The explosion of video content has made it quite obvious that with any business you’re running, if you snooze on producing high-quality video, you lose. Editing is a vital part of the process, so your choice of video editing software is extremely important. If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to try out a few different applications, but fear not, we’re here to help you make sense of them all.
The Best Video Editing Software for Beginners
Whether you’re looking for ease of use, low price, dependability, or all of the above, we’ve done the heavy lifting of sorting out the best editing software for beginners. In addition, we tell you the best free video editing software.
Ease of use
You could make the assumption that the best video editing software for you is the most expensive. Wrong. The best video editing software is the one you need right now. As a beginner video editor, your skills are naturally limited. Video editing software with many complex tools may slow you down. You want to consider ease of use for the level of skill you have today. Then look for the easiest video editing software.
Easy video editing software can be the foundation on which to build your skills so that eventually a more robust program may take its place. But when you’re just starting out, look for simple video editing software you can actually understand, navigate and produce with.
If you’re a beginner editor, it’s likely you’re not making money with your skills yet and may be on a budget. So, yes, price is an important factor.
The good news is that some video editing software is free! Others are subscription-based, such as Adobe Premiere Pro. Depending on whether you bundle other software, Premiere is quite affordable for beginner editors. Other programs, such as Final Cut Pro X and Davinci Resolve require a one-time upfront purchase. Still, there are lots of apps that can be considered the best free video editing software.
There are thousands and thousands of free or cheap video editing software options for mobile and also quite a few for desktops. While price may be a factor, consider dependability. Read the reviews. Does the software crash often or is it stable? What timeline length can you edit up to? Is it made for short, TikTok compositions or for editing a feature-length film? You want tools that work every single time for the purpose you need.
Next, you need to consider whether your video editing software of choice is versatile enough for your needs. What are you editing? And what is your output? Can you use plug-ins with your chosen video editing software to add tools, LUTs, filters and templates? Consider all these factors in addition to whether you’re getting cheap video editing software.
Best Free Editing Software
Let’s talk about the best free editing software for beginners who are on a budget and still want dependability, versatility and ease of use.
Built for Windows and Mac, Hitfilm Express is great for beginners and pros and it’s free! It has an expansive range of special effects without the need for plug-ins, though you can install add-ons as well. Adding flashy transitions, using the Chroma key tool to remove a green screen background, and working with cool effects such as fire, explosions and sci-fi enhancements makes this a fun app for aspiring indie filmmakers. This is some of the best easy video editing software on the market.
Hitfilm Express supports 4K video, 360-degree editing and h.264 MP4 export. The major con of this editing software is that it uses a lot of system resources and demands a robust system.
Best for Mobile
Adobe Premiere Rush
This stripped-down version of Adobe Premiere Pro takes the best of its more advanced video editing software and adapts the tools for mobile devices. It’s available for Apple and Android devices at just $9.99 per month. It’s some of the best easy video editing software.
Premiere Rush was designed with the YouTube generation in mind--digital creators, vloggers, and young filmmakers love it. And you can edit on the go, meaning that project you started on your desktop can be completed on your phone. The tools are so simple, you will be creating and exporting in no time. Premiere Rush is known for some of the best graphics and audio tools from the Creative Cloud suite of video and audio apps, but all packaged up in something much more simple. This is some of the easiest video editing software for beginners.
Easiest to Use
Sorry PC users, but iMovie doesn’t run on Windows. This Apple favorite is one of the oldest applications on the market and one of the most simple video editing software. Launched in 1999, iMovie is still one of the most easy-to-use video editing software. You will be up and exporting in no time. If you have a Mac, you’ll see iMovie comes pre-loaded with the OS. As digital content-making has grown, so have the export options to publish on iMessage, Facebook, YouTube or any other of iMovie’s connected platforms. iMovie really is the best video editing software for beginners who work on Mac.
Fun fact, the “Ken Burns” effect that originated by that name on iMovie was implemented when Steve Jobs called up documentarian Ken Burns and obtained his permission! iMovie is some of the most simple video editing software out there.
Best Paid Software
HitFilm Pro is the prime option for artists and video editors in the professional world. You’ll have all the editing, compositing, titling and 3D tools you need in a single product. No need to move between applications. This paid software is $349 and can be installed on 3 different desktops at a time. Because of its intensive tools, Hitfilm Pro requires a powerful processor and is most widely used by industry pros. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn it as a beginner editor! Eventually, pro apps may be some of the most easy-to-use video editing software you know.
Sony Vegas Pro
image by Jaymis Loveday (CC BY 2.0)
Sony Vegas Pro Vegas Pro has all the tools you need for professional video editing with advanced HDR color correction, live streaming and sound design. It has a plethora of tools such as unlimited video and audio tracks, storyboard and timeline synchronization, scene detection, nested timelines, adjustment tracks, keyframing and automation control and Multicam editing.
We’ve told you what the best video editing software in 2021 is, but now you know where to start as a beginner. So why not start making a video now? With our rich catalog of how-to articles and your new knowledge of the best video editing software for beginners, you are that much wiser as a filmmaker!
Jessica Peterson is a travel and documentary filmmaker with a background in journalism and marketing. She has 20 years of experience producing content in 114 cities and 25 countries. In 2016, she directed and produced her own documentary about her then-home of Guam. Working under the name Global Girl Travels, her clients include CNN, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Matador Network, and Tastemade.