Update on Consumer Video Editing

Well, it turns out that video editing on the Mac is really a mixed bag.

iMovie is a real sleeper. It is much more capable than its “beginner” positioning would suggest. It has an excellent stabilizer. It also has a much more modern architecture than Final Cut. While it still transcodes on ingestion, it is quick about it and all effects and edits preview in real time without any manual rendering. Final Cut requires constant rendering merely to preview. Serious Final Cut users jump through some serious hoops to overcome its sluggishness.

Sony Vegas has no such difficulties. Of course it must use a low-res preview to show edits, but it generates it on the fly. Most encodings can be placed directly on the project timeline. AVCHD works incredibly easily. Instead of importing the silly directory structure of AVCHD–which both Final Cut and iMovie require–Vegas let’s you add the stream file directly to the project timeline. Later, when the project is done you can render to any of the many encodings Vegas supports as output.

Vegas isn’t the prettiest thing to look at–iMovie is–but Vegas is capable, fast, flexible, and efficient.

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