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Selecting video editing software

Now that we're recording all these shows, we need to edit them down a bit for later viewers who don't need to sit through intro video and intermissions, and also to possibly re-edit if the live camera choice was not the best.

None of us have done video editing, so I decided to jump in and start exploring options.

I started with a couple of non-negotiable criteria, and a loose list of preferences.

The software has to run at an acceptable level of performance on my current laptop, a 2013 MacBook Pro/ 16GB RAM/ 2.8gHz i7/ Mojave.

The software also must run on Windows because when I can afford to get a hotrod editing machine, Windows gets more bang for the buck these days.

We're building a streaming and studio service on a tight budget, so free is a very good price, but usually means development and support are limited to non-existent. Failing that, several of us have a strong preference for software with a pay once/ perpetual license model. As a last resort, we'll do a subscription if we have to.

What I tried:

• Filmora ( this was billed as freeware on the list of video editors where I read about it. It is free to edit your videos, but if you want to render them for others to see, it is something like $13/month to render video without a watermark.

Filmora has an extremely intuitive interface, and I was able to figure out how to do the very basic edits I needed to do without consulting any tutorials or manuals. Would come back to this one if I didn't find something that worked as well or better for less $.

• ShotCut ( freeware

Failed the 'runs acceptably on my current laptop' test. Extended hangs after every action. Open media- hang. Simple cut- hang.

Unusable, moving on.

• Adobe Premier Rush ( $ subscription

Intuitive interface, was able to figure out how to do what I needed reasonably quickly.

I used the trial version, which is limited to three renders before payment is required. Renders took approximately double the length of the video on my hardware, and one of the three failed with an unenlightening error message. Again would consider coming back to it, but keep looking.

• Adobe Premier Pro ( $$ subscription

Again used the trial version. Opened it and took a look at the interface, and decided that between the complexity and the price, I'd come back to it as a last resort.

• Adobe Premiere Elements 2020 ( $79 perpetual license

Trial version. Looked at the extremely dumbed down and ugly interface, moved on.

• DaVinci Resolve ( free

Interface more complex than Filmora or Adobe Premiere Rush, less complex than Premiere Pro

Was able to pull in media and start making basic cuts without consulting tutorials or manuals. Once I got past basic cuts, have been able to quickly find tutorials on whatever I was looking for.

This is an amazingly polished and full featured product, and does not look at all like one expects for freeware. It is under ongoing development (two updates published since I installed it). They have a support forum, and I found many tutorial videos for it on YouTube.

Video renders on my hardware run 1/3 to 1/2 the time of the video being rendered.

This one seems worth investing the time to learn thoroughly. The free feature set does far more than I even knew to look for, and if I ever get to the point of needing features in the paid version, it is a reasonably priced $300 perpetual license for a professional level product.


From my perspective as a FoH engineer who had never given any thought to doing video until all the gigs got nuked by COVID19, DaVinci Resolve looks like it has a reasonable learning curve and will continue to be usable as I develop my skills.

My second choice would be Filmora, due to ease of use, followed by Adobe Premiere Rush due to Adobe's apparent ubiquity in the video editing world.

I admit I may not have given some of the above software a fair try, but if it looked like I'd have to commit more than 30 minutes to get started, I bounced. Your mileage may vary.

I did try iMovie, because it comes with the OS. It crashed as soon as I tried to open media. (Seriously, Apple, your selling point was "It just works." You've been failing at that for half a decade or more, on both Mac hardware and software.)

If I expected to stay in the Mac environment, I'd have tried Final Cut Pro, but I'm not dropping $300 on a program I likely would not be using be the end of the year.

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