Edit video: The 6 best free programs in software testing

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Edit video: The 6 best free programs in software testing | © freepix / filmpulse magazine

Only through editing the moving image finds its effect. That’s why we present the best programs for to edit video here. You will see that to edit a video with professional software is not a question of budget.

The biggest advantage of freeware: If you are not happy with the editor of your choice, you can switch to the next program without losing money and try it out. On the other hand, this forces the suppliers of the programs for video editing to offer you as much as possible with their product.

Edit Video: In a nutshell

  • With DaVinci Resolve there is a professional program for video editing that you can download free of charge (if used non-commercially) and use for editing. The Avid Media Composer and the free software Shotcut are also suitable as professional tools for free video editing.
  • No matter what software you use: the egg-laying wool-milk sow does not exist. The perfect free program for you is the one that allows you to concentrate on the cut instead of the technique
  • Every editing program also requires hardware – so carefully check in advance the requirements that the software places on your computer.
  • A good video and success at short film festivals or on the web can also be achieved with 2K. Stamina and talent are more important than the tools you use to edit your film.

Free video editing and cutting

All important information about professional video editing for beginners that goes beyond software and technology can be found here as an overview. You can get an easy to understand guide for shooting and for the right production from A to Z for free.

Software in check and ranking of the best programs

If you want, you too can shoot and edit films like the pros! Here we show you the best free tools for video editing:

1st place: DaVinci Resolve | Black Magic Design

DaVinci Resolve has its roots in professional color correction. The company Black Magic Design took over the original developer and in recent years has developed this extremely successful software into a full-fledged editing tool. Meanwhile, this tool is now also making steam under the butt of established providers such as Adobe Premiere or Avid.

Davinci Resolve - kostenlose Schnittprogramme im Test

You get the software for video editing in two versions:

  • as free program
  • as a professional studio version for just over €250.

The free program contains all functions of the paid Studio version. But certain tools (such as team collaboration and noise reduction) can only be activated when you purchase the paid version. Nevertheless, most of the features that hobbyists and enthusiasts use most often are available for free.

The free version may only be used for non-commercial purposes by you. It works with resolutions up to UHD and 60fps (only the paid version supports 4K!) and lets you access powerful tools like Fairlight and a professional, yet easy-to-use audio mixer in addition to the powerful color correction tool.

This freeware transports you miles beyond the normal consumer area for video editing. With a powerful set of professional tools, its extensive resources for editing, color correction and grading, and audio recording and mixing, the software leaves nothing to be desired.

DaVinci Resolve is therefore a serious competitor to Adobe Premiere (which is only available in a paid version). However, beginners without any previous knowledge need some time and a rather steep learning curve to get started in video editing with this program due to the multitude of possibilities.

AWide range of options to edit video

All main functional areas are accessible as tabs at the bottom of the main window when editing video. The Media tab lets you preview all your clips, pictures and music files.

Edit” lets you access all your hard drives, so you can access your assets from anywhere. A convenient Timeline view lets you customize the size and layout of your settings.

In the main workspace, a large image window is centered in the top center of the window. It’s surrounded by a toolbox, a timeline, and a sound mixer in the lower right corner that you can hide if you want.

The pull-down menu in the workspace offers you a variety of options to customize the interface to your project. Simply drag and drop a project onto the timeline. You can make basic changes by right-clicking on the window and accessing the control settings.

The app’s main toolbox offers transitions, titles, generators, filters and audio effects. Click on any selection to view the built-in library.

BVideo editing: other applications

DaVinci Resolve is a program for video editing with many functions. This includes also:

  • Multicam editing: DaVinci’s Multicam editing tools include a three-part workflow. First you create Multicam clips from the individual camera angles and place them in a timeline. Then activate the Multicam Viewer. You’re ready to cut and switch back and forth between shooting angles in sync.
  • Fairlight Audio: This is a professional feature designed as an end-to-end workflow for audio post-production. It offers sound editing, recording and ADR (dialogue replacement), mixing and sound effects. Even if you are not an audio professional, you can adjust the volume directly in the edit interface, which works reliably for most productions.
  • Color correction: DaVinci Resolve used to be “only” a professional color correction tool. Today, the color tool is integrated into a larger application and accessible via the “Color” tab. DaVinci uses Nodes, a container-like system to perform color correction. Nodes behave like layers. You can enable or disable them to compare different settings.

The software also offers you numerous built-in special effects and transitions and a powerful image stabilizer when editing video.

CHardware and playout at DaVinci Resolve

DaVinci was built for hardware that has more power than the average laptop from the supermarket. Depending on the processing power, playing clips on older or weak devices can be disturbingly slow.

Depending on the number of effects, a quarter of an hour for rendering a film sequence of 5 minutes is quite possible on a computer without a high-performance graphics processor. By comparison, Shotcut and iMovie only need around 2 minutes for a film of the same length (but with fewer effects).

If the hardware is insufficiently equipped, the program may even crash sometimes during rendering. Therefore install the software on a computer with multimedia configuration whenever possible.

DaVinci Resolve provides preset render settings for YouTube, Vimeo, Final Cut Pro and Premiere XML. You can export your movies as you edit video in about a dozen popular formats and a wealth of codecs, resolutions and frame rates.

Separate tabs let you fine-tune audio and file specifications. Da Vinci Resolve doesn’t load your movies directly onto social media, but renders them to specific, social media-friendly specifications.

Conclusion: DaVinci Resolve is the perfect free video editing program for non-commercial users looking for a sophisticated, professional video editor.

Rank 2: Avid Media Composer | Avid Technology

Avid Media Composer First offers you all the functions of the full version free of charge for editing. There are restrictions only for playout and some technical settings. So unlike many other editors for video editing, you can do everything that its big brother can do.

Chart Avid Media Composer First - Videos: kostenlose Schnittprogramme im Test

Avid was founded in 1987 and quickly became the leader in digital imaging with the software of the same name. Whether Hollywood or Germany, feature film or TV spot: the brand was the epitome of digitization in video editing early on.

AEdit videos: Difference to the paid version

The following things are limited with the free version:

  • the number of video tracks (maximum 4)
  • the audio tracks (not more than 6)
  • the bins (up to 5)
  • You can import footage in higher resolutions than HD, but only export as SD and HD video. To play your project in 4K, you must purchase the full version.
  • the export is limited to HD up to 60 frames per second as Quicktime Movies in H.264 or DNxHD

Media Composer First offers you the unique opportunity to become acquainted with the workflow of a professional editing program at the beginning of your career as an editor, filmmaker or video producer. The manufacturer Avid sees the starter version primarily as a tool for future professionals, hardcore fans and students.

This software for video editing sets you certain requirements with regard to the raw material. Only if you take these into account will you have your shot video material available in the editing environment without problems.

For example, if you mix frame rates, you need to adjust the frame rate to the value at which you want to cut the material. This is where the program differs from other cutting programs. It forces you to make decisions at the start of your project that you cannot change later.

You may find this tedious, but this is how professionals work. Other, semi-professional programs are more flexible. There you can change your basic parameters at any time during the editing process.

BUsing the Avid Media Composer

For most projects, limiting the number of image and sound tracks is not an obstacle.

Once you have installed the program, you can start to edit video right away. Since the workflow is not easy to understand at first glance and without prior knowledge, you should consider the following tips:

  • The first thing you need to do is create a project and choose the location you want to save it to.
  • To start edit video, you must choose to either link to the original file or import the material by transcoding it.
  • To create a timeline, view the clip you want to start with and mark it with “I” for in and “O” for out.
  • You can place clips in the timeline by pressing B. This opens a new window. This will ask you for the grid and the editing rate for your project. Grid is the resolution and edit rate is the frame rate. After that you use the three-point editing by specifying the In, Out and Overwrite point.

With these commands the software is easy to use. You don’t even need a mouse to use it. The cut is made correspondingly quickly by a trained cutter.

Like the full version, Media Composer First has a complete set of color correction tools with Scopes to edit video. The program offers you a title tool and can also stabilize shaky footage.

It is also possible to accelerate (fast motion) or slow down (slow motion) film material without any problems. You can also export your finished work directly to most social media platforms.

On the Avid Marketplace you can also buy plugins online that give you more editing options.

If you want to work with the full version later on, the license will add about €17 per month to your budget. This is the same cost as Adobe Premiere, which is only available as a paid subscription.

CHardware to edit video

On the hardware side, the free program only runs stable if your computer has a memory of at least 6 GB! Better are 8 GB or more.

If you work with UHD or want to use high frame rates, 16 GB are required. Whether PC (Windows 7 or higher) or Apple is not important.

Rang 3: Shotcut | Filmora / Wondershare

Shotcut is an open source, cross-platform editor for video editing on Windows, Mac and Linux. The freeware works with a variety of formats and resolutions up to 4K.

shortcut - Video bearbeiten: kostenlose Schnittprogramme im Test

Shotcut appeals to professionals and enthusiasts alike with its broad format support and its numerous audio and video effects and editing functions.

However (as with DaVinci Resolve) the complexity can put the beginner to the test. If you want to quickly cobble together a video clip from your holiday weekend to share with family and friends on Facebook or YouTube, you won’t enjoy the many possibilities.

When you start Shotcut for the first time to edit video, the program looks like any other media player: simple and spartan. With the “View” setting, you can selectively show the user interface windows while others remain hidden.

But when all options are visible, the amount of information quickly becomes overwhelming. Then, with Shotcut, you can feel all the complexity of filmmaking and see what’s under the hood of this software.

AEdit user guidance for video

Shotcut won’t take you step by step. Conversely, experienced users will certainly appreciate the flexibility that the program offers the user. For example, the codec pop-up menu is far more extensive than in most other video editing programs. Here you will not only find MOV and MPEG 4, but as befits a professional program, dozens of codecs from A like asv2 to Z like zmbv.

Unlike most consumer video editing applications, Shotcut lets you get started right away. Simply drag and drop clips into the Timeline or into the empty space where you want the Timeline to go – an actual Timeline is not immediately visible. No need to create a project first.

Shotcut provides a multi-format timeline that lets you incorporate source video into your project at different resolutions and frame rates. You can also use the program to use the webcam on your computer as a camera.

BVideo and audio functions of Shortcut

Video editing features include effects, HTML5 as the video source, filters, three-way color correction wheels (including adjustment of shadows, mids, highlights), a variety of transitions, track compositing / blending modes and filters, and speed effects for audio and video clips. All this is intuitive and easy to use.

The software also offers audio scopes for volume, peak meter, waveforms, as well as a spectrum analyzer, volume control, numerous audio filters and cross-track mixing. Many of these are prosumer tools.

Newcomers may not want to delve into them right away. But users who want to further develop themselves and their skills will appreciate the wide range of possibilities.

Shotcut has countless output presets, but to edit video, it doesn’t give any indication of how to save for certain online formats like YouTube or Vimeo. The only thing that helps here is to consult the documentation. It explains in detail how to export to common formats for social media. Shotcut also offers a wealth of tutorials, both its own and from users, which describe all aspects of use in detail and explain them in a comprehensible manner.

Shotcut is a super flexible editing environment with a somewhat unorthodox interface. The video editing software runs stable if you are willing to take the time to make the necessary settings and acquire the necessary skills.

Rang 4: VSDC Video Editor | Flash Integro

VSDC Free Video Editor is a feature-rich, non-linear video editing suite for editing video. The software can also compete with paid editing software.

VSCD Free Video Editor - Video nachbearbeiten: kostenlose Schnittprogramme im Test

With this editor you can create video projects from a combination of video clips, still images and audio files with a resolution of up to 1,980 x 1,080 (Full HD) and a maximum frame rate of 30 frames per second.

There’s also a built-in tool for capturing moving and still images from your desktop – ideal for software reviews and tutorials. The freeware also offers a wide range of image and audio filters and tools for stylish transitions.

You can export your finished project in a variety of formats. The software also lets you burn your project to DVD, a feature rarely available in free video editing software.

Video projects are made up of “objects” that contain video clips, images, audio, sprites (graphic objects), animations, and many other elements. You can overlay them in your edit in a variety of ways, including crossfading, overlaying, and masking. If you want to include picture-in-picture or watermark effects, you’ll have it done in no time.

Of course, you can also add diagrams and text to your movie. That’s why the software is often used to create presentations.

Image editing with the VSCD Video Editor

Each object you add can be edited, moved and cropped independently, just like in any professional image editing tool.

Nothing is final in video editing before you export your finished project. The sound and visual effects include various Instagram-style filters and even special effects such as fire, smoke and water, all fully customizable.

The latest version of the program is much faster than before. It includes (which is also usually standard in professional applications today) a stabilization tool. With it you can correct shaky shots.

The premium version of VSDC Video Editor is even faster than the free version thanks to the integrated hardware acceleration.

Rang 5: Avidemux (64 Bit) | MEAN

Avidemux is a free editor for video editing that is easy to use. This is true even if you have never edited and edited your own material before.

Avidemux - kostenlose Schnittprogramme im Test

Avidemux has a rather spartan user interface. Unlike many editors, there is no central place to import video clips, images and audio files and no timeline with multiple tracks.

Avidemux is suitable for quick clip creation and easy editing by beginners. For more demanding tasks, you’ll be better off with the tools described above.

Avidemux: Image editing and video cropping

Cutting is as easy as browsing the footage and setting start and end marks. You can also copy and delete parts or attach one clip to another.

To do this, you can select up to four audio tracks to edit video. Each one is individually configurable and adaptable to different speaker configurations.

Avidemux as a program for free video editing does shine also with its export options. These give you full control over the encoding. Their use is a bit more complicated than the other tools, but not an insurmountable hurdle.

Rank 6: iMovie | Apple

iMovie is a free program on iOS and MacOS. It works intuitively like many apps from Apple. Editing clips is easy and quickly becomes fun.

iMovie - Video schneiden: kostenlose Schnittprogramme im Test

Beginners in video editing will enjoy drag-and-drop, easy access to other multimedia files and the learning functions (built into the program) that automatically give hints on how to shoot, construct and edit a solid story.

Edit Video with iMovie

iMovie’s biggest attraction for Mac users when editing video is its ease of use and automatic hardware/software coordination.

Positive: iMovie processes movies at up to 4K resolution and 1080p and 60 fps. Each clip can be enhanced with colour correction and a range of image and audio effects. And iMovie includes a library of titles, transitions, and audio tools.

However, unlike most consumer applications, iMovie offers little flexibility in output options. You have a very limited choice of resolutions and quality settings to save your work.

The 6 best free programs for video editing and cropping

The free programs for image processing presented here are available free of charge at the time of this test. You can download them online to your computer. Please note two things:

  • First of all, the best freeware in the world is of no use to you for film editing if your computer lacks the necessary requirements for operation. A Ferrari can’t show off its strengths on a gravel road. So pay attention to the requirements for memory, processor power and graphics cards.
  • Secondly, some programs are available without payment. In return, the number of functions may differ from the paid version. Or else the license allows you to edit only for certain purposes. For example, private use and non-commercial use.

Even more importantly, like all cinematic disciplines, editing requires three more important things in addition to technology / hardware: Knowledge, experience and talent.

Even with the best software to edit video, “A Fool with a Tool is still a Fool” applies to video editing. You can console yourself with the fact that (except for skydiving) no master falls from the sky. Video editing can be learned!

Pavel Sokolov
About Pavel Sokolov 28 Articles
Pavel studies film editing. He likes François Truffaut, Terrence Malick, Dr Pepper, his Thermaltake View 71 TG, music by Seeed and all things related to the colour red, but which do not cause pain to any living being.

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