New Tools of the Trade

Recently I picked up some new tools of the trade, so to speak, which included the latest version of HitFilm4 Express for video editing and a new microphone.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

HitFilm4 Express

HitFilm4 Express is a FREE, trimmed down version of HitFilm4 and its nothing short of fantastic. Mostly because of all the features you get for free include, but are not limited to, chroma key (green screen), audio/video transitions, multiple video filters and much more than this. Check out the full details over at the official webpage. Overall its a very easy program to use and edit videos with. It uses the standard layout for video editors these days in which your video and audio are linked on a timeline allowing you to click and drag just about every option, make easy cuts and add your own audio as background music, or foreground commentary. I’ve been overly impressed so far.

HitFilm4 Express Screenshot
HitFilm4 Express Screenshot

The business model they have recently employed is to give you just about all the features right out of the box, then dangle some tantalizing options in front of your face for one time fees. They have a number of interesting add on packs including Sci-Fi and Destruction themes which include everything you’d need to make a cool little video. I’m not as interested in those, but I might grab the standard tools pack which includes support for picture in picture, 2D to 3D conversions for objects and titles, and a number of other interesting features. Also its only about 10 Euros right now, which is still pretty cheap when you consider the editor and core software is free. The other packs can get a tad expensive though, especially if you buy more than one, so just keep an eye on your budget and don’t get carried away.

Honourable mention should go to Shotcut. I was using it for a little while, which is also a free (and interesting) video editor, however, it had about as much reliability as you’d expect from a free video editor, as in it crashed… a lot. It almost crashed every time I clicked something new in the program, or used drag and drop instead of opening files using the menus. I was saving files almost every time I clicked on something. One cool side note, if you can get around the crashing, is that it lets you import HTML directly into a scene. This was great for creating interesting titles, and its what I used for the intro title on a Timelapse video I made recently as well. Check it out…

As cool as that is, Hitfilm4 is still the superior free video editor, by a long shot! Maybe if Shotcut didn’t crash so much I wouldn’t have even found HitFilm4, so its an interesting twist of fate.

Samson Q2U Microphone

The Samson Q2U microphone is brilliant! It has XLR output, which is the industry standard for professional microphones connecting to soundboards and the such, but the real bonus is that it also has USB connections for recording. This means you can plug it directly into your PC/Laptop and go to town recording whatever you need. I setup a mock home studio at home using a giant roll of foam and some on the fly innovation for my first recording session and it worked out great.

This microphone is not exactly cheap, but what you pay for you really get back in quality recording. I’d suggest that if you get this microphone to also add a pop filter as you do have to get a little close to it for great sounding voice recordings and any letter where you’re closing your lips will result in a “pop” in the recording. This is all very normal, but as you’ll see in the video below, my P’s came out perfect after putting it behind a filter. Also, something to note when watching the video is that I did not edit the audio at all. This is a direct recording from Audacity imported into HitFilm4 Express. No cuts, no edits of any kind.

Audacity is a free and easy to use sound recording software that works great with the Samson Q2U microphone. I was trying to use the Cakewalk Sound Center, something that actually came with the microphone but I had a newer version on Steam already. It was a real pain in the butt to setup. Actually the first time I tested it, it worked fantastic. But then when I tried to use it recently it would not pick up the microphone for recording. Google searches would also reveal that it wasn’t an uncommon problem. Someone suggested using Audacity and I bet that I will use it for all future commentary recording.

Overall these 2 new additions to my blog/review/vlog toolkit have really helped a lot. As mentioned earlier, here’s a link to the first video I’ve made and published on YouTube using these new tools…

In conclusion, if you are a budding vlog creator, picking up Hitfilm for editing and a semi-pro microphone will help you go a long way towards creating great content! Until next time, keep it classy!

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