This is a more detailed page as part of the series on how to choose the best video editing software for you. On this page we will cover the need for deciding on a price range and setting (and sticking to!) a budget.
In sales I think they say that the very last thing you should discuss with the customer is the price. So in the spirit of not selling… let’s discuss the price!
The market itself breaks down basically into four main groups or types of editing software. Understanding where each one sits in this hierarchy can help you quickly determine if a product is for you or not and can also help you keep reviews you read in perspective.
A realistic approach to whatever video editing software you select must include the price point you are will to go to in order to get the software you want. So before you get too “into” the selection process lets talk some ballpark figures and some points to keep in mind.
If you are a beginner and can see absolutely no possibility of your ever wanting to go beyond just the most basic functions of a video editor then purchasing standalone video editing software may simply be a waste of money.
At this level you can look at Windows Movie Maker, which comes free with the Windows operating system and although quite limited in what file formats it can both input and output it may very well suit your needs. Let’s face it, you can’t beat the price! Apple iMovie is even better at the same price for Mac users.
This level of software ranges from approximately $40 – $50 up to about $140 tops.
This level offers the widest range of choice and with it an even wider range of features and advantages on offer, it represents the majority of software products on the market and is the area in which most users should be looking.
At the bottom there are purpose built programs that are designed to be very easy to use and are aimed at the not so ambitious when it comes to editing.
They are not crippled in any way but the savings on price come from reduced license fees payable to owners of certain copyrights.
This means you may not be able to deal with certain file types or may not be able to output to certain file types.
Some automated functions like authoring DVDs or uploading to YouTube may also be sacrificed, special effects and transitions will be minimal and the number of tracks available to use will be limited.
At the top of th scale are the fully loaded consumer brands like CyberLink, Corel and Sony offering the complete “start to finish” solution.
My personal opinion is that if you have no interest in editing your videos then one of the products on this page will suit you.
On the other hand if you want to put a little more effort into your videos or even a lot, then this page sows the sort of things you should be looking at.
If you have an inkling you may want to go pro with your editing or at least semi-pro then take a look at the next section.
Above the level of consumer we have a small niche area that is often referred to as “Prosumer.” This level appeals to the overly enthusiast amateur or the person aspiring to eventually go pro.
At this point the choice of available programs drops drastically and currently there are probably only two products that truly fall into this category and are worth mentioning.
The first is Magix VideoPro X coming in at around $400 and the second being Sony Vegas Pro coming in at around $600.
Personally I would go with the Magix program as it matches the Sony offering pound for pound and is much easier to learn… not to mention around $200 cheaper!
My caution to you regarding the prosumer software is that you are paying for a lot of features and functionality that you may never use in a “home video editing” situation.
They are aimed at the pro or semi pro so there is a steep learning curve involved just to get to the point of being able to actually USE the thing.
Sure, if you do learn to use them they are amazing, but realistically, it’s a whole lotta cash to outlay only to find out you just can’t make sense of it or didn’t really need it in the first place.
In this category we have products such as Adobe Premier and Avid. These are products that are used at a professional level and realistically if you are in the market for this type of software you are totally on the wrong website!
I am not going to pretend my expertise extends to professional editing other than the fact that I know these program run from about $800 all the way up to $stupid.00!
Updates and Upgrade Paths
As final point in price and budgetary concerns you should also take into consideration the question of upgrading and updating the software as the technology and your abilities evolve.
The only brands of video editing software I mention in this blog are those that have at least a three year upgrade policy and I think that is a fair arrangement for both the software company and the end user.
This means that as the software is updated you can choose not to upgrade if you are happy with the software “as is” and “sit out” at least three upgrade cycles. In the long run that can be a major saving.
As far as upgrades go if you think you may want to go from “easy” to “full consumer” or from “consumer” to “prosumer” does the software offer a path to do that and what is the cost?
Stick to Your Guns
Even though you have set your budget and settled on the exact level of editing program you want to look at don’t think it will be plain sailing from there!
Along the way there will be temptations, there will be bright shiny objects all along the way so it is imperative that you stick to the plan otherwise you may end up with something totally cool… and totally useless to you!
So, what does it all mean?
Just this. I would strongly recommend that if you are interested in video editing for yourself and your interest ranges from mild to insanely fanatical (based on nothing in particular!) then go the middle ground.
Take a look around at the market and get to know what is out there first and read some of the important points to consider in choosing the best video editing software for you.