ACDSee has been well known for its photo software for decades, but the company’s Luxea Video Editor, already in its sixth version, has largely remained under the radar among video editors. Intended as an easy tool that enables you to “record, edit, produce, and share at the speed of life,” Luxea isn’t just a dumbed-down tool. It offers unlimited timeline tracks, LUTs, and generous format support. It’s suitable for nonprofessionals who want a clear way to create social videos, but it lacks some deeper editing tools as well as ease-of-use features found in several competitors at the same price level.
How Much Does Luxea Video Editor Cost?
You can get started with Luxea via a free download from the ACDSee site, and in fact, you can use it for free with no feature restrictions forever. The catch is your exported videos will include a watermark. You do need to create an account for the free subscription. To remove that watermark and get free tech support, you can pay a subscription of $29.99 per year or get a lifetime license for $79.99. The final option is the $89-per-year Home Plan subscription, which gets you all of ACDSee’s photo software and 100GB of online storage as well as the Luxea program.
By comparison, free is a very good price—if you can live with the watermark. And the $29.99 per year subscription is a bargain compared with Adobe Premiere Pro’s $239.88 per year. But Luxea is more likely to be competing with Adobe Premiere Elements, which costs a flat $99.99 for a permanent license, though without updates. CyberLink PowerDirector has an annual subscription price of $69.99 and a permanent license price of $99.99, so Luxea beats that, though PowerDirector is far richer with features. Near competitor Movavi Video Editor Plus is available either in a $54.95 annual subscription (more than Luxea’s) or a $74.95 lifetime license (less than Luxea’s).
The software is Windows-only, running on Windows 7 (SP1), Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 (64-bit editions only), and Windows 11. It requires the following:
Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen ( 2GHz or faster)
8GB RAM (16GB RAM recommended)
DirectX 10 compatible graphics adapter
1,024×768 display resolution (1,920×1,080 recommended)
4GB of available hard disk space
Getting Started With Luxea Video Editor
Luxea doesn’t offer much in the way of hand-holding or wizard tooltips like you get with some other video editing programs, but its interface is pleasingly designed and it’s easy enough to spot the big blue Import Media to get started. The program accepts all the major file formats—AVI, MP4, WMV, FLV, MOV, TS, MTS, M2TS, ASF, M4V, MPG, MPEG—as well as common audio and photo formats. I was able to successfully import even an 8K clip from my Galaxy S21 Ultra smartphone.
Luxea doesn’t offer much in the way of media organization: no tagging or folders, and no search in the media panel. You can sort the files and view by either thumbnails or as a list.
After the initial import, you can add more video clips, photos, and audio files by tapping the plus sign at the bottom of the media source panel. Dropping a clip onto the timeline is also a snap: either right-click clip thumbnails and choose Add to Timeline at Playhead (it works with multiple clips selected) or just drag and drop your clip to the track of your choice.
Unlike several other video editing programs, Luxea doesn’t offer any templates or instant movie creation tools like you see in Adobe Premiere Elements, Clipchamp, Movavi, and PowerDirector. The company does offer downloadable content packs designed for uses such as vlogging, wedding videos, and vacation videos, but I found them not very intuitive. They’re not full movie templates; rather, they are overlay graphics and sound effect clips. You also don’t get any access to stock footage, which is showing up in competitors more and more.
The Interface and Basic Video Editing
I like the simple dark interface layout of Luxea, which makes getting to common tasks easy. It uses the standard source, preview, and options panels across the top and the timeline across the bottom. I also like that spinning the mouse wheel with Ctrl held down lets you easily zoom the timeline. When you change the height of tracks, the thumbnails don’t enlarge as they do in most video software. It’s not the way most video software works, but that’s not a dealbreaker, and it does let you see the audio waveforms better. Buttons let you size the timeline to the program window’s width, zoom in, and zoom out. You can add tracks with another plus sign above the track headers.
With Luxea, trimming and splitting work in the standard ways. For the former, you grab the edge of the clip in the timeline and drag it left or right, and a split tool appears when you’re in the midst of a clip. There’s no option to switch among ripple, roll, slip and slide(Opens in a new window) editing, which is probably just fine for the software’s amateur audience. When you move a clip in the timeline, everything else stays put. Thankfully, there’s a Remove Gaps on Track right-click option, but there’s no slipping a clip beneath an adjacent one. Everything is done with simple trimming or splitting.
Resizing and cropping clips in your video frame is clear and easy to do. Handles at the corners of the preview window let you shrink and zoom, and there’s a crop icon at the top that looks just like the crop icon in a photo app. These two tools make creating picture-in-picture overlays simple, too, though there are no preset templates for PiP layouts as you find in some other video editing software like CyberLink PowerDirector.
Transitions and Effects
Luxea includes 36 transitions, all fairly standard and 2D. You don’t get those nifty seamless transitions that have appeared in products like Corel VideoStudio, Pinnacle Studio, and PowerDirector. Applying them is a cinch. You just drag them down between clips on the timeline; the program handles any overlap needs automatically, so it’s simpler than some other programs’ transition feature. You can drag the sides of the transition shadow in the timeline to lengthen or shorten its effect. Note that there’s no search box for transitions or effects, as most competitors now have.
The program offers four categories of effects: Animations, Behaviors, Filters, and Overlays. The Filters group is what’s usually thought of as effects.I’m not sure why two categories are needed for Animations and Behaviors, since they’re both animations that affect the entire clip frame, with actions like Bounce In, Tilt Right, and Fibonacci Spiral In. I discuss Filters in the Color section below, but this effect group also includes blur and screen divisions with color filters (see below).
Overlays are just what the name implies, and they add a new mini-track above the affected clip in the timeline. Choices include balloons, countdown numbers, hearts, light leaks, and snow. Two Wash Painting options are interesting, showing part of your original video through a rough cut out.
You don’t get a lot of the features found in competitors, like motion tracking, multicam editing, stabilization, or keyframe editing, which lets you control the precise timing and moving position of effects. Also missing are artistic AI style transfer effects you find in PowerDirector.
Speedups and Slowdowns
In the Advanced Effects, the Clip Speed tool lets you slow down or speed up the selected clip on the timeline. You can either choose a target duration or a speed multiple—2x, 3x, .5x, and so on. There’s no reverse option. Freeze frames are simple from a right-click choice with the playhead on the frame you want to freeze. There’s no ramp up or down options for either of these effects.
Luxea is quite limited in color and light adjustments. A Light EQ filter offers sliders for Brighten and Darken, and you get other filters with RBG sliders, Vibrance, White Balance, and Hue Shift. Under Advanced Effects, you get Color LUT support, as well as Chroma Key, Color Pass, and Replace Color tools. You don’t, however, get color wheels or color matching capability. Filters offer Photoshop-like blend mode options on the right-side Properties pane, but I’m not sure how useful these modes are to the novice target audience for Luxea. More useful is the opacity slider, which is present in the right-side Properties panel for any video or photo you click on in the timeline, letting you create double-exposure effects.
Text, Titles, and Captions
Titling is straightforward, though you don’t type directly in the preview window, but in a text box below it. You get a generous selection of configurable effects, including outline, shadow, and glow. The text tool itself doesn’t offer canned animations like you get in PowerDirector, but you can apply Behaviors (but not Animations) to them if you want them to bounce, slide, or spiral around.
(Credit: PCMag/ACD Systems)
Luxea has a separate Captions panel, which simply offers a text box for generating closed captions with black backgrounds. Captions added this way create a new entry on the timeline above your content.
Music and Audio
Luxea isn’t especially strong when it comes to sound options. Yes, you can split audio from a video clip to create a new track, you can raise and lower volume after choosing Edit Audio from a right-click menu, and you can record audio. But the only options in the left panel’s Audio Effects section are Fade In and Fade Out. There are no acoustic effects to make your video sound like it was shot in a sports arena or cathedral, like you get in many competitors.
YouTubers, gamers, and those making web video tutorials will appreciate Luxea’s strength in working with screen recordings and webcam recordings. Many of Luxea’s newest features add to these capabilities, like real-time MP4 creation, mouse-click effects, single input recording (only audio or only video), targeted screen recording (choose which window), and settings for duration and quality.
Output and Performance
(Credit: PCMag/ACD Systems)
Exporting a project that you’re happy with is a simple matter of tapping the up-arrow Produce and Share button at top right and then choosing the output settings. You can output to a local file format, to one suitable for a device type (smart phone, smart TV, Xbox, and so on), or to YouTube or Vimeo. With YouTube and Vimeo, you log into your account and directly send the video to it.
You can export to MP4, WEBM, MOV, M4V, GIF, and MP3 formats, but not to MKV or HEVC (H.265 codec). I appreciate that Luxea can create animated GIFs, even letting you set a number of loops or infinite loops. It would be nice if it offered to save them in the project’s current pixel dimensions, though.
Testing Luxea Video Editor’s Performance
Luxea starts up quickly in just a few seconds on my test PC, and using the program on my test system was snappy when moving around in the timeline and playing clips and edits. But getting decent performance in rendering output took some doing. When I first tried to export my test movie, it failed, saying I should turn off hardware acceleration, which is not what I’d like to do, given that I’m trying to get the fastest rendering possible. After several tries, I finally got the program to render my test video, but the performance was far poorer than any of the competition.
For the project rendering speed test, I create a five-minute movie consisting of four clips of mixed types (some 1080p, some SD, some 4K) with a standard set of transitions and rendered it to 1080p30 MPEG-4 at 15Mbps, H.264 High Profile. I run the test three times and take the geometric mean (which minimizes the effect of outliers). I test on a PC running 64-bit Windows 10 Pro with a 3.4GHz Core i7 6700 CPU, 16GB RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 with 4GB GDDR5 RAM.
After some reboots, turning graphics hardware acceleration off and on, and several more attempts, I finally got a decent render time for my project: 3:02 (minutes:seconds). That’s not the fastest. Six competitors rendered the same project in less than 2 minutes, but Luxea beat out Adobe Premiere Elements (3:41) and handily beat Nero Video’s 6:06.
Luxury Video Editing?
Luxea is suitable for nonprofessional Youtubers, TikTokers, Instagrammers, and game video creators. The software is easy to use and includes plenty of editing tools and effects in a clear, usable interface. That said, it lacks several ease-of-use features (templates, tutorials) as well as advanced editing effects (motion tracking, ripple editing, keyframes, and multicam), making it unsuitable for long, complex productions as well as for those who want automated, template-based video creation. For more of all that, look to our Editors’ Choice winners among video editing software: CyberLink PowerDirector and Corel Video Studio for PC video editing enthusiasts; Adobe Premiere Pro for professionals; and Apple Final Cut Pro and Apple iMovie for Mac pros and hobbyists, respectively.
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