The Best Free Video Editors
Whether you're looking to create the next YouTube sensation or just a good-looking home video to share with loved ones, you need to do some editing or your clips won't have the shine and polish they deserve. But not everyone needs (or can afford) a high-end video editor. You can actually save money and skip the hassle of learning complicated software by using one of these three free but surprisingly capable video-editing solutions.
Our favorite free video editor comes from Pinnacle Systems, one of the major names in the space. The company's intuitive VideoSpin 1.1 app can produce and upload videos to YouTube and Yahoo! Video in a snap. You'll have to pay a $15 charge for advanced codec support, and there are insistent in-program ads, but the program's convenience and sharp output quality outweigh its minor annoyances.
Vista users can take advantage of Movie Maker 6, which comes bundled into the OS. It doesn't support many video formats other than AVIs and WMVs, but it's a good option for DV camcorder owners, and it has tons of corrective and artistic special effects to keep you happy.
Finally, VideoThang 2.0.1 offers excellent ease of use and sufficient functionality for most YouTube-like videos. Although we didn't rate it as highly as its two competitors, it's still a good choice for people importing videos from their digital cameras.
Any of these free apps can meet your basic editing needs and give your personal videos a dash of pizzazz. If, however, you want more capabilities and don't mind investing in a premium app, you might consider our Editors' Choice budget video editor CyberLink PowerDirector 7 Ultra. Click on the links in this intro or in the blurbs below to read the full reviews of all these applications.
This simple-to-use app produces quality output and offers direct export to YouTube and Yahoo! Video. It's the best choice of the "free" video-editing programs, but expect to shell out $15 for the codec pack.
Microsoft Movie Maker 6
Microsoft's video editor will appeal only to those who want to work with AVIs and WMVs. But if you fall into that camp, it's worth your time to take a look. After all, if you've got Vista, you've already got this editor.
VideoThang Version 2.0.1
VideoThang offers great ease of use and good compatibility with video from digital cameras. If you're more into quick-and-dirty than high quality, this program may be all you need.
CyberLink PowerDirector 7 Ultra
If you just can't make do with one of the free products we reviewed, step to CyberLink. This impressive editing software offers excellent across-the-board functionality and usability. It's the best choice among the consumer-level editors we've looked at.
Google recently revamped its image search engine to make finding the images you're looking for quicker and easier than ever. The redesigned interface lets you scroll through 1,000 images at once (with larger image previews), and eliminates text on the image search results so you can just focus on the visuals.
Previously when you did an image search, you'd see multiple pages of thumbnails with text showing the file name, dimensions, and a description associated with the image. Now you'll only see a mosaic of tightly packed image results with larger thumbnails and no text. Hovering over an image result will blow up the image, reveal the hidden metadata (for some images), and show a link to search for similar images.
Although you're viewing far more images on one page, it's actually easier and faster to look through them all because of Google's "Instant scrolling" function. Scrolling through a full set of results didn't stall or slow down my pages as the images loaded. You'll still see small page numbers to the left of the results interface to help you keep track of where you are. Google's also transitioning to image ads rather than strictly text ads. You'll find them at the top of the page.
When you click on an image result, instead of viewing the originating Web page with a frame at the top, you'll see a blown up image in the forefront of the screen with the Web page dimmed in the background. To the right of the page you'll see the URL of the Web page and a link to the full-sized image. In addition to the images dimensions next to the link for the full-sized image is text telling you how much bigger the full-size image is than blown up image shown on the page.
Clicking the "X" on the blown up image will take you directly to the originating Web page. I like this layout better than the framed page used by the older Google images format, because you get a much better idea for the size of the image (plus, you may not want to click on the full-image link). It would also be nice if clicking the image would take you to the image's position on the originating page—neither the old or new versions of Google Image Search has this ability.
Google managed to display more and larger image results without slowing load times, and made it faster to find images for which you're searching. The redesign is being slowly rolled out to all users by the end of the week, and currently only works on PCs running Chrome, Safari, Firefox 3.0 (and up), and Internet Explorer 7 and 8. Overall, the new Google Image search is a much more efficient, aesthetically pleasing way to view image search results.
Google on Wednesday issued a new Google Chrome beta release the company claims will further improve Chrome's ease of use and speed.
The new Chrome beta's new Autofill feature helps you fill in Web forms automatically with information such as your name, address, phone number, and credit card number. Over time, Autofill will allow you to fill out long Web forms with a few clicks.
For security reasons, Chrome keeps stored personal information private until you choose to share the information with a Website and your credit card information is never saved with your explicit permission.
This beta release of Chrome also includes enhanced synchronization capabilities. You can now sync your Chrome extensions and Autofill data (excluding credit card numbers) through your Google Account. Using Chrome's sync features, you can access your bookmarks, preferences, themes, extensions, and Autofill data from any computer logged into your Google Account on Chrome.
You'll also be able to see Chrome's updated interface, which was previewed on Google's developer channel in June, with a streamlined upper toolbar and all options condensed to a single menu. This beta release is also faster than the previous beta release, scoring 15 percent faster on the V8 and SunSpider benchmarks, and with a 64 percent improvement on Mozilla's Dromeao DOM Core Tests.
Using the Value Based Drafting strategy and Excel spreadsheets, you can create a straightforward cheatsheet that'll help you dominate your fantasy football draft.
NFL training camps are in full swing, and the regular season is only a month away. This is an exciting time for fantasy football players getting ready to draft their teams. If you own a fantasy
football team and are looking to dominate your draft, creating a simple spreadsheet using Value Based Drafting (VBD) strategies can give you the championship edge. Fire up Microsoft Excel (or your spreadsheet of choice) and give it a try.
The ABCs of VBD
VBD is a strategy that goes beyond simply drafting the best player available and digs deeper to help you draft players that will give you the most value at their position. "It's tempting to look at standard-scoring leagues and say, 'Oh, clearly quarterbacks score the most points, so I should make sure and get one of those first,'" said Christopher Harris, fantasy analyst for ESPN.com in an e-mail to me. "But if all QBs score a lot of points, scarcity isn't an issue, and you can potentially afford to wait."
For instance, say you're in a 10-team league that starts 1 QB and 2 Running Backs (RB) per game. If there isn't much difference in quality among the top 10 QBs, but there's huge gap in production when you get beyond the top 5 RBs, you're better off drafting one of the top five RBs before the top five QBs even if those QBs score more fantasy points. As Footballguys.com writer Joe Bryant, the guy credited with coming up with the VBD concept, puts it, "The value of a player is determined not by the number of points he scores, but by how much he outscores his peers at his particular position."
Another big advantage of using a VBD cheatsheet is you can tailor your cheatsheet specifically to your league settings and scoring system. "Gone are the days of counting touchdowns and field goals. Now yardage, receptions, bonuses for TD length, performance bonuses, etc., are all standard fare," said David Dodds of Footballguys.com in an e-mail, "So it is natural that people want projections (and cheatsheets) that match up closely to their scoring system."
Your VBD Cheatsheet
Creating your own VBD cheatsheet is fairly straightforward once you know the formulas involved in applying VBD principles, and have a good spreadsheet program like Excel. The first, and most time-consuming, step is projecting stats for the players to be drafted. You can do this by looking at each player's stats from the past few years and factoring in their current playing situation to estimate this year's stats.
To create my VBD spreadsheet I decided to trust the projected stats found on ESPN.com and CBSsports.com and my own intuition to estimate how well each player in my league draft pool will perform. Next, I used those stats to determine how many fantasy points each player would score and ranked them from the highest scorer to the lowest.
Ranking Potential Draftees
The critical step in determining players' value is creating a baseline you can use to gauge other players at that position. The easiest way to do this is the Worst Starter method. With this method, you use the projected fantasy points of the worst starting player at a position as your baseline. So if you're in a 10-team league that starts 3 Wide receivers (WR), your baseline for WRs would be the 30th WR in your rankings.
While this method works fine, I prefer to use Chris Harris' method of counting how many players at each position are likely to be drafted in the first 10 rounds. This is harder to determine, but I feel like it gives me a more precise ranking. So if 28 RBs are drafted in the first 10-rounds of a draft, the 28th ranked RB will serve as my baseline player in determining the VBD values for other RBs. You can find a good estimation of what players are taken in the first 10 rounds of most drafts at FantasyFootballCalculator.com.
From there you determine each player's VBD value by subtracting the projected fantasy points of your baseline player from the projected fantasy points of each player at that position. Finally, you rank all players of every position by their VBD value to determine each player's overall value.
Go With Your Gut
As with anything in fantasy football, VBD isn't absolute. There are times where you can afford to, or even should, deviate from the VBD concept. "I think of VBD as a way to normalize positions, so I can have a better sense of breaking points: where does it make sense for me to get my starting quarterback, or my flex player, or my starting tight end?" said Harris. "I'll also factor in stuff like keepers, ADP(Average Draft Position), and what I know about the knuckleheads in my league (e.g., what positions they like, what players they tend to overdraft, etc.)."
For the actual nuts and bolts of creating a spreadsheet using Excel, I called Todd Beckstead of FantasyStrategies.com, and he walked me through the process of creating a VBD spreadsheet of my own. Check out the slideshow to see how to create your own VBD spreadsheet.
If this seems like too much work, Beckstead and Dodd offer applications that can do all the heavy lifting of VBD for you. FantasyStrategies.com uses a Web-based application to generate a cheatsheet tailored to your league's settings. FootballGuys.com's Draft Dominator is an awesome standalone app that goes in-depth using dynamic VBD strategies that constantly change priorities based on needs/wants of the other teams and many other factors. The free versions work great, but you'll want to pay for the premium versions ($4.95 for the premium Fantasystrategies.com draft guide, and $27.95 for the premium Draft Dominator) to get the most up-to-date projections.
Personally, however, I enjoy putting together my own VBD spreadsheet; it really helps you understand the nuts and bolts of your fantasy football league and it's one of the best ways I've ever found to dig into NFL stats. And, as any sports fan worth his or her salt knows, the stats are half the fun. If you're serious about fantasy football, give VBD a try—you'll be glad you did.
- July 14, 2010 11:31am EST
- 10 Comments
Originally posted to AppScout.Back to topLogin or Register blog comments powered by