Quick-and-Dirty Video Editing With Free Avidemux
At a Glance
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This free utility offers easy video editing, plus encoding to a number of different formats--when there's no easier way to do it.
I've been a fan of Avidemux since I first discovered it. While for-pay video editors have just started to figure out that you don't need to re-encode a file if you've only cut some frames out, Avidemux has always been that smart.
As long as you're editing a single file, or a group of files with exactly the same characteristics (codec, bit rate, etc.) then you simply save the result. Only the navigation information, key frames, etc. are updated. It's not always instantaneous, but it's far faster than re-encoding. That said, Avidemux also does a very good job of transcoding to MPEG-4, MPEG-2, MPEG-2, Sorenson Spark and others with AAC, MP3 and PCM audio.
I last looked at Avidemux at version 2.4.3, nearly two years ago. Most of the changes between then and today's version 2.5.5 have been bug fixes or updates of encoders and libraries that are used. The results are much more reliable and the program more stable. This time around I was not able to crash the Avidemux no matter what type of file or chore I threw at it.
Avidemux still employs the same simple, easy-to-use interface. You simply set A and B markers, then cut out what you don't want. Most pertinent options are on the main page so you don't have to go hunting. You can also append files. As long as they're the same type, no re-encoding is performed, though you may have to use Smart Copy when you save (which makes sure navigation information is correct).
Avidemux supports one stream only. You can't layer or merge tracks as with some of the more advanced for-pay editors. It's also a bit technical, so be prepared to do your homework on video formats and editing if you want to use the more granular settings. However, if you're willing to go old-school and work without a storyboard or the ability to insert a video into the middle of another video, it'll get the job done and then some. For quick-and-dirty video trimming, it can't be beat.
--Jon L. Jacobi