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Creating Compelling Videos: Choosing the Right Editing Software

- March 19, 2010 - 10 Comments

You’ve finished filming your video, so now what? If you’re like me, you’ve got a load of video bloopers to edit out and footage that you don’t necessarily want the public to see.

If you’ve read the previous Channels blog posts on scripting your video, creating a set, gathering equipment for your video toolkit, and filming, you’re well on your way.

The next step is to actually take all of that raw footage and turn it into something your audience will actually want to watch. That’s where video editing software comes into the picture…

Entry-Level Software

For those just starting out, a Flip camera and the included FlipShare software (plus a tripod!) are all the tools you’ll need to create and publish videos. The software allows you to trim clips from beginning or end (not the middle), lets you string together multiple clips, add in basic transitions, a title screen (white text on a black background), and a bit of music, if you’re so inclined.

Through FlipShare, you can automatically upload your finished video to the video-sharing site of your choice, including You Tube, or to your private FlipShare site.


For those new to the craft of videography, FlipShare provides just enough editing power. But I’ve found that the more I get into videos, the more customization and control I want in my video editing software. (Your results and geekiness may vary, of course.)

For tips and help with FlipShare, check out the Flip site.

Novice Software

At the novice or mid level, Apple iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, Apple Final Cut Express, and Adobe Premiere Elements give you additional editing power and control. For most, this is more than enough software.

Movie Maker is free download, the others run anywhere from $70-300 (US). With these tools, you can add in transitions, edit on a storyboard/timeline, add in text and titles, put in basic special effects, and edit video clips on a more granular level.

MovieMaker video tutorial:


An iMovie video tutorial with the basics:

For reviews of these packages, plus other consumer-level editing software, visit CNET’s video editing software review.

You Tube is filled with tutorials so all you need to do is search to find someone willing to show you how to do something.

Professional Software

Whether you’re making a blockbuster movie like “Avatar” or filming basic interviews, there comes a time when the novice tools aren’t providing enough granularity or control and you’re ready to graduate to the big guns: professional software.

Apple’s Final Cut Studio Pro, Sony Vegas Pro, and Adobe’s Premiere Pro are the more expensive editing suites of professionals — and they’re not for the timid. I’m not going to get into details about how to use the software or compare features, but hopefully my own tale about moving to Final Cut Pro will encourage you to try out the professional software when you’re ready to graduate.

After more than a year of using iMovie under my belt, I decided to move up to Final Cut Pro after asking a few video geek friends their opinion. When I first started, the interface looked totally foreign and wasn’t as intuitive as iMovie. How I longed for iMovie! It was an arduous process learning Final Cut’s vast array of options and controls (see screenshot below), but after almost six months, I can now move nimbly through the interface using keyboard shortcuts. I can probably spend 10 more years learning all of the ins and outs of this robust program, but just having the basics down means I can do a lot more with my videos.

Luckily, there are online tutorials, books, and even courses that teach you to use this and all of the advanced software packages. For Final Cut, Apple’s site lists a few such resources.

Tip and Tricks

Of course, now that you’ve chosen your video editing software, there are a few editing tricks and tips to keep in mind.

Cutting down all of that raw footage into a 2-3 minute video, adding in text, graphics, transitions, and a couple of effects can turn a boring video into something that could go viral (or at least get a sizable audience).

My advice is to start basic, keep special effects to a minimum. It can be tempting to go overboard with these new-found software tools. While it may be tempting to start adding a bunch of distracting effects, special text, and music, this will only serve to distract the viewer. The effects should help to tell the story, not detract.

For transitions, a simple fade-in, fade-out will suffice in most cases. It’s the least distracting, in my opinion. If you’re trimming down what someone says or want to indicate that time has passed, a cross dissolve is a useful transition to employ. For a more cutting-edge, fast-paced MTV-style look, simply cut from one clip to the next without a transition. (More tips from VideoMaker on creating transitions.)

In terms of title text, make sure your text goes with the video. For a more professional video, black or white text in a san serif font will usually do the trick. For names and titles, a “lower third” should be easy to read with white text and a dark background. Most software packages have included these effects, so make sure to pick one that fits the mood.

When you’re just starting out, learning video editing can seem daunting. Finding someone who can mentor you is one way to learn, and be sure to give yourself time to learn, watch lots of videos, and buy a book or take a course to get comfortable using these powerful video-editing suites.

Post your questions, tips for fellow videographers, or share stories from your own experiences. (Plus, post links to your videos!)


Got an idea for an interesting Cisco partner-related topic I should cover or an intriguing person I should interview? Or would you like to be a guest blogger? If so, send me an email (channelsblog at


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  1. Your post gives good knowledge about Video editing from basic level.I'm basically a pursuing my Visual communication,Where it is very much useful for me to go on with my projects.Thanks!!

  2. Thanks for posting this kind of informative posts. This helps me alot to editing a video and i learned some new features and learned about the new software to use... thanks alot...Regards,--Steve

  3. Movie Maker and iMovie09 Video Tutorial is useful for all of us. Thanks for this really good and basic article about editing video. People should be able to learn a lot from this. keep up your work!!!!!!

  4. This is very good basic article about editing video. iMovie video tutorial is really useful. The resources provided in this article are very useful in Choosing the Right Editing Software. Thank you for giving such a nice blog!!!

  5. Many thanks. The resources provided are a great source. The first videos I made were with screen capture + keynote. They turned out quite well but the audio needed cleaning.

  6. Thanks, Charles. Great advice. Rob, the best advice I can give for the Flip is to get the microphone as close to the subject as you can and while still getting a good shot. Finding a quiet spot to shoot will help cut down the background noise. The What's in Your Video Toolkit post has some additional equipment advice if you want to use a handheld microphone which is better-suited to shooting in noisy areas."

  7. Thanks for this really good, basic article about editing video. People should be able to learn a lot from this, thanks to your text and to the videos you included.And I agree: stay basic until you understand story-telling and know how to use your editing software as an extension of your brain: see how you want to create something and know exactly how to get it down in the software. If you keep struggling with the software, editing will take you too long and the flow"" of the piece will suffer.Here's to everyone's success in Video Marketing!Charlie Seymour Jr"

  8. Great article Alex!We use the Flip camera to capture a lot of great videos, but the audio isn't always the best through the Flip.Do you have any ideas on how to capture better audio using a Flip?

  9. My feeling is Cisco is a huge, loose federation of startups so many insiders don't read stuff meant for non-insiders. You know there are a zillion internal resources for sales tools, etc. (e-newsletters out the kazoo, Cisco TV, ...) Suggest you too have a 'channel strategy' for your excellent work.

  10. Hi Maria,Thanks for the compliment and your interest. I've given a few talks on this topic and these blog posts are my attempt to package this info into mini tutorials for internal and external audiences. (If you'd like more information, head over to the Partner Marketing Community.)Thanks,Alex"