Make sure you understand what you’re working with before you purchase your first nonlinear editing program. Find out what you need to know in this roundup.

Cover image via lOvE lOvE.

One of the most daunting aspects of starting your career as a video editor is simply choosing which program you want to work with. While there are dozens of programs to consider, there are a few that undoubtedly run the industry — especially for beginners and low-budget filmmakers. Some of these programs require a monthly subscription, while others are completely free. Let’s take a look at a few of the best NLEs and what you can expect from them.

Premiere Pro

Arguably the industry leader for working editors, Premiere Pro is a simultaneously simple and complex program that takes some getting used to. If you’re cutting together simple, straightforward storytelling with minimal effects and technical trickery, Premiere should be your first choice. As part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud, this program offers regular, user-friendly updates that make content creators’ lives easier. You can also streamline your workflow with the Shutterstock plugin for Adobe CC. Easily browse through millions of video clips without every leaving Premiere Pro.

Price: $19.99/month

Final Cut Pro X

FCPX has made vast improvements in the past year alone. As Apple’s answer to Adobe, FCPX is perfect for anybody who wants to play around with cutting video. The timeline and windows for effects and titles are extremely easy to maneuver, and as long as you’re not working with too much footage (e.g. feature-length), the program should run just fine.

Price: $299.99

Black Magic DaVinci Resolve

Here’s the real MVP. At no-cost, the free version of DaVinci Resolve is a remarkably easy and, frankly, awesome program. It’s easy to navigate, and it offers an extensive amount of effects. The audio editing features are substantial, and they fill a real need for working editors. The color grading is obviously top tier, so if you try out the Lumetri Color Panel in Premiere Pro, experiment with Resolve, and see which one you like better.

Price: FREE

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