Video editing software has a lot of uses, both personal and professional. Whether you’re making a music-set slideshow of treasured photos, adding subtitles to a home movie, or creating an ad campaign for your work, you need good video editing software to make sure you get the best results.
Many professional-grade studios can cost a pretty penny, and quite often these charges are for features that the average user would probably never understand let alone need.
Because of this, many of us seek out free video editing software to suit our various creative projects.
It’s easy to assume that any free software would be lacking in both features and overall quality, but you’d be surprised just what free, no strings attached software can offer. Here we’re going to look at the best video editing software available, and which you should choose depending on why you need it.
Keep in mind that we will not be looking at programs with free trials, but fully free video editing software that you can download and use without ever having to get out your credit card. However, some of these are only free versions of the software with optional paid upgrades and features.
Windows Video Editor
If you own a computer with a Windows operating system, then you’ve probably already come across the Windows Video Editor.
This free video editing software comes with most recent versions of Windows, but it also shouldn’t be confused with the nostalgic yet lacking Windows Movie Maker.
Personally, I use Windows Video Editor to add subtitles to foreign language music I enjoy so my friends can listen and understand too.
While the customization for adding these subtitles is lacking, and you seem to have no control over how they appear and disappear, I’ve found Windows Video Editor to be a free video editing software that’s reliable for the most rudimentary of needs.
The basics of video editing are all present and intuitive. Video clipping, audio restructuring, subbing, dubbing, and scene transitions are easy for beginners to handle. It does lack many of the more complex features that you might need if you’re looking to perfect a media project or professional video, though slideshows and basic cut and attach film projects are easy and fast.
When exporting your project, you can choose different quality options for audio and video. This is useful for when I’m subtitling as I don’t need the background picture to be of good quality, but I want the audio to be clear.
This saves on both export time and file size, making it easier to share with friends or colleagues.
Apple’s own version of Windows Video Editor is iMovie, which you will find bundled with just about any iOS device.
iMovie is a free video editing software with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a standard sequencing program. It is somewhat flashier than Windows Video Editor, however, in that it’s capable of rendering in 4K resolution and has a plethora of filters and tile animations available to make any movie look its best.
Speed controls for tonally correct clips and cloud storage for secure backups are just a few reasons to opt for iMovie. There’s also a built-in library of pre-selected music and sound effects if you’re not wanting to use your own.
As well as these, there’s also an included voice recorder that you can use in real-time as the film plays to apply applicable narrations and voiceovers with ease.
While rudimentary as far as free video editing software goes, if you have a Mac computer and are looking for a video editing tool that’s simple to use and comes with a variety of effects to spice up any movie, from home videos to media projects.
A popular choice for content creators like YouTubers and Twitch streamers, DaVinci Resolve’s free version is a capable, if somewhat demanding, video editing software.
DaVinci Resolve gets its name because of the creativity for which it allows, with plenty of filters, options for color correction, standard cut-and-replace editing tools, and optional add-ons.
You should note, however, that even the free version of this video editing software isn’t for the less capable of machines. While it’s quick to start, it takes a minimum of 2GB of RAM to run even remotely smoothly, and requires some impressive hardware to use well.
If you have a good computer, you’ll find DaVinci resolve to be one of the best video editing software options available. From audio fixing and corrective tools in the base, these add-ons let you apply advanced editing options like motion graphics and HD applications.
The simple interface masks the editing complexity of which DaVinci is capable, and finding your footing around the various features may take a considerable amount of time. This is doubly true if you choose to use third-party applications for advanced editing options.
DaVinci is designed with video editing veterans in mind, so while it may be a little too advanced for those of you who want to make simple slideshows or add subtitles, content creators and media specialists will find the free video editing options available in DaVinci Resolve to be a must for professional-grade, high-definition outputs that are well worth the learning curve.
Video editing software isn’t just about cutting and clipping, it can also be about creation, animation, and boundless creativity.
Blender is a community-created free video editing software known for its popularity with animators, especially due to its 3D sculpting, editing, and animating capabilities.
While it is arguable that the video editing and sequencing parts of Blender are far from the most advanced, it is fully serviceable as a tool to cut, move, and edit clips in a seamless and intuitive UI that even beginners should find easy to work with.
If you’re an animator and are looking to expand your portfolio into 3D animation, then Blender is your one-stop shop that lets you sculpt and edit from scratch. Despite being entirely community-created, Blender is a very reliable tool that runs well on even less advanced machines.
With few reports of freezes and lagging, you can remain confident that you won’t lose your important work halfway through due to any crashes or misclicks often found when trying to run powerful software on older computers.
Not only is Blender used by freelance artists, animators, and video editors, but also by professional businesses like movie studios like those behind such films as Jurassic World. Blender’s reliability and quality have been vouched for by many producers, directors, and professional editors.
Not only is it capable of creating and rendering 3D animation, but as of Blender’s 2.8 version update, you 2D animators out there can also find everything you’ll need to draw, composite, animate, and clean up your work and have it ready from blank page to full feature all in the same program.
This is great news for animators looking for free video editing software with which they can go from drawing board to finished product with ease, or artists and webcomic creators who are looking to branch into animation.
All-in-all, Blender is definitely worth a look for creators who want high-performing free video editing software without needing to break out their wallets.
The rendering time may take a while, and learning to use Blender on a professional and confident level may take considerable time if you’re new to this kind of program, but it’s well worth a look regardless.
If you don’t want to add yet another download to your list, WeVideo is worth checking out as the best browser-based free video editing software.
Similar to what Canva is to image editing, WeVideo lets you import video files and edit them in an online sequencer that allows you to create a personal library for return visits and longer projects. They also have preset libraries with thousands of open-source pictures, video clips, and audio samples to use at your leisure.
If you’re new to video editing, you’ll find the pre-set templates for transitions and watermarks to be a great way to get used to what you’re doing.
In addition, WeVideo is multi-platform. So with one login, you can continue your projects from where you left off on your PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You can also capture video directly from the site itself, similar to YouTube, to cut down on upload times and make your videos on the go.
All stored clips are saved to the cloud, so you can be sure they are secure and saved wherever you go.
WeVideo is praised by newcomers to video editing for its simplicity of use, and also by teachers who are educating youngsters in video editing by allowing an entire classroom to access the same libraries and create their own movies.
Without a doubt, HitFilm Express is the most professional-grade free video editing software on this list.
Don’t let its advanced features and complicated UI throw you off if you’re a beginner, HitFilm comes with well-constructed tutorials to ease you in.
Despite being free, HitFilm allows you to make Hollywood-quality movies with an impressive array of effects, corrective features, audio presets, motion tracking, and many other editing tools to go from raw footage to completed film.
Included is an audio mixer so you don’t need a separate program to make sure the sounds and effects are just right, with equalizers and corrective sliders to let you get as crisp a sound as possible.
The included tutorials teach you how to make seamless transitions, use lighting effects, ensure good quality sound effects and dubbing, and even important tips to keep handy when trying to make a professional film. These tutorials can be repeated at your leisure and act as something of a course in both movie making and using HitFilm’s free video editing software to its fullest.
If you’ve used other video editing software before, you’ll find yourself in good company with HitFilm Express, as it does its best to ensure nothing is out of the ordinary when it comes to image editing. That being said, total beginners may still be a little overwhelmed, though the learning curve is absolutely worth the end results.
HitFilm’s target audience is independent filmmakers rather than casual creators, though that doesn’t mean there isn’t something for everyone in this truly impressive piece. Constant updates, even in the free version, ensure the software is kept up-to-date with new features being added all the time.
One of the most useful features is the auto-stabilizer to help with those shots that turn out just a little too shaky.
Considering the impressively powerful nature of HitFilm express, it doesn’t compromise on reliability. Provided your computer isn’t too out-of-date, you’ll find a smooth and lag-free experience when creating your masterpiece.
If you’re a film student, indie filmmaker, content creator, or just want to make sure your home movies are as well-produced as possible, HitFilm Express is your best bet for top-notch results.