Anyone with a camcorder or smartphone has the tools to make movies these days, and there are plenty of software tools around to turn your clips into something special. If you’re wondering which one to pick, you’re in luck, as we are presenting our guide to the best video editors.
If you want to get into video editing, there’s never been a better time, with powerful PCs able to run professional-quality software and give you many of the same features used by Hollywood editors.
There are also simpler tools that make putting together a quick movie as easy as can be. Video editing is a challenging task, but with the software available now, it is surprisingly accessible.
We regularly review video editing software here at CommQueR.com, and today we’re picking our favorites. These are the tools that stand out from the crowd and are most worth using.
We’re covering regular desktop software here, though if you want to use a video editor online, there are several options, such as Clipchamp or Movie Maker Online. We may take a closer look at those soon, but they tend to be limited compared to the applications covered here.
Some of these tools have smartphone versions available, too. Again, these tend to be limited, but if you’re after an iOS or Android video editor, there are options out there. For example, PowerDirector has an Android version.
All things considered, our top pick is Adobe Premiere Pro CC, which we’ll discuss next. However, there are many good tools out there, and they all have something to offer. Most have a free trial of some kind, so pick one that appeals to you, download it and give it a try.
- Adobe Premiere Pro CC: the best video editor
- Apple Final Cut Pro X: best video editor for mac
- HitFilm: best video editor for beginners
- DaVinci Resolve: best video editor for color correction
- Blender: best video editor for 3D modeling
- MAGIX Movie Edit Pro: best video editor for YouTube
- Lightworks: best free video editor
1. Adobe Premiere Pro CC
Adobe Premiere Pro CC is our favorite video editor. It has everything you need for professional video editing and is a joy to use.
It has a good selection of visual effects, and it is particularly good at color grading. Its Lumetri Color tools give you a huge level of control over colors, and there are many presets to quickly get things looking the way you want.
You get comprehensive audio tools allowing you control sound levels, apply effects and make sure your movies sound as good as they look.
There aren’t many features missing with Premiere Pro CC, and in addition to being great at the basics, it also provides various extras, such as 360 video editing, multicam and motion tools.
It is complex to use, but the UI is excellent and it has strong in-app tutorials that are the best we’ve used in the video editing category.
Adobe Premiere Pro CC Pricing
Premiere Pro CC comes as part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite and is subscription only. You can buy it in a single-app form for $20.99 per month or get all of Adobe’s tools for a monthly fee of $52.99.
If you want a bunch of extra stock photos and images on top of that, Adobe Stock costs $82.98. There’s a seven day trial if you want to check it out, as well as discounts for educators and students.
Creative Cloud includes 100GB of cloud storage, and you can discuss with Adobe about getting more if you need it. Take a look at our best cloud storage for video article for more on that.
Professionals can take advantage of the many tools Adobe Creative Cloud offers. Of particular interest to video editors are After Effects, Adobe Media Converter and Premiere Rush, which is a simple, alternative editor. Read more about Adobe Media Convertor in our best video converter guide.
Because Premiere Pro is popular with professionals, you can find all sorts of guidance on YouTube and around the web. Aside from that, Adobe’s own support is a mixed bag, with dated search results on its website. We didn’t get much back from its chat or phone support either. As we mentioned, though, guidance within the software itself is very good.
Aside from support, our only real gripe with it is the ongoing subscription model. If you’re using it in a professional capacity, however, that shouldn’t be much of a problem and the value improves if you use several of Adobe’s tools in your work.
You also get the benefit of always having the latest version available, and you can take advantage of new features as soon as they are introduced. You can see how impressed we were with it in our Adobe Premiere Pro CC review.
- Full of features
- Works well with Adobe’s other mostly excellent tools
- Top quality, professional package
- Have to subscribe to use it
- Some support issues
- Alters Explorer & adds several system processes
2. Apple Final Cut Pro X
Final Cut Pro X is a high-quality video editor aimed at professionals. Though it can be challenging to use, it is also a great choice for enthusiastic amateurs and social media creators.
Like Premiere Pro CC, Final Cut Pro X has a broad set of features that go above and beyond what you get in the average editor. It takes an unusual approach with its “magnetic timeline,” which works differently than the usual distinct tracks used in other editors.
It has a vast selection of effects. Visual effects include various different styles and filters. There are lots of audio options, too, with the usual echoes and distortions, as well as unusual ones, such as an underwater filter or radio and telephone effects
Chroma keying is easy to do, letting you combine clips and produce special effects. It has a clever “find people” feature, enabling you to hunt through footage for people.
Final Cut Pro X Render Speed and Format Support
Despite being pitched at professionals, you don’t need the latest hardware to use Final Cut Pro X. We found that it ran smoothly on our aging test Mac Mini, with decent rendering speeds. You can keep on editing while you render video, too.
It works with a wide range of formats, and you can create files for disc and social media. If you have lots of media to work with and need more space, check out what is the best online storage service available.
There isn’t much difference between Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro CC, but we prefer the overall feel of Adobe’s editor. You also get the whole Creative Cloud suite with it. Final Cut Pro X is still an excellent choice, though, and if you’re not a “pro,” using it will make you feel like one.
If you’re not keen on Adobe’s subscription model, there’s also the advantage that you can purchase it outright. Final Cut Pro X costs $299.99, and there is a 30-day free trial if you want to give it a try. It isn’t cheap, but if you can afford the cost, it is an excellent tool to have at your disposal. Read more about it in our Final Cut Pro X review.
- Huge, professional feature set
- Many transitions and effects
- Strong performance
- Support isn’t great
HitFilm is an excellent video editor that is a great choice for anyone looking to get started with movie production. If you want to be the next YouTube star, it is a great way to cut your teeth and learn your craft.
It comes in two versions. The free version, HitFilm Express, is our favorite free video editor and a great way to test the software before deciding whether to upgrade to HitFilm Pro for $299. The free version contains many paid upgrades, but the “pro” package is a much better value overall.
Basic cutting and editing is quick and easy. The slip and slide tools are easy to use, and it is simple to add effects to your movies. You can add bursts of flame, flashes of lightning and raindrops. There are many of these in the paid version, but even the free edition contains some impressive options.
You can change the way your movies sound with acoustic settings that let you mimic various environments. A few sound effects are included, too. HitFilm has some interesting motion graphic features, such as acceleration and gravity, and it also supports 3D compositing.
Performance is good, with decent rendering speeds and a fast, snappy interface. Being able to quickly navigate through clips means you spend less time waiting for the editor to catch up with you.
HitFilm supports a decent range of import and export formats, but it doesn’t support DVD or Blu-ray creation.
There are many tutorial videos on YouTube to help you get started with it, and it also has a busy community that is ready to answer your questions.
HitFilm is enjoyable to use, and it’s the best option if you want to dip your toe in the water without spending anything. Read more about what we thought of it in our HitFilm review.
- Fast & responsive
- Plenty of effects & transitions
- Free version
- Not as feature-rich as the top tools
- Lacks export options
- Free version has lots to buy
4. DaVinci Resolve
DaVinci Resolve is a high-quality tool with a slick user interface that gives you lots of useful guidance and helps you learn to use it. On setup, it offers you the opportunity to mimic the layout of another editing tool and also lets you customize various options, allowing you to make decisions that other tools take for you.
It has been used in several well-known movies, including Avatar, Spectre and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It also has several TV credits. We’ve covered several of the shows it has been used with in our “how to watch” guides. Check out our how to watch Westworld and how to watch the Flash articles for two examples.
DaVinci Resolve has a strong selection of visual effects and also offers compositing. You can use particles and add all sorts of extras. There are also advanced color correction and grading tools.
Audiophiles will love the Fairlight panel, which is jammed full of ways to manipulate sound. You also get a foley library to give your movies natural background noise.
It has all kinds of extras, such as facial recognition and speed warp motion estimation. It also has useful collaboration features, letting you share notes or have colleagues open projects in read-only mode. If you’re working with others, take a look at our best online storage for teams guide.
DaVinci Resolve: Free vs. Paid
DaVinci Resolve comes in both a free version, which requires registration, and a “studio” version, which costs $299. The fiddly registration form demands various details, including your phone number, but doesn’t stop you if you should, er, accidentally enter it incorrectly.
As you’d expect, the paid version includes all sorts of extras, but the core features are all in the free edition, so it’s a great way to check it out.
It supports an impressive range of export formats, and the latest version can export directly to various streaming services, so if you want a YouTube video editor, it’s a great choice. DaVinci Resolve is available for Windows, Linux and Mac.
- Free, but with a professional feel
- Advanced special effects & sounds
- Strong color grading tools
- Can be tricky to use
- Limitations in free version
- Not the cheapest tool around
Blender is a more specialized tool focused on 3D graphics and animation. It also includes surprisingly capable video editing features. It isn’t very user-friendly, but is a powerful tool and won’t cost you a thing.
As a 3D graphics tool, Blender lets you create objects from simple 3D shapes and craft them to look like whatever you want. With time and skill, you can produce scenes that look more or less real. You can animate these graphics, too, and animations can be edited using Blender’s video editing tools.
You can also add more complex effects, such as simulating fluids and gases, as well as working with different materials, such as cloth.
If you’ve ever seen a Pixar movie and wondered how to create something like that, Blender is a great place to get started. It can be complex, but there is a strong community with plenty of tutorials to help you.
Blender is widely used in the gaming industry, though it occasionally appears in movie credits, too. It isn’t the most popular tool in the movie industry, but it has been used on the likes of Spider-Man 2, Red Dwarf and Wonder Woman.
Blender Video Editing Effects
It isn’t as feature-rich as many other tools, but does have some basic effects. You can add blurs, glows and various color effects to your movies. It doesn’t have the detailed color grading features of Adobe Premiere Pro, but there are options to tune things. You can add text overlays, and it has simple audio adjustments available, too. There are also a few transitions.
Though Blender isn’t dedicated to video editing, it works well if you’re interested in 3D and want to learn about multiple creative areas at the same time. You can produce 3D models, animate them and then edit the results at the end. You can read more about Blender in our guides to the best 3D graphics software and best 3D modeling software.
- Free & open source
- Excellent 3D animation tool
- Lots of effect options
- More for animation than live action editing
- Some missing features
- Challenging to use
6. MAGIX Movie Edit Pro
For those who are looking for an editor that does the basics well, MAGIX is a good choice. It has a well laid out interface and is mostly intuitive. It isn’t as slick as some tools, but it does its job effectively and is reasonably priced.
There are plenty of effects, such as distorations, color corrections, slow motion and high speed options. You can also tune your audio using a mixer with several presets and effects, such as echoes and a compressor. It also has various transitions that include large icons showing what they do.
Movie Edit Pro has chroma keying, if you want to add “green screen” type special effects, as well as motion tracking, which can follow objects and automatically apply an effect or add some text to them.
MAGIX Movie Edit Pro Pricing and Versions
There are three versions of MAGIX Movie Edit, with the “pro” version costing $69.99, the “plus” version at $99.99 and the “premium” version available for $129.
There’s a 30-day card-free trial available, and discounts are sometimes offered, including at the time of writing. MAGIX also has an in-app store that sells additional templates, transitions and media, which can cost from $5 to more than $80.
It has a few quirks with the UI not always behaving as you’d expect, but that never stops you getting things done. The support material is patchy, but there’s a free manual available, a responsive forum and useful tutorial videos.
You can export to DVD and Blu-ray, as well as YouTube and Vimeo. Its format support isn’t as comprehensive as some tools, though.
We found it capable of producing high-quality output, but we needed to play with the settings. We got high-quality AVI movies but weren’t so lucky with MJPEGs. We suggest that you experiment if your early results aren’t good.
Though lacking in polish, MAGIX Movie Edit gets most things right, and it is a useful tool that doesn’t cost the earth. To learn more about it, read our MAGIX Movie Edit Pro review.
- Mostly easy to use
- Performs well
- Reasonably priced
- Some minor UI quibbles
- Dated design
- Issues with some output formats
You’re in good company if you choose to work with Lightworks, as it has been used on some hugely successful movies, including Pulp Fiction and The Wolf of Wall Street.
It is easy to use and has plenty of excellent support material, including a helpful downloadable manual, a forum and some useful YouTube tutorials.
Its media library gives you many options for sorting and filtering your clips, making this a great choice of tool if you’re working on large projects. The best cloud storage for large files may come in handy there.
Lightworks is also good for working on team-based projects. If you’re collaborating in a large team and need help managing everything, check out the best project management software.
If you need stock footage and music, there is also a good selection of royalty-free media available with it.
Doing the basics takes some getting used to in Lightworks, but it has useful slip and slide tools. There is the usual selection of visual effects, and it is particularly strong at color adjustments.
Lightworks Export and Rendering Options
Lightworks Pro, its paid edition, is available with a $24.99-per-month subscription, a $174.99 annual charge or a one-time $437.99 charge. That puts it very much at the top end of the price range, making it more expensive than our top two favorite tools. However, neither of those have a free version, which Lightworks does. It is available for Windows, Linux and Mac.
It can export to streaming sites, including YouTube and Vimeo, and the “pro” version can produce 4K output. Lightworks has an impressive selection of import formats, although the export options are similarly excellent in the “pro” version, but highly limited in the free version of the software. The paid version also has 360-degree video editing available.
- Easy to use
- Strong color tools
- Good at media management
- Limited support
- Some UI problems
- Few export options in the free version
What Makes a Video Editor the Best
There are a few things we look for when assessing whether a video editor is worth your time and money.
Features are hugely important and define what the software can do for you. The basic editing features are what you’ll spend most time using, but we also like to see a wide selection of effects and transitions, color grading tools, strong audio tuning capabilities and extras, such as multicam and 360 video support.
Although 4K support is fairly standard now, not all tools do it, while some can handle 8K video. Those of you with action cameras will also appreciate lens correction and automatic image stabilization. If you want to add cool effects to your movies, Chroma keying is essential.
We also consider cost, though if you’re after the very best, you should be prepared to spend a little extra. If you’re after a bargain, take a look at the best free video editor.
Versatility and format support are additional factors to look into. Tools for professional use will need to support a wide range of formats. Being able to publish directly to social media is also a big plus, as well as being able to burn straight to disc.
Ease of use is important, with most tools offering complex features but not all showing you how to use them effectively. With a little guidance and support, you can learn as you create, and the skills you learn may end up making you money, too. A decent manual, useful tutorials and good customer service are pluses here.
Performance also matters, and we look at how responsive the editor is, along with how quickly it produces output. Bugs and crashes are also taken into account. If you’re worried about those, take a look at our how to automatically backup video guide.
We also look at any additional tools you get with the software, such as slideshow creators or screen capture software. Being able to automate simple tasks can have a big effect on your workflow and make software even more useful.
Having a library of media or stock footage is also great when you’re getting started. Many tools offer media as optional extras, but some include a few clips and sounds to get you started.
When it comes to video editing software, we’re spoiled for choice with so many high-quality tools available. Thanks to the power of modern PCs, top-quality editing tools are available to everyone. All the tools on this list have seen professional use in some form or other.
If you fancy yourself as the next Martin Scorsese, or even the next PewDiePie, there is software out there for you.
Adobe Premiere Pro CC is our favorite choice, with its high-quality features giving you all the tools you need to make movies. Everything in our list has something to offer, though, so pick one and jump in.
If you’ve tried any of the tools on this list or have any others to recommend, please let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading.