To be competitive, businesses need to promote themselves in multiple ways. And as modern society has developed a short attention span and become highly social-centric, many businesses are developing a video strategy to aid in marketing. Most small companies don’t have the budget for the industry standard video editors (nor the time to learn their complex processes). Fortunately, smaller houses can turn to free solutions that offer enough features to create quality video.

What are the best tools in this category? I have selected five that should meet the essential criteria. They’re free, easy to use, and deliver near-professional results. Let’s take a look and see if one of these editors will do the trick for you.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.

1: OpenShot

OpenShot (Figure A) is one of the finest video editors to hold the open source tag. Available for Linux only, OpenShot offers features usually just found in pricey, proprietary solutions. With OpenShot you can enjoy diverse format support, unlimited tracks/layers, clip resizing/scaling, video transitions, special effects, compositing/overlays, frame stepping, video encoding, chromakey, and much more. Best of all, OpenShot is one of the easiest video editors you will ever use. With a simple drag-and-drop interface, you can quickly create and edit video projects with a minimal learning curve.

Figure A

2: Kdenlive

Kdenlive (Figure B) is another open source video editor that offers plenty of features. It lets you mix different types of media (sound, video, stills) into custom profiles, including resolution, frame-rate, pixel aspect ratio (PAR), and display aspect ratio (DAR). Although Kdenlive isn’t quite as easy to master as OpenShot, it’s nowhere near as complicated as industry standards such as LightWorks and Premier.

Figure B

The kdenlive tool supports a wide range of video formats and offers an outstanding multi-track timeline editor. You’ll also find effects and transitions easily added to your clips.

3: Avidemux

Avidemux (Figure C), also open source, is available for Linux, Windows, and Mac. Although it doesn’t include all the features found in OpenShot and Kdenlive, it is a great tool to use for simple cutting, filtering, and encoding tasks. If you need quick, simple video (without transitions or effects), Avidemux might do the trick. You can also automate tasks and use a built-in scripting language to bring even more power to the task. And Avidemux includes command-line tools to extend the functionality of the app. To learn about the commands available, check out this Wiki page.

Figure C

4: WeVideo

WeVideo (Figure D) is an app for your Chromebook that allows you to edit videos in three modes: storyboard, timeline, and advanced — so everyone from novices to professionals can make use of this handy app. You won’t be creating professional-quality movies, but WeVideo makes it easy to create videocast-ready movies that can help you market your company. And since the app is for the Chromebook, you can do this on the go. WeVideo allows you to quickly publish your video on YouTube and Google Drive.

Figure D

5: VSDC Free Video Editor

VSDC Free Video Editor (Figure E) has a remarkably powerful interface for a free app. However, it does have a somewhat steep learning curve (and little documentation to help). Still, once you get up to speed on the interface and process, you’ll be creating quality videos that support multiple formats. Available for Windows, VSDC Free offers a great nonlinear, multi-track editor and includes plenty of audio and video effects (including some slick transitions). Although VSDC is free, you can help the project by purchasing support (which you may need, once you get into the more challenging aspects of using this particular editor).

Figure E

Other apps?

If you’re looking for the best way to get video into your marketing plan but don’t want to splurge on costly software or hardware, check out these free tools. Although they can all have you creating videos in no time, I think OpenShot is, without a doubt, the best in breed.

What’s your video editor of choice? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.