Best Video Editing Software Tools for Movie Making
This guide will help you choose the best video editing software to create amazing movies in less time.
All modern cameras and smartphones can create videos that look great.
However, you’ll need to use video editing apps to turn your film footage into engaging video content.
I edit videos for YouTube regularly and have tried all the best video editing tools out there… and trust me, there’s a lot of them!
Searching for the right software can be confusing, so I’ve written this guide to help save you some time and money.
You’ll discover free video editing software as well as paid options, and the pros and cons of each.
I’ll also tell you about the essential video editing tools you need, as well as the advanced features required to create content professionally.
Whether you’re creating movies for YouTube or just to enjoy at home, there’s a great video editor out there for you, much like with photo software.
So let’s look at the recommendations.
Table of Contents
Best Video Editing Software in 2021
|Adobe Premiere Pro||View Price →|
|Cyberlink PowerDirector 365||View Price →|
|Wondershare Filmora X||View Price →|
|Apple Final Cut Pro||View Price →|
|Adobe Premiere Elements||View Price →|
|DaVinci Resolve||View Price →|
|VideoProc||View Price →|
|Movavi||View Price →|
|Corel Video Studio Ultimate||View Price →|
|Apple iMovie||View Price →|
Adobe Premiere Pro
- Finely-tuned controls
- Customisable interface
- Powerful & professional effects
- Unlimited multicam editing
- Motion tracking
- Integration with Adobe suite
- Works on Mac and PC
- Steep learning curve
- Powerful system specs required
If you want professional video editing features and a familiar nonlinear editing interface, Adobe Premiere Pro is arguably the best video editing software, especially if you use a PC or Mac.
(While it’s not markedly better than Final Cut Pro in terms of features and performance, FCP isn’t available for Windows users, which cuts out a huge portion of the video editing market.)
Adobe Premiere Pro is an industry-standard tool, used for everything from YouTube videos to Hollywood movies.
The user interface is clean and fairly intuitive (though, if you’ve never done any video editing before, there’s going to be a learning curve with any video editing software).
One thing we really appreciate is how flexible the interface is: you can undock windows, drag them around, float panels wherever you want them… All this means you can create a customised workspace that fits your editing style and needs.
As for the video editing itself, Premiere Pro is one of the most powerful applications out there, but you do need a powerful computer to take full advantage, especially when editing multiple tracks at once – however, one common workaround is to use proxies.
Editing clips in Premiere Pro is simple and precise and can be done while playback is rolling. The multi-cam editing supports an unlimited number of angles, and the automatic sync makes it super easy to import and manage them.
The tools for audio syncing and editing are similarly impressive. For example, the one-click ability to automatically duck music or ambient noise any time there’s dialogue will save you a lot of time.
Footage-wise, the level of control you get over colour is incredible. As you’d expect from the company that created Photoshop, the colour and light correction tools are finely tuned and far more powerful than those available in most video editing software.
There’s also a core stable of superb transitions and effects that will give any video a polished, professional look.
The latest updates to the Premiere Pro include some extra-neat features like intelligent reframing, automatic captioning, AI-driven colour matching, and Adobe Stock integration – dragging in assets to your timeline has never been easier.
Another plus side is that it works seamlessly with other Adobe apps like Photoshop, After Effects and Audition. So, if you’re a Creative Cloud user, it’ll fit right into your editing workflow.
Of course, this level of software comes at a cost, and if you don’t already have the All-Apps Creative Cloud plan, you’ll either have to get one or pay a monthly subscription for the stand-alone version of Premiere Pro.
Still, if you regularly edit videos, it’s not hard to justify the cost. With support for both Windows and Mac on desktop and mobile, Premiere Pro suits everyone from social media content creators to feature film editors.
Cyberlink PowerDirector 365
- Fast rendering speeds
- Frequent feature updates
- Multicam editing
- Motion tracking
- Screen recording
- Vast library of royalty-free assets
- Complex interface
- Underwhelming colour tools
In many ways, PowerDirector 365 comes close to – and even rivals – Adobe Premiere Pro.
The first and most obvious similarity is the pricing structure: a yearly or monthly subscription model gives you access to both the software itself and a slew of regular updates and added features.
Subscriptions aren’t popular with consumers for obvious reasons, but they do usually help fund more regular (and larger) updates throughout the year than standalone software purchases.
PowerDirector 365 is another great video editing software if you want incredible flexibility and professional results, while still retaining a high degree of consumer-friendliness.
With PowerDirector, you can take advantage of the millions of royalty-free assets available from both Getty iStock and ShutterStock, including videos, images and audio tracks to spruce up your videos.
There’s also a huge library of ready-made transitions and visual effects that are simple to apply – this is also the case with PhotoDirector, Cyberlink’s software for photographers that is equally impressive on the effects front.
The color correction tools included in PowerDirector 365 are expansive, though not up to the level of Adobe’s.
One area it does excel in is performance. CyberLink have done a great job of boosting performance via 64-bit optimizations, graphics hardware acceleration, OpenCL support, and a proprietary rendering technology known as intelligent SVRT (Smart Video Rendering Technology).
Thanks to all this, it’s definitely one of the best video editing software options if speed of rendering is a priority.
With a wealth of powerful tools and versions for both Mac and Windows, CyberLink’s PowerDirector 365 is definitely a top choice for enthusiasts and budding professionals.
Wondershare Filmora X
- Attractive interface
- Motion tracking
- Fast rendering
- Easy to use
- Lots of transitions and effects
- Interface not touch-friendly
- Effects lack fine-tuning
Sitting at the intersection of affordability and power is this gem of a program from Wondershare that’s becoming more and more popular with YouTube creators.
Filmora X can be bought outright for around US$80, thus earning our label as the best video editing software for those on a budget.
One thing we love about Filmora X is the clean and appealing interface. It’s far less daunting than the complex-looking UIs of more professional programs, making it perfect for beginners.
On top of that, Wondershare offers a wealth of video tutorials and guides that are comprehensive and helpful – most of which can be found online via a quick Google search.
Feature-wise, Filmora X has you covered for all essential things you’d expect from a video editor: functions like trim, rotate, color correction, color match and green screen are all there.
There’s also a very decent library of transitions and effects, several of which you’ve probably seen in use by your favourite YouTubers.
Filmora X‘s features can be applied simply via drag-and-drop, which removes complexity and makes the learning barrier to entry much lower when it comes to making professional-looking videos.
The only downside of this is that the tools aren’t so finely-tuned, and you can’t make complex edits to the level that you can with programs like Premiere Pro or PowerDirector 365.
It also requires a lot of RAM (over 16GB is recommended), especially when editing multiple clips in one timeline. Reducing the quality of playback helps somewhat, but we still experienced lagging on the latest M1 Macbook Air.
Still, if you’re looking for simple video editing that’s user-friendly and doesn’t put a big hole in your pocket, Filmora X is definitely one to try.
Apple Final Cut Pro
- Efficient media organisation
- Multicam support
- Unique magnetic timeline
- Powerful compositing tools
- Fast performance
- No Windows version
- No inbuilt motion tracking
The best video editing software for you can come down to which environment you’re used to operating in. If you’re a Mac OS user and want pro-level video editing, Apple Final Cut Pro is definitely the professional’s choice.
At around US$299, this video editing software isn’t the cheapest. However, consider that this is a one-time cost that gives you access to all the updates with no subscription required – unlike Premiere Pro, for example.
The interface of Final Cut Pro is about as stylish as you’d expect from an Apple product, and it’s simple enough to satisfy prosumer-level users while retaining all the pro features you’d want.
The latest update delivers big advances in 8K video performance, taking full advantage of the powerful new M1 Pro and M1 Max Apple Silicon chips. (Even if you have an Intel-based Mac, performance is still decent.)
The layout is quite customisable in Final Cut Pro, but unlike in Premiere Pro, you can’t completely undock panels so they float free.
One unique element of Apple’s video editing software is the trackless Magnetic Timeline:
Unlike traditional track-based editing,\ where everything is constrained by placement and time, Final Cut Pro’s Magnetic Timeline opens up the possibility of focusing on the story and how the various elements fit within it.
It’s also a pretty neat time-saver once you get the hang of it.
Part of the complexity of video editing is managing all your assets, but Final Cut Pro makes that more efficient thanks to its powerful organisation tools.
Organise your work into libraries, apply ratings and custom keywords, and make use of dynamically-organised Smart Collections to quickly find any shot – really useful for B-Roll footage.
Another great feature is the 360-degree video editing. This video software comes with VR headset support, true 360-degree titles, and Apple’s 360° Patch, which lets you clone over the camera rig for seamless, immersive footage.
Editing videos shot in Cinematic mode on the new iPhone 13 in Final Cut Pro even allows you to change the focus points or modify the intensity of the depth of field, after the footage has been shot!
Then, of course, there’s a bunch of customisable effects, integrated audio editing, intuitive colour grading and generally great performance speeds.
The biggest downside of Final Cut Pro? You’ll need a Mac (and one with decent specs) to run it. However, for Mac users who want to edit up to seven streams of 8K ProRes at full resolution, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Adobe Premiere Elements
- Easy to learn
- AI-based tools
- Handy guided edits
- Shareable outputs
- No 360-degree support
- No multicam editing
- Mediocre rendering speeds
Not everyone wants complex, pro-level features. For the consumer market, Adobe brings us Premiere Elements – arguably the best video editing software for beginners.
Elements may be cheaper and simpler, but don’t be fooled: it still turns out some impressive videos thanks to a bunch of great features.
The latest versions of Adobe Elements are heavily based on automated processes and Adobe Sensei AI technology, meaning much of the hardest video editing work is done for you.
There’s also a suite of more than two dozen guided edits, so you can follow along step-by-step to create easy timelapse videos, double exposures, animated overlays, and more.
If you want more freedom and creative flexibility, simply switch from Guided Mode back to Expert Mode for full manual control.
Adobe Premiere Elements is the kind of video editing software that’s designed for creating shareable videos: there’s plenty of control over your output files, and you can upload directly to apps like Facebook and YouTube.
(You can do this with the other video editing apps in this list, but Elements just makes it simpler and more user-friendly.)
Just two downsides of the software to mention: there’s currently no multi-cam editing, nor support for 360-degree and VR editing. Lastly, rendering speeds lag when compared to some other programs.
Still, if you’re just starting out on your video editing journey and want a way to easily create attractive, shareable videos with impressive video effects, Adobe Premiere Elements is a stellar option for a great price.
- Powerful features
- Mac, Windows and Linux compatible
- Impressive color grading
- Well-designed interface
- Integrated motion graphics editing
- Free version available
- Steep learning curve
- Heavy on system resources
This video editing software from BlackMagic Design is billed as Hollywood’s number one post-production solution.
And here’s some great news: if you want to want to learn how to use the very same tools as Hollywood artists, you can do so at no cost. There’s a completely free version of DaVinci Resolve available!
Of course, the free version has its limits – and purchasing the full DaVinci Resolve Studio will give you the complete pro-level editing experience, but it’s nice to get a glimpse at what all the fuss is about.
DaVinci Resolve has a well-designed interface that’s divided into a number of different “pages” – each page offering a dedicated workspace for a specific task.
These include Media, Cut, Edit, Fusion, Color, Fairlight and Deliver.
Each of these areas includes a wealth of powerful, pro-level tools. The Fairlight page, for example, offers impressive inbuilt audio editing. Work with up to 2,000 tracks at a time with real-time effects, EQ, and dynamics processing.
There’s also integrated motion graphics editing via the Fusion page, keeping all your professional post-production tasks in one program.
DaVinci Resolve is really geared at the professional market, so whether it’s the best video editing software for you comes down to your needs.
It’s currently the only post-production software that lets a whole team of editors work together on the same project at the same time. You can even get dedicated Resolve keyboards and other accessories.
If you want Hollywood-level video editing features in a collaborative environment that’s perfect for team projects, DaVinci Resolve is where it’s at. Just take into account that you’ll need some powerful hardware to run it and some time to conquer the learning curve.
- Ultra-fast processing
- Lightweight software
- Smooth editing even at 8K
- Powerful video converter
- Screen recording
- Basic editing tools
- No social sharing or collaboration
Each video editor has its claim to fame, and where Digiarty VideoProc wins is in its processing speed.
The full GPU acceleration feature is a major selling point. It allows for lightning-fast processing as well as buttery smooth video editing and transcoding at 4K/8K – all without compromising on quality.
On top of that, it’s number one in the world when it comes to compression.
Digiarty’s VideoProc video editor can compress down a large video by up to 90% and you’d still have to zoom in to pixel level to see the difference.
The flipside of all that is that VideoProc is first and foremost a media converter – the video editing tools were developed as secondary. Still, if you want to polish up your video clips, you can certainly do it from right within the program.
Features available include cropping, cutting, rotating, merging and adding subtitles to footage. There’s also a library of pre-set visual effects that are quick and easy to apply.
It may be a little more niche, but if you’re looking for the best video editing software for processing speed, it’s well worth giving VideoProc a look.
Movavi Video Editor
- Clear and simple interface
- Screen recording
- Motion tracking tools
- Value for money
- No multicam editing
- No 360-degree/VR support
Post-pandemic life has opened up a new use case for video production, and Movavi is using that as a way to distinguish itself in the competitive video editing software market.
Though the company has been around since 2004, Movavi is now billing its software as “an all-in-one video maker, perfect for remote work and distance learning.”
So whether you’re a school kid working on a fun video project or a white-collar professional putting together a presentation for your colleagues, Movavi offers both the features and simplicity of use to have you covered.
One of the biggest advantages of Movavi is the unintimidating interface. It’s always been the company’s mission to make video editing and media distribution as accessible as possible – and the interface is an expression of that.
You also get a lot for the price you pay, with one-time purchase costs and no subscription required, making it an excellent option for students or those on a tight budget.
It may not be the best video editing software in terms of advanced features – it lacks some of the fine-tuning of higher-level applications, as well as lacking support for multicam editing, 360-degree, VR and 3D – but that may not be a deal-breaker, especially for beginners.
If you’re looking for video editing software that hits a sweet spot between features and price, and an intuitive interface is a priority, you’d do well to check it out. It’s available for both Mac and PC.
Corel VideoStudio Ultimate
- Fast rendering
- Multipoint motion tracking
- Competitive pricing
- Intuitive controls
- 360-degree VR support
- Low system requirements
- Windows only
- Limited audio editing
Mac users miss out here, but PC users can take advantage of this competitively-priced video editing software to produce high-quality videos at home.
One benefit of Corel VideoStudio Ultimate is that the system requirements to run it are relatively low. So if you happen to be running a dusty old Windows 7 machine, you still shouldn’t have too many problems doing all the video editing basics.
This consumer-level video editing software may not satisfy the demands of top-level professionals, but it still packs plenty of punch in terms of features.
To start with, there’s all the basic editing features, plus screen recording, 360 video support and multi-cam editing.
Then there’s advanced editing functions like color grading and video masking, along with more than 2000 customizable filters and a range of video effects.
The latest version of VideoStudio Ultimate includes enhanced video stabilization, making it easier to turn shaky action footage into smooth and usable video content.
We also found the latest version to have much better performance and stability than previous versions, which is a big plus for the software.
Finally, as is now pretty standard with video editing software, you can export your projects in range of video formats or share them directly to YouTube or Vimeo.
In all, Corel VideoStudio Ultimate may lack some of the sophistication of the very best video editing software solutions on the market, but it’s a highly capable and user-friendly option. One of its biggest downsides is that there’s no version for Mac users.
- Completely free
- Easy to use
- Beginner-friendly interface
- Fun video filters
- Green screen effects
- Movie trailer templates
- Basic editing features
- Mac only
If your criteria for the best video editing software happens to be “something easy to use and completely free”, then Apple iMovie might just win you over.
Novice Mac users can create slick-looking videos in mere minutes using iMovie’s included templates, and it’s easy to import video clips from all your Apple devices.
iMovie’s interface is clean and easy to get the hang of, and its dozen-odd cinematic video filters are a snap to apply.
Using the filters, you can automatically give your video footage looks like vintage western, comic book styling, and silent movie nostalgia.
You also get some great templates for making Hollywood-style movie trailers – just be aware that these templates will be used online by thousands of other Mac owners, so don’t expect them to be exclusive in any way!
Also, iMovie is great for creating basic clips and for cutting your video editing teeth if you’re a beginner, but you’re likely to outgrow it quickly… and the step up to Final Cut Pro X is a big one!
In the meantime, Mac users can get plenty of mileage out of this excellent video editing tool – iMovie has been an Apple-user favourite for years, and it’s easy to see why.
How to Choose the Best Video Editing Software
Here is a selection of features you should look for when choosing between the recommended video editing programs.
Depending on your needs and experience level, we’ve categorised the features based on how relevant they are for basic or advanced video editors.
- User interface
Most video editing software is scary when you sit down and face it for the first time. That’s just par for the course: video editing is by nature a complex process.
That said, not all video editing software is created equal when it comes to simplicity of use. Choosing one with an intuitive interface can make all the difference in how well you overcome the learning curve – especially if you’re a beginner.
Do consider that the simplicity of the interface tends to align with the simplicity of the tools. If you want to tightly control every aspect of your video and fine-tune your edits in a highly personalised way, there’s no way around it: you’ll have to embrace a more complex (and daunting) interface.
So, it’s up to you to find the right balance based on your experience level. Suffice to say, if you’re new to video editing, opting for a simpler and more intuitive interface would be a wise move.
- Supported file formats
Not all video editors accept all file formats, so before you choose a program, check that it’s capable of accepting the input you need.
High-end programs like Adobe’s Premiere Pro support all different video formats, including 8K, 360-degree and Virtual Reality footage. Other programs are more limited in what you can input.
If you’re not sure, check what type of video files are outputted by your devices as this will immediately help to narrow down the best video editing software for you.
- System requirements
Do you have a high-end computer with bucketloads of RAM, high-speed SSD storage, and the latest OS version? If so, good for you – you can run pretty much any video editing program without issues.
If your machine is a little on the outdated side, don’t worry: there are still plenty of options available to you. It just means you have to be more careful about which one you choose.
All video editors have different system requirements, so just be sure to check that you meet them before you buy. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with software that runs poorly (or not at all).
- Tools for basic editing
The tools you need for editing videos will depend on what kind of projects you’re creating.
If you’re creating simple YouTube videos, for example, your requirements may not go beyond cutting, cropping, adding background music and applying basic video transitions (like dissolve and fade to black).
If that’s what you need, all of the video editors on this list will have you covered – though some will be overkill.
So, a good question to ask yourself is, “What do I want to achieve?” and from there check which features you need to do it. It may be that you can start with a free program until you decide to expand your video editing skills.
- Stock assets
A library of stock assets is a handy thing to have for video editing. Many apps offer royalty-free images, audio files and stock footage you can use to build up your personal and even professional projects and take them to the next level.
While such resources are available separately (StoryBlocks is a good resource), having them integrated into your video editor makes life easier – and gives you access to media you might otherwise have to pay additional fees for.
For more advanced or professional video projects, you might look for some of these additional features:
- Multicam editing
Looking to load in footage from several devices so you can cut to different angles of the same scene? If so, you need multicam support.
Take into account the number of angles you’ll likely want to use – each software has different limits on how many it can support.
Premiere Pro, for example, supports an unlimited amount, while some programs have no multi-camera support at all.
- Motion tracking
Motion tracking is an advanced feature with several useful applications. For example, use it to stabilize footage, blur out faces or pin text captions to moving objects.
Motion tracking tools used to be the domain of pro-grade special effects software, but these days many programs make them available even to beginners. You see this at work on social media platforms, where text, stickers and emojis “stick” to people or objects and follow them around.
There are different types of motion tracking tools and they range in complexity, from single-point to multi-point or 3D tracking. If complex motion tracking is a requirement, you’ll need to invest in a higher-level piece of video editing software.
- Advanced colour tools
Tools like colour correction, colour matching and colour grading add an extra layer of control to your video editing. For professionals, it’s important to be able to finely tune these settings to gain exactly the look you’re after.
Enthusiasts may not require the same level of control, but having these tools can certainly help you change the look and mood of a video in a more nuanced way.
- 360-degree support
Not everyone needs 360-degree support, but if you happen to be shooting spherical footage (e.g., from a 360-degree action cam), you’re going to need it.
Not all video editors offer this support, and the ones who do offer it with varying degrees of functionality – so if VR or 360 video is your thing, do check the software support for it before you buy.
- Other advanced features
Depending on what kind of videos you want to produce, you might look for a range of other advanced features. Think about things like audio editing, closed captions and speech-to-text, chroma key/green screen editing, masking, motion graphics, and special effects.
A good place to start is to make a list of all the features you think you’ll need, and narrow it down from there.
What is the Best Free Video Editing Software?
If you’re looking for the best video editing software you can get without spending a cent, you’re in luck: there are actually some very powerful options out there.
Here are some of the best free video editors to check out:
Apple’s iMovie is fun to use and packed with easy-to-apply special effects. While the tools do lack a high degree of refinement, that can only be expected from a completely free video editing program. If you’re a Mac user, iMovie is definitely an excellent budget-friendly solution.
- PowerDirector Essential
This free video editing app is a stripped-back version of Cyberlink’s impressive PowerDirector 365. You still get many of the features of the latter program, and it’s an excellent way to cut your video editing teeth. The only downside is limited export options and a subtle but non-removable watermark on your finished output.
- DaVinci Resolve
This Hollywood-level video processing software is available in a completely free version that works on Windows, Mac and Linux. It’s an excellent choice for high-level enthusiasts: it’s powerful, but the advanced features do have a learning curve. If you want to get started on the path to becoming a pro, this is a great free choice.
- HitFilm Express
This free movie maker warrants a mention for its free VFX toolkit, professional editing tools, and extensive free tutorials. For creatives with no budget to spare, it’s another great option that’s available for both PC and Mac.
FAQs about Video Editing Tools
What do most YouTubers use to edit their videos?
Adobe Premiere Pro, iMovie and Final Cut Pro tend to be the three most popular programs among YouTubers.
What is the easiest video editing software?
There are several easy-to-master video editing programs, but Adobe Premiere Elements is definitely one of the simplest. It features a wealth of AI-based tools that make video editing easy, plus guided edits that step you through various processes.
What is the Best Free Video Editor for PC?
- DaVinci Resolve 17
- PowerDirector Essential
- HitFilm Express
- Windows 10 Free Video Editor
Does Google have a free video editor?
The Google Photos app has a free inbuilt video editor. This allows you to do basic edits like trim, stabilize, crop and rotate your videos, and add a selection of filters and granular edits.
Is Adobe Premiere Pro free?
There is a free seven-day trial for Adobe Premiere Pro but beyond that, you’ll need to pay a subscription fee.
We hope this guide helped you to single out the best video editing software for your needs.
Remember that most vendors offer a free trial – if not completely free, there’ll be a stripped-back version of their software.
So once you’ve narrowed down the playing field, don’t be afraid to download and test out a few apps to be sure you find the right one before you buy.
Got any other questions? Need help deciding? Leave us a comment and we’ll do our best to help!
We’d also love to hear about your experience with video editing software and your tips and recommendations, so join the conversation below.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.
Tania Braukamper is an Australian-born writer who also loves to take pictures on her banged-up (yet surprisingly resilient) Canon 5D Mark III. She currently lives in Portugal.