Free Apps

Photo/Image Editors
With the rampant sale of digicams, editing of pictures is no longer an option but a necessity.
Paint.net
The simplest is Paint.net (Yes, that’s the name of the software and not a website), and the most efficient, Gimp — as was also helpfully suggested by one of you. Paint.net is certainly no Adobe Photoshop but certainly has its look-n-feel of it, so much so, that it might even pass of as a Photoshop Lite version. The most surprising thing here is that Paint.net was made by computer science students from Washington State University. The main file of Paint.net is a tiny download of a mere 1.5MB. However, you require Microsoft’s .Net architecture for it to work. Those who have been updating their OS frequently have probably already installed this. For those who have not, you can download it free here.

Gimp
The second choice here is obviously the all-powerful Gimp. Though Gimp is certainly made for power users and is only getting better with time, it certainly isn’t for everyone and can get quite intimidating for novices. I’d recommend you to stick with Paint.net for editing photographs, as it certainly is more than what the casual image editor would need.

Audio Editors
If you come across the need for simple audio cut-paste jobs to complex audio cleanups for recording sessions, you need an audio editor. Windows doesn’t come with any built-in application, though is does have Windows Movie Maker, which can do simple editing, but which forces one to save in its own propriety WMA (Windows Media Audio) format. But you certainly don’t want to use that, as it has quite a few limitations. The other option is the pathetic dinosaur of a Sound Recorder, which probably hasn’t been changed since Windows 95 days.

Audacity
Audacity is the only freeware audio tool that can do a lot of what the big boys, such as Sony s Sound Forge, can. Audacity supports uncompressed audio standards such as WAV in addition to MP3 and OGG (open-source) files. In addition to a full complement of basic effects such as reverb, delay, compression, it also has great plug-in support that can help expand and make audio editing much richer.

Video Editors

Jahshaka
Jahshaka is by far the best-looking and competent video editor in freeware land. The production class of this freeware has quite impressed me, as it’s the only freeware video editor that doesn’t look as if it has been thrown together quickly and shipped out. In addition to simple editing it has features that put high-class video editors to shame. It’s got real-time 3D compositing and animation, DV, SD, HD (wow!) film editing, real-time image manipulation, paint and text module, colour correction, keying, tracking… and the list goes on. The world’s first open source, hardware accelerated editing and effects system that leverages the power of OpenGL and OpenML!

Windows Movie Maker 2
Sometimes even Windows surprises me with good software that comes bundled with the OS. Windows very own Movie Maker 2 — the one video editor that’s easy to grasp and intuitive to do simple editing tasks. It has some neat transition effects to place over videos, but if you get bored of those, you’re pretty much out of luck, as it lacks plug-in support. So, expandability is out of the question. Movie Maker 2 also restricts output sizes to template based resolutions, which is great for novices but frustrating for the well versed in video editing. Besides, it doesn’t allow any other format save than WMV (Windows Mediv Video) format. This is silly — not every DVD player can play WMV format. And remember: you need to have Service Pack 2 installed, as it improves much on the older version that came originally shipped with Windows XP.

Movica
Movica can quickly edit one most common format that you’ll come across on all online video sharing sites: FLV movies. While in the above-mentioned software you convert FLV to another format to edit, this one does it on the fly.

The interface is simple — in fact, much simpler than Jahshaka. Movica doesn’t support AVI, but does support WMV and MPEG as well. Seems like the author of Movica is a keyboard fan, as great emphasis has been placed on keyboard shortcuts to make the job of editing easier.

VirtualDub
VirtualDub isn’t something that a novice ought to use. But it’s the only video editor (other than Jahshaka) that edits AVI files well. Its interface leaves a lot to be desired, but it has its plus points — such as batch processing and support for third party filters.

Jumpcut
Did You Know?
In the coming of the Web2.0 movement, a lot of online sites, such as Jumpcut, offer online video editing. These tools are often simple and nice to use. But the only limitation is that you’d have to upload your entire video on the site and then edit it. This can be excruciatingly slow over regular internet connections, considering that even a 5-minute video can be well over 50MB in size.

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