Video editing services are expensive.
If you make your mind to buy a premium editing software like Premiere Pro or PowerDirector, it can cost you anywhere between $100 and $300 (depending on which software you choose and what payment plans it has).
So, is it possible to alter your videos without spending hundreds of dollars?
Absolutely! And that’s what I’m going to talk about in this article.
I’ve curated a list of top editing tools that offer you the same capabilities as a premium editing software without any cost.
I’ll go through the benefits and flaws of each program and in the end, I’ll reveal which editing option you should go with.
Let’s get straight into it.
OpenShot is one of those rare open source tools that can blow the hell out of you.
Initially built only for Linux by Jonathan Thomas, thanks to its growing popularly, the software is now available on Windows and Mac, too.
Generally, you don’t expect much from a free software, but OpenShot exceeds all the expectations.
Except for a few flaws, the software contains all the qualities you need to create a masterpiece. And all this, on an extremely easy-to-use interface which is like icing on the cake.
Let’s get into more detail and find out why or why not you should go for this editor.
#1. OpenShot is user-friendly and doesn’t require any experience to make full use of its features.
The interface is no different from a standard editing software. It has a timeline at the bottom of the screen, a preview area on the right, and the menu bar at the top.
From uploading your clip to adding effects to your videos, almost all the functions can be executed by a couple of clicks or a mere drag & drop movement.
And there’s a vast range of learning material available whenever you feel lost.
#2. Talking about its editing abilities, OpenShot is decent enough to trim, layer, and mask videos.
Above all, it lets you edit unlimited videos and impose no restriction on the maximum number of tracks or clips you can add to the original video.
#3. While most of the editing programs don’t go beyond 4K editing, OpenShot takes its game a step ahead and enables you to work on 5K resolution videos, too.
And the best part?
You are free to customize these titles as per your taste and creative sense.
#5. Sharing is another strong point of this software. As you go ahead to export your file, there are options to post your videos on YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Wikipedia, and a few more social platforms.
#6. As I mentioned at the beginning, OpenShot was primarily designed for Linux but now is available on Mac and Windows platforms, too.
And because it’s an open source program, you get the luxury to install it on as many computers as you want.
#1. 360° editing! Yes, that’s an area of concern for OpenShot.
At the moment, the software doesn’t support the necessary codecs to open a footage shot on your VR camera. Plus, there are no facilities to manipulate 360° videos.
That’s why OpenShot needs to work on this section to emerge as a complete video editing solution.
#2. The other minor shortcomings of OpenShot are the inexistence of a mobile app and cloud repository.
2. DaVinci Resolve
If there’s any free editing software that can give its paid counterparts a run for their money, it definitely is DaVinci Resolve.
Feature-wise, DaVinci Resolve is near perfect. The software is a 4 in 1 package that contains a high-end audio mixer, color grading system, VFX tool, and a place to collaborate with colleagues. A rare combo that you don’t generally find in other editing software.
Having said that, DaVinci is not for everyone.
The software has a busy interface and requires prior knowledge to operate in full flow.
That makes it an unlikely choice for freshers, but again, the advantages are so much that they overshadow its shortcomings completely.
Here are all the reasons why DaVinci could be a real deal for any serious video editor.
DaVinci Resolve Pros
#1. DaVinci Resolve is packed with unique qualities, and “Cut Page” is one of them.
“Cut Page” is basically an alternative editing area where you have all the necessary features available in a single window. It enables you to do some quick edits and complete a project in a flash.
This feature is super handy for anyone like a news broadcaster, YouTuber, agency owner, and more such users who need to produce quality work in no time.
#2. While talking about quality, we can’t ignore VFX effects that drastically surge the quality of any video. And DaVinci Resolve is the perfect place for that.
Using the “Fusion” feature of this software, you can add some mind-boggling effects and motion graphics to your projects.
And to top it off, it provides you a complete 3D workspace with more than 250 mini tools that enable you to add stunning 3D titles for the intro and outro of your movies.
#3. Apart from Adobe Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve is the only editing software which can open and edit 8K resolution videos.
And not to forget its advanced color grading system where you can control the brightness and contrast of your clips and make them look crispier and more vivid.
#4. DaVinci is a 4 in 1 product, and one of these four aspects is Audio Mixing.
Included in the software as “Fairlight”, the digital audio workstation of DaVinci is reasonably advanced and contains a plethora of tools to improve the sound quality of your project.
It has an Audio mixer, sound library support, ADR tools, EQ, Fairlight Plugins, and dynamic processor.
The ability to mix 3D audio formats like Dolby Atmos, SMPTE ST 2098, Audio 3-D, and new 26 channel superbus.
#5. Though it doesn’t have a host of sharing options available, you can still share your videos on YouTube and Vimeo directly from the software.
#6. DaVinci might not contain an array of distribution channels, but it has a unique feature that separates it from most of the traditional video editing programs.
And that is real-time collaboration on the same project with fellow team members like sound designers, VFX artists, Colorists, editors, etc.
That saves hours and also opens the door for real-time feedback on your work.
But here’s the catch.
You’ll have to upgrade to the paid version of the software (DaVinci Resolve Studio 16) that costs $299.
#7. And last but certainly not the least, the compatibility with different operating systems and flexible license policy is also a significant plus for this software.
Because (1) you can install it on any computer whether it’s running on Windows, Mac, or Linux. And (2) the same license can be used on 3 different machines and gets you the luxury to start your work on your office computer and finish it on your home PC.
DaVinci Resolve Cons
#1. DaVinci Resolve doesn’t have any severe snag, but as an average user, it was a bit challenging to navigate the interface.
You might need to spend a few solid hours to get familiar with the software.
#2. It’s not compatible with smartphones. Also, I didn’t find any cloud storage facility to save videos.
Shotcut is another open source software that is built mainly for entry-level users and contains a robust set of editing functions under the hood.
Some of these editing functions include 3-way color grading, 3D LUTs, masking, clip reversing, Chroma key, and more.
But what’s interesting about this tool is the ability to start your work without importing any video.
In fact, it skips the ‘import’ button altogether and allows you to drag and drop the clips directly on the timeline.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the software is to see if it worth giving a shot.
#1. With a simple and straightforward interface, Shotcut becomes extremely easy to use.
And as I just mentioned, the software eliminates the ‘import’ function, you just need to drag the video you want to edit and drop it on the software to start your work.
#2. Though I couldn’t find anything new, Shotcut still has the potential to cater to the need of a new or semi-pro user when it comes to editing videos.
You can alter the green screen footage with chroma key, play with the color contrast, use the 3D LUTs to see how your clips would look in different devices, add layers, masks, etc.
And here’s the additional benefit:
Shotcut can also be used as a webcam recorder while making tutorials or online course.
So in short, the software is competent enough to help you produce decent looking movies and tutorials.
#3. Love producing high-resolution videos?
Then you have one more reason to love Shotcut as it allows you to edit and export videos in 4K UHD resolution.
#4. Once you’ve finished working on a movie, there are options to either download the video to your local drive or upload it directly to YouTube.
I know the sharing options are too narrow compared to other software, but something is still better than nothing.
#5. It does matter what operating system you have in your machine, you’re never gonna face any issues regarding device compatibility.
The software can be easily installed on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers.
#1. Shotcut lags behind many of its counterparts in providing advanced editing support. And this is the prime reason why this software isn’t the perfect fit for veteran editors.
You miss many of the essential features that include 3D editing, high-end VFX, motion graphics, 360° video support, multicam edit, and more.
#2. No mobile presence is another disappointment, especially if you often use your cell phone to shoot videos and share it on social media.
#3. The absence of a cloud storage repository is the third flaw I noticed in this tool.
In other words, you’ll have to free up a large amount of space in your computer to store your files.
4. Apple iMovie
iMovie is an in-house video editing software of Apple that is designed for its MacBook, iPhone, and iPad line.
The software primarily targets newbies and aims to provide a user-friendly platform so that they can edit their videos without any hassle.
Now, when it comes to its editing prowess, iMovie is undoubtedly not as advanced as DaVinci Resolve.
But it still has enough positive points (that I’ve mentioned below) to lure a basic-level videographer.
Here they are:
Apple iMovie Pros
#1. As a newbie-friendly tool, the biggest highlight is, of course, the ease of working on iMovie.
The interface is clean and straightforward, and you hardly need any experience to create a stunning video on it.
If you’re absolutely neophyte, then you might need to follow their built-in tutorials. But again, if you follow the learning materials diligently, it won’t be long enough before you start showing your editing chops to the whole world.
#2. To make your learning curve shorter, Apple has also included some sample trailers in this software.
The sole purpose behind including these trailers is to help you make your movies look professional by showing how to organize and structure video clips.
#3. You can work on 4K UHD videos using this program.
#4. After its usability, the second most exciting thing about iMovie is its vast distribution channels.
Either you can share your files directly on YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo, or send the private link to your loved ones via email.
And since it syncs everything on iCloud, you get the luxury to play your movies on Apple TV or iMovie Theater.
Similarly, iCloud synchronization helps you access all your production on any Apple device as long as you have a stable internet connection.
#5. Thanks to the generous license policy of Apple, you’re allowed to install the software on all the devices that you own.
This also provides you the flexibility to work on your movies anytime, anywhere. You can simply start a project on your MacBook and finish it on the iPad.
Apple iMovie Cons
#1. First of all, iMovie is fully dedicated to Apple products. So, this software is useless for a large number of users who work on Windows, Linux, and Android platforms.
#2. The second and probably the most significant reason why iMovie is not rated as high as other premium services are the lack of cutting edge editing features.
You can’t add motion graphics or VFX effects to your videos. Moreover, it also lacks the ability to work with 3D objects and VR videos.
In short, the program is suitable for making only standard videos that don’t require high-end effects and editing prowess.
5. VSDC Free Editor
If you’re looking for a feature-rich tool that even your grandma can use, then VSDC is the go-to software for you.
VSDC is the easiest to operate video editor in this list and also the most lightweight.
You can run this software with just 256 MB of RAM and 50MB of disc space. That’s almost nothing compared to the system requirement of other tools.
And the best part?
VSDC supports all the latest codecs that make this program powerful enough to open any video file from a 4K UHD video shot on your DSLR to a GoPro footage.
Let’s take a deep dive and look at its qualities to know why this tool is so popular among new and semi-pro users.
VSDC Free Editor Pros
#1. What makes VSDC the easiest of them all?
Its dead simple interface.
When you first open the software, the UI looks almost like a Microsoft Office tool. The top ribbon contains the menu bar and a narrow toolbar at the left-hand side.
The preview area is at the middle and at the bottom, you see a plain non-linear timeline.
And since it’s non-linear, working on it becomes a walk in the garden. You can drop the media files in any order by a single click or drag & drop movement.
And just in case, you feel lost, there are a ton of video tutorials available to help you find your way.
#2. As I’ve already mentioned, VSDC is rich in features and offers almost everything an entry-level or semi-pro videographer needs to create professional looking videos.
You can trim and splice your videos. Add layers, masks, transitions, and also, use the Chroma Key technique to edit green screen footages.
And above all, the latest update of the software also brought 360° video editing with it. That shows how this program is evolving with every new update.
#3. VSDC supports almost all the latest codecs like H.265 that enables you to open and edit any file from 4K UHD videos to GoPro clips.
It helps you save time and avoid the pain of converting videos in specific formats to be able to open it.
#4. While exporting your videos, you get the option to either save it in your computer or share them on different social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, and more.
And what’s more?
The convenience to record screen and burn the files to Blu-ray and DVDs straight from within the software make this tool more special.
This gives you the freedom to play your creation on your TV or a party.
VSDC Free Editor Cons
#1. Even though VSDC is packed with essential editing functions, it still needs some development to be able to add 3D objects or edit 3D videos.
#2. VSDC is missing a significant opportunity to scale their user base by not offering it to Mac and iOS users.
Moreover, the absence of a smartphone app and cloud repository further adds to its misery.
6. HitFilm Express
HitFilm Express is the rare combo of a powerful video editing tool which is extremely easy to use, yet doesn’t cost anything.
The robust set of editing features enables you to do an array of different editing functions that include merging clips, editing 3D objects, adding bold Marvel colors, VR video support, and more.
All these attributes make this tool quite exciting, and from a bird’s view, it looks near perfect.
But we have a small twist in the story.
Many of its features like 360° editing require you to purchase the add-on packs to make full use of it. These add-on packs range anywhere from $9.99 – $49.99.
So, even though HitFilm Express is a free software on paper, the add-on packs work as hidden costs.
However, here are all the reasons why HitFilm Express still has a slight edge over many of its counterparts.
HitFilm Express Pros
#1. The UI of HitFilm looks like any other standard video editing software, but the big, visible buttons make it super easy to navigate the interface and perform any editing function.
#2. Just like the other four tools in this post, HitFilm Express can also support 4K videos and lets you export files in that frame size.
However, what might sour your experience a bit is the high turnaround time while exporting high-resolution videos.
#3. Generally, you don’t expect much from a free video editing software. But it seems like HitFilm wants to leave no stone unturned.
Not only you can perform the basic stuff (like cropping, trimming, and mixing video clips), but the software is also well capable of pulling off advanced functions like 3D and VR editing with great ease.
It enables you to turn any 2D image into a 3D scene and add 3D layers to your clips using the 3D composition and layering.
Similarly, you can add 360° effects and watch the VR videos in their original state with the new 360° video viewer panel.
Now, here’s the catch:
All these exciting things come for a price. To avail these attributes, you’ll have to buy the add on packs of HitFilm.
#4. Thanks to the cross-platform support, HitFilm Express runs smoothly on Windows as well as MacOS computers.
But unfortunately, its license policy is not so generous and restricts you to install the app only on one computer.
#5. Once you’re done with the editing part, you get the freedom to share your files directly on social media platforms straight from within the software.
And the best part?
Unlike many editing programs, the rendering process doesn’t create any hindrance in your work.
You can continue working on your next video while HitFilm Express exports your current video in the background.
HitFilm Express Cons
#1. HitFilm is a desktop only software. And the inexistence of a mobile version deprives you of the flexibility to edit videos anytime regardless of your current location.
Similarly, unlike some premium editing options like Premiere Pro or Cyberlink PowerDirector, you don’t get cloud space facility to store your files.
#2. The add-on packs are one of the prime reasons why HitFilm Express is so powerful even as a free tool.
These add-on packs powers some of the most vital features of the tool. For example, the 360° pack enables you to work on VR videos and add advanced 360° effects.
Similarly, there are more than a dozen add-on packs available, ranging from $9.99 to $49.99.
However, by including these paid packages in its deck, HitFilm no longer remains a free software.
And this might trigger many of the users to opt for a fully paid product instead of buying a separate add-on pack for each attribute.
So finally, we have analyzed all the free video editing software in this post.
After the analysis, I’ve noticed a few aspects which are common in all these six tools.
They all can edit 4K videos, enable you to share your creations on social media sites, and of course, all of them are free to use.
Now, the question is:
Which one is the right choice for you? Which editing software should you go with?
Simple! Since price is not an issue here, you can choose the right program depending on your current skill set.
Entry-level users who need an easy to use tool and don’t generally require cutting edge features (like 3D & VR editing and multicam edit), can go with Shotcut or Apple iMovie (for Mac users only).
VSDC and OpenShot are two excellent options for semi-pro users who possess some prior experience but want to try their hands on advanced functions.
And finally, if you’re a serious videographer who is looking for the same capabilities as a premium editing software, then look no further than DaVinci Resolve.
The software is tailor-made for veteran video editors.
That being said, HitFilm Express also boasts the same capabilities but require you to invest some money in its add-on packs.
However, the comfort and ease of working that you get in HitFilm Express are not available in its most prominent competitor, DaVinci Resolve.
So, choose the right program according to your requirement and editing prowess and turn your videos from okay to outstanding.