A great movie requires professional video editing software. It doesn’t matter how impressive your camera is — without a program that can implement smooth transitions, special effects, and believable filters, your final video will be lacking. Below, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of every major editing application, so that you can find the right fit for your filmmaking enterprise.
Need the perfect clip for your video production?
Shutterstock has millions.Explore our collection
Installed on every new Mac, iMovie is admired for its themed video templates, which place your footage in a scrapbook, news broadcast, or many other fun scenes. Every project you create is organized with easy-to-find thumbnails, and when you’re editing, you just drag clips onto the timeline. Then, you can add new dialogue, sound effects, and music using Apple’s vast media library, or create your own soundtrack on GarageBand. If you’re already comfortable with the Apple ecosystem, iMovie is a great way to learn editing.
Windows Movie Maker:
This application is available as a free download for all Windows users. It’s designed to be highly intuitive, with a drag-and-drop system that allows you to quickly rearrange video clips (or photos) on a simple timeline. From there, you have the ability to add preset transitions, scrolling credits, layered text, and a film soundtrack. All of these features are easily accessed from the main toolbar. When you’re ready to share your video, a series of buttons for YouTube, Facebook, and other social networks are also on the main toolbar. For basic editing, it doesn’t get easier than Movie Maker.
Adobe Premiere Pro:
Available for Mac and Windows, Adobe’s professional video editing software is used by major news outlets and feature filmmakers. It supports a wide variety of video and audio formats, so it’s easy to integrate media from different sources. Furthermore, if you’re familiar with Adobe’s Creative Cloud, you can export work to After Effects to add motion graphics, or Photoshop for advanced image tweaking. The list of features may seem overwhelming, but if you’re looking to integrate video, graphic design, and web development into one workflow, Adobe is definitely the best option.
Apple Final Cut Pro:
Final Cut Pro has dominated the indie filmmaker scene for years, because of its rich feature set and sleek interface. Since the introduction of Final Cut Pro X, the user base has been split between hobbyists that love the automated aspects of the new version, and pro editors that think it’s a shadow of its former self. Whatever your opinion, Apple’s high-end editing software has plenty of power to handle 3D motion graphics, cut full-resolution 4K video, and utilize dozens of detailed plug-ins.
Avid Media Composer:
Known in the movie industry as Avid, this is still the gold standard of editing software. Features in the latest version include support for 64 audio tracks, visual feedback when editing, and smart memory caching so that clips don’t stutter during playback. The level of video customization, available plug-ins, and overall control is unmatched. Although the learning curve for Avid may be steeper than other programs, it’s definitely worth diving in if you want to become a professional editor.
Finally, Smoke is not primarily used for editing, but rather to put the finishing touches on a professional project. This includes highly detailed 3D models, compositing, color correction, and other effects that aren’t available in your main editing software. If your film has a lot of CGI and animation, Smoke is a great tool for adding that extra layer of polish.