The main software tools that video producers use fall into the editing category. There are also tools that support other media creation task types for related work. I will identify software review sites to locate video editing tools.
In another article , I identified tools used in video pre-production. These tools and tasks require a different strategy when it comes to using software review sites, so readers should also consider the tips offered in that previous article.
When do you need a video editor?
Video editing takes place after the pre-production planning is complete and after you have shot the actual video footage. However, the video editor itself is the software you use to assemble the footage. You are probably familiar with some of the names of the top video editors for PC and Mac (for example, Adobe Premiere), along with other commercial tools that are not free. The reason you need to use software reviews and review sites is that there are also many options that are free or “fremium” and that may suit your needs for a given project. Not every project requires pro-level tools or features. This brings us to the first rule of software selection.
Know what you need
It is true that pro-level software editors include many features. It is also true that pro-level tools advance over time and so do the skills of their users, meaning those tools are a long-term investment. When you are first starting out, not everyone needs all the features that pro-level provides and not everyone has the skills to use them. It is good to be familiar with the capabilities of the pro tools, and with the support resources they offer so that you know what you are going to compromise on when you choose less capable software.
Read review comments carefully and identify features that will (or will not) affect the type of work you will be doing. Strengths and weaknesses that only apply to production of marketing videos or even feature-length movies do not count (and many reviews in photo- or video-oriented magazines and web sites upsell or focus on those feature sets). In training videos, you will probably be producing videos that are three to seven minutes long, and with enough production values to engage the viewers rather than requiring the budget to create them.
Be sure that the computer(s) available to you can support the software and its use in producing the kind of video you are going to be making. That includes minimum system specifications and compatibility of any required plug-ins.
For most training or L&D videos, consider the functionality of the editing software for:
- Editing 4K video and for (as required by the camera equipment you have) video formats used by DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, camcorders, and pro-video cameras.
- Basic editing: join, trim, and split video clips and to create animated transitions. Drag-and-drop editors will not be adequate.
- Support for chroma-key (green screen), color enhancement filters, creative effects, distortions, picture-in-picture (PIP) to the extent that you anticipate needing these.
- Multiple timelines to support video clips, audio, and text overlays.
- Closed captions, titles and title effects (look for WYSIWYG editing).
- Multicam editing (when you shoot the same scene with more than one camera and need to edit the multiple cameras’ footage together) if you anticipate requiring the capability.
- If needed for your projects: color grading; 360 video support.
Strictly speaking, these are not video editing tools but you may need to add them to your shopping list:
- LMS or LEP-based software to handle large libraries of content for self-guided learning, and to create, deliver, and track the effectiveness of eLearning
- Gamification features compatible with video
- Mobile learning support for safety training, workforce development content, compliance solutions, and other training and performance assistance for employees who work in the field rather than in an office
- Audio recording and editing