Best Free Video Editing Software for Beginners
The world of video editing software can be confusing and intimidating, especially when on a budget. Committing to a purchase of software shouldn’t be done lightly, so it’s reassuring to know there’s plenty of free options out there.
We’ve put together a list of some of the best and commonly used free video editing software available. Depending on your current skills and ambitions, some of the editing programs below will be suitable for complete beginners, while others offer a gateway to industry standard practices.
Your choice of computer hardware is another immediate consideration. When you are starting out, it is likely you will use whichever device you already own. However, if you want to continue to professional editing, it is worth keeping in mind that your initial choice between PC and Mac could affect the path of your editing journey for years to come.
Windows Movie Maker (PC)
WMM is one of the easiest to use video editing software available for the PC. The software will allow you to cut together clips with rudimentary transitions, add music, and add simple titles. If you’ve ever watched a music lyric video on YouTube, you’ll be familiar with WMM’s default title style.
WMM is excellent for beginners looking to learn general editing skills, such slideshows or vlogs. The program is limited, and it won’t take long for you to want to do things beyond the limitations of the software.
Outputting from WMM can also cause issues when working between PC and Mac, so it is crucial you understand video codec formats so you can ensure the finished video is viewable on all devices. For the classic .wmv file, the days are not yet numbered, so watch out if you want to share your videos with Apple-orientated users.
The argument between PC and Mac has always been competitively fierce. Professional video editors will spend hours researching their systems before purchasing, and once you learn a methodology, it is unlikely you will change.
Having been around now for many years and undergone numerous facelifts, one version of iMovie can differ significantly from another, just a couple of years apart. Anyone who has used iMovie will argue that it peaked with a particular release and probably regret updating to a later incarnation. One thing that is for sure, however, is that iMovie is still a go-to solution for many first-time editors.
Everything from short narrative films, to home movies via commercials are creatable with the tools and features available. Always intuitive, sometimes frustrating, iMovie can be considered a rite of passage – a program every editor goes through and likely why they bought a Macintosh in the first place.
The danger, however, is with Apple’s constant tinkering. An innocent update might change the interface, move features or get rid of them all together. In their grand scheme, iMovie became a testing ground for Apple to trial advancements for their flagship professional editing software, Final Cut Pro X.
There is also a free version of iMovie for iPhone and iPad. If you shoot a lot of video on your iOS device, iMovie is a fast and simple way to add some neat touches wherever you are. You can even use built-in themes for trailers to get audiences excited about your next film creation.
iMovie allows you access to the photos and videos in your device’s gallery, but also direct to the camera and microphone themselves. The ability to record directly into your timeline is an attractive option for quickly sharing videos from live events and special occasions.
While iMovie for iOS is capable of some pretty complex editing, remember that the more assets you add to a project, the more the chance of a mobile app struggling to keep pace with your creativity. It will also be a significant drain on your battery, so always be prepared if you want to start a project away from a power supply.
Lightworks (PC & Mac)
Used to edit award-winning films such as The Wolf Of Wall Street and The King’s Speech, industry standard software doesn’t often come cheap, let alone for free – this is precisely what is on offer with Lightworks video editing software.
The free version offers a host of advanced features, including real-time video effects and comprehensive format import support. The interface might be intimidating to start, with its offering of technical tools and multiple track options, but its principle is the same as more basic programs and is customisable to your preferred window arrangement.
The depth of what’s on offer in the free version makes Lightworks ideal if you’re looking to go beyond simple home editing, up to a more professional level. Indeed, it’s not alone in offering an insight into what goes on during post-production in Hollywood.
DaVinci Resolve (PC & Mac)
Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve is used by many professional video editors, primarily for its powerful colour grading applications, but the software also offers essential editing functions.
Resolve is a more complex piece of video editing software than programs like Windows movie maker or iMovie but is a great place to start before looking at paying for pro software such as Final Cut Pro or Premiere.
Resolve is capable of most professional editing requirements; however, if you want multi-cam editing, 3D capabilities and motion blur effects, you will need to upgrade to Davinci Resolve Studio at $299. While DaVinci Resolve allows you to edit with professional tools, before purchasing the expensive upgrade, we strongly suggest you research other pro video editing software.
Blender (PC & Mac)
Blender is a fascinating piece of open source animation software for both the PC and Mac. It is a powerful and rich piece of video editing software but not for your everyday tasks.
The software supports the entire 3D animation workflow – modelling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking – and can be used to create 3D animations or games.
It is unlikely you will stumble across the program and just pick it up, however, if your ultimate aim is to animate in 3D, this software is a great place to start. There is also an online community of Blender users who offer assistance and tutorials to get you started.
FilmoraGo (iOS and Android)
Wondershare is a Chinese software developer that produce a range of desktop and mobile applications. It’s more likely, however, that the name is familiar from their popular Video Converter product, which has saved many an editor from format change nightmares. Their paid-for desktop Filmora program is an attempt to simplify the process of editing, but it does have a pretty good mobile app option.
The free mobile version, FilmoraGo, provides numerous templates and thematic designs to add creative touches to videos while out and about quickly. Regular updates keep the style of titles and graphics up-to-date with current design trends and visual effects. Also, filmora.io is a community platform that allows members to connect and share their creations with each other, with potential for networking and collaboration.
So which Video Editing Software is the best?
Well that depends on your requirements! However whether you are a Mac or a PC user, there are plenty of options for you to explore. One main advantage of this free video editing software is that you can try as many as you need until you find the one that works for you. There is a vast online community for video editing, and plenty of support to be found at all stages of your journey.