For several years, the capabilities of software that's used for arranging, editing and publishing video content has enabled many budding auteurs to perfect their professional art form. Now the same essential application software is empowering novice consumers to experiment with storytelling that utilizes digital media.
Most people with Windows-based computers have their first experience editing digital video by utilizing the Windows Movie Maker (WMM) software that was bundled with Windows XP. While the application is considered a very rudimentary video composition and editing tool, WMM is quite capable -- considering the minimum RAM requirement is 128MB.
As most people discover -- myself included -- after creating a few video projects with WMM you start to feel a little constrained by the limited functionality. In particular, the lack of color balancing and correction means that whatever you import into the software had better be perfect for your needs.
Titling and text insertion limitations of WMM are also apparent when you use the software for business related applications. As an example, I now apply video clips in my own business communications settings, to complement or replace PowerPoint presentations. Like other Microsoft applications, the short and sometimes cryptic WMM help files increased my learning curve.
When I set about looking for an alternative to WMM, I considered several software packages from different companies -- and after careful consideration I chose Sony's Vegas Movie Studio+DVD. The ability to render video in the Flash format, and the support for Apple's iPod was appealing. However, the greatest overall benefit is the creative flexibility that I've gained.
The software supports up to four video and four audio tracks, and the Platinum Edition [comparison] package included the bonus of a comprehensive training DVD, 107 video effects and a CD of 1,001 categorized sound effects. Furthermore, you can also capture and edit both DV and HDV video, and create 5.1 surround soundtracks.
As the product name implies, it's actually two separate and fully integrated applications, the Vegas Movie Studio and the DVD Architect Studio -- both include a printed quick start manual. Moreover, the built-in "Show Me How" tutorials will be the most welcomed addition to anyone who needs a little more guidance. Additional help is also available online at Sony's website.
Frankly, I'm amazed that all this creative freedom comes with a minimum system requirement of only 256MB of RAM (512MB for HDV). Clearly, this software was designed with mainstream consumer users in mind. However, I would recommend it for creating business-related video projects such as product or service advertising, digital signage or trade show booth displays, and of course internal applications like employee online-training videos.
The list price for the Platinum Edition is an affordable $129.95, and perhaps that's the best incentive for anyone who would like to join me, and other amateur videographers, as we explore the newfound potential for making video clips an integral component of our everyday business communications toolbox.