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Beginner question - merging video files

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Please forgive a rather basic question, but I’m just starting to try to learn how to do some video editing.

I have two .avi videos from different sources that I want to join (I had converted them to .avi so that I could use VirtualDub). Using VirtualDub, I’ve gotten them in the same aspect ratio and the same encoding (x264vfw-H.264).

When I try to merge them with VirtualDub, I get an error message saying that the video streams use different compression schemes. After some quick research, I find people saying that VirtualDub is extremely finicky about merging files, and that it’s essentially impossible to join files unless they come from the same original source.

OK, well, I figured, there must be some other easy way to merge videos. I decided to try Avidemux. With this, I was able to output a file. But the part of the output video after the join is extremely jerky and basically unwatchable. I tried to debug this for a while, but was not able to get any better result.

Next I tried Easy Video Joiner. Again, I got an output file - but the video was garbage.

I searched for yet another option and found Movavi. I loaded the videos and the preview looked great! They were joined seamlessly and there was no jerkiness or distortion. Perfect, I thought, and hit ‘export’. Only then did I realize that the free download was only a trial version and I can’t produce an output video without a watermark.

It naively seems like joining videos ought to be easy. Whatever the encoding used, we have tons of programs that can interpret them as a series of frames; how hard can it be to take that series of frames, add a second series of frames, and re-encode the whole thing? And yet, after a day of trying, I’ve been unable to do that.

So, is there some simple tool that I’m overlooking? Do I need to spring for the paid version of some editing software? Am I somehow making things difficult for myself by using .avi? I’d really appreciate any help!

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