Below is a list of common tools used for various aspects of the fanediting process. We have tried to include as many freeware options as possible, but important paid software is also included along with a note on the typical cost.
This is the process of transferring your DVD or Blu-ray disc to your hard drive. Copy protection is stripped in this process*.
DVDFab – free – Windows/Mac – The free Decrypter version allows you to transfer discs to your hard drive without copy protection. For more features, you will need the paid version.
AnyDVD – paid – Windows – Runs in the background of your system to turn off copy protection while you transfer DVD folders, or watch discs from other regions.
MakeMKV – free – Windows/Mac/Linux – Unlike DVDFab or AnyDVD, which simply strip a disc of copy-protection and copy the folders to your hard drive, MakeMKV remuxes each clip on the disc into a separate MKV file, along with the associated video, audio, and subtitle streams for each clip. There is no re-encoding of the streams, making the process a lossless transfer of a disc to playable video files.
*Note: at this time, Cinavia can not be bypassed, which may affect the playability of your final edit on certain hardware
Once you have the discs copied over to your hard drive, you need a way to extract the video and audio streams from the disc structure. These are the tools to do it.
PGCdemux – free – Windows – Somewhat antiquated, but still an excellent tool for those working with DVDs as their source. This application extracts elementary (video, audio, subtitle) streams from each clip on a DVD disc.
tsMuxer – free – Windows/Mac/Linux – A transport stream muxer/remuxer/demultiplexer.
mkvtoolnix – free – Windows/Mac/Linux – A set of tools to demux, split, mux, join and inspect MKV files. Previous versions had separate GUIs for each task, but for better or worse, the application is now in one massive GUI.
To properly play/edit various formats on your machine, you need to have the appropriate codecs installed:
lagarith codec – free – Windows – A very common lossless codec used for editing on Windows platforms. Used for video streams in an AVI container.
k-lite – free – Windows – A bundled pack of audio/video codecs, directshow filters, and media players for your computer. Comes with AviSynth. NOTE: recent versions are bundled with ads and additional software, so be sure to pay attention during the installation process.
To fully take advantage of working with individual audio channels, editors often need to convert a single surround or stereo audio file to mono WAV files. There are plenty of handy tools no matter what format (e.g., AC3, WAV, DTS) or number of channels (e.g., 2.0, 5.1, 6.1, 7.1) you are working with.
beSweet – free – Windows – A great command line conversion tool. Has the ability to change the speed to accommodate frame rate changes and can output 6 mono WAV files from 5.1 AC3 tracks. NOTE: the recent version of the GUI removed this function, so you’ll need to track down one of the older GUIs (~v0.6).
Tranzcode – free – Windows – A nice simple tool for converting 5.1 DTS tracks to 6 mono WAV files.
eac3to – free – Windows – This really should be considered the end-all solution to audio conversion. The GUI works with codecs and apps on your system to do countless audio conversion tasks. Perhaps a bit too complicated for some people, but it is fairly straightforward to use. This is the best tool for converting DTS files greater than 5.1 to mono WAVs. However, you’ll need something like the Sonic Decoder Pack installed as well for 6.1 and 7.1 tracks.
audiomuxer – free – Windows – This tool has a variety of features, and is very useful for converting DTS tracks to mono WAVs. As a word of caution, check the position labeling of your output files, because in some of our tests, they were labeled wrong.
meGUI – free – Windows – Much, much more than an audio converter (see our notes in the video conversion section), meGUI is a great interface for your audio conversion needs.
Video Conversion/Filtering Interfaces
Your editing software may not be the best at filtering your footage. Pre-processing before you get into the actual editing is almost always required. Whether you need to simply convert to a lossless AVI, or apply a number of changes to the video file (e.g., deinterlacing, cropping, resizing, noise reduction), there are a few tools that will get the trick done:
avisynth – free – Windows – An incredibly powerful scripting system filtering, frameserving, editing and more. It does not have a GUI, but can be used with external GUIs like avsPmod (see next tool). avisynth is typically bundled with the k-lite code pack.
avsPmod – free – Windows – An excellent GUI for creating avisynth scripts. Obviously you need to have avisynth installed on your system to use this.
virtualdub – free – Windows – A nice processing utility. Great for resizing, deinterlacing, cropping, filtering, etc. Frequently used by editors to convert to lagarith AVI files for use in their NLEs.
All-in-One Media Conversion
Once you’ve finished your edit, you’ll probably need to convert your final file to a variety of delivery products. Here are some tools for just that:
HandBrake – free – Windows/Mac/Linux – A multi-platform, multithreaded video transcoder that supports a variety of sources.
meGUI – free – Windows – The most comprehensive GUI based x264 converter. A little tricky to get started with, but has the ability to produce excellent encodes.
VidCoder – free – Windows – An easy to use conversion GUI that uses handbrake as its encoding engine.
Info Discovery/Metadata Readers
We need to set our project settings based on the parameters of our input files. These simple tools can tell you what the bitrate is and how many channels are in your audio file, and a variety of important details about your video stream, including bitrate, dimensions, framerate, field order, etc.
mediainfo – free – Windows – Displays technical information about media files (e.g., codecs, frame rates, field order, dimensions, aspect ratio, bitrate). NOTE: Only down this portable version from videohelp, which is ad-free. Other versions directly from the developer are now bundled with adware.
BDinfo – free – Windows – Similar to mediainfo, this handy tool allows you to view metadata and technical specifications for clips on a Blu-ray disc. Handy for identifying which playlist or stream your clip of interest is in.
For when you need something your NLE video editor can’t handle:
Audacity – free – Windows/Mac/Linux – An excellent open source audio NLE application. Allows you to visualize your clips both as peak files and as spectrograms
SpectraLayers – pay (~$400) – Windows – A powerful tool for separating elements from an audio file. Spectralayers gives you the ability to modify elements via the file’s spectrogram.
Subrip – free – Windows – Allows you to rip DVD subtitles with their timing as a text file. The application also has some subtitle format conversion features.
Subtitle Workshop – free – Windows – One of the most complete, efficient and convenient subtitle editing tools.
Aegisub – free – Windows/Mac – A free, cross-platform open source tool for creating and modifying subtitles.
Jubler – free – Windows/Mac/Linux – A tool to edit text-based subtitles.
NLE (Non-Linear Editors)
Lightworks – free – Windows – A powerful, yet free, editing application. A pro version with more features costs $60/year for a license.
Sony Vegas Studio – pay – Windows – ____
Sony Vegas Pro – pay – Windows – ____
Womble MPEG Studio – pay – Windows – This was the standard starting software for editors in the past. Although Womble still has it’s uses, it has limitations and we recommend that new editors get started with a proper NLE (like Sony Vegas) instead. Still, Womble is useful for making simple cuts.
Adobe Premiere –
Final Cut Pro X – pay – Mac – ____
Engage expert mode.
Adobe After Effects – pay – Windows/Mac ____
Blender – free – Windows – Open source software for 3D modeling, animation, rendering, post-production, interactive creation and playback.
Sony DVD Architect – pay – Windows – ____
DVD Lab Pro – pay – Windows – ____
Adobe Encore – pay – Windows/Mac – ____
imgBurn – free – Windows – ____