Albert Einstein said, “Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.” Einstein was a pretty smart guy, but he didn’t know the first thing about editing a movie.
Free video editing software levels the playing field and gives everyone the chance to learn and test their skills in post. In the past personal computers were too slow, and edit rooms were very expensive. The only way to get time on a video editing machine was to intern at a company and hope somehow you’d get a chance to edit anything.
Now, free video editing software is everywhere, personal computers are extra fast, and all the knowledge you need to get going can be found on YouTube; anyone can learn how to be an editor and maybe even learn a new skill.
But with so many free or cheap video editing programs, you want to use one that will not only teach you the aesthetics of editing, but one that will also help your software skills grow. Let’s look at some of the software that will get you going for absolutely nothing.
While it is only available on MacOS and iOS, iMovie is a terrific jumping point for anyone who has never edited anything.
The program comes free with your new iPhone and is included as standard with all additions of MacOS. It is very intuitive and incredibly easy to use, but it does lack a lot of the features that you might find in other free applications, and as the reviewer points out, it doesn’t edit portrait (or vertical) video if that is important to you.
If you’re just getting started and intend to eventually move on to Final Cut Pro, this software is perfect for you as the skills you learn in iMovie are completely transferable to FCPx.
It is best to keep in mind, however, that iMovie and FCPx function a completely different way than every professional (paid) editor. If your aim is to craft your skills for a new career, this can help you learn the aesthetics of editing but every other software you’ll interact with while you progress in this field will work differently.
In that case, it might suit you better to work with Shotcut
Another free application for Mac and Windows, Shotcut isn’t as easy to get going with as is iMovie but it’s very similar to Adobe Premiere, Avid, and DaVinci Resolve, which are the main programs you’ll run into in most post houses.
It has more advanced features than you’ll find in iMovie, and although there is a learning curve, you’ll be able to edit more precisely than you would be able to in iMovie.
It is recommended for anyone above a basic editing skill level, or anyone looking to advance on a path toward a career.
And yes, it can edit vertical video and set custom sequence settings so you’re not just doing standard 1080p.
By far the most complex video editing application that is available for free, BlackMagic’s Davinci Resolve might also be one of the best programs for editing and finishing film projects that ever existed. It is used to edit, final color grade, and audio mix on big budget films in Hollywood and all over the world.
Though it requires a system with a bit more horsepower than Shotcut or iMovie, you can run it on Mac, PC, and Linux.
With a few tutorials, even a beginner can get up and running with the Cuts page, which can quickly sequence simple edits before jumping into the Edit page, which is more advanced and rather similar to Shotcut and Adobe’s Premiere Pro.
If you’re an aspiring editor looking to learn the craft of film editing, then this is the software for you. It has everything you need to learn and grow, and no other application can do everything that Resolve can do.
It is likely to become the standard for all post work. A studio version is also available for a one-time payment of $300, and all upgrades are free! *You can also get the Studio Version for free with the purchase of a BlackMagic camera.
Free Editing Programs
As Einstein said, sometimes the thing you’re getting for free can cost you more than you bargained for, but that doesn’t apply to video editing software. As a kid, I learned the basics of editing using my parent’s two VCRs cutting tape to tape and I owe my whole career to a free copy of Avid and After Effects that I was given at the age of 16.
It doesn’t matter what you use to edit, the only thing anyone will ever see is the final result. My suggestion, if you’re looking to be a professional editor, would be to start with Shotcut and switch to Resolve once you learn the basics. Remember even though these programs can seem difficult, there are thousands and thousands of tutorial videos on YouTube waiting for you to click on them – just remember to skip past those boring intros.
[source: Primal Video]
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