Buying the latest, greatest high-def camcorder or Digital SLR camera can be expensive, but the software you use to edit your footage doesn't have to be. A number of free or low-cost video editors do a very respectable job of prepping your home movies for sharing with friends, family, or the rest of the world.
1. Windows Live Movie Maker
Microsoft's Movie Maker has been available at no charge for years, but the latest Windows Live version is a very respectable video editor. In addition to the usual basic editing tools, Microsoft Movie Maker lets you add video themes, music, titles, and credits--and apply a few transitions, some pan and zoom effects, and various visual-effect filters. You can publish finished projects to Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube, or export them to your hard drive in 1080p HD or any of a range of other resolutions. If you've invested in a great HD camcorder and you're editing on a budget, Windows Live Movie Maker is a great tool to start with.
2. Video Spin
Pinnacle’s Video Spin is another smart choice if you're on a tight budget. You can download it for free and take advantage of Video Spin's straightforward interface to edit video quickly and efficiently. You can split, trim, or combine movies, and add transitions, text, and even a soundtrack. Not all features are free forever, though. After 15 days, you'll have to buy different codec packs (for around $15 each) to continue editing certain video formats.
3. Serif MoviePlus Starter
Serif launched MoviePlus Starter as a free version of one of its more advanced video editors. The Starter edition is far from the most full-featured video-editing software you can buy, but it'll do the job unless you're looking to edit a blockbuster movie. You can use MoviePlus Starter to insert fades, wipes, and transitions, as well as to fiddle with captions, titles, and credits. You can experiment with a "picture in picture" effect, add three (or fewer) video or audio tracks at once, and edit your video content quickly and easily. Beginners will love the built-in help system and the simple drag-and-drop interface.
Editing video online might not be an ideal scenario, but if you're already in the habit of uploading lots of clips to YouTube, you may find it easier to do your editing with YouTube's own online video editor. The new YouTube editor lets you trim the beginnings and ends of videos, and adjust the brightness, contrast, and color to your taste. The editor includes a video stabilization feature to help reduce the shakiness of handheld footage, and it has 14 style effects like black-and-white and sepia. Once you've finished editing, the YouTube editor's software makes posting your projects to your YouTube account and sharing them with others very easy.
This story, "How to Edit Video on the Cheap" was originally published by PCWorld.