What kind of software should I use to edit the movies I make with my Digital SLR camera?

Question

What software is necessary for editing movies made with a Digital SLR camera? I own a Nikon D5000 and have shot over a dozen videos. Many of the movies look great but others need some work. I hope you can tell me which editing software I should buy. R.H.

Answer

Digital SLRs (including the D5000) with a Movie mode, record videos in Motion JPEG format and store it in a QuickTime MOV or an AVI file. This is a very common format that can be viewed on any computer with familiar software (some free) such as QuickTime, Windows Media player or Flash Player. A Motion JPEG file can also be uploaded to websites such as YouTube and Vimeo.com. No software is required to view the videos on an HD TV with HDMI connection, using an optional HDMI cable.

A Motion JPEG file can be uploaded as is to sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo.com. On the other hand, some other file types, such as AVCHD, must first be converted to a format that's supported by the site.  ©2009 Peter K. Burian
A Motion JPEG file can be uploaded as is to sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo.com. On the other hand, some other file types, such as AVCHD, must first be converted to a format that's supported by the site. ©2009 Peter K. Burian



Many affordable video software editing programs are available, such as iMovie (Mac only), QuickTime Pro, Final Cut Express (Mac only), Corel Video Studio X2, Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9 or my favorite, Adobe Premiere Elements 8.

Check the list of features for each and select the one that’s most likely to meet your needs. Although some of these programs offer wizards to help you, none are particularly intuitive. Be sure to take advantage of the tutorials on the companies’ websites.

The new Adobe Elements Premiere 8 video editing software is compatible with many video formats including MOV and AVI. While this is not a pro grade program, Premiere 8 is quite versatile and a fine choice for getting started.  ©2009 Peter K. Burian
The new Adobe Elements Premiere 8 video editing software is compatible with many video formats including MOV and AVI. While this is not a pro grade program, Premiere 8 is quite versatile and a fine choice for getting started. ©2009 Peter K. Burian



More serious video shooters will want to check out the pro caliber, advanced/ sophisticated (and pricey) editing programs: Final Cut Pro 7 (Mac only), Sony Vegas Pro 9 or Adobe Premiere Pro CS4.

With any of these options, the learning curve will be steep but the programs are unusually versatile. Available tools vary but may include colour correction, hue/ saturation, curves, etc. allow you to modify entire clip. You may also be able to add a music track and then export the production to a DVD or to a website. I strongly recommend starting with one of the more affordable/ basic software programs however, and upgrading later if your needs and demands increase.



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  1. P.S. from Peter Burian re: Apple iMovie

    A reader said he thought I was claiming that Apple charged a fee for iMovie. They don’t because it’s included although you may want to pay the fee for an upgrade:

    http://store.apple.com/us/product/MB966Z/A/iLife-09?mco=MzA3MDc5Mg
    Upgrade to iLife and get the most out of the photos, movies, and music on your Mac with the *** latest versions *** of iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, iWeb, and iDVD.

    http://store.apple.com/us/product/MC209Z/A?mco=ODA1ODM0NA
    Upgrade your Mac with the latest versions of your Apple software — all in one box:
    Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard, the latest version of the world’s most advanced operating system
    iLife, featuring iPhoto ’09, iMovie ’09, GarageBand ’09, iWeb ’09, and iDVD
    iWork, Apple’s productivity suite for home and office including Pages ’09, Numbers ’09, and Keynote ’09

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