Realistically speaking you could almost say that every computer in the world is an an individual unto itself.
Now this is not an article on the development of artificial intelligence nor a prediction that your computer has attained a state of self awareness!
This page is about the absolute necessity to always take advantage of free trials when looking for video editing software.
My point is this.
Every computer will have a different array of software already loaded onto it for various purposes depending on the user.
That software will occupy different positions in the pecking order of the computer depending on the usage habits of the user.
Each one will have a particular hardware setup covering a vast array of choices with regards to brands, processors, motherboards, DVD drives, hard drives, RAM and on and on.
Each computer will also have reached an individual “operational state” based on the factors above and more.
Add to this (especially with Windows) the need for the basic operating system to permit each individual software program wide permissions to change things within the computer system for compatibility purposes and I think you should be getting the picture.
An often asked question is, “Is this video editing software compatible with my operating system?” Or, “Is this video editor stable?”
Well really there is only one way to answer that question specifically and that is by the use of trial software.
You can read any number of reviews of any video editing software and discover the new version is ideal for you and your operating system.
You can load it, start it and then for the next few weeks never get it to work.
As an old hand on a number of video editing software forums my observation is this:
When you choose a video editor that is supposed to be compatible with your operating system and is also reputed to be reasonably stable, you have about an 85% chance that it will be that way.
In about 10% of cases there will be some minor adjustment needed to make the software run as promised or there may be minor adjustments needed to the user!
For the remaining 5% it will just be that no matter what you do, what advice you get, what contortions you go through it just wont run.
Read the Manual
RTM on forums means “Read The Manual” and is an often used term.
I won’t go into what RTFM stands for but let’s just say that it is generally used after RTM has been suggested (and ignored) many times!
So, in choosing video editing software for your needs it is vital that you take advantage of the free trials and have a good play around with the video software to see that it plays nice with everything else on the computer.
Check the Forums
Find the user to user forum for the software, see that it is active, check that questions are being answered reasonably quickly and that there are other resources available there like user tutorials etc.
Look at a few entries by newbies and make sure that the members of the forum are polite and respectful of each other and that new people are treated with kindness and patience.
There is nothing worse than being spoken down to by someone on a forum with an attitude problem when all you are asking for is a little help. Of course you will be polite yourself!
What Are They Hiding?
To me one of the biggest warning signs that a software maker can send to the market is refusing to allow a free trial of their software prior to purchase.
In this day and age there are any number of security measures they can deploy to prevent theft of their software and really, if you are operating on the basis that “everyone is trying to steal our stuff,” then that speaks volumes about how they are operating.
I would NEVER buy any software that does not offer a free trial.
Bear in mind that often free trials are cut down versions for a few reasons:
First, to reduce the size of the download as much as possible so you can get to play with it faster rather than have a bad downloading experience color your perception of the software.
Secondly, because some video and audio codecs necessary for editing are licensed and the video software company may not be able to provide that codec in a trial offer.
A Word on Computer Resources
Make sure when you are checking for a suitable video editing software package that you take note of the minimum system requirements that the video software manufacturer recommends…then double it!
Ok, well maybe not everything but some.
If they recommend 4gb of RAM for your computer you had better have eight.
Video editing is very, very demanding of computer resources especially memory so either make sure you have double the recommended or be prepared to learn how to shut down everything possible on your computer prior to editing.
Hard Drive Real Estate
Ah, there’s nothing like the wide open spaces and with video editing this is vital.
DV.avi files are the least compressed and will occupy about 13 Gb of space for one hour of video.
MPEG2 comes in at around 6 to 7 Gb per hour depending on compression and all of the others will come in under that.
Eg. If you had a one hour DV.avi project and you wanted to render it to a DVD you would need 13 Gb of free space for the DV.avi, another 7 Gb or so for the MPEG2 that the program would create in a temp file prior to burning which means about 20 Gb free.
BUT… understanding that the operating system will be throwing bits of data all over the place to keep up with the processor you would safely need about 25 to 30 Gb of space to be safe.
Otherwise the entire process may choke due to interruptions in proceedings.
Ideally two hard drives with lots of space can really make a difference in stability and processing times because you can set the video editing program to be reading from one hard drive while writing to the other instead of reading and writing to the same one.
With the exception of AVCHD files the only effect the speed of your CPU will have on any part of the video editing process will be speed itself.
Speed of rendering to new files and the speed with which you can preview and move through the timeline.
Digital video editing is simply a mathematical numbers game and the faster the CPU, the faster these processes can be achieved.
AVCHD, note carefully what the manufacturer says about this.
AVCHD achieves much of its greater compression abilities by placing a huge workload on the CPU and for these files having the biggest, nasty-ass CPU will be necessary.
In general, editing AVCHD at the moment remains a challenge for the average home computer so if you are using these files make sure you test thoroughly.
I am editing video so surely the video card in my computer must be important… right?
Well yes and no.
In reality, video editing software minimally only uses the video card in your computer to display what is on the screen while you are editing and while you are in playback mode. The bulk of the work is being done directly by the CPU and within the system RAM.
However the latest versions of most video editing software have been substantially reworked to allow them to use any available processing power offered by the video card.
So now it is no longer a case of just getting something with a bit of RAM on it.
If at all possible get the highest end card your budget will allow.
As far as choosing the right product for your needs the use of a free trial should be a complete deal maker or breaker.