I facilitate a small informal animation group where we're all pretty much learning as we go along.  We have been capturing images using the software that goes with a Canon camera we have use of and have now finished both filming and audio recording and are looking for easy to use software for editing it all together.  We have the possibility of funds for this purpose so my question is therefore in two parts, the first being if money is available (without being extortionate), what is the best editing software we could get, bearing in mind that we are hoping that our animation group will be a long running project and that we would be looking for something that will stand the test of time.  I had Dragonframe in my head but it appears that that is more for image capture.  We would probably be looking at investing in image capture software some time in the future so software that did both would be great if it was available.  The second question would be in case we're not lucky with funding, what is the best free editing software for our purpose?  We've been using Audacity for capturing audio.

Also, we use Windows.

Many thanks.


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Premiere Pro or Sony Vegas are two well known video editors for Windows.  But not in the cheap or free categories. I use Final Cut Pro 6 which is only for Mac OSX, so I can't speak from experience about either of those.

I generally use Dragonframe to capture, then After Effects or TV Paint to do various effects (like chroma keying, wire removal, adding eye blinks, adding/removing frames, colour grading) and cropping/resizing to HD video 16:9 format.  Then I import the 1080p shot into my editing program for assembly and laying sound tracks. 

Probably a lot of those things can be done in the editor, but with the ones I've used, they were really designed for standard video sizes and shapes, and couldn't even load the full size 3:2 ratio images captured by my DSLR.  I have to crop and resize first, and save as QT mov files, before I can load them into Final Cut.

Audacity is good, I use it for recording and editing my sound files before importing them into the video editor.  I'm sure there are some free or low cost video editors, but I don't know what they are.  With any luck, someone else will be able to help.

I just googled "Windows free video editor", and found this list of top 10:


Looks like in some on that list it is only a free trial, the actual fully functional software does cost some money.  Sometimes the free trial has a watermark, sometimes yo can't save.

While not the best and not easy to use it is FREE and can do all sorts of editing and also special effect work. It is geared more towards the computer animation pipeline but most people forget that the 3D program Blender has a video and sequence editor. It handles several types of files including just images and is able to output a large amount of formats. It is just not a user friendly program but it is FREE. Youtube has plenty of tutorials on using the VSE (Video Sequence Editor)

Here is the main page


You need different programs for different purposes. So After Effects is great for fiddling around, rigs, time stretching and all sorts, then Premiere is best at straight editing of clips. I paint n eyelids in Photoshop.

The route I went was to buy a s/h laptop from eBay with Adobe CS6 already on it. 


I would recommend the following workflow:

1.Capture in any SW you like but DF seems to be the choice of many animators here.

2. Scale your SW in Blender or Fusion 8. Blender is entirely Open Source while Fusion is Closed Source but free( as long as you do not want the network rendering facilities and motion components). I prefer Blender for scaling since it is easier to setup and readily accepts image sequences.

3. Do your VFX and Compositing in either Blender or Fusion 8. Fusion 8 has more tools for compositing and it allows any model created in Blender to be imported and textured. Personally itry to stick to Blender for all my compositing stuff but the color grading and a few of more complicated effects are done in Fusion. Bot Fusion 8 and Blender accept image sequences. Blender can do CPU& GPU rendering but i recomend, if you do not like surprises, to use a single rendering mode, either CPU or GPU. There are differences because of memory sizes and used algorithms.

4. Do video editing in Lightworks. It is a professional package, recognized by the industry and it is free. The limitation is in the types of videos you can output and the max resolution you can use. The free version can easily output Youtube and Vimeo at 720/1080 and the paid version can output in up to 4K. Lightworks also accepts image sequences as videos and can work with them flawlessly. Lightworks also accepts multitrack audio editing, however the audio editor does not have many effects. Since Lightworks is a video editor, the professionals assume you do your audio in other packages.

5. Do audio editing in Ardour. It is by far the most versatile Open Source DAW one can find. Imports and exports a lot of formats, can do a lot in terms of effects and channels, can work seamlessly with wav,ogg or midi,etc. Downside of it is that it runs only on Linux and it requires some time for you to get used to the interface, functionality, automation and setup.

For 3d Environments and set extensions i use Blender as a base for modeling and sometimes compositing. I also use Substance Painter for texturing but you can safely use the texture tools available in Blender. Sometimes i find those textures easier to use, especially when you work on large objects like buildings. Substance Painter has issues scaling to large objects and in general is not used for that. You create a tile-able texture in SP and then you use it in Blender or Fusion.

All of the above are trialled and work perfectly together, both on Windows(excepting Ardour) and Linux. On Linux however, Lightworks cannot use Boris FX and such since these are exclusively for Windows. In my setup, i run all of the above in a Centos 7 system and also a Fedora 25.


Based on what you described, I strongly recommend you buy Dragonframe first. Maybe get the remote control too.

After that, you can try editing your videos for free with Filmora or VSDC Video Editor.

In the future, maybe get the 50$ edition of Sony Vegas?

Or you could try getting the Adobe CC subscription thing. If you chose just one software you can have a Premiere license for 20$ a month. Or for 50$ a month you can have the whole package, including After Effects, Photoshop, and the audio editors.

But seriously. Dragonframe.

Many thanks for all your replies.

I've so far been persevering with Windows Movie Maker as it is quite simple to use, although I'm finding my attempts at lip syncing from the existing footage kind of hard, which isn't helped by the zoom only going so far when looking at the timeline, and the visibility of the sound wave to match up with the character's mouth isn't great, so I'm publishing to check on progress rather than play back the glitchy preview.  I'm also aware that I'm looking to add other sounds like sound effects and music and I'm aware that this isn't the best program for more than one track.  Because of these difficulties I'm considering Sony Vegas.  The Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum Production Suite 11 has the best reviews on Amazon's UK site, although I'm aware that there are newer versions.  It also is very reasonably priced at £37.99.  Does anyone know whether I can set the frame rate using this software and also whether you'd endorse this purchase or a later edition (or an alternative)?

Thanks again for all your advice.  It's been printed out and had the highlighter treatment for future reference!

- Gavin (Still very much a newbie)

Hey guys, I'm a total newbie, and i'm not up on all the editing software thats out there but here's where i need some help. I'm going to buy SMP instead of Dragonframe because i've heard that Dragonframe does not have a rig removal app. and SMP does. And as far as video editing it seems that the ones that iv'e read about require a monthly fee. Does anyone know of a editing program that i could use with Dragonframe but just buy outright without a monthly fee [and obviously have a rig removal app.] There's so many video software's out there and totally confused of which would be good for what we do. Any help i would very much appreciate. Thanks. Mike H.

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