Digital video editing: The Mac is the king!

Week of May 28, 2006

Q: I am looking for an editing program to use with my computer to edit digital camcorder movies. My main criteria is I want it to be easy to use. What do you recommend?

-Jerry Rutledge, Mt. Lebanon, PA

A: I’m in the process of completing an informal test of Windows-based video editors and my experience has done nothing but confirm what I have thought all along. My number one recommendation to anyone looking to make home movies easily is to get an Apple Macintosh machine.

I was quoted in Apple’s “Switch” campaign a few years ago and I’ve been known to be something of an Apple advocate, though I own and use several Windows machines as well as several Macs. As Windows has improved I have become somewhat platform-agnostic… to me, both Windows and Macintosh machines are tools that can accomplish pretty much any task you throw at them, though I like and use both for different reasons.

I like Windows computers for the value for the money they offer (IF you get a reliable, solid machine) and also for web surfing because of the way the windows are tiled on the taskbar- it makes it easy to quickly switch through websites while using the browser full-screen. (Apple has tabbed browsing now, but I seem to prefer the way Windows does it.) But when it comes to personal creativity with digital media, the Mac is king for a lot of reasons.

Apple’s iMovie is incredibly easy to use. It’s effortlessly intuitive, everything is arranged to make sense and the results produced tend to look classy and professional, rather than the overwrought and gimmicky productions so many other video editors seem to lead their users to create. The iMovie program links with the Apple’s iDVD and iPhoto to make creating DVDs with photo slideshows as well as movies seamless and easy. It’s easy, it’s fun, and the results are first class. What more could you want?

If home moviemaking is important to you, it may be worth it to include a new Mac Mini (at the least) in your budget when shopping for your camcorder outfit. If you are not ready to make the switch just yet or don’t want to spend that much on a computer to go with your camcorder, a strong case can be made for buying a used Mac just to use iMovie. For example, many of the colorful iMacs of a few years back have Firewire inputs, run iMovie and edit video quite well despite their age. They are available for $100-$150 through ebay or locally by searching www.craigslist.org. That’s about the same as an editing program.

The Windows programs do a good job of DVD making, so if your older Mac does not support iDVD, you could edit on the Mac, save your movie back to tape, then import the movie into your Windows program to make the DVD. During my testing I tried the process with my old iMac 500 and my Windows laptop and it worked great.

Don’t take my word for it- take the time to go to check it out, you will be glad you did! Apple tends to have very knowledgeable reps at their stores and resellers- stop in for a demo and try it.

Coming soon- comments on my informal test and recommedations for Windows-based video editing

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