It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner or a pro. You can find a decent number of premium video editing software for free. A ‘freemium’ video editing software helps you out with almost all simple to complex functions like chopping out parts of a video, audio mixing, effects, colour correction and much more.
To be a good video editor, you don’t need high-end paid software, unless you’re producing a Hollywood sci-fi flick. You can definitely opt for a paid one if you’re looking for advanced features but a free software will empower you with sufficient range and power. Combined with your talent, you can come up with a remarkable production.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 10 free video editing software recommended by our Head of Production, Saif S Bandey.
If I don’t mention HitFilm Express, I would not be doing justice to anyone reading this article. A professional level software, HitFilm Express is available for both Windows and Mac free of cost. This one is for budding filmmakers, professional editors and YouTube video content creators. It enables direct uploading to YouTube.
This video editing software is more focused on creating some amazing graphics and 2D as well as 3D effects. It’s a great choice for those who want to go beyond just trimming footage, adjusting color or exporting videos. A whole package that combines basic non-linear editing features with high-grade effects compositor. It helps you produce feature films, even Hollywood style, with 180 special effects in the free package itself.
You may feel like the download process is a bit of an effort as you have to promote it on social media by sharing with your followers that you are downloading the software. However, it’s worth the effort.
The basic interface of the software is similar to others but you must explore more to truly exploit the potential of the software. Some functionalities may seem complex, but there are enough video tutorials to help you out. The latest version, HitFilm Express 9, has some important updates like animation effects directly integrated with the timeline, motion blur, advanced preview options, graphical effects widget and more.
What you may not like: Slow loading time, social media promotion for download, the complexity of the software.
This video editing software is completely open source and is supported by Windows (Version 7, 8, 10+), Mac and Linux as well. OpenShot can read and write almost all image and video formats as it is based on the FFmpeg library. OpenShot is the editor’s choice as the software’s features are quite intuitive and robust.
A few features to look forward to –
- Desktop integration that enables dragging and dropping files to OpenShot.
- Scope for unlimited keyframes and animation
- Huge possibilities for tracks or layers, including watermarks, background audio to name a few
- 400 video transitions with real-time previews
- Robust 3D animation with more than 2o options
- Advanced editing timeline with features like spanning, zooming etc.
- Compositing, image overlays, watermarks
Additional features like digital video effects, time mapping, audio mixing and others make it a pretty good deal without having to incur any cost at all.
What you may not like: Not enough video tutorials
Lightworks is a professional grade software which deserves applause for the fact that it has been made available to everyone for free. Its capabilities can be judged by the fact that it has been used to edit Hollywood flicks of the likes of The King’s Speech. You may take time to navigate through its interface as it is slightly different from the others.
It runs on all platforms, be it Windows, Linux or Mac OS X. Once you pass through the setup and familiarize yourself with the software, it’s quite powerful. For instance, you can alter all aspects of an image to attain finer degrees of detail using the easily-accessible visual effects tools.
If you want to go beyond simple needs such as trimming or combining footage and want an advanced platform for the post-production of your short film, Lightworks is the way to go. Apart from the basic features, it provides fast precision editing, multicam editing, export to 720p for Youtube and real-time effects for HD, 2K and 4K.
While initial setup is easy to crack, you may face a lack of tutorials to make the ride smoother for you. Even though the free version supports almost all import formats, you may find it tricky to get everything to import easily. You are required to specify project settings like resolution, frame rate, before importing.
What you may not like: You will have to pay for 4K video support
Best suited for beginners and those who want to publish their videos on social media platforms. It simplifies the workflow of social publishing more than any other video editing software. For instance, you can directly insert metadata (i.e title, description, tags) for uploading on YouTube without even going to YouTube’s web publishing tool. Some of the features may be available in the paid version, but the free one has enough capabilities to get you started.
If you are familiar with Windows Movie Maker, this will be a cakewalk for you. Apart from the basic features, VideoPad allows a vast range of transitional effects, a bunch of filters and previews for them.
Manual settings are available to process brightness, saturation, and colours. It provides extensive export functions. There’s a library of tools and plug-ins that enable very specific tasks such as a freeze-frame of a moment in a video.
What you may not like: Lacks a few advanced, cutting-edge features you may find in other video editing software like HitFilm.
VSDC Free Video Editor
Available for Windows, VSDC is a non-linear, free video editing suite that enables one to edit and chop videos to a professional level. By non-linear, I mean that it allows you to position clips and snippets on the timeline anywhere you want and edit them there.
VSDC lets you create video projects by compiling video clips, still images and audio with a full HD resolution of up to 1,980 x 1,080 and a maximum frame rate of 30 fps. If you are comfortable with the unusual layout of the software, you can create professional level productions with multiple scenes and transitions, adding sprites and texts.
What you may not like: Major limitations with the interface as it’s not very user-friendly.
DaVinci Resolve is probably the most advanced on the list. The free version of the premium software is packed with loads of features and would be good enough for your video project. The video editing software is a professional-grade one with an easy-to-navigate interface.
The action-packed set of features provides a huge reserve of resources for editing, colour correction, audio mixing and much more, apart from the usual slicing and trimming functionalities. 2D and 3D titles can also be added to your videos. The generous set of features will go waste if you are just looking to slice and trim, so opt for this if you’re looking for advanced features.
Some of these features include 2D-3D titles, multicam editing, advanced trimming, fairlight audio, colour grading and audio mastering.
What you may not like: Advanced features may be difficult to grasp and some tutorials are paid.
Best suited for amateur video editors, Shotcut is a powerful, open source, free video editing software available for all three operating systems. It’s a good replacement for Microsoft’s good, oke Movie Maker. The interface does not reveal much at first, but once you navigate through the top bar, you’ll get multiple views and UI.
Apart from the basic functionalities, Shotcut comes with a recording function that allows you to obtain footage from your webcam, and it can allow streaming in HTTP, RTMP, HLS, RTSP, UDP and MMS formats. What’s unique about Shotcut? It offers a huge resource of audio and video filters that are easy to integrate as well as power-packed.
What you may not like: Lack of transition and effects
Here’s a treat for Mac users! It’s a basic and free video editing software that is exclusively available for video editors who use an Apple Mac. It has been around for a long time now but has kept its philosophy of a clean and elegant interface intact.
Apple iMovie is a delight for media organization with features like colour grading, green-screen effects, speed, narration, soundtrack. While it supports 4K, 360-degree or multicam editing is not included in the suite. Beginners benefit the most with its storyboard-based movie making tools including trailers and movies.
The ‘performance of the video editing software sets it apart as it is much faster and much better optimized than other tools on Mac. For instance, the process of editing and importing a 4K video is pretty smooth and seamless, which is not the case with other software.
What you may not like: Lack of advanced features
An open source program, Blender was originally a 3D animation suite but its video editing tool is also quite useful. It is best for professional artists and small teams who want to create animated films, visual effects, 3D applications, and video games.
It caters to both beginners and advanced video editors that goes beyond the simple video splicing and cutting to advanced features like video masking. A few features that are worth noting are
- Luma waveform, chroma vectorscope and histogram displays
- Audio mixing with waveform visualization
- 32 slots for integrating video, image, audio
What you may not like: Limited tutorials as most of them are focussed on the 3D modeling side.
Avid Media Composer
This is Hollywood’s choice of a film and TV video editing software. The free version supports almost all features, however, exporting is restricted to 1080p resolution. Not to forget that it mazes out at four video and eight audio tracks. Its complexity is a bit difficult to navigate through not only in terms of the interface but also the initial download and installation.
As you must have guessed, it is for advanced and professional use. All features starting from workflows to audio editing color correction are flawless. It is a total package and offers a wide range of exporting interfaces for YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook.
What you may not like: Difficult to grasp, requires heavy-duty hardware
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Niharika Datta is a Content Writer at Vidooly. She started her career as a Human Resource professional but is now pursuing her love for writing. Though she writes about a myriad of ideas, her personal favourite is writing about the latest trends in the content and digital marketing world. An ambivert by nature, she likes to grab a snack with a warm cup of coffee in the company of a good book or a close friend.