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Looking for the perfect software for my typical use cases

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Looking for the perfect software for my typical use cases

Postby midix » Wed Dec 14, 2016 6:40 am

Hi everyone.

Which software would be most appropriate for my use case described below? I'm trying to pick one of current X-mas deals:

- PowerDirector 15 Ultimate (Download version) - Incl. Premium Effects and Templates (CyberLink Cloud 25 GB (12 months), 15 Music Tracks & Sound Effects from Muserk, AudioDirector 7 Ultra, Holiday Pack Vol.8 for PowerDirector) = €76.78
- Adobe Premiere Elements = €70.18
- Corel VideoStudio Ultimate X9.5 = €64.99
- VEGAS Movie Studio 13 Platinum = €79.99 (it seems, this is not worth it - outdated and confusing UI, unintuitive workflow, although seems to be capable of doing its job, once you get used to it)


My use case:

Often friends bring a bunch of videos and photos and ask to create single video as soon as possible. The typical problems are that all those images and videos come from different devices, which means different formats, different quality, different brightness, colors, white balance, audio quality, video and audio noise etc. Of course, it would be a difficult task to create something professional out of that mess, but it would be great to have at least something coherent.

Ideally, I would want some preset or a guide which would initially normalize the image and sound to make it uniform throughout the entire timeline. Most probably, I still will have to tweak each clip manually, but it would help a lot if the software would create some basic setup of filter parameters to begin with.

I have assembled full list of requirements - they seem pretty basic but I have seen some software failing badly in one or other category, which is a shame because what's the use of advanced features like 360 degree videos, 4K and multicam if there are no basic tools to clean up audio and video noise or if the workflow is cumbersome.

Here goes the full list of my requirements for my perfect video editor (maybe an utopia):

- for occasional use - workflow and basic UI controls are intuitive, not too much tied to specific shortcut combinations (I will forget them if I use the program only once a month or so); supports usual key combinations for scrolling/zooming in the timeline, undo/redo, copy/cut/paste (I don't like when mousewheel and Ctrl + mousewheel does not work as expected)
- ideally, it would be great to have some basic preset which normalizes the result; that is, makes all audio clips the same volume, adjusts white balance and brightness of each video clip to be "optimal", and then provides controls to tweak each clip as necessary, in case the "optimal guess" was not quite right
- timeline based, non-destructive (non-linear editing)
- imports most popular video shooting formats and containers - AVCHD, XAVC, mp4, MOV (both progressive and interlaced; up to 1440x1080 and 1920x1080; I don't really care about 4K yet), mp3, jpg, png. RAW images most probably are not expected, and also Apple's .mov are less likely because iPhone is not common where I live because of its high price (Eastern Europe)

- it is enough to have just a single format mp4 H.264 (AVC) + AAC as export, but it's important to get it right, dealing also with anamorphic pixel aspect ratio because that's an easy way to achieve good look with less size and faster encoding (1440x1080 with 1.3333 px aspect instead of full 1920x1080)
- exports audio track for more advanced editing in another software (noise cleanup etc.) and importing back
- allows inserting still images and stretching them to be displayed for certain time (also it would be great to be able to stretch a single source video frame over some timeline frames to get a "freeze" effect)
- has simple tools to create a slideshow video from series of images (ideally - create something basic with a few clicks and then tweak)
- text titles with keyframing
- simple transitions (crossfade, crossfade with static background color)
- panning, cropping with keyframes
- per-clip effects with keyframes, per-track effects with keyframes basic sets of reasonable quality effects for everyday use (brightness, contrast, saturation, white balance, vignettes)
- chroma key (essentially, green screen with custom adjustments)
- audio and video noise filters
- supports custom presets and provides sane default presets for effects and export
- stability and non-interrupted work; I'd prefer older and maybe less feature rich but more reliable products which won't have issues on Windows 10, 64 bit, and also won't nag me with upgrade recommendations which cannot be turned off
- does not require a beefy computer to work. I have an i3-2120 machine with 8GB RAM, and I plan to upgrade, but not higher than i5
- nice-to-have: supports GPU processing for rendering (I have nVidia GTX 960)
- nice-to-have: video stabilizing (oh, those shaky hands...)

In general, I admit, I am too lazy to download and try "them all" (and the time is short because currently many sellers offer special X-mas discounts which will not last).

I hope I'm not asking for too much - nothing highly professional; just a reliable workhorse for home video editing. If someone has had requirements close to mine and has already done the investigation, I will be really grateful if you could share your experience and the reasoning behind your choice of the software.
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Re: Looking for the perfect software for my typical use case

Postby Steve Grisetti » Wed Dec 14, 2016 9:03 am

Hi, Midix. Welcome to Muvipix!

Pretty much any video editor will do the things you're looking for. And pretty much any current video editor can handle a mix of video sources -- although there are always liabilities to mixing videos of different formats, resolution, frame rates, etc. And I don't know of any way to automatically fix inconsistencies in white balance and video and audio levels.

Can you at least assume that all of your incoming video will be 1920x1080? Will they all be MP4s? The more specifics you can offer us, the more specific we can offer you advice.

Also, how long will finished video be? It's one thing to challenge a video editing program to mix a hodge podge of video into a 10 minute project -- quite another to mix a half hour or an hour's worth of video.
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Re: Looking for the perfect software for my typical use case

Postby midix » Wed Dec 14, 2016 9:20 am

Yes, mostly they will be MP4 1920x1080 or lower resolutions, mostly from Android cellphones, but might also be some recordings from VHS in .avi containers and 4:3 aspect ratio. Also 1440x1080 videos with 1.3333 pixel aspect ratio are expected (produced by my own Sony Alpha camera). 4K, RAW photos or other exotic or high-end formats are not expected.

For the length - I'd say, mostly 5 - 20 minutes. There might be longer recordings of some event, which need to be cropped to trim away some useless fragments, but the end result most probably will never be longer than an hour.

Also, looking at the current discounted offer of PowerDirector 15 Ultimate bundle, it looks like a great bargain because of the bundled effects and AudioDirector, but I'm not sure if the other options (Corel Video Studio and Adobe Premiere Elements) don't have the same kind of filters and utilities built-in, in which case there would be no point to pick PowerDirector just because of those bonus items.

I'm currently watching Youtube videos (thank you, Steve, for providing your free basic training series), and mentally comparing APE to PD. One thing I noticed is that PD seems to be somewhat more intelligent and it offers automatic fixes for common issues like shaking and brightness, while in APE you have to do the same things from scratch. So, currently I'm leaning towards PD because of this intelligence and the bundled extras. But I haven't yet looked at Corel VideoStudio. It seems less popular, judging by reviews and Google search results.
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Re: Looking for the perfect software for my typical use case

Postby Steve Grisetti » Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:46 pm

You won't go wrong with Premiere Elements or PowerDirector. Premiere Elements is a bit more intuitive, at least to me, but PowerDirector has some very nice, deep features. Yet that doesn't mean any recommendation is a slam-dunk. So much has to do with how you intuitively respond to the interface -- so feel free to play around with free trials and see which feels best. Only you can make the decision which is best for you.

As for the formats you'll be receiving, yes to HD MP4s from phones and camcorders -- but watch out for AVIs from VHS. No telling how they were digitized or what codecs and frame rates they were composed of. I make no guarantees on how these videos will behave in any video editors. AVIs, in fact, represent such a wide range of codecs, that I'd be wary of any AVI submission. No telling what's going on in those files!
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Re: Looking for the perfect software for my typical use case

Postby midix » Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:51 am

Thank you for the advice.

I will take my time to play with their trial versions.

I just did some "investigation" and found out that Cyberlink website in web archive engines show discount banner on the top of their page almost in all historical versions of their site. It means that I don't need to hurry with their trial version because, most probably, the "4 days discount" will last much longer or will be offered again in a month or so.
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