IMAGING might be entering a late-life DeMille delusional phase. We are starting to shoot video with our still cameras. We recall with shame that we once said stills were stills and movies were movies and never the twain should meet in the one camera. Sorry. We were wrong.
So, following the survey of free photo-editing applications in the past two weeks, what about free video editing?
The obvious place to start is with the applications built into the computer operating system - iMovie for the Mac (it may or may not be installed on your Mac, depending on its age) and Windows Live Movie Maker (catchy appellation, no?), free for the PC. We have tried them both for editing videos shot with two Olympus cameras. Although they are both micro four thirds cameras, they create video files in different formats.
Movie Maker is perplexing. In Windows 7, it will not open files with the .mov extension. This is a known issue with the program and affects many cameras, including our Olympus OMD and Canon 5D MkII. But - here's the weird thing - when running Movie Maker on a Windows 8 preview system, it automatically converts the .mov files into a format it can use. It looks as though Windows 8 will not have compatibility issues, but file loading may be slow.
With iMovie, files that come in the Sony/Panasonic MTS ''container'' won't load, and many cameras use that format. MTS can be converted to .mov with conversion software. (Bigasoft.com sells a converter for $30.)
Editing with both programs is intuitive. In iMovie, the video clips are imported into an assembly area on the screen and can be trimmed at that point or dragged, uncut, into the timeline area and cut there. Movie Maker does much the same. It is not as pretty, but its trim-and-split tools work a little better than those in iMovie.
Fine trims are a doddle in both. The sound recorded in the camera can be unlinked from the video and an alternative soundtrack can be added.
Saving (or exporting) the edited video presents another problem. Both programs are locked into the company systems. Movie Maker insists on the Windows WMV format, which won't play on ''iDevices'', and iMovie knows all about these and nothing else.
Fortunately, the Swiss Army pocketknife of free video players, VLC, will play everything on both computer platforms and you might be one of the lucky few who obtained the VLC app for iPad before it was banned from the Jobs system.
Movie Maker is more workmanlike and iMovie is prettier. They are both basic, but they do a neat job of video editing and both do automatic formatting and uploading to YouTube and Facebook. What more could you want?