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 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.
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 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.
CyberLink PowerDirector 13
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.