Bruce Bartlett © 2006

Want to edit your home videos and record them on DVDs? Do you want to create professional looking video productions? Thanks to software costing under $99 (or free), you can do just that. For elaborate productions, you might consider professional video programs, many of which can be had for under $1000. This article offers an overview of these programs.

You'll do two main activities when you create video productions on a DVD:

1. Video editing
2. DVD authoring (menu creation and DVD burning).

Video editing software lets you copy video from a camcorder, digital camera, VCR, CD or DVD to your hard drive, edit the program, and save the edited program as a video file. When you edit a video, you can:
• remove unwanted scenes
• re-order scenes
• combine several video shots into one program
• add titles
• superimpose text over video
• create transitions between video segments
• add sound effects and music
• add scrolling credits.

DVD authoring software lets you import an edited video file, create menus of scene selections, and burn a DVD of the program.

Most video editing software also can burn DVDs, and some DVD authoring software allows simple editing of video programs. We'll describe some specific software later.

First, you need to get video into your computer so that you can edit it. One of the techniques below will apply to your situation.

• If you shot the video with an analog camcorder using VHS, Hi8, or 8mm tape:
Copy the video using a video capture device. It converts a video signal from a VCR or camcorder into a digital signal that is recorded on your hard drive as a video file.

Several online stores offer video capture cards and related devices. For example, and sell video capture devices for $40 and up. Some devices install in your computer; others connect to your computer's USB or FireWire port. Many devices are sold with video editing software included.

Here's the procedure:
1. Install or connect the video capture device to your computer.
2. Plug the VCR or camcorder's video and audio outputs into the capture device.
3. Using video editing software, record the program on your hard drive in realtime as you play it
on the VCR or camcorder.

There will be a slight loss in quality because of the analog-to-digital conversion done in the capture device.
• If you shot the video with a DV camcorder:
Copy the DV camcorder video files through a FireWire connection. Most DV camcorders have a FireWire port. When you connect it to your computer's FireWire port, you can use editing software to import the video files from your DV camcorder with no loss in quality. If your computer lacks FireWire ports, install a FireWire card.

• If your video files are on DVD, CD, email, or a digital camera's flash memory card:
Using Windows Explorer, copy the files from the DVD, CD, email, or flash memory to a folder on your hard drive. Then import the video file(s) into your editing program. Video files have file extensions such as .wmv, .mov, .mpg, or .avi.

Listed below are several video editing programs. Some company names and software titles below are trademarks or registered trademarks.

Window Movie Maker (shown below) comes free with Windows XP. It's easy to use and does a fine job with the basic editing tasks listed above. However, it does not author DVDs. You'll need a separate program for that.

Windows Movie Maker, an example of a video editing program.

Some video editing programs that can burn CDs and DVDs are Power Director, Showbiz DVD, Ulead Video Studio, Premier Elements, Easy Media Creator, Pinnacle Studio and Studio Plus, WinDVD Creator, Nero Ultra Edition, Vegas Movie Studio DVD, and DVD Movie Factory. They vary in the sophistication of their editing features. Some can stabilize shaky camera shots. Others can zoom in and out. A few allow green-screen editing, photo editing, and audio mixing. Cost ranges from $49 to $99.

For details, do a Google search for each of those titles. A great review of several programs is at

What about editing sound for videos? The soundtrack in homemade videos usually comes from the camera's built-in microphone. Because this microphone is far from the people speaking, the recorded sound is often distant, muddy and noisy. As a solution you might want to record voiceovers. These are close-miked recordings of people talking after the video is shot, added to the video program during an editing session. They replace the bad audio on the video's original soundtrack.

In some video editing programs, you can't listen just to the video's soundtrack or the voiceovers because they are mixed together. If you want to hear each voiceover by itself, you might want to use audio editing software that can play video. For example, Steinberg Cubase, Cakewalk Sonar Producer and Adobe Audition can import a video program and play it in a window onscreen.You can place voice-overs, background music and sound effects where desired in the video program, and adjust the volume balance between them. Finally, export the video with the edited soundtrack to a file on your hard drive. Then import it into a video editing program.

These programs allow sophisticated video and audio editing (and DVD burning) for large projects.You can use them to create films, documentaries, TV shows, and commercials. With this level of software, you can get effects plug-ins, training, books, extensive tech support, and simultaneous editing of multiple video format.

Some programs costing $400 to $1000 include Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Studio and Final Cut Pro, Avid Xpress DV, Liquid and Liquid Pro; Pinnacle Liquid Edition, Sony Vegas, Ulead Media Studio Pro, and Matrox RT.X10 Suite (includes Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Encore DVD, and Adobe Audition)

Some high-end professional software costing over $1000 includes Avid Xpress Pro, Xpress Studio and Media Composer; and New Tek's Video Toaster. A number of systems include special video hardware as well as software.

Check out the details at


Here's a sampling of currently available DVD authoring tools that cost under $80 and include video editing: Ulead DVD Movie Factory, Apple iDVD, Roxio Easy Media Creator, Nero Ultra Edition, Pinnacle Instant Video Album, and CyberLink Power Producer. Sonic MyDVD and MyDVD Deluxe are DVD authoring programs with minimal video editing.

DVD authoring software is bundled with some DVD burners. features reviews of DVD authoring software.

Sonic MyDVD, an example of a DVD authoring program. It lets you create scene selection
menus, edit the style and text of the menus, and burn a DVD.


Recording engineer Bruce Bartlett is the author of Practical Recording Techniques 4th Ed.
Published by Focal Press.

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