NCH – VideoPad review

entry level video editor
Photo of NCH – VideoPad
free (VideoPad), £42 (VideoPad Pro)

The name of this product hints that it might do for video what Notepad does for text files. And that’s about the size of it. It’s a cheap (so cheap, it’s free) and cheerful video editor, but it’s strength lies where NCH’s strength lies, in file conversion.

If you have a MOV file, for instance, as many of the new pocket, memory-based video cameras produce, you’ll find it hard to get a video editor to load it directly, unless you have a brand new version of something like Adobe Premiere Elements or the latest VideoStudio, either of which will set you back £70 or so.

The edit screen is divided into four main areas, with a browser for video clips, to which you can drag and drop files or load them from a camera, on the left. Next to this are two large playback screens, one for clips and the other for sequences, and running full-width below is a timeline, where you can place clips, split them and add simple transitions; mainly fades.

There are a few effects available, with brightness adjustment and sepia tints among them, and you can add text captions. The program has surprisingly good audio handling, with the video’s soundtrack plus two additional tracks, where you can add music or narrations. Basic volume control set points are implemented, too.

Once you’ve compiled your video, you can choose to save it to DVD (or CD for short ones), to a file or to upload to YouTube, which the program can handle directly. If you pay for the Pro version, there’s virtually no output requirement you can’t match.

If you just want to trim and slice your clips, perhaps to upload them to YouTube or MySpace, VideoPad will do the basics for free and can save the result in any of four different formats: AVI, WMV, ASF and DVD. If you want the full range, which extends to over 20, plus numerous image and audio formats, it’ll cost you a bit over £40. This is perhaps too close to Premiere Elements and VideoStudio, which both have far more comprehensive features sets.

One other thing to bear in mind is the high resolutions of which some video cameras are now capable, right up to the 1,920 x 1,080 resolution of 1080p HD. Unless you have a fairly punchy PC or Mac to edit them, you may see unwanted effects like poor lip-sync or missed frames on playback. VideoPad appears more sensitive to this than more expensive video editors.

Company: NCH

This is by no means a fully-fledged video editor, but it can perform basic manipulations on a video. You can create a movie from a series of clips and use simple transitions to link them together. Finally, you can change resolution and save in several popular formats. Unless you need the extra formats provided by the Pro edition, all this comes for free.