So you decided to edit something. It may be just a short clip you filmed on your phone or maybe you decided to upload your first video to YouTube and you want to cut the unnecessary parts. You don’t want to spend money on editing software right now and want to edit quickly, here is some of the best video editing software for beginners that are free.
Choosing the right software in which you may invest some amount of time learning it, is important. You don’t want to get stuck to some of the limitations that software may have.
You don’t want to spend hours learning software that can’t grow with you, maybe you will come to like editing and will want to switch to something more professional. It’s your investment of time that should be considered here. The best software would be a one that does not differ too much from the main video editing software available on the market(that would be Adobe Premiere and Final Cut X but lately more and more DaVinci Resolve is getting a piece of the pie too)
Here are is a list of my chosen ones:
best video editing software for beginners
What is the best software for beginner to start editing in? What are some of the limitations of the free versions of the software? Is it fast and offer hardware push when rendering? Is it a good investment of your time? Let’s check them out, one by one.
My personal favorite, not because I have been using it for many years (actually I was using it since it was just a Color Grading Software) but because it really is a full fledged editing/color grading/effects suite. Here we will concentrate on the editing aspect of it though.
The software is extremely powerful, it uses full-on hardware acceleration, and it is quite fast. It may be a bit intimidating at first, especially compared to some of the other software we have here but it is worth learning, even more so if you want to do more professional stuff in the future or you see it as a possible career.
It will work on even lower spec machines but not as great. Compared to other software on the list, this one needs a bit more powerful machine to run properly and smoothly.
There are two versions of the software, one totally free, no watermarks, no pesky ads, nothing. The paid version offers a few more bells and whistles. Some of them may be very useful in some more advanced projects later on. Like no cap on max resolution (which right now is Ultra HD 4K 3840×2160), noise reduction, some effects, collaboration features, etc.
And for one time price it gives you all the future updates and all the extra things in software.
- Fully working professional video editing software with all the necessary things an editor needs
- Industry-standard, used by many professionals
- Reliable and rock-steady, it’s not crashing as often
- Included in-suite, excellent color grading capabilities, effects and many more
- The learning curve may be a bit steeper than other software
- Needs beefier machine to run properly
Is DaVinci Resolve really good for video editing:
It’s free, open-source and available for all your favorite platforms, Windows, MacOS, Linux.
It’s fairly easy to use and it’s very intuitive, especially if you had used an editing software before. It has all the functionality you would find in much more established programs like Adobe Premiere or DaVinci Resolve.
The timeline is easy to use, straightforward and pretty standard. There is even basic color grading adjustment, audio functionality is also there, you can do all the basics you would need. The software seems pretty stable and it didn’t crash once when I was using it. In case it would the auto save is pretty good and it will save you some time and frustration. There are few things missing or misplaced, the in and out shortcuts are not there and the export settings are a bit convoluted.
You can export in many different formats and it accepts 4K footage with no problem at all. From what I seen it’s pretty lightweight on your machine so if your system is a bit older this could be a very good choice instead of something very resource hungry like Adobe Premiere.
My only minus is that it is pretty basic, it could be a good thing but if you would like to make something more complex or play with motion graphics, animated text or maybe effects, than I would probably use something else.
- Super light and resource-friendly
- No limitations, no watermarks, full functionality
- Very intuitive, great for people who had used editing software before
- Pretty basic tools and effects, text options may be a bit limited
- Shortcuts not like in other programs, few standard things missing
- Export settings are confusing and a bit of miss and match
Quick review of ShotCut:
VSDC comes in two flavors/options, free and pro. The main differences between the two is some hardware acceleration, some effects, stabilization options, masking options and few other extras but the free version is more than capable on it’s own.
One of the main disadvantages VSDC has is that you can only create project with maximum resolution of 1920×1080 full HD and 30fps, something that even for free software should be unacceptable. So in this case you would have to spend the $20 for the premium version to run your projects properly. The good thing is that they give you a lot of extra features for this amount.
A bit more advanced than ShotCut, it panels may look a bit complex at first but after 10 minutes with it you get the idea what is what. It comes with quite a few features loaded, like masking, chroma key for your green-screen, and many more.
At first start of the program you will notice that it is more visual based, with all of the icons etc. than some of the other software. You can choose what kind of project you will be running, set-up your settings and resolutions, etc.
- Quite powerful and with many useful features
- Many extra options and add-ons
- Quick and reliable
- The free version is confined only to HD(1920×1080) resolution
- The interface could do some re-working
Some of the differences between VSDC Free and Pro version:
OpenShot is right behind ShotCut in my order of totally free video editing software. It’s simple to use, the interface is clean and sleek. There are many options you can use. I really like that they added a tutorial when you first start the software so you can quickly catch the main in and outs of the interface and start editing pronto.
It also works tandem with Blender software, which is quite powerful 3D graphics software, so you can create for example 3D objects and quickly incorporate it into your timeline and video.
The software is almost as simple as ShotCut in it’s interface and it’s use, although ShotCut has a bit more options, effects etc.
- Quick, simple and reliable
- Integrated ability to work with Blender
- Unlimited tracks in timeline
- Limited number of extra options, like effects etc.
And a small review of OpenShot:
Olive – The one on the other side
I included Olive in this list because as a video editing platform it checked all the boxes. Hardware accelerated, easy and very responsive interface, few additional options, and it can export in 4K.
It reminds me a bit of older Adobe Premiere Pro but few options are missing, like the ability to lock, adjust, hide tracks. Which is a pity. Also again the shortcuts are not working. In most video editing software you can find the standard options in shortcuts like in and out, cut, paste, export, save, plus and minus. But not here. Weird, hopefully it will be fixed in the next releases.
Other than that, solid software, with few small problems.
- Fast GPU preview
- Many functions added
- The software is still in Alpha development
- It still has some quirks and bits, not as stable
Walk-through of Olive Video Editor:
Things To Consider While Looking For A video editing software
There are few things you should have in mind when finding a suitable video editing software. One of which is on what will you use this software? Is it just a small project, a YouTube video from time to time or you want to get into it for professional reasons?
Pick Which Options Are Important To You
Will you be doing color grading on your footage? Will you need graphics and text added to your projects? Maybe you want to use ready made template like sold on sites like VideoHive? Is audio effects and options important to you?
With the exception of DaVinci Resolve, most of this software I present here is limited in what it can do, what are it’s abilities or specialties and with what other software it can co-operate with. You also have to consider that there are not many if any motion graphics templates for these software.
Think About The Resolution and The Hardware Acceleration
Almost all of the programs I have in the list can edit and export 4K(one exception is VSDC, for which you have to pay for Pro version)
Some of them can actually go much higher in resolution. But it’s also how well they can handle it and if your computer can handle it too. It’s good to choose software that has the ability to use hardware acceleration and to be able to run your clips with not much problem.
For example if you have beefy computer with good GPU and speedy SSD + some RAM to spare than go for DaVinci Resolve, if on the other hand you want to use this software on your laptop that may be struggling with running software like DaVinci with 4K footage in it, than go for something lighter, like ShotCut.
If you want an extremely powerful and future proof video editing software with many functions than there is only one that I can fully recommend: BlackMagic DaVinci Resolve. Yes you will need a beefier machine to run it properly and there is a bit more time that you will have to invest in learning it’s in and outs but it is worth it. It’s utilized by professionals all around the world in many commercial productions. Not only that but you can slowly get into color grading your footage, another very good skill to have for any video editor.
Your another, basic but light option is: ShotCut followed by OpenShot. I would go for ShotCut for all the additional features it has.
It works on everything, it’s very light, it’s very easy and straightforward to learn. Not many bells and whistles but it’s even better, you can concentrate on learning the skill of video editing. It’s totally free which is another huge plus. You can’t go wrong with any of those.