When you are working with a tight budget, especially as a beginner, once you put together a basic camera kit and pick up a half-decent computer there likely isn’t much left for getting some software you may not even fully understand.
Fortunately, NLEs have gotten more and more affordable over the years and some great options are now free!
Sometimes free does mean that it isn’t worth bothering with, but there are a few great video editing software options that are worthwhile. Filmmaker Jack Cole took a look at a bunch and picked out the three best free NLEs for 2023.
The first one is Shotcut, which is a free, open-source, and cross-platform video editor. It’s available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.
It is the most simple of the bunch and so won’t compare to something like Premiere Pro or After Effects, but it can get the job done.
There are some decent effects built right in, including the ability to key out a green screen.
Since it is the simplest it may be good for absolute beginners though there is a chance of growing out of it very quickly.
HitFilm claims to be able to handle VFX and video editing. This premium-class attempts to go up against Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve and it does looks slick.
It honestly reminds me of Premiere’s UI.
Tons of effects are available and have excellent controls for getting things just right. There is a Pro version however that will lock you out of a few effects if you aren’t paying.
This may get annoying since if you run into this wall your only option is to shell out some cash for your NLE.
3. DaVinci Resolve
This contest was almost over before it even began since Blackmagic Design made DaVinci Resolve free a few years back.
This is a full-fledged NLE, effects program, grading suite, and more all for literally no money down.
You could very well edit a feature-length film on the free version of this program without issue and some features, like the Color page, are some of the best in the business even if you are paying.
Tons of built-in effects, advanced controls, transitions, audio editing, and more are right there and laid out very well.
There are certain features that are locked out for the Studio version, such as noise reduction. Some people will not even run into any of these limitations depending on how simple your project needs to be.
If you are starting to look at those premium features, you can always purchase the DaVinci Resolve Studio license to unlock them and so far all the updates have been free. The cost is less than a year of Adobe Creative Cloud too.
Plus, if you want to go with an iPad to do some editing there is now a version of Resolve for the M-series chips. It’s still free, too.
Have you tried out any of these NLEs?
[source: Jack Cole]
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