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Specifically, I need to edit HD video on Windows 7.

I need a software solution which can zoom, pan and insert text. Also, I will need to adjust the scale of video clips and composite multiple video layers into the main picture (eg. zoom to a black TV screen and insert video to that TV screen).

The software can not be complex/difficult to learn (eg. After Effects/Premiere/Vegas) as I do not have much time to complete the project. However, it should be capable, unlike Movie Maker, and run on Windows 7.

So, what do you recommend?

  • With both Premiere and Vegas, it seems that such a project would take a long time for someone like me. Would Lightworks be capable of this project? Are there any good/active forums I could use if I get stuck on the tutorials? If I were to request a designer to finish the project, for free and by the weekend, how would I do so? Thanks. James. – James McCoy Jan 13 '12 at 20:34
  • Nobody is going to do this for free. And despite what these answers are saying no editing program will do this. You need to do a screen replacement in after effects. The text and pan you can do in premiere or the like. – Alex Jan 27 '16 at 0:29
  • James, yes - there are tons of YouTube video tutorials. EditShare (the makers of LightWorks) produce very good ones. Check out EditShare's YouTube channel. – Mr. Kennedy Feb 1 '17 at 3:54
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I think pretty much every editing program would allow you to zoom, pan and insert text. Inserting another video into the main video is a little more complex and the only program I know for sure that does it is After Effects. But I'm sure there are others that will.

I would suggest using Premiere because it's a very powerful program. Even though I've never had to insert video into another one like you've described, I'm sure there's a way to do it. You don't have to learn the program inside out to be able to edit in it. There are hundreds of tutorials online that take you step by step through the process. A quick Google search would reveal that.

However, if you still don't want to go with Premiere, here is a list of free video editing programs that might be able to do the job. I haven't used any of them so I can't make a recommendation – but it's a good starting point.

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The most easy to use Video Editing Software I know is Magix Video Delux. It has HD capabilities, a lot of fixed crossover effects and is available for Windows 7.

My mother swears by it and she still has trouble sending mails and stuff.

For more advanced users there's the option of timeline editing, but most of the things you can do in a block overview - you just drag & drop blocks of video to order them and apply some effects very easily between them.

I personally use Edius, but that's about as professional as you can get!

  • "My mother swears by it"!!! Best litmus test for ease of use ever. Do you mean this software: magix.com/us/movie-edit-pro – Mr. Kennedy Feb 1 '17 at 3:47
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    yes indeed, we bought the pro package, so we have a lot of extra's too. – Schwarzie2478 Feb 1 '17 at 15:35
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Sony Vegas is my second option to Final Cut. You can do everything you need in a very intuitive interface. Like Chard says, there are hundreds of tutorials online that take you step by step through the process and many good free video editors around.

  • "The software can not be complex/difficult to learn (eg. After Effects/Premiere/Vegas)" – Mr. Kennedy Feb 1 '17 at 3:42
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I started to use Sony Movie Studio and have found it easy to get to grips with after watching an excellent set of tutorial videos titled "Video Editing Basics for Vloggers" by CalmBiker on YouTube. It is more capable than Movie Maker and definitely includes all the features you have asked for. The tutorials include details of how to perform pan & zoom, Adding Text and Picture in Picture.

I would recommend getting version 12 or older if you want the interface to closely match that of the video. In version 13 they changed the interface to work better on tablets, so it looks more like the recent versions of Microsoft Office with the ribbon across the top.

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If Adobe Premiere has too steep a learning curve, you might like Adobe Premiere Elements. It is a pared down editing package and not as complex as Adobe Premiere. You can download a free trial here. See here for the system requirements. It is available for Windows 7

All non-linear editing programs are pretty much the same: they are I/O (input/output) programs that ingest media files (motion pictures, stills, audio, graphics, and such), allow you to arrange them in a timeline and output them to a media stream (file, signal, etc.)

The more complex and difficult to learn the NLE, usually the more controls and options you'll have. The more streamlined, usually less options and controls.

I would suggest Avid Media Composer. They also have a Free 30 day trial but the learning curve is as steep as FCP & Premiere - which are not too bad - but less than DaVinci Resolve.

Note that whichever software you choose, a lot of non-linear editing software requires a minimum of 8GB or 16GB RAM, as well as specific Graphics processing minimums (e.g. Adobe Premiere, Adobe Elements, BlckMagic's DaVinci Resolve, Apple's Final Cut, Sony Vegas, EditShare's Lightworks, etc.)

Aside from these more robust software packages, you might want to check out this review of these freeware options available for Windows:

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Free = BlackMagic Davinci Resolve 12.5 (Win, Mac, Linux)

It is a fully fledged NLE and Colour correction and if you want to jump into the realms of SFX they offer Fusion for free as well (bear in mind that some options are limited but nothing for the basic and intermediate users)

Paid - Adobe Premier Pro (Win, Mac), Apple FCPX (only Mac), Sony Vegas (Win)(I have never used this tho)

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I can't really compare with other software, but I really like HitFilm Express 4. I've done everything you said in it. This basic version is free, has some excellent tutorials. It isn't a dumbed down NLE software.

I enjoyed the free online course Visual Effects for Guerrilla Filmmakers that uses it as a tool. It is really fun to make some special effects in your family videos. The kids love it.

I don't know your time frame, but some of the things you desire aren't completely trivial.

If you like it and decide to invest more time/money, you can buy some advanced packs or the full Pro version.

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