Video editing on Windows 10

First things first: I’m a recent convert to Windows. There, I said it. Even I can’t believe it.

I’ve been a longtime Windows user due to my job. Engineering CAD tools tend to be predominantly Windows-based, as well as most of the good software development tools.

I’ve been following the manifold Linux OS options for a number of years, particularly for home use. I love the Open Source ethos and the tools and platforms have only gotten better and more user-friendly. For instance, only recently have some distributions opted for a more OSX-like experience, abstracting away the command line in favor of a GUI-centric workflow.

Two distros that I’ve installed and appreciated are elementary OS and Deepin. Both are extremely beautiful, and if you (like me) came from the OSX world, that’s important. Originally, I had started with Linux Mint, which is more functional than gorgeous.

But in all these Linux cases, I found that it was still, in 2019, hard to find all the applications you come to love in Windows to do what you need to do in Linux. On top of this, the “store” experience in the various Linux distros is very splintered; not all apps listed in the stores are the latest version, so you’ll find yourself having to break open the terminal to manually install some library. Not for the faint of heart.

Enter Windows 10.

I gotta hand it to Microsoft. They’d been floundering for so long, riding the Windows XP and then 7 popularity waves, allowing their innovation to stagnate while Apple and Google to take over the mobile world. Finally coming to their senses, Microsoft tried to reinvent themselves with Windows 8. Though it was a gigantic flop, I can at least respect what they were trying to achieve: a very new user experience that was touch-device friendly.

In retrospect, Windows 8 was just too different from its predecessors. But Microsoft learned from its mistake and gave us Windows 10.

In short, this is a really wonderful operating system. It’s just not near as beautiful as each release of macos, but I’ve come to see that this is probably intentional. Eye candy has never been Microsoft’s strong suit, and I can see how they are embracing this. Instead, we have a very functional, stable work horse with a lot of nice utilities built in.

For instance, I’m loving the following features:

  • Touch-based context menus spawn with extra line spacing, making it easier to select your option with your finger.
  • The “live tiles” are now integrated into the start menu, which itself has been reintroduced back into the OS.
  • The Quick Access in Explorer is cleaner and simpler.
  • Dark themes for Explorer, a lot of applications, and even the OS!
  • The Alt-Tab app switcher has been redesigned to be cleaner and more powerful than ever, including multi-desktops.
  • There’s now a built-in system clipboard manager!
  • The screenshot tools got way, way better.

So that brings us to one of my favorite hobbies: video editing. I don’t many opportunities anymore, but an annual tradition with my kids is a Valentine’s video that we put together for their mama.

This year, due to my computer operating system flux, I had to look for a new video editing application. In years past, on Windows 7, there was a surprisingly great tool called Windows Movie Maker. Sadly, this utility has been discontinued. There are still ways to get it, but you’re taking a risk of infecting your computer with malware if you go that route.

So I made the rounds, checking out the following options:

I’d been following Shotcut for a number of years, but unfortunately it wasn’t a very stable experience for me. It wasn’t friendly to touch screens. On top of that, I found it very complicated and non-intuitive.

OpenShot had a promising workflow but was resource intensive. There was also no built-in image stabilization effect, which I need often with my videos.

kdenlive was probably the next most promising. It too, though, was a complicated app.

I finally settled on VideoPad, a little application with an enormous amount of power. It has a workflow that most resembles the old Windows Movie Maker (which to me is a very big feature). And yet, its editing principles is closest to the old iMovie on MacOS, which is another very big bonus to me, having “grown up” with iMovie. I made a 3 minute Valentine movie with VideoPad with literally no hiccups. I couldn’t believe how intuitive the application was. Everything from titles, sound editing effects, fade-ins and outs, export, integrated upload to YouTube… it’s all in there. And it’s free for non-commercial use.

On a side note, I gotta say how amazing it is use a laptop with a touch screen, particularly any amount of editing software – audio, video, CAD. The workflow is typically very point-oriented, i.e., you’re focusing on one specific point or region. Hence, it makes sense to use your finger to select on the screen where you want to focus editing. Put another way, I can’t imaging going back to a non-touch screen again. It’s that good.

Here’s the finished product:

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