As promised, a quick overview of the most used or readily available NLE software packages on the market today. AVID Media Composer - $4,995 (Windows, Mac OSX) This is THE editing package. All the little gadgets and extra software plug-ins like ScriptSync make this software package the end all be all of NLE software. You can use any type of media as long as you can import it into your computer, even actual film, and if you purchase one of the combo hardware/software packs that Avid produces you’re looking at the most intense powerhouse of video editing. As for the user interface, it is extremely daunting at first. The learning curve is huge if you haven’t used a NLE before, and almost just as large if you have. While the standard interface options such as razor and standard movement are easily completed but as with any software, getting into the little nooks and crevices takes a lot of learning and patience. If you’ve got an extra 5k laying around go out and get it… it works for both Mac and Windows XP (I dunno about Vista), but if you’ve got an extra $5k laying around then you’ve gotta be a damned fine magician, or a part-timer with a fantastic “real” job. http://www.avid.com/products/media-Composer/editor/index.asp FINAL CUT PRO/FINAL CUT EXPRESS – $1,295 / $299.00 (Mac OSX) I put both of these together because they’re pretty much the same thing. There are a few differences with Final Cut Pro, such as unlimited video layers, and instant Shake importation, but the feature set and plug-in packages you can buy are pretty much interchangeable. Final Cut Pro has a few more features that help with processing your files, such as batch importing, and selectable in/out points. Last I knew, FCX did not allow for batch capture and you had to capture full tapes at a time. Kinda a pain in the butt, but it works through the tape pretty fast. Unless you’re using HD, then it’s slow, but all HD importation is typically slow due to the large file imprint. For the money, I think FCX has the most features and the easiest user interface. That and with the popularity of Final Cut Pro being used in most mid-high range production companies, there are plenty of books and free online tutorials that you can use to help you learn what you need to in order to get up to speed quickly. The system requirements for both of the packages are the same, more or less… and don’t think you can run it on anything less than a MacBook Pro or the new superstar Mac desktop cause it’ll install, but when you run it, it’ll mock you. Final Cut Pro Studio comes with a ton of extra software like Avid does, color correction, DVD creation, compression and an animation suite. http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/ ADOBE PREMIERE – $1,299 – $1,650 (Windows, Mac OSX) This is the first NLE software that I ever used, so it has a special place in my heart. I remember sitting back and waiting for 9 hours as v3 complied my 1 hour video for me… Premiere is now part of the CS3 packages.. It comes in two of the packages, The Master Collection and Production Premium. The learning curve for this software package is actually very shallow. Even if you’ve never seen a NLE system before you can pick it up pretty easily, and Adobe has a fantastic forum for the people who actually paid for the software. They have entire sets of books devoted to “Classroom” teaching of the software that helps you learn every tiny bit of the software package. There are tons of different things that you can do with the package, most importantly export directly to Photoshop. Once in photoshop you can do whatever your heart desires. But most importantly, all those nifty filters you have in Photoshop work in Premiere. Being able to pull screen shots directly into Photoshop for a clean up/distressing effect helps with being able to create your DVD packaging without a lot of effort. The only downside I found to these packages is the DVD creation software. It relies on photoshop images and such to make your menus. That’s awesome if you’re a photoshop guru, but I am not. I can make my pictures look better, but I can’t do all the nifty things people do like put celebrities heads on nude photos. http://www.adobe.com CINELERRA – Free (Linux/Mac OSX) I’m not gonna BS you and review this software, because I haven’t actually used it. From everything I’ve read and or seen it looks promising, but I don’t know enough about it to give you an unbiased opinion. I will say that I am of the theory of “you get what you pay for”. It may be able to do what you want it to do, but I don’t know at what cost of frustration. But if you’re working off a Linux Box… this is probably your best bet. http://heroinewarrior.com iMovie – Free with most Mac (59.99 with iLife 06) I don’t have iMovie HD with the iLife 08 yet, cause I’m waiting for Leopard to launch before I buy it, but iMovie HD 06 is a wonderful introduction into NLE. It basically comes with every Macintosh that is being put out these days, as with the whole iLife suite of software. It has limited capabilities when it comes to actually being able to edit your videos via multiple video tracks, but I’ve not had any problem with audio. You can import anything you want from iTunes and it will plug right into iMovie, and it has the basic set of controls such as razor, cut, effects and video filters. It is a wonderful way to get your feet wet, but don’t be surprised if you outgrow it very quickly. Garageband is part of the suite as well. This software allows you to make your own music via MIDI interface or an entire band. It is much more limited than Logic, or Logic Express, but it gets the job done quickly and without a lot of hassle. And of course, you can import it directly into your iMovie. iDVD comes with the iLife suite as well. Once your movie is completed, just drag it over into iDVD and click burn. It has a ton of templates you can use, but most of them are pretty lame as you could expect. I haven’t really gotten too far into the DVD mastering part yet, so I don’t know how to edit the templates or if you can make your own. Maybe someone here can provide more info on that. Windows Movie Maker (Bundled with Windows) This software sucks. Sorry, but it does. It was created in order for some soccer mom to drop her video clips into a neat little box, add “Johnny’s Soccer Game” to the title and send it out to her family. Many people will probably crucify me for saying this, or think that I’m part of the “I hate Micro$oft crowd”, but I’m not. I love Windows Vista, and I have been a loyal user since DOS 3.2 came out back in the 80’s… (yeah, I’m old). I just think that the software is lacking and horrible at that. That being said, I will admit that I haven’t used the newest release that Microsoft has put out over the past few months. If someone would like to review it and tack it on here that would be appreciated.