For years you needed access to expensive devices and software to edit videos. But now there are so many amazing free programs that everyone can use. Regardless of whether you're using a Mac or Windows, you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on professional video editing software.
If you want to learn how to edit videos, you can start with the best free video editing software. We checked out some of the best programs you should try.
Most software programs in our resume cannot have Hollywood credentials like Lightworks. EditShare's nonlinear editing system has helped produce films from LA Confidential and Pulp Fiction to Hugo and The Wolf of Wall Street. It offers reliable free and premium tools that we simply cannot ignore.
Notable features include professional color corrections, GPU-accelerated real-time effects, and almost full format support. Lightworks also offers traditional tools for importing, cropping, and seamlessly weaving audio and video with just a few clicks of the mouse. However, the free version can only export MPEG-4 files with a resolution of up to 720p.
Another great innovation is the program's ability to choose Avid and Final Cut Pro keyboard layouts if you refuse to adopt the standard Lightworks theme. Despite its beefy abilities, it's fast and precise, and the full-screen interface is polished and well organized. Given the open source nature of the software and the steep learning curve associated with the freemium product, the program's forums are livelier than most others.
Lightworks is by far the best equipped video editor on our list. However, it is also what requires the user to be the most tech-savvy to take full advantage of its robust framework and flagship features.
Apple's iMovie has long been one of the most consumer-focused video editors around. It is bundled with all new Macs and offers serious practicality to everyday users. With the latest version of the software, you can import and edit 4K video clips from a variety of external devices such as smartphones and GoPro cameras. The clean surface is attractive and easy to navigate. The ability to start editing on iPhone or iPad and end on a Mac makes it even more convenient.
In addition to video, images and audio can also be integrated into your project by simply dragging the desired multimedia content into the project area and arranging it in a timeline. The resulting video can be previewed at any time in real time and in all effects – themes, text, filters, music, voice-overs – before the file is exported directly to YouTube, Facebook or a variety of other platforms.
Other current features include a basic audio editor, the option to create previews for apps you've developed, built-in green screen effects, ClassKit compatibility for educational projects, and even the ability to add credits to your movie trailer with transitions and endings. It's not a tour de force in terms of video editing, but it's perfect for home videos and smaller projects. Combine it with free audio recording software!
Blender is often used as a tool for animation, rendering and 3D sculpting – and even as a benchmark for new PC hardware – but is also a great free editing tool. In addition to the advanced 3D features, Blender lets you cut and splice your video using the detailed and intuitive timeline. You can also perform tasks such as video masking and color correction to make your output video look the way you want it to.
Other features include audio mixing, bold pencils, a live preview, integration with various pipeline tools, and various fancy transitions and filters that you can use to improve the appearance of your video.
Shotcut is a great video editor for do-it-yourselfers who want as much compatibility as possible and a simple, highly customizable interface. It supports most (literally hundreds) formats through the FFmpeg project and makes it easy to record and use video directly from your computer with support for up to 4K resolution. In addition, users can enjoy audio features such as crossfading, areas, filters, pitch compensation and audio mixing.
We also like the modular style of the user interface, which is straightforward, except that you can “dock” as many panels as you want to customize a particular job with just the right tools. With this utility, Shotcut is ideal for experienced editors working on their projects.
HitFilm Express uses much of its contemporary video editing approach and promises tools to get the latest effects. However, the software under the eye-catching graphics is useful for a number of 2D / 3D compositing projects. The ability to lock individual tracks and levels ensures that tedious work is not accidentally edited. The combined timeline feature allows users to edit and assemble at the same time without opening separate apps.
There are also tutorials and training videos that show you how to use HitFilm Express, as well as a customizable workstation, a search algorithm that allows users of other software to find functions, and excellent compatibility with professional film formats. This makes HitFilm Express a great setup for new editors who are mainly interested in bursting their video effects and who may want to look for certain effects in the HitFilm community.