Adobe Premiere Pro
So, if you are using After Effects, chances are you know what Premiere Pro is and the big news that got announced about it a couple weeks ago. If you HAVE been living under a rock or in a cave... well the news is Premiere Pro CS5 is a 64 bit application in the new CS5 line of products. Along with being 64 bit they now have a pretty awesome feature called the Adobe Mercury Playback Engine which lets you accelerate your previews and overall workflow if you have certain GPU accelerated graphics cards. Overall, Premiere is a very strong application in the Adobe line, and with news of CS5 is going to give a lot of the other apps a run for their money.
Avid is one of the more popular apps when it comes to professionalism. When I say that, I don't mean that the other apps in this list aren't professional (although some aren't), but Avid is considered by many industry professionals one of the best solutions for film editing, and news editing solutions. Avid has been around forever, one of the earliest non linear editing systems, now it is on the front lines when it comes to a streamlined environment when you need to route video in and out of different edit bays, into switchers, betamax decks, different displays or whatnot.
Final Cut Pro
Everyone knows Final Cut Pro, and how it has become the de facto editing system on Macintosh. Final Cut comes with Final Cut Studio which includes, Color, Motion, Soundtrack, and DVD Studio Pro, which gives you a fantastic arsenal of tools for all your post production needs. Final Cut is another one of the three top apps (included are Avid and Premiere) in the world that are most widely used, and if you are looking to work professionally, would be a great asset to learn and have in your freelancing toolbox.
Sony Vegas Pro
Vegas is another one of those consumer/prosumer apps that I have always been kind of on the fence about. I mean, it has everything you really need in an NLE app, 64 bit support, support of RED and other new media formats, ability to capture HDV tape, and a lot of the other features of the other big names, but for some reason it just doesn't stand up to the other big dogs. Probably because Apple, Adobe and Avid have dominated the market for a long time, and Vegas holds it's ground to this day, it just has yet actually broken through the barrier as a professional piece of software.
Grass Valley Edius
Edius has been around a while, but has never gained mainstream status, despite its robust intuitive interface, and ability to run AVCHD and the new, highly popular Canon EOS movie formats. Grass Valley (Canopus) are the company behind Edius, and actually at NAB they had one of the largest booths in the South Hall (if you were there). They have a lot of products, and this NLE didn't seem too high on the list, but it nevertheless gets the job done if that is what you are choosing to use.
Oh, iMovie, how I despise thee. Being a trained professional editor, applications like iMovie, just seem pointless. But, for those that are just looking to make some cheesy fun movies with their friends, this is a great app. There are some very simple transitions that you can stick in, and it makes it really easy to load footage off of a tape based camera or files from the computer, but if you are looking to edit something that you have a paying client for, highly consider the above choices.
Windows Movie Maker
This is an app that I pretty much consider worthless aside from the user that wants to make quick shorts of their family. Windows Movie Maker wasn't designed for much more than that. Basic transitions, a blah interface, and some reasonable compression makes this app good for that one niche market, the person that really doesn't care if the edits are awesome, or the titles look generic. There is a reason why this and iMovie come bundled with their propreitary operating systems.
Adobe Premiere Elements
Premiere Elements is a dumbed down version of Premiere, geared towards the consumer base of customers, since a lot of those people won't use extensive effects or multi-cam editing... or the other features that are included with the full version of Premiere. Think of Premiere Pro as the professional version and Elements as the consumer version. Elements just has the core features to create enough edits to get by and make a basic movie without having to worry about the perfections and fine tunes that you would with Premiere Pro.
Debug Mode's WAX
Wax is a free app, with a very blah interface, but also works as a plugin into Motion and Premiere. It doesn't really hold its ground and an NLE, but free apps are just that, free. This app has some interesting features like the ability to load 3D models, a particle engine, and the ability to extrude text in 3D, but it is still very limited into what it can do as an NLE.
Zwei-Stein Video Editor
Another free editor with not too much punch. We would like to think of free NLEs like Blender is to 3D, but that is just not what we are getting. With this piece of software you get some basic effects, keying techniques and stuff like that, basically, if you are just looking to put clips together with rough cuts or cross dissolves this might work for you, other than that, probably not.
This isn't really an NLE, but since we are on the subject of free apps, I figured it was probably worth mentioning. Jahshaka is a film and video compositing app that uses OpenGL and OpenML to give you close to realtime interactivity in your projects. Jahshaka was recently acquired by Cinefex and is in the process of reinvented to work better with today's workflows.
Pinnacle/Avid Free DV
Avid DV is actually no longer offered, but there is an alternative with a 14 day trial... Pinnacle Studio Ultimate. Pinnacle has been another one of the consumer products that has never really been used professionally. Pinnacle is another one of those great applications for home movies or cheap skate videos with your friends, nothing professional.
Whether we like it or not, non-linear editors (NLE's) are a part of our daily lives. A lot of you might be stuck on one app (like me) but it is always good to explore what other possibilities out there. I am not trying to sway you or anything, but you never know if the grass may be greener on the other side.
Now if you lot have some contrbutions of some of the apps that I have missed, I am sure there are many more, and all of you will have some very strong opinions on them, I encourage you to post your ideas, apps, rebuttals, thoughts and whatever else may come to mind after reading this. I like to hear what the readers say, and seeing it come straight from your mouths (or fingers for that matter) is more than I could hope for. So leave a comment and express your thoughts!
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