OCTOBER 24, 2023

The Best Video Editing Software for Pros and Beginners (2023 Edition)

Editor Media Composer Video Editing Software Setup

 

The sheer number of video editing software options available these days is both a blessing and a curse. To make matters even more overwhelming, many programs are designed with a niche user base in mind. It's not always easy to determine if a video editor is truly right for you until you've invested a lot of time, effort, and money into the process.

That's why we feel it's our duty to simplify matters. Our team has extensively researched the landscape to provide this resource to help you choose the best video editing software for your needs.

How to Choose the Best Software for Video Editing

If you’re a professional filmmaker, you probably need a powerful effects palette, effortless team workflow, support for modern camera resolutions and codecs as well as rendering performance that can squeeze the most juice out of the best GPUs. If you’re a beginner, you may just want a simple app with a low price and a quick learning curve that works well with the equipment you have.

In this guide, we’ll sow you a few deluxe suites with the best video tools pros can buy and a few quality yet simpler editing software standalones made for beginners. We’ll delve into each app’s unique features, dissect the user experiences, and demystify the jargon.

Avid Media Composer

Media Composer is renowned as the industry standard for professional video editing. Launched in 1989 as the first nonlinear professional video editing software, Media Composer remains one of the most advanced editing platforms.

At first glnce, the interface reveals a plethora of commands and controls, signifying its expansive capabilities. It's no surprise that this complexity makes Media Composer the go-to video editing software for many award-winning Hollywood filmmakers.

Once acquainted with the configurable panel-based workspace and customizable keyboard-based editing, the scope of what you can achieve with your footage is boundless.

Avid's Best Video Editing Software UI Diner Scene

 

Avid Media Composer now features advanced capabilities:

  • Advanced Trimming Tools and Script-Based Editing: Allows precision and efficiency in every edit
  • Media Management: Offers superior management of media files, ensuring efficient organization and retrieval
  • Multicam Editing: Allows for simultaneous editing of footage from multiple cameras, facilitating a smoother editing experience
  • High-Res Workflows: Supports editing in high resolutions, ensuring pristine quality and detail preservation
  • ScriptSync AI : Automates dialog search and sync, facilitates the creation of scripts from clips, manages transcriptions efficiently, and detects multiple languages automatically
  • PhraseFind AI : Provides AI-powered dialog search, indexes dialog-driven media, creates transcripts automatically, and integrates seamlessly with Media Composer platforms
  • Avid | Edit On Demand : Provides access to a virtual editing suite in the cloud, including cloud-optimized Media Composer software and Avid NEXIS storage
  • Avid NEXIS | EDGE : Facilitates ease of remote collaboration and is offered with Media Composer | Enterprise at no additional cost
  • New Workspace Layouts: Allow users to easily transition from Adobe Premiere Pro

Specifications

  • Processor – Dual 6-Core system for 1080p/2K projects; 32-Core system for 4K UHD projects
  • Memory – 6GB minimum recommended; 32GB for high frame rates or UHD media
  • Storage – 250GB minimum

Platform

  • Windows 10 or higher
  • macOS: Supports 10.15.7 (Catalina), 11.x up to 11.7 (Big Sur), 12.0, 12.6 (Monterey), and 13.0 to 13.5.2 (Ventura)

Pricing

  • Individuals – $24 monthly or $240 yearly subscription
  • Media Composer | Ultimate – $50 monthly or $500 yearly subscription
  • Students: Free (Fully functional license)

Pros:

  • Unrivaled industry standard
  • Comprehensive and advanced editing features
  • Superior organizational and management tools
  • Efficient and seamless interactivity with Pro Tools and other Avid products
  • Enterprise version has great workflow for large remote teams

Cons: 

  • Requires a high-performance computer for optimal operation
  • Learning curve for new users, requiring commitment and time to master the intricacies of the software

Best Suited For:

  • Beginners: Ideal for newcomers aspiring to develop careers in film, television, and broadcasting, offering intuitive, user-friendly tools that encourage professional development
  • Moderate Level Editors: Suited for those enhancing their skills, delivering exceptional quality and collaborative features, with AI-powered tools ensuring precision in every project
  • Advanced Professionals:Perfect for seasoned professionals leading large-scale projects, providing a comprehensive toolkit and advanced solutions like Avid | Edit On Demand for consistent, unparalleled quality and efficiency

 

Try Media Composer For Free


Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Adobe Premiere Pro is easily one of the most complete video editing ecosystems on the market. With a simple nonlinear timeline, a variety of built-in tools, and easy integration, it's a solid choice for both developing and established editors.

Premiere Pro is organized around six main workspace panels that provide your editing process with a sense of flow: Assembly, Editing, Color Correction, Effects, Audio Mixing, and Titles and Motion Graphics. Each of these panels has enough dimensions and knobs to give YouTubers and online content creators plenty of creative control.

No matter what device or platform you use, Premiere Pro has strong format support. You can import video footage from practically any camera and export to a number of resolutions, aspect ratios, frame rates, and file types.

Furthermore, Premiere Pro is designed to integrate seamlessly with the rest of Adobe's Creative Suite. You can move video, audio, or graphics content between any Adobe app without changing formats. This multifaceted integration combined with its variety of built-in tools and effects makes Premiere Pro a solid video editing choice for YouTube creators.


Specifications 

  • CPU – Intel 6th Gen; AMD Ryzen 1000 Series or better
  • Memory – 8GB minimum recommended; 32GB for 4K media
  • Storage – 8GB minimum

Platform

  • Windows 10 or higher
  • macOS 12 or higher

Pricing

  • Premiere Pro standalone app – $21 monthly or $240 yearly subscription
  • Creative Cloud – $55 monthly subscription

Pros:

  • Most comprehensive video editing ecosystem for content creators
  • Legendary format support
  • Incredible variety of built-in video editing tools and effects
  • Unrivaled integration across Adobe apps
  • Large creator community of user-made plugins and add-ons

Cons:

  • Alterations to project media files can lead to disruptions due to offline media complications.
  • There exists a substantial learning curve for new users, requiring commitment and time to master the intricacies of the software.

Best Suited For:

  • YouTube influencers and content creators

DaVinci Resolve

DaVinci Resolve stands out with some of the best color correction toolsets in the industry. For those with a keen eye for color nuances, Resolve offers precision unmatched by many. Its specialty lies in facial features, employing advanced filters that automatically identify and track facial aspects such as skin tone, lip shade, and eye brightness.

Instead of giving you an integrated ecosystem of separate apps, DaVinci gives you consecutive individual workspaces for different post-production tasks. There are separate pages for cutting, editing, visual effects and motion graphics, color correction, audio editing, and exporting. Each workspace has its own fixed layout, which might bug you if you like undocking and resizing your panels to perfection.

Contrary to popular belief, DaVinci Resolve is known to handle more formats and codecs than most systems on the market, making it a preferred choice for many studios and facilities. You’ll receive lots of regular updates to its camera format compatibility. You’ll also find a few quality collaboration tools built into the standalone program, including a unique remote chat service.

To speed up its overall performance, DaVinci automatically combines processing power from your CPU and any GPUs your system has. This mutant power gives it a speed advantage over many of its peers and can considerably cut down your conversion and rendering times.

While there is a Studio version of the software that you can get for a one-time payment, the free version offers so many features that you might never get around to paying.


Specifications 

  • CPU – Intel Core i7; AMD Ryzen 7; M1 Apple Silicon or better
  • GPU – Integrated or discrete GPU recommended with at least 4GB of VRAM
  • Memory – 16GB minimum recommended
  • Storage – A fast SSD

Platform

  • Windows 10 or higher
  • macOS 11 or higher
  • Linux CentOS 7.3 or higher

Pricing

  • Basic version – Free
  • Studio version – $295 one-time payment

Pros:

  • Color correction utopia
  • Face specialty
  • Built-in chat
  • Impressive free version

Cons:

  • Workspaces not undockable
  • No built-in integration with external apps for 3D modeling or image and audio editing
  • Fewer features than Media Composer or Premiere; harder to learn than Filmora or iMovie

Best Suited For: 

  • Budget-conscious editors who need great color correction

Final Cut Pro 

If you prefer Mac video editing software, Final Cut is powerful but not overly complicated. The trackless timeline is easy to get the hang of, and the Metal engine makes playback and rendering incredibly fast. Even if you use a lower-end Mac to edit a large project with high-frame-rate video, you’ll rarely see any lag.

As you’d expect from an Apple product, Final Cut’s interface is sleek and uncluttered. It has a whole gallery of its own effects, templates, and graphics, as well as the ability to import your favorite third-party plugins. Another plus is the nifty grouping tool, which is great at creating nested compounds of clips to help you stay organized.

Final Cut Pro is built to integrate with a solid selection of Apple and third-party apps for additional effects, collaboration tools, workflow extensions, etc. Some of the most powerful include Frame.io, a collaboration tool; Shutterstock, for stock media; Simon Says, to transcribe audio and provide captions; and CatDV, to manage assets.


Specifications

  • CPU – Intel Core 2 Duo or better
  • GPU – Metal capable with 1GB of VRAM minimum for 4K and 360° video
  • Memory – 4GB minimum recommended
  • Storage – 5.5GB minimum recommended

Platform

  • macOS 12 or higher

Pricing

  • One-time payment of $300

Pros:

  • Good organization tools
  • Speedy performance with no lag
  • Sleek interface
  • Lots of small, interesting integrated apps

Cons:

  • Limited platforms
  • Magnetic timeline takes getting used to
  • Weak audio editing

Best Suited For:

  • Mac users who need a professional-grade editing suite

Filmora

Filmora’s simple, beginner-friendly interface is a great way to break the editing ice and dive into your first video project. Designed with new editors in mind, the app will show you an enthusiastically animated suggestion window for every action you take as you find your way around.

Most of the tools and features were made for fun and frolic. You’ll get hundreds of transitions bursting with interesting energy and geometry as well as dozens of imaginative effects, including overlays with names like Mission Impossible and Game of Thrones, channeling the colors of those masterpieces. You’ll also have access to a few advanced tools, like accurate motion tracking and color matching.

You won’t have much control over those tools and features, though. If you’re an established editor, you might find Filmora lacking power and precision, with limited clip trimming modes and no keyframing. But as your first amateur editing software, you can’t beat Filmora’s easy, intuitive vibes and entry-level price.


Specifications

  • CPU – Intel i3 or better
  • Memory – 4GB minimum recommended
  • Storage – 10GB minimum recommended

Platform

  • Windows 7 or higher
  • macOS 10 or higher

Pricing

  • Individuals – $50 yearly subscription; $80 one-time payment

Pros:

  • Easy for beginners to learn
  • Lots of fun tools and features
  • Low price

Cons:

  • Low power and precision
  • No keyframing

Best Suited For: 

  • Beginners who just need the video editing basics

Shotcut 

Shotcut is open source and completely free. While its Linux-only beginnings garnered some geek street cred, Shotcut's makers have since released Mac and Windows versions.

All that complexity means that if you have a lot of time on your hands and your YouTube tutorial game is on point, Shotcut is one of the most powerful free video editors you can find. It’s stuffed full of audio and video filters that you can customize and layer on top of each other to get exactly the cinematic feel you’re going for. What it lacks in slickness, it more than makes up for in raw capability.

If you like slick, though, this might not be the editor for you. Shotcut is the kind of program that makes you enter degrees of rotation instead of giving you convenient little handles.

This lightweight editor comes bundled with a mini animation program called Glaxnimate that lets you create 2D animated drawings for your project. Shotcut can also integrate with a number of third-party open-source tools and libraries.


Specifications

  • CPU – Intel or AMD x86-64 or better
  • GPU – OpenGL 2.0 compatible
  • Memory – 4GB minimum recommended
  • Storage – 300MB minimum recommended

 

Platform 

  • Windows 10 or higher
  • macOS 10 or higher
  • Linux Glibc 2.31 or higher

 

Pricing

  • Free

Pros:

  • Massive selection of effects and filters
  • Direct streaming capability
  • Open source

Cons: 

  • No real-time filter previewing
  • A little confusing for new users

Best Suited For: 

  • Editors who want the best free option on the market

iMovie

If you’re an Apple product user looking for a simple tool to help you make your amateur footage leap out of the screen and into your viewers’ hearts, iMovie is one of Mac’s bounciest trampolines. Geared toward beginners who want to get creative with their homemade videos and photos, iMovie comes installed by default on every iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

You’ll get fun, useful tools, like a color balancer that selects skin tones and makes them look richer, a magic wand to autocorrect your lighting, built-in sound effects, and 14 sets of transitions and titles organized thematically. You’ll even find some pro-level features, like green-screen capability, color matching between clips, and a background noise filter. On the downside, iMovie can only handle a maximum of two video tracks per project.

In typical Apple form, iMovie prefers to show you a minimalist interface that gives you space to think, hiding most of its features up its sleeves when you’re not using them. These are usually just a couple of taps or a keyboard shortcut away, and for some you may need to watch a few tutorials.

iMovie integrates well into the Apple app network. You’ll be able to use content from any relevant app, including Photos, iTunes, Keynote, and GarageBand. If you decide you need a bigger toolbox, it’s easy to start a project in iMovie and move it to Final Cut Pro for the finishing touches.


Specifications

  • CPU – Intel Core; PowerPC G4 or better
  • Memory – 250MB minimum recommended
  • Storage – 2.2GB minimum recommended

Platform

  • macOS 10 or higher
  • iOS and iPadOS 14 or higher

Pricing

  • Free for Apple devices

Pros:

  • Easy to learn
  • Free
  • Minimalist interface
  • Solid Apple app integration

 


Cons:

  • Only two tracks
  • No PC users

Best Suited For:

  • Beginning editors who prefer using Apple products

Movavi

If you have auteur leanings but pauper earnings, Movavi has a solid selection of high-end tools and runs well on low-end computers. You’ll get chroma-key and picture-in-picture capability, hairpin AI-based motion tracking, and film-quality color control.

If you don’t have a green screen, Movavi has a clever little AI Background Removal tool that may surprise you with its precision. A menu and search-based interface will give you a cornucopia of keyframe-capable effects, transitions, titles, and filters for all moods and tastes.

One of Movavi’s most unique features is that your Undo history gets saved with your project, which allows you to rethink yesterday’s edits even after you’ve rebooted. One of the app's challenges is that the timeline is divided into hundredths of a second instead of individual video frames. This inconsistent discretization makes it difficult to perform precision cuts.

Movavi’s Suite upgrade gives the editing app a few software friends to integrate with, including a screen recorder, a format converter, and an AI-upscaled photo editor.


Specifications 

  • CPU – practically any 64-bit Intel, AMD, or other processor
  • Memory – 2GB minimum recommended
  • Storage – 600MB minimum recommended

Platform

  • Windows 7 or higher
  • macOS 10 or higher

Pricing

  • Movavi Video Editor – $55 monthly subscription; $80 one-time payment
  • Movavi Video Suite – $95 yearly subscription; $120 one-time payment

Pros:

  • Low specs but solid tools
  • Lots of AI helpers
  • Eternal undo

Cons:

  • Hard to make precision edits
  • No audio meters

Best Suited For:

  • Developing editors who don't have access to high-end computers

Vegas Pro

Although Vegas Pro has been getting better with every new iteration, it’s still a bit too unintuitively organized for its complexity. The recent versions have been the most user-friendly ever, but beginners should look elsewhere.

If you like your programs configurable, though, Vegas Pro may be the editor for you. You’ll find settings within settings: 14 Preference menu tabs leading to 42 detailed General Preferences checkboxes. Vegas excels at keyframing and color grading, but its motion tracking is laggy, and its AI masking is iffy.

One thing Vegas Pro does especially well is compile video clips from different, even obscure, camera formats. If you’re working on a film involving a large team with many different kinds of cameras, Vegas Pro could save you hours of work in the compilation stage alone. Another boost to Vegas’ collaboration cred is the brand-new Project Notes feature, which lets you color code your comments and stick them to specific spots in the timeline.

If you get the 365 version, you’ll have access to over a million stock clips and sounds, 20GB of cloud storage, and the Text to Speech app, which uses AI to voice your words with your choice of accent and gender. The Suite version comes integrated with a few solid post-production tools, like the Sound Forge and ACID audio studios.


Specifications

  • CPU – Intel 6th Gen; AMD equivalent or better
  • Memory – 16GB minimum recommended
  • Storage – 1.5GB minimum recommended

Platform

  • Windows 10 or higher

Pricing 

  • Vegas Pro Edit 365 – $20 monthly or $144 yearly subscription; $200 perpetual license
  • Vegas Pro Suite 365 – $35 monthly or $192 yearly subscription; $300 perpetual license

Pros:

  • Endless configuration possibilities
  • Precision color grading
  • Quick clip compilation workflow

Cons:

  • Disorganized complexity
  • Can be unstable
  • Windows users only

Best Suited For:

  • Large editing projects that utilize many different camera formats

Lightworks

Lightworks is a free nonlinear editor that supports up to 16 video tracks before the app begins to get a bit unstable. You can also purchase a more advanced paid version with more stability and a few extra tools.

The free version comes with plenty of useful high-end features, though, including effects previewing in real time, detailed audio editing and background rendering, and autosave. It also has a huge library of impressive effects, templates, and other customizations that can help beginners get a feel for professional editing.

On the downside, the interface takes a while to figure out, and you’ll have limited export quality. If you’re a casual creator who just wants to have good lighting on his face or make her skateboard trick look cool in slow motion, all the customizable panels and bins can get a bit confusing.

Lightworks doesn’t have its own app ecosystem but does come with an open plugin system that allows you to integrate with VST3, OpenFX, AU, and LADSPA plugins.


Specifications

  • CPU – Intel i7; AMD equivalent or better
  • Memory – 4GB minimum recommended
  • Storage – 200MB minimum recommended

 

Platform

  • Windows 8 or higher
  • macOS 10 or higher
  • Linux Ubuntu 20 or Fedora 3 or higher

Pricing

  • Free
  • Create version – $10 monthly or $100 yearly subscription; $160 perpetual license

Pros:

  • Powerful free version
  • Background rendering and autosave
  • Real-time effects previews

Cons:

  • Learning curve is a bit steep
  • Limited export quality in free version

 

Best Suited For

  • Beginners who want some high-end features

FAQs

 

What is the easiest software to edit videos?

If you just want to edit your clips without sitting through any tutorials, Filmora’s beginner-friendly workflow and fun features can help you get good-looking content on the first try. iMovie can do the same for Mac users and should already be installed by default on your Apple device.

Which video editing software would you recommend for beginners?

If you’re just beginning in video editing, starting with a basic, user-friendly program like Filmora or iMovie is recommended. However, if you’re a quick learner aspiring for professional development in film and television, considering Media Composer | First is wise. It’s user-friendly yet professional, offering a smooth introduction to advanced editing tools, ideal for those who are serious about mastering the craft.

What software do most professionals use when editing videos?

Professional editors working in the film industry generally use Avid Media Composer. Known for its robust features and collaborative workflow capabilities, Media Composer is a popular choice for everything from large studio-quality projects to smaller broadcast and independent productions.

What do most YouTubers use to edit their videos?

Many YouTubers opt for Premiere Pro due to its comprehensive ecosystem via Creative Cloud integration, especially those who prioritize an extensive set of tools and features. Mac users often lean towards Final Cut Pro for its seamless integration with the Apple ecosystem. However, Avid Media Composer is also a viable option, particularly for those who require advanced editing tools, a professional workflow, robust media management, and high-quality output for film and television production.


Conclusion

Selecting the optimal video editing software is pivotal in crafting content that stands out, whether you’re a novice looking to make a splash or a seasoned professional aiming to create the next cinematic masterpiece. The crux is to find a tool that harmonizes with your creative style and elevates your storytelling prowess.

Beginners usually gravitate towards uncomplicated, user-friendly, and cost-effective solutions like Filmora, Shotcut, or iMovie, which offer a gentle introduction to the editing realm. On the other hand, experienced professionals often seek multifaceted, customizable, and collaborative platforms. Avid Media Composer and Premiere Pro are prime examples, catering to those who aspire for superior control and refined tuning in their editing processes.

In conclusion, discovering the ideal video editing software is a personal journey, tailored to individual needs and goals. For those keen on exploring industry-leading solutions, Avid Media Composer’s | Ultimate Trial offers a chance to experience powerful, professional-grade editing features free for 30 days. It’s an opportunity to navigate the realms of advanced editing, allowing both newcomers and seasoned creators to bring their visions to life with precision and creativity. Elevate your storytelling experience by exploring the myriad of possibilities Media Composer offers.

Try Media Composer For Free

 

*Adobe, Creative Suite, and Premiere Pro are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Adobe in the United States and/or other countries.

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