- Simple to use
- Wonderful color grades and LUTs
- Super simple transitions and trimming
- Great stock music
- Fiddly clip arranging
- No ability to fade in easily
Providing content is something way more of us do now, thanks to the rise of social media. But video editing software can be somewhat complex, especially if you don’t come from a media production background. While there are a lot of video editing tools, there are very few that are as easy as they claim. MiniTool MovieMaker claims that it puts pro level editing in the hands of non-professionals and makes it a lot easier to come up with polished results. This review puts that claim to the test.
This is a sponsored article and was made possible by MiniTool. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author who maintains editorial independence even when a post is sponsored.
MiniTool MovieMaker is an easy-to-use video editing software that does its one basic job very well. It features the ability to import video and audio assets and contains a lot of free-to-use music and effects. The editing tools are controlled by clicking on the tabbed tool section on the left of the interface, giving you access to media (your files), transitions, effects, text, motion and elements.
Most tools are self explanatory, but motion is for doing Ken Burns tricks with stills, where the camera moves across a still to give it motion. Elements are animated icons and widgets that you can drop into the frame and adjust their position and length. You can cut and fade clips very quickly and even have access to a range of pro quality LUTs for color grading to make your film look old or like a Hollywood blockbuster.
There are also many free templates to automatically set your clips up in a professionally designed sequence.
Importing your footage is easy: just drag the clips to the box where you media lives or click the button and load them from the directory where you store your clips. Editing with this software is easy. Place your clips on the timeline, adjust the length or cut them into chunks, then move them about on the timeline until they are in the right order and add transitions.
Transitions are the lifeblood of cinema. A shot is not a film; a shot is just one piece. You don’t get a film until you cut more than one shot together. That’s what video editing is all about. The most used transition is the cut where one shot stops and another begins. That and a fade are usually all you’ll need. It can be more interesting, for family films and other personal projects, to add fancier transitions. There are more than enough to keep you satisfied with wipes, irises and diagonal transitions which go from one shot to another with an animated pattern of some kind.
There are also mosaics that make the pixels really fat before reducing them again before you end up in the next shot. There is every transition you’ll ever need and quite a few you never even thought of. Lots of fun.
Effects is more what you’d call in pro circles “color grading.” It changes the overall coloration of the image to give you a mood, like film, epic blockbuster, vintage, etc. (See also the section on LUTs.) This is a fabulous one-click tool for making your shots look really compelling, and it’s something pro moviemakers do all the time. Nobody ever shows a piece of film they shot right out of the camera. Everyone adds a color grade.
The Text tab contains a range of text effects for putting titles on your footage. These range from simple text in the center, to lower thirds, to animated sequences where the text flies in from the side or top, and a number of other terrific effects. It’s quite astonishing how few of these you will actually use in a professional production, but in a personal film about your family, doing tricks with text can be much fun.
On the Motion tab you have a number of built-in camera moves that you can do over still photographs to give them some sort of movement. This is an imitation of the old Ken Burns rostrum camera effect that is so popular in documentaries, where they have more still pictures than video to show. It makes for great animated slideshows.
The elements on the other hand are super-fun animated icons you can put on screen and time where they appear, animate and stop. They are not tracked to the motion of the shot, so they are best used on a shot created with a tripod. There are a large number of them: Santa hats, arrows, dates for new year videos, cartoons, fireworks, aeroplanes, you name it.
Along with the effects tab for color changes to the look of your footage, the menu on the right hand includes a series of what are called 3D LUTs or color lookup tables that do the same thing. These are separate from the effects and add to the color applied to the scene rather than replace them. They are limited in number but, if you are clever, you can search for .cube files in your system, find out where it stores the LUTs, and add your own – but I wouldn’t recommend you do that without knowing what you’re doing. There are also additional LUTs available on the Internet.
The templates hide in a small menu in the top of the player window. Clicking that reveals some terrific templates, or prebuilt sequences, you can just drop your footage into to be edited into a great little film. Activating these templates prompts you to select all the clips you want to add, and the template inserts them into a great little film complete with titles, transitions and music. It makes suggestions of shots you should add and enables you to edit the text on any captions to suit your movie. These are professionally edited films and are actually really quite good quality.
I had trouble figuring out how to fade up from black at the beginning of video, and it took me a while to figure out why. The transitions work “between clips,” so of course you can’t put one in front of the first clip. You can work around this by making a black still image and fading between that and your first shot. Additionally, you can’t click anywhere on the timeline and put the play head there – you have to drag it there. Instead, you need to click on the clips to snap the cursor to the beginning of the selected clip and can scrub from there.
Yet, still, MiniTool Moviemaker is very easy to use, and just dragging and trimming clips on the timeline is very easy and intuitive. Making a video was easy and fun, and it’s not often that I say that about video software. The color grading tools are great. The software is clean and simple, and it makes filmmaking no fuss.
The free edition gives you access to all video effects, texts, elements, etc., and allows you to export 1080p videos without a watermark. Your first three exported videos can be any length, but the max length will shrink to two minutes per video on your next video. To release that limit, upgrade to the paid plan, a monthly subscription of $12.99 per month per PC, with free upgrades and no limit on length. The annual subscription has all of those features but costs $35.99, which is a considerable savings over the monthly rental.
For those who eschew subscriptions altogether, there’s also the option of a one-time lifetime buyout tier, the Ultimate Plan, for $59.99, with a license for three PCs. The pricing is really not unreasonable, and if you find the software gives you good results, the only question left to answer is how often you’ll use it.
The MiniTool MovieMaker software is free to download from the website and is a surprisingly excellent tool for crashing together professional-looking videos without any need for skill or hard work. Despite being a pro myself, I didn’t mind how pared down it is,
For a small video editor suite, it packs quite a respectable wallop. It compares very favorably with the likes of iMovie and Windows Movie Maker, which are similar products, while being much more lightweight and nicer to use than either of those. There are many similar software, but of the ones I’ve seen, I truly liked the quality of this one. It’s smooth and very easy to use and produces great quality output.
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