Video editing software can cost you well over £1,000. As far as image manipulation is concerned, the ever-popular Adobe Photoshop comes with a hefty price-tag capable of making any wallet weep. Even the humble Microsoft Word is a pricey buy. But below you'll find Mediamuppet's suggestions for the best free alternatives to all kinds of multimedia production software. Some of these packages are even better than their costly competitors. Whether it's video, audio, animation or writing, there's something here for you.
Video Editing Software
The Expensive Standard: Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer or Adobe Premiere
The Free Alternative: Lightworks
You Save: Up to £2,000
Why Download?: Lightworks is easily the best free video editing software out there, and even comes complete with features that the industry standard packages will only include as expensive bolt-on plugins. Lightworks is open source and a large community of volunteers are always striving to improve the product, which is still in its infancy, and which has an exciting future ahead. Blockbusters such as The Departed, 28 Days Later and The King's Speech have made use of the Lightworks editing software. Lightworks is exclusive to PC at this moment in time but a version for Mac/Linux computers is expected later this year.
Audio Editing Software
The Expensive Standard: Pro Tools
The Free Alternative: Audacity
You Save: £450
Why Download?: Audacity is an easy to use and versatile tool which allows you to record and edit audio. The software's versatility allows for configuration to suit whatever project type, and whatever hardware setup, you are working with, with seamless export to all the major audio formats. Audacity is especially handy for simple audio edits such as removing hiss or noise from your files. Simple to use but with a wide variety of features. A must.
Animation and Effects Software
The Expensive Standard: Maya
The Free Alternative: Blender
You Save: £3,000
Blender is a free, open source 3D modelling animation and artwork creation tool which delivers some truly breathtaking results in the hands of advanced users. Even if you're a novice then Blender is readily available for you to download and play around with. Don't take our word for it - check out what Blender is capable of here
Bitmap Graphics Software
The Expensive Standard: Adobe Photoshop
The Free Alternative: GIMP
You Save: £1,300
Why Download?: I love Photoshop and use it to complete various small tasks throughout the day - primarily for creating graphics for Mediamuppet. But GIMP (GNU Interface Manipulation Program) is a widely popular free alternative with a plethora of features which are just as powerful as those found in more costly bitmap graphics programs. Edit photographs. Create posters and leaflets. Create bitmap graphics from scratch. GIMP comes complete with advanced colour manipulation tools and filters, and GIMP's loyal user base claim it to be superior to Photoshop.
Vector Graphics Software
The Expensive Standard: Adobe Illustrator
The Free Alternative: Inkscape
You Save: £480
Why Download?: Especially useful for creating titles and logos, Inkscape is an open source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, Freehand, CorelDraw, or Xara X. Much like GIMP, Inkscape is a great piece of software for folks looking to develop their graphic design skills without spending any money. As with all vector graphics software, Inkscape comes with a steep learning curve.
The Expensive Standard: Final Draft
The Free Alternative: Celtx
You Save: £200
Why Download?: Celtx is more than just a piece of scriptwriting software. Of course, it assists in correctly formatting your script and exporting it as a PDF file, but Celtx is also a tool for storyboarding, online creative collaboration, ideas development and includes tools for taking care of other pre-production tasks such as scheduling and budgeting. Celtx is a solid pre-production software package.
The Expensive Standard: Microsoft Office
The Free Alternative: Open Office
You Save: £110
Why Download?: Everybody will need to use office software at some point or another, whether for word processing, creating databases, and so on. Microsoft Office is perfectly good at what it does, but Open Office carries many of the same functions and is more than £100 cheaper (it's free). Create spreadsheets to your heart's content!
Website Creation Software
The Expensive Standard: Dreamweaver
The Free Alternative: Kompozer
You Save: £300
Why Download?: Komposer is an easy to use and 'complete' web authoring tool which supplies you with everything you need in order to get your website up and running, including a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interface for designing your beautiful online masterpiece.
Hope you found this guide useful. Any additional software you think deserves to be included on the list? Leave a comment below.