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Freeware of the Week! [Avidemux]

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Last week, I rashly agreed to do a favour for a clueless friend before hearing all the details. It turns out they wanted a video montage, and they needed it in a hurry. Did I mention that up to that point I had precisely zero experience in video editing? Having had trouble getting XP’s built-in Windows Movie Maker to work, I took to the web to see what was available.

After a quick trawl and a couple of experiments with programs that were obviously intended for experts rather than a hack such as myself, I settled on Avidemux. I chose it not just because it looked simple, but also because I could go running to its wiki or forums if I got stuck. Avidemux bills itself a sa video editor for simple editing and filter tasks which is exactly what I was looking for, which the added bonus that it could also supports a range of outputs for files, includng MPEG and DVD, which is what I needed.

I’m not going to lie to you: this is not going to be the most in-depth review of Avidemux, because I know very little about video editing, even after my baptism of fire, and I used the program intensively for a short period of time because I needed to get something done. Nevertheless, while my inexperience occasionally led to wailing and gnashing of teeth, Avidemux proved remarkably easy to use.

The main GUI doesn’t overwhelm with buttons or options, and it took me very little time to figure out how to play files, select the points where I wanted film cropped or deleted, and even how to strip out audio to substitute something else. The feature for going through a video using the slider or frame by frame to find the exact point where I wanted to make a cut worked smoothly, and the process of appending clips to each other was a breeze. I saved all the clips I used and the overall montage as a project in the program, which made hunting them down when I needed to make changes much easier. And once I had everything ready, there was even an Auto wizard to convert the montage into the format of my choice. Overall, my experience with Avidemux was painless, and if I ever needed to fiddle about with video files again it would be my first port of call.

Painless doesn’t equal perfect, however. While there is a wiki and forums for support, the lack of a built-in help file was a real bugbear for me. So too is the fact that Avidemux leaves it up to you what format clips are saved in, which led to some confusion to me when I was went to retrieve them the first few times. Despite this, however, I would use Avidemux again, and have chosen it as Freeware of the Week today because it is quick and easy to get to grips with, well-supported, and is also open-source and cross-platform. If you think you might need to edit some video in the future, you can’t go far wrong with Avidemux.

[Image by Spelio]

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