Winning the Internet

Top tools for video editing

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

Have you ever wished you could do something like this for your organization?

For most of us, the answer is Yes. (Or maybe even “Yes!!!!!!!!”)

Through my work with the New Media Mentors program, I speak with a lot of organizations that are excited about using new media tools, but need help getting started or taking their work to the next level. One of the most common things I hear (perhaps second only to “How can we raise money with social media?”) is “We really want to make videos, but aren’t sure what kind of tools we need.”

Idealware just did a great blog post on the topic. Their top two recommendations for beginners were expected – Windows Movie Maker (comes free on new PCs) and iMovie (comes free on new Macs). Personally, I’m a big fan of iMovie. It’s a great choice because as long as you’ve got a Mac, you’ve probably got a copy of it. Also, you can take an iMovie class at any Apple store for free. (I’ve been to their classes and they’re definitely worth checking out.)

If you don’t already have iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, Idealware’s third recommendation could be for you. The program sounds solid, and the price is definitely right if you’re a TechSoup member:

Adobe Premiere Elements ($99 retail, $15 on TechSoup)

With an interface similar to iMovie’s, Premiere Elements is an affordable and beginner-friendly editing tool. It’s a step up from Windows Movie Maker that offers more advanced functions and allows for importing and exporting many more different video file types. While iMovie users should have little trouble adjusting, Premiere Elements requires a longer learning curve than Movie Maker.


If you’ve already mastered the basic programs and are looking for more functionality, Idealware recommends Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X:

Adobe Premiere Pro ($799, $60 on TechSoup as a component of Adobe CS5)

A significant step up in price and features, Premiere Pro has little in common with Premiere Elements, and uses a substantially different interface. It works well with other Adobe products, including the Creative Suite and After Effects, which, if used correctly, can create high-quality special effects for your video. Several blockbuster Hollywood films have been edited using this software, which means it’s certainly feature-rich enough for most nonprofits.

Final Cut Pro X ($300 for Apple computers)

Apple’s Final Cut Pro (and previously, Final Cut Express), has long been the leading alternative to more expensive editing software like Avid, and a logical progression from introductory software like iMovie. With the release of Final Cut Pro X, Apple has geared the professional-level software to a wider consumer base, simplifying the interface, which will be familiar to iMovie users, and making it more accessible to the average nonprofit user.

If you’re thinking about creating a video, don’t let access to tools hold you back! There’s something for every budget and level of experience.

About Melissa Foley

Melissa is the Director of Training and Mentoring for Netroots Foundation and New Media Mentors. She aims to use her MBA + nonprofit background to teach organizations to use new media tools strategically.

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