the best you can given the price constraints.

  • Hi Lance,
    I’m a job developer for an agency that provides services for people with disabilities. One visually impaired client and I videotaped him disassembling, cleaning, greasing and reassembling the lower power assembly of a bicycle. We ended up with 45 minutes of tape that we’d like to edit down to about 7 minutes to demonstrate his skills. We transferred the tape to disk. It’s in MPG format. When I open it with Windows Media Player, or Windows Movie Editor all I get is the sound, no visual.

    He (his wife) can run it with Pinnacle. They said Pinnacle has a feature that converts files, and they are trying to figure out how to convert it to MP4.

    I checked out your reviews and understand that you’re not a fan of Pinnacle, especially for the casual user. I looked at Filmora and was about ready to pull the trigger, but I found that they have a companion program that converts files. The price of the editor isn’t bad compared to a free one that doesn’t work, but I don’t know if it makes sense to buy both.

    Any advice?

    Scott

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Scott,
      Thanks for dropping by!

      So first of all unless we are in a rush here can you please just not do anything.

      Theoretically as a website owner I am supposed to get you to just buy Filmora and collect a commission from the sale so I can go out and buy some candy or some bright shiny objects. Unfortunately I suck at marketing!

      So the first thing I need to know is what you mean when you say you “video taped” your client at work.

      What is the format of that “tape?” (If you don’t know give me the make and model of the camera)
      How did you get it on to the hard drive?
      What kind of MPEG is it? MPEG2, MPEG 4 (MP4), MPEG 1?

      The reason Windows whatever can’t play it is probably because it does not have the correct video codec to do so, but Pinnacle does!

      Although I am not yet a fan of Pinnacle (they are getting it better) I am a huge fan of the software you have, as opposed to the software you think you need to buy!

      Yes, Pinnacle has the ability to just load up a file and then convert it to whatever your little heart desires… BUT!

      I am assuming you want the final video to be at least watchable so the way you go about all this is crucial.

      Every time you convert or re-render a digital file to another format you lose quality so it’s best to get all your ducks in a row first.

      So the sequence has to be, original media transferred to editable file – editing – rendered file for playback.

      One last question! How will your intended audience be watching your future masterpiece?
      DVD, YouTube, Mobile Device, Etch A Sketch?

      If you answer these questions I can give you a better idea of how best to proceed.

      Lance

  • Bob Estabrook

    I am a soccer coach, I video tape my games in 1080p and have a Pinnacle Studio system installed in my custom computer with a 100GB solid state hard drive and a very good video card. whenever I want simply to make a DVD to show the players, my results vary but always end without a finished product. I can make a date file and show it on my computer but it is not what I want to do.
    Do you have any software suggestions to show up to 100 minutes of game tape?

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Bob,

      First of all congratulations on being able to create something in Pinnacle in the first place! (OK, that’s being a little harsh on Pinnacle.)

      The problem with DVD is that it is a Standard Definition set of parameters.

      That means that to create a DVD you have to have an MPEG2 video file at a maximum resolution of 720 x 480 and a frame rate of 29.97 (interlaced) frames per second.

      It is natively a 4:3 aspect ratio but can display 16:9 (widescreen) provided you don’t mind black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

      If you do that then you will usually be able to create a 90 minute video to fit on a DVD.

      Keep in mind that DVDs and CDs are “marketed” as being capable of playing back for certain times but this is not strictly true.

      The actual playback time is limited by the data capacity of the disc and the size of the video file you are trying to burn is determined by the Bitrate at which the file was created.

      Bitrate is simple the amount of digital data that is being used per second or minute to display the video.

      If you drop the quality of the footage (lower the bitrate) when burning you can get a longer playing disc.

      Now here’s the real problem you are hitting.

      You are recording your video at 1080p but have not mentioned the frame rate although it is most likely 30 or 60 frames per second.

      This means the original footage you are using is most likely an MP4 (H.264) file at High Definition (widescreen 16:9) and consists of a resolution of 1920 x 1080.

      In order for Pinnacle to try to follow your order to create a DVD it first has to decimate (that’s actually the word they use!) the resolution of the video down to 720 x 480 and at the same time somehow turn 30 or 60 constant frames per second (progressive) into 29.97 frames per second interlaced AND convert from an MP4 to an MPEG2.

      This is no mean task for any software!

      My advice would be to take an existing project and render it to a DVD compliant MPEG2 file first.

      Then load that file into Pinnacle and try to burn a standard DVD and use any kind of “fit to disc” function the software has so that it can automatically re-encode the data at a rate that will allow the completion of a DVD.

      If that fails or you can’t work it out please come back here and let me know and I will try to come up with something else for you.

  • Tiago

    Greetings, Lance!

    Thank you very much for the list you posted.

    I’ve two camcorders shooting a 3-5minutos lecture. I’ll record voice sound in my iPhone and I’m willing to mix everything (sound + video 1 slices or video 2 slices) plus watermark in entire video.

    Which video editing software would you recommend me?

    Thanks!!!!

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Tiago,
      Given that you are going to use footage from two sources etc. I think you are probably best to go with the basic version of PowerDirector.

  • I am a performer, shooting promo videos, and I want to create stunning videos to submit to potential clients. The bad part is that I don’t know much (which is to say almost nothing) about video editing. I need effects, audio leveling, and such. Any recommendations?
    -Greg

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Greg,

      First up let’s take a step back and look at what you really need rather then what you think you need!

      The last thing you actually need is “effects!” Greg! You ARE the effects!

      All you actually need is short high definition videos of segments of your performances, not the whole show, just parts that showcase your abilities.

      You need to get a consistent “look” to them and that’s about it.

      You need a camera that can capture high definition shots and they don’t have to be multi camera set ups, just single angle from one fixed point that shows one trick, start to finish.

      You need to make sure the camera has a jack for an external mic so that you can get good quality audio.

      You need to go on to some site like fiver and pay someone to make you one standard intro segment and one standard outro segment.

  • Ian Johnson

    Hi – Would you please help me with some advise – I have a Sony camcorder (HFR20), (just taking family stuff) – I have been searching for suitable editing software. All I need is basic editing, I don’t require the bells & whistlers (transitions voiceovers etc), all I want is to place the clips on a time line cut and edit put some extra photos in to be used for the title and the end, then I type simple titles and perhaps some instructive subtitles – simple, but its effective – most important it must be of the highest HD quality (I want to get a Blue Ray player if you think that’s necessary). I have just downloaded the trial version of Power D. 13 ultra, unfortunately there are problems with this software (errors etc – just not working well – is this the case with P.D.?! or maybe its my laptop – My laptop has been checked -It meets the requirements. So, is P.D. my best option, it seems to be a bit expensive for what I need (on special though at the moment) but I like using this software. Would also like your opinion on the camcorder – is there something better? I also do a bit of diving -would the Gopro be suitable – PLease, help with your opinions and suggestions.

    Thank you — Ian

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Ian,
      Sorry about the delay!

      To be honest for the type os editing you want to do I really think muveeReveal X is more than enough.

      Although it kind of presents itself as an automatic solution it actually allows far greater control than that.

      You can just load up the footage and images you want to use and let it do its thing.

      However you can also step in at any point and take manual control of the process.

      It’s good to go for HD so no problem there.

      I never recommend anyone get a new camcorder until they are certain the one they have is either broken or they have maxed out it’s capabilities.

      Too often people look at their videos and think the problem is their equipment when really they just need to get a little better at what they are doing and buying a new camcorder won’t fix that!

      GoPros are great but remember that they were designed as action cams so they have a very slightly different lens than the usual.

      If you look at GoPro footage you will notice a very slight “fish-eye” effect coming from the wide angle lenses they have.

      This is great for a maniac screaming down a forest trail on a mountain bike but not so for a family get together!

  • Andrew Rezk

    I have been using Camtasia studio for editing my videos, however it freeze and crash many times while editing the video timeline. I’m thinking to try CyberLink PowerDirector, Do you think it is faster or better than Camtasia for producing videos?

    I hope i can find a video editing software that will not freeze while editing :/

    Appreciate your advice,
    Andrew

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Andrew,

      First of all it is very unusual for Camtasia to be freezing crashing like that.

      Rather than looking at the software I think you should first start looking at the video files you are dealing with and just how process intensive they are.

      It sounds more to me like your computer is having trouble keeping up with everything and falling over.

      What are the specs of the video files you are using and what are the specs of your computer?

      • Andrew Rezk

        Hello Lance,

        I bought this computer a year ago, it’s:

        Toshiba Satellite, Windows 8
        Intel core i3, 2.5 GHz
        6 GB RAM
        64-bit operating system

        I usually record screen videos and edit them with Camtasia, i noticed that when i edit the time line for long videos (50 minutes or longer) using Camtasia, it always run slow.

        Although, my computer performance is good for all other applications, I wonder if this is because of my PC specs or the software itself!

        • Lance Carr

          Hi Andrew,

          To be honest I don’t think the problem is really coming from Camtasia as such and I don’t really think using another editor will change things that much.

          You computer specs are OK but the problem is that what you are doing is VERY resource intensive.

          Your computer is probably like most people’s computers in that it is not purpose built for video recording and editing and is most likely somewhat packed with a range of other programs that you use for other purposes.

          A 50 minute video file recorded on the fly with Camtasia is going to really stretch any system especially a NoteBook running a smaller processor.

          Not only does the software have to capture the onscreen events in real time but then has to convert it all into a video file and then slap it down on the hard drive somewhere.

          You may want to try to set up the computer before you start recording each time.

          To do this first of all install something like Ccleaner (Google it Free) and run the cleaner first then the registry cleaner.

          Then make sure the hard drive is defragged and all tidied up.

          Make sure that there are NO unnecessary programs or processes running in the background of Windows and do the recording.

          At this point, at the completion of the recording, you can assume your RAM is packed with all sorts of stuff and everything is in a general state of disarray!

          Now, close Camtasia and check to see if the disc has become fragmented by the recording process. Defrag as needed.

          Now open Camtasia Editor and begin editing and see if things are a little better. Remember, editing video place huge strain on the system so take your time and let the program keep up with you.

  • Douglas

    Every video editor I have checked out, lacks any useful manual to teach you how to use it.

    I have a gopro camera, but their free software comes with no instructions, and runs poorly on my HP dual core laptop.

    Any suggestions ?

    Thanks for your kind attention.

    Douglas the Rolfe

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