A Guide To Mac Video Editing Software

Hi there! If you're a Mac user and you're into video editing, you may realize there aren't many video editing programs in the Mac platform. That's true, partly because a lot of the small video editing programs tend to be PC compatible only (e.g. Corel VideoStudio).

However, some of the more established PC video editing suites (e.g. Adobe Premiere) have Mac equivalents as well. In addition, Apple itself produces quite a number of video editing programs that fit in very well with the Mac environment.

In this article, I'll list 3 video editing programs which are excellent options for working on your video within the Mac platform.

1. iMovie

A good Mac video editing software is iMovie, created by Apple itself. Now, iMovie comes free with all new Apple computers - and it's fantastic. You can easily import video clips shot on your camcorder, edit video and audio, and then share those videos on the web or via DVD.

The iMovie video editing application for the Mac

I tried out iMovie on my MacBook Air (I have a 2011 MacBook Air) and it's really quite cool. Once you import a video into iMovie, it ends up in the Event Library. In the Event Library, you can start editing your clips, adding transitions and so forth. If you have many videos to manipulate, you can create different projects in the Project Library.

One interesting thing about iMovie I like is the concept of themes. Themes in iMovie give a movie a specific look and feel. For example, iMovie has a set of default themes out-of-the-box, e.g. photo album and comic book.

Using themes in iMovie

Once I applied a theme to a project, my video automatically gets its own title styles and transitions so that it has that polished and professional look. These title styles and transitions can also be amended later if needed.

iMovie is, on the whole, an intuitive program that lets beginner video enthusiasts do a fine job of manipulating and editing video.

2. Final Cut

The second package I'd like to introduce to you is Final Cut. Final Cut is a powerful Mac video editing software that has industrial grade tools.

The Final Cut Pro video editing application for the Mac

With more and more people jumping onto the Mac bandwagon (what with iPhones, iPads, MacBook sales climbing, etc.), Final Cut is also enjoying a leap in popularity.

Final Cut is developed by Apple and comes in two versions - Final Cut Express and Final Cut Pro, which are the intermediate and advanced versions of the software. Final Cut Pro Express was discontinued in June 2011. Apple is now focusing entirely on the Final Cut Pro suite.

Now, I found that on the surface, Final Cut Pro looks and behaves just like iMovie. But when I go a bit deeper, I find a professional editing application with very rich features.

Here are three features which make Final Cut Pro stand out, particularly against simpler applications like iMovie.

First, Final Cut Pro has a greater variety of titles, transitions and effects. If I wanted to do color-correction, or do fancy green-screen keying or compose my video in layers, Final Cut Pro can do it. You don't find that in iMovie or simpler video editing packages.

Video transition effects in Final Cut Pro

Second, Final Cut Pro has a component called the Color Board. Do you usually find problems with your video's color or saturation? In simple video editing applications, this can be hard to adjust. Final Cut Pro allows you, through the Color Board, to adjust a shot's color, exposure and saturation.

Third, one of the things I like in Final Cut Pro is the Balance feature. Here's what it does. You simply click the Balance button and the program automatically analyzes your shot's brightness and color. It then adjusts the values as needed to create bright highlights and dark shadows. I use this quite often when my white balance settings in the shot is off.

I think Final Cut Pro is an obvious migration path for users of iMovie. Once you get used to iMovie and are looking to move on to more powerful capabilities, then Final Cut Pro is the way to go.

Adobe Premiere

Adobe Premiere is the industrial grade video editing application which is used by many film makers. You can do practically anything you want to your video in Premiere - from end-to-end video production or simply touch ups.

The Adobe Premiere video editing application for the Mac

Adobe Premiere is supported both on the Mac and PC. It's one of the rare video editing packages that do so. Most professional grade applications support one platform only (e.g. Sony Vegas is Windows only and Final Cut Pro is Mac only) .

As a Mac video editing application, Adobe Premiere functions just like its PC version. In my mind, some of the best features of Adobe Premiere include: broad native format support, multiple camera edits and its "Warp Stabilizer Effect". Let's understand these one by one.

First off, Adobe Premiere provides support for the largest range of video formats out there. Regardless of what format you're thinking of XDCAM EX, HD, JVC ProHD, AVCHD, DPX, DSLR camera formats (esp. Canon and Nikon) - it's most likely already supported in Premiere.

Adobe Premiere supports a large range of video formats

Secondly, if you're a video professional, you most likely need to shoot footage from multiple cameras. If you want to synch the video from all those cameras into one production, you'll need something like Adobe Premiere to do it.

Adobe Premiere on the Mac has the ability to sync videos via timecode or switch between multiple video camera tracks in real time.

Thirdly, I really like Premiere's ability to stabilize a shot using its Warp Stabilizer Effect. A great feature found in Adobe After Effects software, the Warp Stabilizer Effect helps to remove jitter and other motion related issues you have in your video. Sometimes, when I shoot a video and there's a bumpy camera move, I use the Warp Stabilizer to cut in and lock the shot. It's the best thing you can do post-production to make the video better.

3. Online Video Editing Software

A brief mention of online video editing software. Do you realize that there's a slew of online video editing sites out there? These have come up over the last several years (e.g. Clipcanvas, Magisto and Animoto).

Online video editing software is becoming very popular

I think they're not as feature-rich as the dedicated editing software on your Mac, but they're really good for doing quick, fun videos. Since they're online, it doesn't matter if you're on a Mac or a PC. You can try them out to see if they work for you - most of them provide a free trial.

4. Mobile Video Editing Software

With mobile technology exploding, many people are also using their iOS or Android or smartphones or tablets to edit video. Once thought impossible, mobile video editing is now reality. You see it everyday when folks take a quick video on their iPhones, then pump it into a simple video app and edit it right there and then.

Even Apple is jumping on the bandwagon - you can now do some simple edits right within the iPhone Camera function itself. I've written an article on the top iPhone video editing applications if you want to find out more.

Wrapping Up ...

The range of Mac video editing software is certainly more limited than in PCs. You're mostly limited to iMovie for simple projects and the more expensive Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere for advanced work. However, I find that video editors dedicated to the Mac, particularly iMovie and Final Cut Pro are very intuitive and easy to use.

Incidentally, if you want to find out more about Final Cut Pro, there's a fantastic website called IzzyVideo which has tons of tutorials. Be sure to check it out.

Edit Digital Videos With Ease

If you've been looking for a good video editing program, you may want to check out Corel VideoStudio ProThis software allows you to quickly create and share a movie using built-in templates, special effects, titles and transitions. You can apply unique effects such as stop-motion animation, time-lapse and chroma key to create brilliant digital videos.