Best Free Video Editing Tools in 2017
Video editing is a large subject and there are many tools for this trade.
That is the crux of the problem, when having too many tools, one doesn't find what he needs, thus might make stupid decisions like buying a tool even though he has all of the tools for free, or as what most commonly happens - he installs a set of tools while unknowingly installing 3rd party unneeded spam or even spyware and malware, as many tools are disguised as free in order to make the user unknowingly install their spyware on his computer.
Thus have I decided to try and mini-map these charted grounds.
I won't write about paid applications here as I want to focus on the free ones.
I prefer opensourced applications and constantly updated ones.
Basic video cut/delete/merge/split functionalityFor the basic video cut/delete/merge/split functionality, I searched for a very simple application which would do only that, without any transcoding (which leads to really slower work and loss of quality), preferably an application which doesn't add any clutter or any other "advanced" functionality.
I found only a single software which did all of the above, in a simple and elegant gui, totally free, lots of features yet uncomplicated gui - everything is amazing in it, except that it wasn't updated since 2013, that software (which I fully recommend using) is VideoToVideo
There are much more complicated software which ALSO do the above, but there is nothing doing it explicitly (and if you find one then please point me in to the right direction in the comments)
The closest thing I found is MP4Tools, which is totally cool but is only for MP4 video format thus is not enough, but if you want to do some basic work on MP4 files then by all means use MP4Tools.
Good yet simple DVD RippingFor DVD ripping I have several specific requirements, I want a software which will show me all the streams of video/audio/subtitles and will make it really simple to rip only part of the DVD.
Another requirement will be Direct Copy of the ripped content as I don't want a software which will transcode the dvd to another format which will cause the ripping to take several hours thus causing longer wear and tear on the poor DVD media.
And finally I prefer a software which can handle dvd drm/copy protection as it will make life easier.
I was stunned to find almost none which do what I need, that being said, I did find a real winner which is MakeMKV - this one fulfills all of my requirements!
If you need something else, then the only good option I found was DVDShrink which is good enough but lacks the copy protection breaking and also wasn't updated since July 2004!
If there is no other option you can also use VideoToVideo which has most of the dvd ripping features although it is outdated (2013) and lacks copy protection removing as well as some ripping options.
Video TranscodingThis is where the heavy lifting is done, in transcoding I will convert the video to the video format of my choice, will encode it using an encoder of my choice (thus keeping as much quality but reducing as much size as I can) as well as applying "filters" to the video.
These filters range from video cropping, to watermarking through video effects etc.
In this category i found many good candidates which basically do the same things (all of the above) in different levels of complexity, here I prefer simplicity over functionality as long as all the basic requirements are followed.
I will list the candidates here in a decreasing order, meaning that the top one is the most recommended while the bottom one which still is a good candidate, but I would prefer using one of the others.
- Handbrake - Wins first place for simplicity, mainly found due to the large list of predefined configurations which are well defined.
- AviDemux - While more sophisticated and more feature full than Handbrake, it is more complicated doing a simple transcoding of a video while getting the best compression configurations, that being said, this is a great software and the huge list of filters it presents are a good incentive to master this one and use it as the video transcoder of choice.
- XMediaRecode - Amazing software with lots of features and filters, that being said, this is way too complicated than needed, which means it is for advanced users, which means it is a no-winner in my contest.
- VideoToVideo - Although outdated (2013), this one wins in simplicity, but is not rated high in this list as it loses in functionality as it has no filters at all, and has less features than needed for decent transcoding.
- MediaCoder - Looks like a truly amazing software, has any feature needed, looks totally professional but wins the last place :-(, this one is very complicated, which makes it irrelevant for me, I couldn't find my hands and legs using this one, but if you are diving into this world, I truly urge you to use MediaCoder.
- Freemake Video Converter - I just put this one in the list as many people recommend this one, if you want to listen to my suggestion then please stay away from this software, it bundles 3rd party software and will allow you any advanced features only after paying.
OthersIn this section I will just dump some other related apps which didn't fit the other categories but are worth mentioning:
- MKVToolNix - Open source tool, constantly updated tool to do advanced "stuff" with MKV, I tried to dabble in it, but I didn't understand what to do with it, so if you are an advanced user and want some more sophisticated stuff done for your MKV, this is something worth trying. In this same entry I will mention also gMKVExtractGUI and MKVCleaver which use the same set of command line tools to do wonders over MKV files.
- TEncoder - Open sourced software which can do three main things: Transcode a video, Download a video from several online places (youtube?) and rip DVDs. The gui is very nice and clear (!!) BUT although it looks perfect, TEncoder has several major flaws, the main one being the bad gui design (although nice) which doesn't make it clear how to just transcode a video, and although there is a huge profile library it is practically useless as it shows hundreds of hand held devices one can transcode to, but I, for one, just need to transcode the best quality to my local disk and there is no profile for simple transcoding to the disk. Another big disadvantage is that although there are the main for filters (deinterlacing, cropping, resign etc) but, for example, there is no picture showing how much cropping is needed, so I need to guess the number of pixels to crop from each side of the video. In summary, TEncoder has a huge potential but it failed in its focus, it has the gui and profiles for newbies, but then it complicates the gui and lets you define all of the complicated configurations of the video alone as a pro, so if you are a pro, you would choose something else, and as a beginner you won't manage this one.
- VirtualDub - Had a place of honor in lists over a decade ago, but times have advanced and this one didn't, it just got stuck in time, and in the case of virtualdub that means it doesn't support the more relevant codecs, so there is no use in working with it nowdays, I mention it as it was one of the first free doing-it-all video editors, and as a pioneer it showed the way to others.
- VidCoder - Uses Handbrake internally, Vidcoder is a nice transcoding tool, in some things it has improved Handbrake but in others it stayed behind, I don't find any special reason to use Vidcoder when I have Hnadbrake which is pretty simple for me to use, but Vidcoder had an important role in the development of Handbrake as its special features were eventually incorporated into handbrake and made it as good as it is.
SummaryAlmost any video work can be done using good, constantly updated, no adware with nice looking gui pieces of code, you only need to know where to look, and in this case that is exactly what I tried to do.
There is no need to pay a dime, as anything you will need can be found as open source or just for free.
Take a look at my non-biased recommendations above, or just jump to the following list where I summary the winners of every category.
For DVD-Ripping use: MakeMKV (bypasses copy protection, and has all other features)
For Video Split/Merge use: VideoToVideo, and in the case of an MP4 file use: MP4Tools
For Video Transcoding use: Handbrake
If you have any thoughts about the subject, i will love to see your comments and will update the list accordingly.