(nearly)Free video editing from Avid

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything directly video related. Something that will be remedied over the next few weeks. In the meantime I wanted to point you to a PC only, free video editor called VideoSpin from Avid. Well technically it’s from Pinnacle, who are now owned by Avid.

It offers an impressive little feature set including titles, sound effects and an easy export to YouTube. But it does have some flaws. oh,and it’s only PC)

At a glance:

  • Only one video track
  • Great for hard disk cameras but no control for tape based camcorders.
  • Three audio track. One for the video and two that will take any file.
  • Rubber band editing for audio]
  • A great title tool
  • MPEG2/4 capacity limited to 15 days then you need to buy the codec pack (Less than 10 pounds)
  • A great (nearly free) editor that is a big step up from Windows movie maker.
  • Did I mention it’s only available for the PC

In more depth.

The interface

Videospin has a nice clean interface which should be an easy transition for people used to Windows Movie Maker. As nothing is really free these days the screen is dominated by the ad in the middle of the screen. You can’t get rid of it but it isnt as intrusive as you may think.

Import

Here is one of the areas where Videospin falls down a little for some. There is no camera control so tape based capture straight in is out of the question. You could use one of the advertised Pinnacle apps or just use windows movie maker to create the files.

It’s pretty obvious that this is aimed at the hard-disk/removable media mob and it’s no worse off for that. I tried a drag and drop import of a 1080i M2ts file for the demo movie below and it worked fine.

According to the FAQ it will deal with a number of different formats through its import settings:

Video: (.avi, mpg, .mpeg, .mod, .mp2, .mp4, .wmv)

  • AVI (DV AVI)
  • MJPEG
  • MPEG-1
  • MPEG-2 (optional) MPEG-4 (optional)
  • DivX (optional)
  • WMV

Audio: (.Wav, .mp3, .mpa, .m4a, .wma, .AVI)

  • Dolby 2ch (optional)
  • MPEG-1 Layer 2
  • MP3 Audio

But notice the optional. The software has a 15 day grace period and then it will no longer handle MPEG-2/4 and DivX. That’s a clear problem for people editing off hard disk cameras as the M2TS files are MPEG 2. To get that MPEG functioanlity back you need to buy the Spinpac codec bundle. But it’s only £6.99 (11 bucks) so not a budget busting hobble.

Through the import you have all the usual scene detect options which display as a neat thumbnail. In a nice touch you can scroll automatically through the scenes using the play bar in the playback window.

Editing

It may be limited to one track but Video editing is a straighforward drag and drop effort. Drag a clip from the clip album and all the trimming is done on the timeline. This is done with the standard dragging of the in or out or you can split a clip with a Razor blade function. Clips can also be dragged around to re-order a movie with any gaps closed up behind you as you go.

Audio editing is one of the features that Videospin has over WIndows Movie Maker. Essentially you have 3 audio tracks to play with;  sound from the video clip, a music track and a second audio track although the music and audio tracks are interchangeable.   You can also take a video clip and lay it on the audio track and it will just take the video, effectively splitting the sound and picture, which gets you more than a way to getting over the lack of a B-roll video track.

Another great audio feature is the rubber band editing for all tracks. Mixing your audio is not just a one shot thing any more. A high quality feature for free software.

Bells and whistles

The FX are pretty limited even by Movie Maker standards, but useable. The more interesting part is the Title generator. Behind the ‘okay’ set of presets is actually a pretty powerful title tool that allows you add pics and has some snazzy text effects. Definitley worth a play with. The effects can also be added to the titles to.

Export

The list of export formats in Videospin is equally impressive, nearly identical, and equally limited by the 15 day thing as the import option.As well as being able to save to a standard file on your desktop they also offer an ‘Upload to Youtube’ option which will compress, login and upload a file to an account of your choice. This is also available for Yahoo video as well but this requires the extra MPEG 2/4 codec.

But beware. It says in the Faq that it will do Flash Video but I couldn’t find the option for exporting anywhere. Maybe it’s because I was working on XP not Vista or maybe they are passing the YouTube export off as flash encoding.

Overall

Here’s a little demo of what I played around with:

A number of people have commented on Videospin’s limited feature set but praised it’s stability. And I’m still disappointed that Avid got rid of Free DV, its try avid product, and this won’t fill that gap. But I have to get over the fact that it isn’t meant to. It’s clear that the app is a marketing tool for getting people to upgrade to Pinnacle Studio – and app with a less of a reputation for stability. Its also aimed to sit between other products like Video Transfer and Instant DVD recorder. But in reality, who cares.

Being strict it’s not a free app as most of us will want the MPEG2/4 capcity. But even costing in the cost of the codec pack, Videospin is an absolute bargin at less than 10 pounds.

If Windows movie maker is looking limited but the budget just won’t stretch then this is a must have for PC based video people.

Download it from the Videospin website

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