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Video Editing Software: Among 5 Choices, Budget, Formats Key Factors

Between the options from Avid, Apple, Adobe, Vegas and Blackmagic Design, each works not too differently from the others, with several versions available.

Today, it’s easier than ever for a church to get into the content creation game.

Buy the version that gets you what you need, if the cheapest or “light” version does everything you need, don’t spend the extra money for the top tier.

It’s possible to go to a big-box electronics store and come out with an off-the-shelf camera and get good results.

Once you have the footage, though, the next issue is, how are you going to edit it?

The NLE (Non-Linear Editor) landscape is not littered with lots of options, but there are some distinct differences between the main options. So how do you decide what is the best software for you?

First, let’s look at the options that are available; the big five software packages are Avid Media Composer, Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, Vegas Pro and Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve.

Each of these five software options all do basically the same thing, and if you look at their respective interfaces, all of them are pretty similar. As a result, if you have used one, there is a good chance you can figure out any one of the others. They use different verbiage, but all work not too differently.

Price Comparison

The almighty dollar is the first metric for comparison between what you will end up choosing.

There is no way to do a true apples-to-apples comparison, because each manufacturer approaches things a little differently. In price alone, there are versions, options, support applications, and subscriptions, each of which affect the price.

Avid Media Composer:                          $1,499-$1,999

Vegas Pro:                                              $399- $799

Apple Final Cut:                                     $299

Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve: Free-$299

Adobe Premiere Pro:                             $239/Year subscription

These prices are not set in stone, as most of the manufacturers run sales and specials, so make sure you shop around.

The first price you find might not be the only price available. Also, Avid, Adobe, and Vegas offer subscription-based packages that can be billed monthly or yearly.

The main benefit of subscription-based products is you always have access to the most recent version of the software, as opposed to having to pay an upgrade fee for the newer versions.

Software Versions

Many of these manufacturers offer several versions of their products. Adobe, for instance, has Premiere Pro, Premiere Rush, and Premiere Elements. Vegas has Vegas Pro Edit, Vegas Pro, and Vegas Pro Suite. Avid has First, Ultimate, and Enterprise. Apple doesn’t have any optional versions and Blackmagic has a free “light” version.

While this adds a lot of confusion to the landscape, it also means you have the option to get the product that is going to work best for your workflow, and your budget. Buy the version that gets you what you need, if the cheapest or “light” version does everything you need, don’t spend the extra money for the top tier.

Operating Systems

The next consideration is what operating system you are planning on running your NLE on. Many are OS agnostic with Vegas and Final Cut being the exceptions.

Avid Media Composer - Windows or Mac

Vegas Pro - Windows

Apple Final Cut - Mac

Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve - Windows, Mac or Linux

Adobe Premiere Pro - Windows or Mac

Supporting Applications

One of the main considerations when shopping for an NLE, is what supporting software options does it have. Many NLEs have software packages designed to work with the NLE.

Some of them can even send projects or portions of projects between multiple applications seamlessly. Some have VFX, compression, or audio packages that support the NLE.

If you need those kinds of applications, research all the options for each NLE.

Take for example Adobe Premiere. For a little bit more per month you get access to After Effects, Audition, Photoshop, Media Encoder, and everything else in the Adobe Creative Cloud library, which is extensive with 20-plus desktop and mobile apps.

By comparison, Resolve has Fusion, but no other standalone applications. Apple has Motion and Compressor, Avid has some Production Pack add-ons which include Amplify, iZotope, and SpeedLooks. Vegas appears to have no additional applications.

Media formats

Each of these NLEs has format and codex limitations, so it’s important to know what you are going to be shooting, to determine if transcoding is necessary.

If your camera only gives you an AVCHD video, and your NLE can’t use that codex natively, you may have to add transcoding to your workflow. This isn’t an uncommon step, but if you have tight deadlines, you may want to consider which NLE uses the format and codex you are shooting in.

Unfortunately, in this case, a comparison list would fill out the rest of this article. However, if you are shooting on a Blackmagic Design URSA, editing in Resolve might get you the most out of that camera. Not to say you couldn’t use the other NLEs, but Blackmagic did a good job building their toys to work together.

How do you decide

Back when I first got into video editing, deciding on what to use was much easier. This was back before Final Cut looked like iMovie, Sony still owned Vegas and anyone who wanted to be taken seriously, edited on Avid.

Back then, you could pick an NLE based on what you were going to be doing. If you were doing straight video editing, it was Avid or Final Cut Pro, depending on if you were using a Mac or PC, which made that decision rather straight forward.

If you were doing motion graphics and VFX, you went to Adobe for After Effects, and then used Premiere, because it came with it. Again, a rather simple decision.

If you didn’t have a budget to do either of those options, you went with Vegas, and DaVinci wasn’t even around at that point.

Some of the old factors still hold a little true today, though, as After Effects is still the gold standard, but Motion and Fusion are really good. If you learn to use these software options well, it doesn’t matter as much which one you pick.

However, one thing to consider, is that After Effects has been around longer and is more widely used than say Motion or Fusion, so it has more support from plug-ins and tutorials than either Motion or Fusion.

I also think Apple tends to be a little more intuitive than the others, but my everyday editor is Premiere.

I’m still holding a grudge from the Final Cut X release, and those of you who were around back then know what I am talking about.

At the end of the day, there is no “wrong” answer as to which NLE to get, there is simply “the best answer for you.”

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