I tried Pinnacle, I tried VirtualDub, I tried MPEG Streamclip, I tried Ulead, I tried Sony Vegas (wouldn't run on my old laptop), I tried Adobe Premiere (same thing - it required more hardware resources to run well) but none did it for me.
Don't get me wrong, some of these programs are good (pros use them) but they either required too much hardware power, some would crash too often (Pinnacle) and some would be just too clumsy to work with (bad interface, slow workflow).
Then I read a review on Magix Movie Edit Pro Plus, made by some blogger and I thought I should give it a try. Two things happened: the program actually imported MP4 with ease and the exported result had a lower file size than the original.
Of course, the file size thing was probably due to the lower bit-rate that was set as default in the export settings but I didn't know anything about that then. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant surprise after all the frustration I had experienced with all the other programs. The funny thing is that this little consumer movie editing program has enabled me to actually build some sort of a career out of shooting and editing videos.
Alright, let's get into the review itself. I'll give you the bad things first:
It doesn't accept the Twixtor plugin, which is great for super slow motion even when you don't shoot in high fps. Twixtor basically creates extra frames in order to deliver that slo mo effect. So that's bad for me because I enjoy shooting action sports where rendering in slow motion is cool.
Sometimes if you make too many actions too fast within the editor, the programs stalls and becomes unresponsive. Especially if you have a rich project with tons of files to which you already added effects. And if you don't hit Ctrl + S regularly you might loose your work.
When this happens you have no alternative but to close the program and then re-open it. Your project file is restored to the last save. Now I save the file almost after every modification I do to the movie - it's become a habit within my workflow.
Now, because I have an old laptop I get another annoying issue with Magix. Namely it gives me an error message after it has exported almost the entire video. It says something like "not enough memory" or "allocation memory fail". To prevent this from happening, I close all other applications while I edit and especially when I hit Export.
Also, to prevent overheating of my computer I use an external cooler and when I can, I literally take the laptop out in the balcony where it's colder. This gives me a faster export and no issues.
I've noticed the sound cleaning option doesn't do much unless I choose to edit the sound externally with a built in application of Magix. So instead of doing the sound cleaning in the timeline, I have to edit it externally, save it and then re-import it into the project movie. A bit of a long and unnecessary loop.
I wish I could do slow motion and fast forward playback with sound as well but I can't. If you speed up or slow down the footage past a certain speed factor, Magix requires you to remove the audio.
That slo mo groaning that you hear in the movies - you can't do it very well in Magix. That's a pity coz you can create humor with that. Just as you can with the high pitched voice (chipmunk style) when you do fast forward. Can't have sound in reverse playback either.
The biggest joy for me was to see that the program allowed me to Continue every time it detected a mismatch between the files I imported and the project settings in terms of frame rate, resolution and aspect ratio. Let me explain: When we shoot with different cameras, and we do when we have an interesting subject, we get a few types of files:
- MOV from Canon DSLR 1080p @ 24fps
- MTS (AVCHD) from my small Sony 1080p @ 50fps
- MP4 in 720p @ 25fps (H.264 encoding)
- MP4 from the GoPro in 720p @ 120fps
When I drag a file that's different that the movie settings, the software warns me with a pop-up windows and I simply hit Continue or Ignore. I do the same when I export - I know what I'll get so I simply ignore the message. That's coz Magix knows how to handle all these types of files within the same project.
Exporting at 25 fps in 720p means the program duplicates frames in footage that has a lower frame rate and it merges frames in those with a higher fps. Since I'm not a techie, I love this just as I love the Auto function of my Sony camera. :)
Of course you can export in different other formats (AVI, QuickTime movie, DV-AVI, MPEG) while being able to set the bitrate for video and audio - I export at 5000 kbps for video and 128 kbps for audio. If you want you can create your YouTube thumbnail by exporting a single frame as a JPEG, Bitmap or GIF.
Sometimes I download interviews from YouTube, but since I don't necessarily want to watch them, I simply export the audio as an MP3 or WAV files. Pretty neat! Then I upload those audio files onto my phone so I can listen to them on the go.
Does it import audio files as well? Of course it does. In fact I like that the tracks within the timeline are not distinguished in any way. They're just... tracks and you can import anything there: video files, audio file, image, graphics, photo.
People who've worked with Adobe programs are bugged that Magix has the highest track as a base layer. Any other media that you import on a lower track will overlay onto the higher track. This makes sense to me because I use the first track as the main story and I only add stuff on the lower tracks to spice things up (titles, sounds, images). I'm listing this as a pro even though professionals are not happy with it.
I could talk about effects and transitions but the truth is I use none of them. The effects I apply are pretty basic and the only transitions I use are the ones I manually make: fades, cross fades, or clean cuts.
This is a consumer video editing program but there's nothing preventing you to do pro work. Just the fact that you can combine alpha masks, color correction and keyframing allows you to do a lot.
So while I know it's not the best program out there, it is the best for me though - I've been using it since 2010 and I still do. That's because what I do is I shoot and edit footage (outdoor videos, interviews and vlogs) so I'm not really into heavy animations and sleek effects. My focus is on the content itself.
Whatever good things I have to say about Magix Movie Edit Pro Plus I have already said throughout my video editing tutorials. Learning what you can do with it is more beneficial to you if you want to jump right into it.
But what I want you to do is to really ask yourself is the editing program is your only impediment in editing and publishing videos. If that's so, then you are entitled to the best, not necessarily Magix. I'm not here to stop you from being a pro. :)
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