If you’ve ever looked at professional photo or video editing software, you know it can easily range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. That’s fine if you’re a creative professional who gets paid $200 an hour to use that software, but what if you’re a mere mortal like most of us who just happens to be passionate about quality?
In this post, we’re going to look at three photo/video editing programs that approach professional level functionality and are completely FREE. We use these three on an almost daily basis at ProsumerReviews, and if you give them a try, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without them!
The first program we're going to look at is MPEG Streamclip written by Italian based SQUARED5.
MPEG Streamclip is a video player and editor, but where it really shines is as a converter and compressor. You can use it to turn just about any video format or codec into another format. Turn gigantic Quicktime or Apple Intermediate files into high quality MPEG4s that will upload to YouTube in a fraction of the time. Manually control data rate, audio format and interlacing, or choose from a variety of powerful presets for iTunes or iPod. If that’s not enough, you can also cut and splice movies, or download them from YouTube just by entering the url.
If you plan on working with video, MPEG Streamclip is a must for your software library.
The next program we’re going to look at is something that a short time ago, you couldn’t have dreamed of unless you had a production budget in the tens-of-thousands of dollars.
Blender, developed by Blender Foundation in Amsterdam, is a professional level 3D modeling and animation program. Whether you want to model landscapes, architecture, or figures for still images––or key frame them for fully animated films, the sky is the limit with blender. You can use it to create stand-alone projects, or export animations with an alpha channel to overlay onto live-action footage in Final Cut or Adobe Premier.
While blender isn’t something most people can become proficient with overnight, the only risk you have to invest in trying it will be the time it takes to download for free from blender.org. And with versions available for Windows, Mac and Linux, you can run blender no matter what OS you use.
Last, we’re to going look at one of the most powerful and widely used freeware photo editing programs ever: GIMP.
Produced by the GIMP Development Team, this app can be used to do just about anything you would do with Adobe Photoshop. Retouching, overlaying multiple layers, levels adjustment, online batch processing and much more. Only where Photoshop would set you back between $100 and $1000 depending on what bundle you purchase, Gimp is free. It also runs on almost every platform imaginable. Whether you need to create alpha-channel cutouts, color correct from a photo-shoot, or convert photos from one obscure format to another, GIMP is there for you.
We hope that you find Gimp, Blender, and MPEG Streamclip as useful as we do, and we hope this post has been helpful in your creative endeavors!
PS. Please feel free to share with anyone you think might benefit from it :)