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How to Edit Videos for Free

by Andrew MikaelUpdated September 22, 2017
video montage image by Oleg Verbitsky from Fotolia.com

Professional editing suites cost hundreds of dollars and require the fastest of computers to work properly. Luckily, Windows, OSX and Linux each offer free editing programs that can give your home video a more professional look.

Windows Movie Maker

Open Movie Maker from the "Programs" menu. If your version of Windows does not include a pre-installed copy of Movie Maker, download it from the Microsoft website.

Import footage. If video footage is already on your computer, choose the "Import File" option in the top left of the main screen. If your footage is on a camera, connect the camera to your computer and turn it on. Click the "Capture Footage in Windows Movie Maker" button and use the capture utility to transfer footage.

Edit the video. Drag video clips to the storyboard section at the bottom of the screen. Drag them left and right to change their order. Preview the project by clicking the "Play" button in the viewer pane.

Add other visual elements. Transitions and effects act just like video clips. Click their individual tabs to view them on the main screen. Drag them to the workspace and move them left and right to change their order. Transitions play between video clips, and effects overlay the video.

To add audio in Movie Maker, select "Timeline" from the "View" menu. Select audio clips and drag them to the video workspace. Audio clips lay in their own channel underneath the video.

Export the movie. When you are satisfied with your film, export the finished product to your computer. Click the "Publish" button and follow the onscreen instructions.

iMovie

Open iMovie from the "Applications" folder of OSX.

Click the "Import" button in the iMovie menu and choose your destination to add audio and video from your computer or from a camera.

Edit video by dragging clips from the right-hand pane into the workspace along the bottom edge of the screen. Drag individual elements left and right to change their order. Preview the video with the "Play" button.

Click the "Audio" button to bring up the audio pane, and drag audio clips to the workspace, dragging them left and right as you would a video clip to change their order.

Access other visual elements by clicking the "Effects," "Transitions," or "Titles" button. Effects change individual clips, transitions go between clips, and titles add text to your video. Drag these elements from their panes over a clip in your workspace.

Export your video from the "Share" menu. Choose your destination device, and iMovie will configure the video file appropriately.

Kino

Kino runs on Linux. Download it from the KinoDV website.

Click the "Import" button on the main screen to import video from your computer. Transfer footage from another device using the "Capture" tab on the right side of the screen.

Edit video in the "Timeline" tab. Drag audio and video clips from the storyboard panel in the upper left portion of the screen into the timeline, and move them left or right to change their order. Preview your work using the controls under the viewing pane.

Access other visual elements in the "FX" tab. Audio and video effects are both separated into "Filters" and "Transitions." Filters overlay clips, and transitions go between clips. Use the preview pane in the bottom left of the tab to view an individual effect, and click the "Render" button to add the effect to your project.

Use the "Export" tab to create a video file. Kino exports DV and .mpeg files or records directly to an external device.

Warnings

Because it works with large, complex files, video editing software encounters errors more often than many other programs. Save your work frequently to avoid loss or damage.

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