Pinnacle Systems is offering its VideoSpin software free -- or nearly so.
(I figure the software is a long-delayed reaction towards MovieMaker which Microsoft includes free with Windows XP and Vista. And it is pretty good software; I've used it myself.)
The basic software is free from www.videospin.com . The download consists of two parts: (1) first a 2.3MB setup file is downloaded; which then (2) downloads the rest of the software to a folder on my computer -- 146MB worth.
Install was not without its problems. It requires shutting down all apps, following which they are relaunched automatically. Following the restart, I found these problems:
-- a randomly-selected image was displayed on my desktop.
-- my mouse lost its definition for the middle button (double-click).
Changing the background in Vista is tedious:
1. Right-click desktop, and select Personalize.
2. Click Desktop Background.
3. Click the wrongly-named Picture Location.
4. Choose Solid Color.
5. Click More.
6. Choose the color.
7. Click OK.
8. Click OK.
9. Click X.
All those steps because VideoSpin chose to change the background without asking me for permission. I wonder what it does on the sly?
Oh, and then the hassle of getting the mouse's center button to work correctly again...
Not Entirely Free
But there are numerous codecs that require royalty payments, and so you have to pay if you want to work with files that use the following formats:
-- MP3 (in DivX files)
-- Dolby Digital AAC audio
The codecs are included free for two weeks; by then Pinnacle hopes you'll have worked them into your productions that you'll have to pony up US$15, which isn't very much at all.
(Codec is short for "code-decode." This is software that converts your videos from and into formats used by specific recording/playback devices. MPEG-4, for example, is very popular for small devices, such as iPods, PalmPilots, and PSPs.)