There are so many video editing packages on the market, for the newcomer, perhaps finally deciding to upgrade from the restrictions of iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, the choices are potentially confusing.
As well as the “staples” of Adobe Premiere CC (part of the Creative Cloud suite together with After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator. Encore etc), MAGIX Vegas Pro (the old Sony Vegas), Grass Valley EDIUS 9, AVID Media Composer and FCP X, there is Corel VideoStudio andSo Pinnacle Studio plus programs from NCH, Cyberlink, Wondershare and NERO.
And that is just for starters. Many of these have “Lite” versions too such as Movie Edit Pro, and Vegas Movie Studio.
So, where do you start as a raw beginner?
There are three programs here I have not mentioned purposely, as they have one major distinguishing factor over these others listed.
They are free.
But these packages – Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve, fxHome HitFilm Express and Lightworks are far from lightweights designed for the YouTube or Facebook set. Each has its own strengths to be sure – and weaknesses – but any one of them can hold its own in the company of their more well know brethren as you can see from the feature sets below.
In some cases, especially if you are say, a LINUX user, then Lightworks and Resolve are light years ahead,a and all three work under the Mac OS.
We have played with all these packages over time, and like most things, there is stuff we like and stuff we don’t. But these things are subjective; what may work for me may not work for you. The best thing to suggest is to read the specs and features, see what takes your fancy, and try it / them and see how those suit your way of working. After all, a comfortable workflow is the most important thing and we all work differently.
And hey, these are all free so it’s not costing anything but time … here is a brief list of what these packages contain above basic editing and workflow features.
fxHome HitFilm Express
|Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve||Lightworks|
|Particle Simulator||Colour Correction||Multicam editing|
|Compositing||Multi-user||Realtime effects with presets|
|Colour Correction and Grading||3D Tools||Enhanced VFX (BorisFX)|
|Keying and Extraction||Fairlight Audio||Text Effects (Boris Grafiti)|
|Tracking||Resolve FX||Project Group Sharing|
|3D Model Import||4K Support||Hardware i/o support|
|Specialised Effects||Multicam editing||Macros|
If you want powerful video editing and colour correction tools, then we would suggest (but no insist) that DaVinci Resolve 14 is probably the best for you. Resolve is a highly respected and widely used application at the highest level – think Avengers Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Rd, Tomorrowland and the Lego Movie – and so has the runs on the board.
Similarly, Lightworks has been “around the Hollywood traps” a few times with credits such as The King’s Speech, Pulp Fiction, Mamma Mia, Notting Hill and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy under its belt.
In other words, Resolve and Lightworks have earned their stripes at the highest level and are therefore certainly no lightweights.
HitFilm Express on the other hand, whilst also having top shelf editing capabilities, also boasts a fully-fledged compositing system making ideal for effects heavy projects without the need to go “outside” the program to apps such as After Effects, Fusion or Nuke.
Links to Download