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The Best Freeware and Open Source Video Editing Software

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/1/2011

Video Editing software can be expensive, but free is a price everyone loves. Here are some of the best selections available for the PC, the Mac, and for Linux/Unix based platforms.

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    Best Freeware and Open Source Video Editing Software

    Video editing software is a big business and most software will run you well over a thousand dollars. The best way to save money and keep your do-it-yourself ethic is to use freeware or open source programs available for download.

    There are a number of programs like iMovie and Windows Free Media Editor that are free and will do basic projects, but are not optimum for creating great looking projects. Though the Mac offers some of the best choices when thinking about purchasing the high-end editing software, the PC is actually better when it comes to using freeware editing software. There are many more options to choose from when looking for free editing programs.

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    PC Options

    Virtual Dub is one of the better known applications for the PC and it does provide a number of standard functions in it including a choice of compression codex and additional audio tracks. Zwel-Stein is an even better choice, and allows a larger amount of media to be imported and offers all the standard functions. ZS4 Video Editor is often touted as the best freeware editing program, but it is complicated and more geared to those with an extensive background in non-linear video editing.

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    Mac Options

    Mac has a similar, yet smaller, list of free editing applications. Jashaka is an open source program that also provides options in digital effects. Though it is a great program, many users may be a little intimidated by the interface and it is often less than reliable when processing larger projects. The best choice for the home editor who does not have much previous experience is HyperEngine-AV, mostly because it can take you from the very beginning of media capturing all the way to DVD authoring. With this you do not need to get an entire suite of programs, but can instead rely on just one piece of free software.

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    Linux Options

    Linux users have many of the same options as Mac and PC, but some more directed toward those who are interested in open source contributions. Programs like Jashaka are available on all three operating systems, but Kino is probably the best of the Linux-only realm. Though it is limited regarding what type of media it can log and capture, it does run quick and has a short learning curve.

    When finding a freeware editing software it is best to decide exactly what your needs are and make decisions based on their specifications. If you need a complex system you are most likely going to have to sacrifice speed and ease of use. If you want to do a high number of small, simple projects with relative speed then you will probably have to cut down on the number of options the program will give you. Editing software, as with everything else on your home computer, is usually a trade off. But when considering freeware or open source software applications, you can't beat the price.