Over the past few years 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 video editing software suite 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.
Of course they all carry the claims of being “easy video editors” 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.
Additionally, using those advanced features required at least some understanding of the technical processes involved and this added further complication to editing your videos.
I have been asked on a number of forums and through this site to recommend some truly easy video editing programs, simple video editors 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.
The software makers themselves must have been getting the same kind of message from the market with a number of them releasing simplified versions of their existing products or in some cases a totally separate, easy to use product.
I have listed a few of the better known ones below but keep in mind just because they are classified as simple video editing software programs does not mean they are crippled in any way. They offer many of the same features that the top of the line video editors had a few years back.
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 and are not listed in any particular order of preference.
*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!
Magix Video Easy HD
Unlike some, it is not just a cut down version of a more advanced program with a simple interface to make it look pretty.
The result is a product with a very clean and uncomplicated user interface that clearly shows where everything is and what it does.
It also comes with a very effective and comprehensive on-board help system to get you started quickly and past anything you don’t understand as you go.
It imports all popular video file formats and all the common audio and image formats and offers good control over all of them.
The editing tools are very straightforward not just in the way they are presented but also in the way you use them. The whole program follows a simple 3 step system from importing your files through to editing and finally to output.
This three step process follows a wizard based system which you can follow from start to finish or if you like, move out of the wizard into more detailed or personalized work.
As far as output formats go it has everything you will need including DVD, Blu-ray and output to compatible files for uploading to services like YouTube as well as mobile devices.
muvee Reveal X
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.
muvee Reveal Express
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 Pixie 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.
CyberLink PowerDirector 12
PowerDirector 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.
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.
All 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.
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.
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.