Several decades ago, video editing was not considered an occupation for everyone. But today, even on a home computer, it is possible to edit videos. Building a full-blown professional product will take hours of work and human resources. But at home, no one creates masterpieces like Star Wars.
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Therefore, there is no reason for most users to buy expensive professional video editing products. There are quite a few relatively inexpensive software packages on the market that cost up to $ 100, but often free counterparts can do most of what is required.
In our test, we studied several popular free editors, of which the best ones were selected according to various criteria. For example, HitFilm stood out for its advanced interface and extensive capabilities. For Mac owners, iMovie will be fine with its good macOS integration, video output capabilities, trailer creation, professional themes, and support for professional shooting and editing techniques. And for working with YouTube and social networks, the cross-platform VideoPad is the best option.
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If we evaluate the applications as a whole, then it is Hitfilm that, by the sum of all the criteria, can be called the best. The application style itself can be called active. This attracts aspiring filmmakers trying to give a personal event a special look or show their creativity in a video blog. The capabilities of the application are quite enough to process videos of a trip or vacation, friends and family. The only thing that the manufacturer Hitfilm Express asks before downloading the free program is to repost about the service on social networks.
New features include keyframe animation, motion blur, advanced preview options, an updated layout panel, additional workspaces, and new export features. Other interesting features include the ability to create your own reflections, support for 4K video, 3D effects, 360-degree video editing and video distortion correction from the lens of action cameras. Still, some additional features, like picture-in-picture and text animation, will require the purchase of an additional package for $ 9.99.
None of the Hitfilm versions have ever hit video encoding speed records, but this trade-off has to be put up with for a multitude of possibilities. In the latest version, Hitfilm has received an improvement in font rendering, an increase in the length of video transitions.
- robust timeline editor;
- the ability to continue editing even during export;
- intuitive flexible export functions;
- support for 360-degree and 4K video;
- work on Mac and Windows.
- low export speed;
- need to pay extra for some popular features;
- poor-quality training tools for working with the interface;
- lack of Russian localization.
Free download Hitfilm Express for Windows and Mac (account registration required)
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A huge advantage of this image editor is the ease of exporting finished works to YouTube, Google Drive, Facebook, Dropbox and Flickr. It is possible to post videos directly to mobile devices using a simple dropdown menu. But first you have to log into these services. During testing, the video was uploaded directly to the YouTube channel, but if this does not work out, then the video can be saved to the hard drive, and then sent to the social network on its own.
Compared to Hitfim’s somewhat aggressive interface, VideoPad has a simple and even soothing shell. This makes the program more understandable and accessible for beginners. There are versions of the program for both PC and Mac. VideoPad lets you edit panoramic 360-degree videos with the same ease as regular movies. Unless adding text to such videos is a little more difficult. VideoPad cannot boast of an abundance of additional features that are present in HitFilm: multi-camera editing, high-quality special effects and motion tracking. But no one bothers to purchase several add-ons to expand the set of capabilities to the required level.
When studying the application, it turned out to be a problem to understand which functions are disabled in the free version compared to the trial and paid ones. In video transcoding tests, the VideoPad ran slightly slower than Hitfilm. But ultimately, this may not be of fundamental importance to newbies looking for the ability to quickly and easily edit a video and post it to social media.
- an intuitive and easy-to-learn interface;
- support for 360-degree video editing and output;
- variety of formats for YouTube, social networks and mobile devices;
- work on Mac and Windows.
- lack of several important additional features: motion tracking and video editing with multicam;
- lack of a free slideshow maker;
- confusion with the functionality of the paid and free versions of the program, especially in Windows.
Free Download VideoPad for Windows and Mac
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This product is best suited for Mac users. iMovie is an indispensable friend of an amateur filmmaker. The program offers a variety of video themes, Hollywood-style trailer creation, minimalistic video effects, cinematic style and deep integration, optimization with macOS. In the latest versions of the package, the interface has changed slightly and there is support for the Touch Bar of the latest MacBooks.
IMovie has the ability to edit and share 4K video, but the program lacks some of the features found in other free counterparts. For example, you cannot edit 360-degree video here, track movements and work with multi-cameras. And the output settings are limited.
Due to its tight integration with macOS, iMovie has proven to be one of the fastest video encoding programs. The application offers many opportunities for video sharing: you can upload it directly to YouTube, Vimeo or Facebook, share the desired frame as a picture. When working in conjunction with iMovie, iMovie Theater and iCloud, you can view your creations on any Apple device or through Apple TV.
- simple and intuitive interface;
- rich palette of tools for working with sound;
- “theater” mode for sharing videos with different devices from Apple;
- support for working with 4K video.
- lack of multi-camera editing, motion tracking and work with 360-degree video;
- limited withdrawal options.
Free Download Apple iMovie for Mac
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There are also some users who require advanced programs with maximum capabilities. A powerful cross-platform professional-grade application can run even on discrete graphics. Davinci Resolve editor will demonstrate maximum efficiency in this case.
The latest version of the program has a Fusion module. It used to be a stand-alone application with several high-performance video tools. They allow you to edit videos, make color adjustments, work with sound, apply video effects and make motion graphics.
- cross-platform for Mac, Windows and Linux;
- free access without restrictions and watermarks on the video;
- intuitive interface for most common functions;
- extensive color grading, compositing and audio production capabilities.
- high requirements for the PC hardware;
- poor description of advanced features;
- lack of direct export to social networks.
Free Download Davinci Resolve for Windows, Mac and Linux
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In search queries for a free video editor, links to this program will invariably be in the first positions. VSDC is a simple and reliable solution for basic video editing tasks. The program is for sure suitable for those who want to work with clear tools. The VSDC interface seems outdated, somewhat reminiscent of MS Office. The original terminology can also be confusing.
The app offers many complex and creative transition styles. There are video effects, some of which are quite interesting: old TV signal, Instagram-style filters. The functions for working with sound are pretty standard: adding an audio track, delay effects, pitch. VSDC has several cool features aimed at family video. The application can work with 4K video, it makes it possible to overlay text (flat and without rotation effects). VSDC supports many I / O formats, including the new H.265. Files can be saved to disk or sent to various devices and social networks. In rendering speed testing, VSDC proved to be among the leaders, losing slightly to iMovie and Shotcut.
The basic version of the program is free, with a limited set of tools, no hardware acceleration, audio visualization and masking tools. In addition, there is advertising there. The professional version will cost you $ 20 for a year.
- support for 4K video;
- a variety of stylish built-in effects, transitions and audio filters;
- screen capture tools for recording desktop video.
- old-fashioned peculiar interface;
- lack of work with 360-degree video, motion tracking, multi-camera editing;
- lack of a Mac version.
Free Download VSDC for Windows
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The program will require some getting used to it, but mastering it will reward you with great video editing capabilities and wide functionality. Shotcut is a cross-platform free and open source video editor. There are versions for Windows, Mac and Linux. Shotcut is capable of working with many formats, supporting 4K, offering various functions for working with video and audio. Just for newbies looking to tweak a family video and share it on social media, Shotcut might seem overwhelming.
At the first launch, the program interface resembles some kind of media player. However, additional windows have to be opened as needed. With them, the application literally overwhelms, demonstrating great complexity in relation to analogs in working with video. There are even several dozen codecs here, ranging from the familiar MOV and MPEG4 to the exotic asv2 and zmbv.
Getting started with Shotcut is easy – just drag and drop a clip onto the timeline or even empty space. On the multi-format timeline, you can change the video resolution and frame rate, add effects, apply filters, adjust color, shadows and highlights, set transitions, overlay tracks, adjust the speed of audio and video. The program can capture audio and video from a webcam. For advanced users, there are tools for working with the waveform, mixing, jog shuttle control.
- powerful and multifunctional package;
- flexible customizable interface;
- support for many video and audio formats;
- a large selection of filters;
- the need to understand the functionality of the program for a long time;
- unusual and user-inconvenient interface.
Free Download Shotcut for Windows, Mac and Linux
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What a free video editor should be
The video editors we are considering should have some combination of standard features: preview, play window, library, timeline, and access to transitions and effects. Paid solutions usually have detailed documentation and technical support. But on YouTube you can find many tutorials on popular free video editors. Inconveniences with them can be found at the very end of the project. The free version may simply not be able to output video in the required format.
And the term “free” itself is far from unambiguous – in addition to the free version of the software, there is a freemium model. Some of the programs, like iMovie, are really free. And other editors offer paid subscriptions to premium packages. The free version may have minimal functionality. It happens that the user is offered to try a trial version for free, which does not allow the formation of a full-fledged product. It may be watermarked or basic output formats unavailable. 4 out of 6 products mentioned in testing have paid versions with additional functions.
The hidden “cost” can be periodic or permanent advertising in the editor, the output of certain notifications. For example, Hitfilm will make you leave likes on social networks, and VideoPad on Mac will remind you to use the free version for non-commercial purposes every time you start it. In DaVinci and VSDC, paid features are present in the base version, but not flagged. And when you try to use them, an error message will appear and an offer to purchase the paid version will appear. These unpleasant features can be considered the hidden cost of free video editors.
For users looking for a powerful editor with a huge variety of built-in resources and fast technical support, pay attention to professional paid solutions: Adobe Premiere Elements, CyberLink PowerDirector or Corel VideoStudio. But beginners should definitely try their free counterparts: HitFilm Express, VideoPad, DaVinci Resolve, or VSDC. They offer basic features for free, and with experience it will become clear whether to purchase an expansion of functionality or switch to other solutions.