For marketers, vloggers, home video enthusiasts, and wannabe film producers, there’s video editing software to suit your needs.
Today's video editing software is extremely powerful. You can produce videos that are professional enough for Hollywood on your home computer if you use the right software. Basic video editing tasks like trimming and splitting video footage, adding text and art overlays, and including animated clips are already standard on almost every video editing program. The best video editing software today competes on features like 3D editing, performance speed, and the number of special effects available.
It's important to know which features to look for when comparing between the many different video editing software options on the market. We've put together this guide to what to look for in the best video editing software, for anyone who isn't sure what program will best meet their needs.
Ease of Use
One of the most critical considerations when choosing video editing software is considering the ease of use versus the capabilities of the program. Some video editing tools are simpler and much easier to use. On the one hand, this makes them less powerful, but it also means that novices are better able to create simple movies without hassle. Corel VideoStudio focuses on making it easy for new users to edit their movies, and Adobe Premiere Elements is similar in promoting ease of use over advanced features.
If you want powerful features but you don’t yet have much experience with video editing, it’s a good idea to look for a program like HitFilm or CyberLink PowerDirector that comes with a significant library of how-to guides and instructional videos. Or, you might be able to work it out for yourself if you pick software with an intuitive interface like Apple iMovie.
Users who are already experienced at video editing can probably cope with the more unusual interfaces of advanced programs like VSDC Free Video Editor and Shotcut, which both have an extremely wide range of capabilities along with a difficult and tricky interface. If you are determined to use a professional-level program but don’t have much prior knowledge of video editing software, a program such as Adobe Premiere Pro, with an intuitive and easy-to-use UI experience and good tutorials alongside extensive features, will probably do the job.
Nowadays, video editing software covers a huge range of price points, from free to premium price. Not every ‘free’ video editing program is truly free – many claim to be free but keep the majority of their features for paid users, or include a watermark on your footage. However, Apple iMovie, Shotcut, and Blender are among the fully free programs that you can use. Blender is open source, so you can rely on it remaining free.
Other programs have both free and for-pay versions, such as HitFilm which offers a basic free program as well as a premium option for $349 for use on up to 3 computers, or you can pay as you go by buying add-on individual tools along with the basic free version. It’s important to be aware of mostly-free software like the VSDC Free Video Editor, which provides full-featured software free of charge, but you’ll have to pay to access technical support.
If you choose to pay for video editing software, you also have a choice between buying software for a one-off license fee, like Corel VideoStudio or Adobe Premiere Elements, which each cost $99.99, or an ongoing monthly subscription setup like Adobe Premiere Pro.
Obviously, you want to make sure to pick video editing software that is compatible with your operating system. Some options, like Adobe Premiere Elements, are truly cross-platform. If you run Linux, your options are probably more limited, but Avidemux, Blender, and Shotcut are all still open to you as well as to Windows and Mac users. It’s worth noting that Apple iMovie only works on a Mac, and VSDC Free Video Editor is solely for use on Windows devices.
Speed of Performance
The more features offered by your video editing software, the more likely it is to be slow and sluggish to run unless you’re using a very powerful computer. It might not matter to you if you have to wait for a while for videos to load or to render – in fact, it’s more or less expected by now. Still, some programs, such as HitFilm, need a more powerful device if you want to use them without frustration, while others, such as CyberLink PowerDirector and Corel VideoStudio, are faster to run.
Supported Video File Formats
Another point to look out for is which file formats are supported by a given video editing software. This applies both to which formats you can use when you upload a video to the program and output formats. After all, it’s important to make sure that your editing software can open the format used by your digital camera. If you want to get feedback on a video or use it in presentations or marketing campaigns, you’ll also need software that can export your finished video content in the necessary format.
Fortunately, the vast majority of software can import and export many different file formats. A lot of programs even support 4K XAVC-S format, including Adobe Premiere Elements, Corel VideoStudio, CyberLink PowerDirector, and more. Export formats offered by Avidemux include AVI, DVD, MPEG, MP4, and QuickTime, to name just a few.
One of the most important things you'll be looking for in video editing software is the range of features included in the program. It's the most fun part of it as well. Some video editing software options like Blender or Adobe Premier Pro include hundreds of features – far too many for us to list. However, here are some of the significantly more popular features to look for when you compare video editing software.
Every video editing software has some special effects, but these range from just a few filters to dozens of advanced effects, such as smoke, selective special effects, motion tracking, transparency, and more.
Chroma-keying, also known as green-screen, lets you create exotic backdrops and set your characters in a whole range of unexpected locations without hassle. You can just choose the chroma-key options and select your preferred backdrop.
Color adjustment and correction tools enable you to fix brightness, color and saturation levels, sometimes on an extremely sophisticated level. Adobe Premiere Pro offers the Lumetri Color tool, which brings Photoshop-level color correction to your videos.
Multi-cam is becoming increasingly common among video editing software. It allows you to work from and combine a number of different camera angles at the same time, although different programs will permit a different number of camera feeds.
3D editing is another popular option, along with 360-degree video editing for the new and popular video formats.
Create Professional Videos with Video Editing Software
Whether you’re a Vlogger or a marketing professional, an eager home video maker or just want to have fun playing around with video effects, you can find video editing software that suits your level of experience, budget, and device.