No matter how expensive your camcorder is or how good you are capturing videos, your raw footage will always be unwatchable without any editing. You will need to trim it down, add some captions, background music, apply transitions and perhaps a sprinkling of special effects.

Commercial video editors can be very expensive, but you may not have to go that route. There are some great editing software around that are relatively inexpensive. There are also many free ones that are good enough add a little professional polish.

1. PowerDirector 11 Ultra

The Cyberlink PowerDirector 11 Ultra is a pretty good tool for the serious amateur. It comes with more than 100 built-in effects and access to more than 300,000 free effects at CyberLink’s DirectorZone.com online community. It is fairly easy to use but be sure to have gobs of computing power and memory as it is resource hungry. Users have complained of freezing and crashes when rendering. PowerDirector is able to create media in a number of formats, both audio and video. Supported formats include AVI, MPEG-2, AVC, WMV, MPEG-4, MOV, and MKV files. It is a 3D as well as 4K Ultra HD capable but you need to ensure your hard drive capacity is adequate for these projects before you begin. A new feature with the latest version is Content-Aware Editing which provides a revolutionary way to edit video projects. Here’s a short intro of what it can do:

For PC only, MSRP $99.99
Operating system requirements: Microsoft Windows® 8, 7, Vista or XP (Service Pack 3)
For more info and full specs visit: Cyberlink PowerDirector

2. Sony Movie Studio Platinum Suite

Now in Version 12, the Sony Movie Studio Platinum Suite is a 64 bit version of Vegas Movie Studio. It creates movies in stunning AVCHD and stereoscopic 3-D.  With 50 included royalty-free soundtracks you can add background music and edit audio in Sound Forge Audio Studio, upload movies to Pixelcast, and burn to DVD or Blu-ray Disc. It has the capability to create 5.1 soundtracks. The learning curve might be a little steeper than other software applications but there are many tutorials from Sony and online to get you through most situations.

(PC only, MSRP $129.95)
Operating system requirements : Microsoft Windows Vista 32-bit or 64-bit SP2, Windows 7 32-bit or 64-bit, or Windows 8 32-bit or 64-bit
For more info and full specs visit: Sony Movie Studio

3. Pinnacle Studio 16 Ultimate

Pinnacle is a video-editing enthusiast’s favorite long before most other editing software were around. It’s got an attractive interface design, tons of video effects, 3D import, editing and output. You can easily  upload your final product to Facebook, Box, YouTube, and Vimeo. Disc authoring comes with lots of menu templates. Rendering performance is fast by most standards.

Pinnacle Studio can handle almost any video file type you throw at it, including MPEG-1/-2/-4, WMV, QuickTime, and MKV. A new trick is that it can import from the Cloud, in this case from the popular Box web service. You can also import from an attached camcorder, including AVCHD, DV, HDV, or Digital8 models. There is no 4K Ultra HD support.

It has all the tools any amateur video editor will need, however, the PowerDirector 11 Ultra goes a step or two further, with smoother multi-track preview performance thanks to more hardware acceleration, its multi-trim tool, and support for 4K video content.

(PC only, MSRP $129.95)
Operating system requirements: Windows® 8, Windows® 7, Windows® Vista® (SP2) (64-bit OS recommended
For more info and full specs visit: Pinnacle Studio

4. Final Cut Pro X

Final Cut Pro X is major rewrite of Apple’s mature and well-developed video-editing software. Apple rewrote the whole application from the ground up to finally support 64-bit Cocoa APIs. The native 64-bit code now supports a practically limitless supply of RAM.

It borrows some interface elements from iMovie that may disappoint seasoned professionals, and it also loses many key features that are simply an absolute necessity in the professional world, like XML export. There are a lot more features in Final Cut Pro X, but there are some caveats.

Final Cut Pro X’s bold philosophy of video editing will definitely take some getting used to, but in return, you will be rewarded with blazingly fast performance. For amateur video editors, iMovie is still the best balance of features, ease of use, and price.

For Mac OS only, MSRP: $299
For more info and full specs visit: Apple Mac Store

5. Adobe Premiere Pro CS6

The Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 is a full, professional-level digital video editing program. It is the industry-leading cross-platform software. You can edit low-resolution to 5K and higher resolution footage with greater speed and precision without transcoding. Capable of 64-bit performance, highly intuitive workflows, enabled for timesaving Adobe integration, and project exchange with Final Cut Pro and Avid NLE software.  It’s got footage stabilization with the innovative Warp Stabilizer. You can easily create and edit multicam sequences, adjust effects in real time during playback, and quickly encode finished video for virtually any screen. With native support you can also work with footage shot with the latest video cameras, including Canon Cinema EOS C300, RED EPIC, ARRI Alexa, and RED SCARLET-X cameras.

There’s no denying that Premiere Pro CS6 can do everything the professional video editor needs. And its easy integration with After Effects and Photoshop are definite boons. But when you compare it with the most recent version of Final Cut Pro X, which adds powerful multicam support and other feature pros need, Apple’s product just feels more modern, fluid, and usable. Of course, if you’re locked into a Premiere Pro workflow, you’ll still want Premiere Pro CS6: It’s definitely a worthwhile upgrade.

PC only, MSRP $799.00
For more info and full specs visit: Adobe Store