Josh, over at MoreThanDodgeBall.com had a great basic rundown on video editing software.
iLife ’09 ($59 or free with a new Mac)
Mac only … and super easy to use. While it doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of higher end software, it can get a decent movie made in with a short learning curve. Good for beginners and Mac enthusiasts. B
Final Cut Express 4 ($150)
Also Mac only … and easily the best of the bunch – but it’ll take you a while to even figure it out, much less master it. This is the software the big boys use, and it is ultra powerful – higher versions of the suite can go for up to $999. You can pretty much produce feature quality shots and effects with this guy. If you take the time to learn it, you’ll make great videos – this is what several people on our team use regularly and the bar to shoot for. A
Sony Movie Studio HD ($75)
This is the program I use personally – it is an awesome PC application that chews through HD footage no problem. The price is right and the performance is incredible. You can make slide shows in seconds, drop in transitions and split/cut/splice massive pieces of footage in seconds. Simple to learn, and has lots of options to make a highly polished final product. A
Windows Movie Maker (Free with Windows)
This one comes free with your Windows PC, and while it has gotten far better than earlier versions, it still takes up the rear. While it is free, the end product isn’t great and there are all sorts of limits to what you can produce. Still though, for the budget conscious, this is a place to get started. C+
(I’ve updated Josh’s prices to reflect Amazon’s current prices)
I agree with his assessments, although a C+ for Movie Maker may be generous. I myself do most of my editing in iMovie. It’s super quick and easy. It lacks some of the bells and whistles of Final Cut Express, but gets the job done. I would rate it a B+ or A-. I would love to learn Final Cut, but I think I need to buy a book or something because the few times I’ve tried it I haven’t been able to accomplish much.
One that he left out that I think deserves mention is Adobe Premiere Elements ($50). Much like Final Cut Express it’s not the professional level like it’s big brother Premier, but is a great option for PC users that need more than Windows Movie Maker, but still don’t want to spend $1000 on software.