Free Video Editing Software Reviews
Get creative with these free video editors
If you’re tired of having to pay for video editing software, you can try some free options. Many of them come equipped with more advanced features that can even rival paid software. The fact that they don’t cost anything to use means you can quickly try them out to see if they match your needs. Video editing programs are essential applications that shouldn’t miss from your toolkit if you’re making videos. Any content creator needs to be able to cut certain parts, merge multiple videos or add things like effects, subtitles, and different audio.
Although most free video editors out there act as advertisements for the premium edition of the software, it’s worth looking through the features of these programs, because they should at least cover the basics of video editing. For more advanced capabilities, you will most likely need to make an investment into a professional paid tool. One good advantage of free video editing software is the lighter footprint. These programs can get the job done quickly and efficiently if you only need to finish some smaller editing tasks. The greatest disadvantage of these programs is that you might stumble upon some limitations, particularly when it comes to exporting longer or high-quality projects. Sometimes you will realize there’s a watermark added or many features are locked in the free version. To make things easier for you, let’s try to understand what you need to be aware of when it comes to free video editing software. What makes such a program worth using?
Lots of free tools for video editing won’t provide the same level of support compared to professional software. That’s why you can expect these free tools to have less intuitive interfaces and a more limited documentation. That being said, not all free video editing programs are the same. The important part here is to choose a tool that’s easier to use which might also help you to learn and develop your video editing skills. Many beginners could rely on these free applications just to hone their skills and gain some familiarity with the video editing process. Once they feel prepared enough, they can move on to paid tools that contain more advanced features.
The best exporting options depend on the kind of videos you’re making. Content creators on YouTube might find one application better suited over another when it comes to formats supported and other exporting options. It’s essential to figure out precisely which platform you’ll use for your videos. Make sure the program you’re searching for is capable of exporting the video in the best manner to ensure optimal viewing. This is why you need to pay attention to aspects like format and resolution options and choose a tool accordingly.
Full program vs limited free edition
We’ve already mentioned the problem of free programs that serve only as advertisements for the paid editions. If having a limited trial edition doesn’t sound very appealing, you just need to learn to work around these restrictions. Some programs are more generous than others, so pay close attention to whether the program is a very limited trial edition or a full application. Full software for free will probably still impose some limitations, but the simplest solution here is to choose the one that doesn’t impact your workflow as much. Read carefully about the program to see if it would be a good enough fit for your needs.
Now that we’re familiar with the main features to look for in a video editing tool that’s available for free, the only thing left for you is to take your pick. We’ve made a selection of the most interesting tools for you and they’ve been properly analyzed to make your decision easier than ever. Without further introductions, let’s see what are your options if you’ve decided to stick with free video editing software.
The top spot for a free video editing software goes to Shotcut. This is a very capable cross-platform video editor which packs multiple features within a sleek and intuitive interface. This is a completely free and open source software that makes the process of video editing straightforward. It’s ideal for beginners. One of the best aspects regarding this program is the way it has been made available for all the major operating systems without any ads or locked premium features. There are also no bundled unnecessary extra programs. Everything you need is available in a neatly designed application. A good comparison to make for this software would be with Windows Movie Maker. It’s basically the next level to reach as it contains more features and certain extras not found in the classic software from Microsoft.
Using Shotcut is a breeze thanks to an improved interfaced which won’t overwhelm beginners with too many unknown tools. If something doesn’t look right to you, there’s an integrated customization feature. Configure the design of the interface according to your preferences by adding certain modules when you select buttons from the top bar. Some people might consider the program less attractive than others, but there’s no doubt about the solid way it performs. There isn’t much when it comes to documentation, but there are helpful YouTube videos to get you started with this software. Figuring out things on your own can motivate you to get accustomed to video editors.
Importing media files is a very simple step as you only need to pick your video clips and then drag them to the timeline. The main window of the program gives you everything needed close at hand so you can start creating multiple audio and video tracks or merge clips together without too much effort. Clips can be split immediately just by selecting a button after you position the playhead. Copy and paste tools are available so you can modify sections however you like. Trimming isn’t very difficult either and to keep track of all your changes, you can always rely on the history timeline. Undoing a mistake can be done faster by pressing the Delete key there.
Perhaps the main strength of this free software lies in its complex suite of video and audio filters. Combine them in unique ways thanks to the impressive level of customization possible. Take your pick and apply the filter. Then, it’s simply a matter of making the right adjustments through an intuitive system of sliders and checkboxes that even novices can learn to use in no time. A recording function has been integrated into this program. This enables users to take footage ready to be edited straight from their webcams. In terms of video formats, this application does provide quite a nice selection, but there’s no direct integration with popular video platforms such as YouTube or Facebook. This isn’t really a drawback for a free program.
It’s understandable that you won’t get the same level of convenience when using a free video editing tool. There’s no guidance here to choose the ideal format according to your desired platform, but it’s not a huge issue. This is something you can easily learn yourself and then adapt your videos in the best way. While there are professional paid programs that offer more than this, Shotcut represents a superb video editing solution if you don’t want to spend any money. The collection of audio and video filters is unheard of in a free tool like this and the ease-of-use deserves a special mention too. It doesn’t take very long to get used to this software, so it’s highly recommended as an alternative to paid programs.
Another powerful open-source video editing tool to try is OpenShot. You can learn to use its features very fast and has great potential for a free software. It was originally made in 2008 with the idea of creating a free Linux video editor that’s easy to use. The project has grown a lot since then as it’s now extending support for Windows and Mac systems and constantly improves on its features. This video editor seems to be very well designed as it doesn’t compromise on features while at the same time steers clear from too much clutter on its interface. The learning curve of this video editing software is one of the best you can find for beginners. It’s recommended for students and those want to learn how to bring their ideas to life in creative videos.
As OpenShot has been designed to handle even professional-level tasks like the making of Blu-ray videos, you can count on it even for more advanced work. What’s great about this tool is that you have a dedicated community for support, as well as YouTube video tutorials and comprehensive documentation. Projects work in a cross-platform manner so that means you can save it in your Mac and then open it in a Windows PC without problems. As it’s based on the FFmpeg library, the tool is capable of working with a multitude of video formats. The most common formats are available directly when exporting, but there are more to be used if you select the advanced tab.
A solid feature of this video editing software is its flexibility. It relies on a dedicated keyframe animation framework which tremendously boosts your creative possibilities. You are free to use as many tracks or layers you need to incorporate and enhance your project. Add images, audio, other videos and play with the tracks until the desired result is achieved. Full drag and drop support is another aspect worth mentioning about this tool. You can start working on clips very quickly that way. To give you just a taste of the many adjustments that can be done, let’s list a few examples. You’re able to scale, trim, rotate, or snap clips on the timeline.
There are lots of transitions provided as well as ways for you to arrange clips in a project. For a more elegant-looking video, you can also use more than 40 vector title templates. The creation of your own vector titles is available too. 3D animations can be rendered with this software thanks to the Blender integration. For those looking for audio editing, there are some handy features provided in that sense. For example, you can view waveforms on the timeline or adjust audio channels individually. In terms of video effects, there’s a more modest selection, fitting for basic needs, but the developer promises more in the future. You have brightness, gamma, chroma key, and more effects to play with.
Overall, OpenShot is an extremely well-built video editor that can help your project look more professional for free. Time control, animation, effects, and many other features and adjustments are available. Try this one out because there are very good chances for it to nicely cover your video editing needs.
With so many capable features, you will be surprised to see that Hitfilm Express doesn’t come with a price tag on par with its abilities. This is a fairly complex free video editing software which has been designed with beginner filmmakers in mind. It has a solid blend of editing tools and video effects to help you take a step to the professional level. While the company behind this video editor also has some premium versions behind a paywall, the free edition should be more than enough to get you familiar with all the essential features of this type of software. Once you go to their website you will probably notice the focus on Hollywood-style movies, but don’t worry, the program is well-suited for vloggers and other content makers too.
Before you download the software, you will first be required to share it on social media. This is somewhat understandable for a free tool. You’re basically ‘paying’ with promotion for the company which also offers paid software. This step is a bit of a privacy concern for some, but it’s not a big issue considering the powerful program you’re getting at no cost. When it comes to user experience, this tool will look familiar to anyone who’s used video editors before. That being said, there are still some unique features that make it stand out from the rest. This means you will need to take your time and learn the program to get the most out of it.
The interface of the application looks very modern and stylish allowing you to maintain a steady workflow by mixing different feature areas. There are tools for beginners seamlessly combined with those better suited for professionals. This allows even novice users to experiment with more advanced methods of improving their projects. The combining of the timelines represents a handy feature for working more efficiently. Similarly to the way you’re using tabs in a browser, you can switch from a timeline to better manage your tasks. There’s a lot of room for customization thanks to the expandable panels which provide quick access only to the relevant features you use.
This video editor is compatible with lots of professional formats. There’s a preview feature for quality control and UHD support. Snappy edits can be done more easily thanks to the customization abilities of the playback/pause quality. Mask editing is another handy feature integrated into this software. Other helpful tools to put to great use in this video editing software are the animation tools which are also available for composite shots. There are no restrictions in place when it comes to video or audio tracks that can be added to the timeline.
Various paid add-ons for the free version can be found in a dedicated store to enhance your video editor with more effects and editing tools. In conclusion, Hitfilm Express offers a lot for free and it should be particularly considered if you’re more into a specific type of filmmaking, like for example gaming videos and amateur short films.
4. iMovie 10
If you’re a macOS user, the most obvious choice for a free video editor is iMovie. The classic Apple software has a long history and it always emphasized user-friendliness through a clean interface. The minimalism went a bit too far in recent times, as some features are lacking compared to its competitors, but what you will find here can definitely be used with ease. As iMovie comes preinstalled with any new Mac computer, you can quickly start working without having to download it. If your Mac computer doesn’t have it, you can also download the app for free. While there are no helpful tutorials to get you started, the tool gives you tips when checking out specific features. That can make a big difference if you’re a beginner.
One of the things we like best regarding this software is the way the titles and transitions look. In just a few clicks, you can add a touch of professionalism to your videos, which is surprising for a free software. The 4K support enables you to create high-quality videos. Although some advanced features are not present here, the basic ones are very well integrated allowing users to easily access them for their projects. The general rule seems to be quality over quantity when it comes to the overall abilities. You can do some really impressive work when it comes to trimming and basic clip editing.
To make your actions shots more dynamic, you can add some effects. There’s the option to change the speed and the possibility of moving characters in exciting settings via green-screen effects. Split-screen and PIP effects are also available. For a more polished cinematic look, you can use any of the integrated video filters. Maybe you’d like to create a vintage style film or add a futuristic blue touch to your clips. It’s very simple to play around with filters until you obtain the right look for your video project.
The performance of this video editor is excellent if you have a modern Mac computer. This is due to special optimizations which make importing and editing 4K videos a breeze. Other editing programs can have some issues with more demanding tasks like that. With the help of other Apple products such as iCloud, you can add your media content more easily because iMovie is seamlessly integrated with it. If you have an iPhone, there’s also a mobile version that plays nice with the desktop version.
Taking into account the beautiful interface and the decent suite of editing features, iMovie represents a very solid choice if you wish to create cool videos on your Mac devices. It’s completely free and fun to use, even if its abilities aren’t as comprehensive as some other free video editors. For beginners, this could be a perfect place to start as it makes you familiar with the same workflow found on more advanced programs.
One of the most reliable free video editors you can find is the free edition of Lightworks. It can make your video clips stand out from the crowd, but unfortunately, it’s a bit limited when it comes to exporting options. The free version of the tool gives you only a taste of the full suite of abilities that require a paid license. This video editor is clearly not geared for total beginners as the features offered are more complex. Before we describe what this program can do for your video creations, it’s important to mention the main limitation of the free version. You can export videos only up to 720p in terms of resolution. When it comes to formats it will only export in MPEG4/H.264.
The good news is that you can export straight to YouTube or Vimeo. When you initially start using the video editor, it will guide you with some basic tooltips. These are helpful to get around, but they’re not comparable with the powerful wizards and in-depth tutorials of the competition. Importing media files requires you to define certain aspects such as resolution and framerate. Those unfamiliar with video editing can easily make some mistakes here. You need to pay close attention when setting up your clips because otherwise, you’ll have to tweak the settings again.
Even though this video editing tool comes with a steeper learning curve, once you get into it, the benefits start to show up. Mastering the visual tools should take priority because with their help, you can fine-tune every aspect of your image. You have the option to work on minuscule details with pixel-precision which makes it suitable for more advanced editing. With all your added resources in place, you can use the timeline to begin cutting. One way to make your video more visually appealing is to add effects. There are some default options, but you can also build your own. Some missing features of this video editor are the timeline rendering, stereoscopic output, and advanced project sharing.
The performance of this video editing software is quite impressive. It becomes quite obvious that the main engine used in this tool has successfully helped to create professional films. All the complex rendering and encoding is managed in the background. You don’t have to worry about anything, just the task at hand. Considering everything about Lightworks Free, it’s safe to say that it needs some serious attention if you’re a more experimented user who wants a powerful video editor for free. The software may not be to everyone’s liking in terms of intuitiveness and the exporting restriction can also reduce its appeal. Still, the program has some great potential and, considering the price tag, you shouldn’t hesitate to try it out.
For those looking for a non-linear video editor, the VSDC Free Video Editor should be strongly considered. This is a solid video editing tool for Windows users that can help you bring your clips up to a more professional standard. There’s also a premium edition which works in a faster way as the free version doesn’t allow hardware acceleration when exporting projects. This tool might surprise you with its abilities as it’s powerful enough to compete with expensive editing software. This is a non-linear editor which isn’t restricted to a linear sequence of your scenes as well as to a particular order for them. You can create objects in all kinds of locations and random positions in time.
To give your video projects a more polished look, there are multiple visual and audio effects to try. Some of the most important categories with effects are color correction, transition, and object filters. Color blending is another easy way to quickly enhance the visual aspect of the video image. There are many adjustable parameters in that sense, but you can also save time by using a preset filter. If you want to blur or highlight a particular element in your clip, that’s possible thanks to the mask editing tool. This adds special effects on a particular area and this could be very useful if you want to blur the face of someone to protect their identity. Due to subpixel accuracy, your objects can be smoothly rotated and transformed.
Finished videos can be exported to all the popular social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as YouTube and Vimeo. Choose from a selection of export profiles to make it easier when you have to decide about the right video optimization. 4K and HD exporting are available and the program even extends support to the newest H265 codec for maximum quality per size ratio.
One thing you can definitely appreciate in this free video editor is the incredible support for virtually any video format as well as other media like image and audio formats. There are also some built-in file converting features if you want to quickly change your video to another format. This software can be successfully used if you want to create more professional-looking business presentations. You can add various elements such as charts and text for a more impactful impression to your audience, as opposed to a conventional slideshow.
Another thing worth mentioning is the way the software receives regular updates that improve the overall functionality by expanding the available set of features. For example, the latest version comes with a stabilization tool which can be helpful for shaky videos. It’s definitely impressive to see such a well-maintained free video editing software. All in all, VSDC Free Video Editor could be a solid replacement for basic tools such as Windows Movie Maker. It does have a performance limitation when exporting, but that’s pretty much the only drawback to consider. This is quite an underrated video editor considering it offers such rich features enveloped in a highly intuitive interface.
Avid Media Composer is of one of the best video editing programs in the industry. It’s used in many professional settings and can truly revolutionize your filmmaking. The full version is quite expensive, but fortunately, there’s a free edition available called Media Composer First. It comes with certain limitations as you’d expect, but it packs many professional abilities too. The complexity of this piece of software will probably become obvious to anyone who’s starting to work with it. If you put in some effort and have enough patience, this tool can help you learn the craft of professional video editing. Novice users will probably be a little intimidated, so this is the kind of tool recommended for those who are already familiar with video editors.
Getting into the program itself will take some additional steps. It’s not just that downloading and installing takes a while, it’s also the requirement to create an online account to use the program. After you register the account and sign in, you’ll be ready to take advantage of all the powerful features. Before taking a closer look under the hood of this video editing software, it’s probably a good idea to understand the limitations first. Media Composer First will not be able to export videos in higher resolutions than 1080p. That’s not so bad considering similar programs export just up to 720p.
Another limitation to take into account is the amount of tracks you can work with. As long as you remain within the maximum 4 video and 8 audio tracks, you should be fine. The main window of this editor has a very high-end look. Take your pick from the vast amount of features you can use such as color correction and audio editing. To find your way in the editing environment provided by this software, you will most likely need to be already aware of the technical details of your footage.
Creating the timeline is an essential step when working with this kind of tool. Once you do that, there are lots of tools to access which can improve your workflow. Speeding up or slowing down your video clips is done without too much effort. Footage stabilization is another handy feature. One thing to remember if you consider this tool is that you also need a heavy-duty workstation to keep up with the demands of the software. You can run into slowdowns even with reasonably strong computers, so it’s best to use very powerful hardware if you are truly serious about video editing.
For a consumer video editor, Avid Media Composer First might be a little over the top. It’s a great free tool for students who want to get familiar with the kind of powerful filmmaking software used in the Hollywood industry, but not ideal for making basic home movies. It’s safe to say that it brings a lot of value for a free tool, everything you could ask for, minus the professional outputs.