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Looking for a versatile NLE program that's easy to learn on


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#1 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 02:57 AM

So far, Ive been using basic / cheap NLE programs like Ulead Video Studio and Windows Movie Maker. The very first NLE program that I used was Avid Cinema in University. Athough for the most part, these budget programs do the job, I occasionally come across limitations and frustrations and would like oneday, to get hold of some software that's a little bit more advanced.

Problem is that when Ive seen demonstrations of the higher spec programs like Adobe Premier and the Casablanca, they're over my head. They just look a bit too intimidating and I'm lost when I see people going through the various stages of editing on them. I did aquire that free software that Avid released a few years ago. Though when I went through the help guide, it seemed like there was a million and one steps involved in just bringing video into the program! It was information overload. Sorry, I just don't have enough patience to deal with Avid. So I gave up on that one.....at least for the time being.

Can anyone recommend any NLE programs that are more advanced (and versatile) than the likes of Ulead Video Studio and Windows Movie Maker but don't require a steep learning curve or require heaps and heaps of steps just to do basic things? I'm using a pc so I guess that eliminates Final Cut Pro from my choices. What about Sony Vegas - is that easy to learn on?
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 04:16 AM

I've got Vegas, although I don't use it for serious editing. It operates in a very similar way to some of the cheaper programs, but it can be a bit frustrating if you think in a frame accurate traditional film editing way. You do need to read a book, Douglas Spotted Eagle has a series on Vegas. The Sony guide doesn't make much sense and keeps on talking about "events".

Its a sound editing program that has been converted to video, although its very good at dropping in different media and not that expensive or hugely demanding in computer power.
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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 04:30 AM

I should add that it's not as simple to use as Movie Maker, you still have set things up and decide on your output.
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#4 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 04:57 AM

Thanks Brian. Yea, an easy to read guide would be handy too. I might have to check out this Douglas Spotted Eagle book.

I guess Pinnacle would be another option?

Speaking of guides and user manuals etc, it would be great if such software came with an exercise, or series of exercises thst you did step by step. Sort of like 'Adobe Photoshop's 'Classroom In A Book.' I think that's a great way to learn and would be especially useful for familiarising oneself with an advanced NLE program. Actually, I did see some students use something like that on a computer back at University. Ive no idea what software it was but all I remember is that they were following steps to create a film from bits of nature footage that came included with the software. I recall seeing an eagle flying in the footage that they were assembling. Does that ring a bell as what NLE program that likely was?
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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 06:25 AM

Thanks Brian. Yea, an easy to read guide would be handy too. I might have to check out this Douglas Spotted Eagle book.


It's not really an easy to read guide, it's over 500 pages. I've seen a FCP guide which is a lot more simple.
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#6 Freya Black

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 09:39 AM

I really recommend vegas, as once you learn the basics it's very easy to to more sophisticated and complex stuff.

Check out some you tube introduction / begginers tutorials on vegas.

love

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#7 Carlton Rahmani

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 07:31 AM

Although I'm still learning, I started off like you a couple of years ago, on Windows Movie Maker. I now use Sony Vegas, and am up to the latest edition, and I'm really happy with it.
I would recommend to you that before dishing out the $500-plus for the latest version of Vegas Pro (which I do have), you check out a consumer version of editing software. There's Vegas Platinum. . .but I used a program called "Magix", which will run you about $100 and $50 respectively. (You can even look at one of my old posts where I was looking to upgrade from Magix myself.) I definitely wouldn't recommend Pinnacle, since I've read nothing but bad stuff about it.
The reason why you're having so much trouble making since of these other NLEs--consumer or pro--is because, unlike movie maker, you have on screen several tracks where you can lay your media--be it video, audio, or even stuff like pictures and animated gifs. I know this because I felt it the first time I checked out Magix. As soon as you learn how these work--and it won't take long, I promise--you'll wonder how you got along without it.
But don't get me wrong: the difference between a consumer and professional NLE warrants the price.

If you want, you can even download a trial version of Vegas that's good for 30-days so you can get your feet wet. I assume you're running on Windows XP (because I don't think later versions of windows has movie maker), so make sure you get the 32-bit version.
I think Douglas Spotted Eagle is a great instructor, too, but you don't have to worry about purchasing any learning materials. There's lots of great tutorials for ANY NLE on youtube and the like. Stuff that'll show you around, answer questions, and so on. From there, my best advice is to just keep experimenting and see what comes up.

good luck
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#8 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 09:36 AM

Sounds like Vegas is a good choice for making the transition. Yea, I'll definitely check out some youtube tutorials. I have heard of Sony Vegas Movie Studio and Sony Vegas Pro but haven't heard of Vegas Platinum before. I guess that's a variation of the consumer 'Movie Studio' software?

Carlton: Rahmani: "I assume you're running on Windows XP (because I don't think later versions of windows has movie maker), so make sure you get the 32-bit version."

So far, I have been using Windows XP but i have recently aquired use of a laptop which has Windows 7. Unfortunately, this laptop does not have a firewire port. There is a Windows XP computer that does have a firewire port but I don't have regular access to that particular machine. I get to use the Windows 7 laptop much more often. So to edit stuff from now on, what I would have to do is capture the video with the Windows XP computer (via firewire) and then transfer that footage to an external hard drive, and from there transfer that to the Windows 7 laptop. I assume also that it would be preferable to use the same software on both computers to avoid compatibility problems. Although from my experience, Windows Movie Maker is not fussy about importing videos that have been created with other software, Ulead Video Studio will simply not cooperate if I try and import video that has been created with WMM. Is Sony Vegas similar in that regard?

So you recommend using the 32 bit version of Vegas for Windows XP. Would that same version be fine for the Windows 7 machine or would a different version be preferable? I wonder if different versions could be chosen for download. After I get more familiar with Vegas, I might also check out some slightly older versions of the software on eBay (I am broke after all!) I'll check out Magix too.
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#9 Hal Smith

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Posted 24 July 2010 - 10:52 PM

So far, I have been using Windows XP but i have recently aquired use of a laptop which has Windows 7. Unfortunately, this laptop does not have a firewire port.


If your laptop has an Express Card port there are Firewire adapters that plug into those ports.

LaCie has this one, it's a Firewire 800 card which would require a "bilingual" 6 pin to 9 pin adapting cable to plug up to a Firewire 400 device.

http://www.lacie.com...t.htm?pid=11078

If it's got a PC Card port (AKA PCMCIA card port), Geeks.com has a Firewire 400 adapter.

http://www.geeks.com...FC-103A&cat=CCD

For background: I've got a Pyro PCI card Firewire 800 port in my HP XW8400 workstation hooked up to a Lexar Firewire 800 CF card reader. I can ingest 24 minutes of 1920X1080 24fps video shot on my Canon 7D in less than 4 minutes. When I was using a USB card reader I could go out to lunch in the time it would take to read Canon cards.
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#10 Carlton Rahmani

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 05:30 AM

Just to let you know: First, I LOVE XP. I don't have any real gripes with windows 7, except I like the feel of XP much more. . .and the fact that the Windows 7 picture viewer doesn't show animated GIFs. Secondly, the reason why I recommended the 32-bit version of Vegas for XP is because you have to choose either the 32-bit or 62-bit version of the program when you download the trial version. The 'box' version has both the 32- and 64-bit versions on it, and I've read from other professional Vegas users that they like to have both on their computer (assuming it's 64-bit), since a lot of the plug-ins made for Vegas haven't yet come into the 64-bit world. Or something like that. . .
(I'm running only the 64-bit version on my computer, and have no complaints so far (though some people do), even after trying out the 32-bit version on my XP machine.)

As for your deal about having to use one computer to acquire the media from your camera to edit on another machine, I don't only relate--I live it! I have a Panasonic consumer video camera that stores videos in a way that Vegas won't recognize. (There's some kind of rivalry between Sony and Panasonic that, unfortunately, happens to affect the compatibility between the two companies, which IS one of Vegas' downfalls.) So what I have to do to get usable media is use Magix--my old consumer NLE,which is on my old XP laptop--to acquire the video off my camera, which I then render as an AVI or MPEG-2 that Vegas can recognize. Even though it's a little cumbersome, and I have to consider these things for the future, it's not too bothersome at this point for what I'm doing. (And I can appreciate the 1394 issue, since there WAS an AWESOME computer I had my eye on until I saw that it didn't have any 1394 capability, or even an card slot that would allow for that.)

I'm NOT a product whore, but I think Vegas isn't given as much credit as it deserves. My intention is to learn other NLEs--Avid IS the industry standard; while I also have a friend who is going to loan me a 'spare' mac with Final Cut so I can learn that as well (even though I'm not looking forward to it)--but I've developed a certain affinity for Vegas, and until someone can demonstrate to me otherwise, I'm going to keep it my number 1. As long as it can edit 4k--the resolution of 35mm film--I'm not skipping out. PLUS, Vegas originally started off as a music editing program, and of all NLEs is regarded as the most powerful and versatile when it comes to working with audio.

Don't be daunted by all the various facets you're going to see when it comes to going to an NLE. For now, just look at it as fun.

However, if you're looking to get more serious about this, two books I would recommend are the Filmmaker's Handbook, but Steven Ascher and Edward Pincus; and "Compression for Great Video and Audio," by Ben Waggoner. Trust me: I'm still vexed by a lot of mumbo jumbo when it comes to codecs, 'wraps', plug-ins, and what not. But getting a something of a grasp of these things will help you, at least, when it comes with determining things such as project and render settings.

Good luck!
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#11 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 11:21 PM

As for your deal about having to use one computer to acquire the media from your camera to edit on another machine, I don't only relate--I live it! I have a Panasonic consumer video camera that stores videos in a way that Vegas won't recognize. (There's some kind of rivalry between Sony and Panasonic that, unfortunately, happens to affect the compatibility between the two companies, which IS one of Vegas' downfalls.) So what I have to do to get usable media is use Magix--my old consumer NLE,which is on my old XP laptop--to acquire the video off my camera, which I then render as an AVI or MPEG-2 that Vegas can recognize.


Oh man, yea a bit of a little inconvenience at first but I bet you sort of get used to it. Out of curiosity, would either Sony Vegas or Magix recognise files that have been created with Windows Movie Maker? I also have Ulead Video Studio and that will not open WMM files. Ive got a number of files which have been 'captured' by Windows Movie Maker but I would prefer another, more flexible NLE program to do the editing of those files. Some of the things that really suck with WMM is you can't do very accurate cuts with it, and for some strange reason you just don't have the option of saving an edited film as an AVI file.
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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 10 November 2010 - 05:11 AM

If you're beginning to exceed Windows Movie Maker (and most people do, quite quickly) I'm not sure there's much of a slope available between there and Premiere. I guess Vegas might be a bit more intermediate, but I think you're much better off putting the time into learning something that's really capable. I found Premiere very easy to pick up because it is (in my view, and no doubt Adobe would disagree) a video editor for computer people. This is in contrast to Avid (and the similar Final Cut) which are more computer editing for video people. Which you prefer may depend on what your background is, but most people these days (especially people under a certain age, I'm forced to generalise) tend to have at least some background in IT before they have a background in video. On this basis I found Premiere a pretty easy study, but it's really about you and your experience.

The other reason I'm a bit doubtful about avid is that it suffers from Hoary Old Program syndrome. This is a situation that arises when a piece of software, which is often among the first in its field, exists for a very long period of time and has lots and lots of very specific and slightly idiosyncratic features bolted onto it in direct response to user demand, as opposed to having any sort of well-planned development pathway. The textbook example of this is Protools, the audio editor, which has evolved to a point where it's got so many configuration and settings panels I'm worried that they'll become self-aware and take over the world in a nuclear holocaust. It happens commonly with software that needs to talk to outside devices, such as tape decks, when industry produces new devices and the features to support them get, frankly, hacked in to appease the crowd at the next NAB conference without perhaps as much consideration as would ideally have been their due.

Avid has this problem, but worse than that it's the earliest widely-used video editor so it has become a reference for how things should be done. Most people who use Avid use it because it's Avid and that's what they know, which is obviously pretty circular. As such I don't necessarily recommend Avid for new people unless you think you might make a career out of it, in which case you will want to know it. If you're just interested in getting work done in the most effective way possible, and especially if you aren't interested in some of Avid's more "broadcasty" options, there are probably better ways that are easier to learn.

P
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#13 Keith Walters

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Posted 10 November 2010 - 06:23 PM

...and for some strange reason you just don't have the option of saving an edited film as an AVI file.

That depends on the version.
The latest versions of WMM are really dumbed-down "kiddie" versions that are nothing like the original XP version. The one I have on the Windows 7 machine I use at work will also only render out to crappy .wmv files.

There is a "Portable" version of the XP WMM floating around on the net. Unfortunately, (as is quite commonly the case), installation requires it to modify one of the system files, which the anti-virus protection system usually won't allow. Since I don't have the required permissions to temporalily disable the virus protection I can't install it

At work I often have tom make quickie videos (which are a lot better way of communicating with Chinese suppliers in many cases) by shooting 640 x 480 AVI files with a stills camera and editing on WMM. When they upgraded our machines to Win7 I had to claw my old XP machine back off the IT department to use as a standalone video editor, because the new version is such rubbish.

The Win7 DVD maker looks like a similarly candy-coated kiddy-cute piece of crap, but fortunately the project files are simple XML scripts. If you edit them or write your own using notepad, you can make much less nauseating-looking DVDs by simply not putting in all the cutesy "features". The only reason I use it at all is that it does have an extremely good MPEG2 encoder.

The number one tip for using any of these lower-end systems is to save everything onto a dedicated hard drive which is reqularly re-formatted (or at least de-fragmented). It can make an enormous difference to smoothness of operation.
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#14 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 25 November 2010 - 08:26 PM

That depends on the version.
The latest versions of WMM are really dumbed-down "kiddie" versions that are nothing like the original XP version. The one I have on the Windows 7 machine I use at work will also only render out to crappy .wmv files.


Hmmm...that's odd. The version of WMM that I have used on at least two or three XP computers has been the dumbed down "kiddie version" outputting wmv files as the standard format. This year, I obtained a Lenovo laptop with Windows 7 but there is no WMM on it.

My old version of Ulead Video Studio is generally more versatile than WMM but unbelievably, it lacks the ability to do dissolves. That's one thing that WMM can do! Previously, I had assumed that all NLE programs could do dissolves as that is of course one of the most commonly used transitional effects...so a big surprise there. In it's place, Ulead does have a fair selection of gimmicky transitional effects which are practically useless! Actually, not too long ago, I used a trial disc of a fairly recent version of Ulead Video Studio and I could not find dissolves on there either. This is a serious short coming.

Edited by Patrick Cooper, 25 November 2010 - 08:28 PM.

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