These are the best video editing programs

Practically everyone with a smartphone regularly makes a video. It would be a shame not to do anything with these images. With a suitable video editor you can neatly string all video clips together and provide the result with beautiful effects. The question is, of course, which video editor you will work with. Computer!Totaal lists seven paid and five free programs for video editing.

Most people shoot movies with a smartphone. That is fine these days, because these minuscule cameras are of an acceptable quality. New devices film in ultra hd with a refresh rate of thirty frames per second. This results in very smooth recordings! Those who take it more seriously will use a separate camcorder for video recordings. There is usually a better lens on it, which normally results in images with more brightness and contrast. Moreover, because of the optical lens, you can zoom in effortlessly without losing pixels. As soon as the memory card is full, you have to put all the recorded video violence somewhere. Of course you can dump all those individual video clips on a PC or NAS, but chances are you hardly care about this raw material anymore. With a suitable video editor, you can cut out boring moments and create a ready-made movie that you can play anywhere. No fewer than twelve extensive video editors are reviewed in this test.

Mobile editing?

There are also all kinds of apps for smartphones/tablets that allow you to perform simple operations. For example, you can trim video clips, add music tracks, set transitions and apply filters. For single video clips and simple edits, most video editing apps are fine, but it is impossible to put together a slick movie from multiple video sources. In addition, the operating options on a touch screen are limited. For the real thing, you therefore still use a video editor on a PC with a large screen.

Basic functionality

Whether you install a paid or free program, you can expect a number of things from every modern video editor. For example, there is always a timeline with which you can assemble separate video clips and add soundtracks. Cut out fragments that you do not want to use in the final film. Furthermore, most packages use transitions, so that you can let fragments flow into each other smoothly. The range of these transitions varies quite a bit, so we take a critical look at that in this test. To display additional information, you can add titles, subtitles and credits if necessary. At the end of the film you implement a menu with the better packages, provided you burn the result to a disc. Usually, you can also share the movie directly to social media or save it to a hard drive.

Distinctive tools

In this test, we mainly zoom in on which extra possibilities a video editor offers. Software manufacturers logically try to distinguish themselves from each other and try to stand out with special tools. For example, many extensive video editors can create slow-motion videos, so that you can accurately portray action videos. In addition, a stabilizer function is useful for those who use an action camera. Although every video editor contains filters, the offer differs quite a bit. So we will also pay attention to that! Depending on which software you choose, you can create an old-fashioned black-and-white film or slick Hollywood video, for example. And what about support for modern 4K videos that feature the h.265/hevc codec? We will ignore the creation of 3D videos in this test, because we have now labeled this technique as a flop for home users.

Ease of use

For a unique end result, the use of an advanced video editor on the PC is an absolute added value. It is a requirement that the user environment is pleasant to operate. Nobody likes to search endless menus for the necessary tools. A media library is useful for accessing all video files in one place. This prevents digging through different file locations in the explorer. In addition, a stable program is a must, where you do not have to deal with long waiting times. We also check whether the packages make a balanced impression. Finally, a Dutch-language help function is nice, so that novice users can also use the video editor.

iMovie

There is also plenty to choose from for Mac owners. For example, several discussed packages for macOS are available. Apple also has its own free video editor, iMovie. You import 4K images within this program and add titles, music and special effects. The available filters look very slick, giving your montage a film-like look. To accurately capture action moments, there is also a slow motion function. iMovie is available for both macOS and iOS. So you can start editing on an iPhone or iPad, then finish the project on a Mac. The version on macOS has more tools in-house. Please note that iMovie supports a limited number of video formats. Apple also manages a professional video editor with Final Cut Pro X. This package costs 329.99 euros.

Adobe Premiere Elements 2018

As we have come to expect from Adobe Premiere Elements for years, you can collect all media files in the extensive Organizer. Thanks to the use of tags, you can easily find the desired videos by, for example, specifying a location or name of a person. Handy for extensive collections! One downside is that Premiere Elements does not recognize the file container mkv and the video codec h.265/hevc. From the Organizer you can smoothly transfer video clips to the editing window, after which you can design the movie with all kinds of slick themes and templates. The interface looks very clear, although you can also call up this video editor in professional mode, which looks a bit more overwhelming. The Dutch step-by-step instructions are also nice. Adobe has again managed to build in a number of interesting novelties. This way you light up a certain video frame by pausing the image for a while. Then you let a title ‘fly into’ the film. You also have a short video fragment played backwards and forwards several times, after which you save the result as a gif animation. Even owners of an action camera can use this software package, because cropping and stabilizing are no problem for this video editor. A missed opportunity is that you cannot burn the end result directly to blu-ray. Premiere Elements is also available as a bundle with Photoshop Elements. For this you pay 151.25 euros.

Adobe Premiere Elements 2018

Price

€ 100,43

Language

Dutch

OS

Windows 7/8/10, macOS

Website

www.adobe.com 8 Score 80

  • Pros
  • Organize videos in Organizer
  • Clear and stable
  • Lots of interesting features
  • Negatives
  • No mkv support
  • No Blu-ray Burning
  • Pricey

Corel VideoStudio Ultimate X10

As one of the few video editors, VideoStudio allows you to record video directly when a webcam is connected. You can also make a screen recording to record an instructional video. You can of course also add existing audio and video files in the editing window. The media catalog takes a lot of time to load all files from full folders. The file support is acceptable, although videos with the h.265/hevc video codec do not perform well. Curiously, the software should support this codec according to the specifications. In addition, as in previous versions, you cannot import DVD rips with a folder structure. Pluses are the support for standing movies (without black bars) and panoramic videos. In addition to the common mounting tools, there is also a so-called multi-camera editor. You can play the images of up to six videos at the same time. You can choose from numerous templates, transitions, titles and effects to enhance the movie. The choice is enormous, with VideoStudio also containing dozens of royalty-free soundtracks. It is striking that the program has an integrated webshop where you can buy even more templates, transitions and filters for substantial amounts. If you want to burn the video project on Blu-ray, an additional payment of 6.69 euros is required. Incidentally, this software package sometimes performed unstable on our test system, because VideoStudio closed itself several times for no reason.

Corel VideoStudio Ultimate X10

Price

€ 69,99

Language

Dutch

OS

Windows 7/8/10

Website

www.videostudiopro.com 5 Score 50

  • Pros
  • Lots of editing templates
  • Panorama videos
  • Negatives
  • No h.265/hevc and DVD rips
  • Paid extras
  • Waiting times
  • unstable

MAGIX Movie Edit Pro Premium

As far as file support is concerned, there is nothing to fault in Movie Edit Pro Premium. Common containers such as m2ts, mov, mkv (h.265/hevc) and vob accept this video editor resolutely. Unfortunately, an additional payment of EUR 4.99 is required for activation of the HEVC codec. Where previous versions of Magix' video editor sometimes had stability problems, there is now nothing to notice. The current edition has a smooth navigation structure and performs operations smoothly. The editing options are quite extensive. For example, the interface contains extensive tools to create multicam video and optimize panoramic images. You can also blur objects and edit videos to the beat of a soundtrack. A good addition are the beautiful animations to start or end a film. A new feature is the option to make portrait videos fill the screen via an image edge effect. For audio enthusiasts, there's support for Dolby Digital sound, so you can add a surround track to the video project. The Premium version of Movie Edit Pro includes quite a few advanced video effects. You install it via a separate license code. If you can't wait for that, you may also be able to get by with cheaper versions such as Movie Edit Pro (39.99 euros) or Movie Edit Pro Plus (64.99).

MAGIX Movie Edit Pro Premium

Price

€ 79,99

Language

Dutch

OS

Windows 7/8/10

Website

www.magix.com 9 Score 90

  • Pros
  • Broad file support
  • Stable
  • Extensive editing options
  • Negatives
  • Pay extra for hevc codec
  • Install premium video effects separately

Movavi Video Suite 17

Although it looks like it is freeware on the website, you pay 49.95 euros after a trial period of seven days. Unlike other commercial programs, the installation is quick because of the small download file. Video Suite 17 is very accessible and takes beginners along with them. For example, in the introduction window you can choose to edit a video, but you can also record a computer screen, split videos or convert videos. For the video montage, you can choose to edit in simple or full mode. The first time, Dutch instructions appear with a short explanation about the timeline, the editing tools and how to import media files. In short, very user-friendly! The h.265/hevc video codec in an mkv container is supported, but unfortunately vob files from a DVD folder structure are not. Furthermore, Video Suite regularly has trouble loading the preview of the video project when heavy media files are present. As for the editing tools, this video editor contains attractive transitions, filters, title animations and (flying) objects. In addition, if desired, you can record your own voice as a voice-over and you can use royalty-free soundtracks. You burn the end result on a disc via a plug-in, but uploading it directly to social media is not possible (you can YouTube). Movavi Video Suite is only available for Windows, although this manufacturer does develop other video editors for macOS.

Movavi Video Suite 17

Price

€ 49,95

Language

Dutch

OS

Windows 7/8/10

Website

www.movavi.com 7 Score 70

  • Pros
  • Accessible
  • User-friendly interface
  • Broad file support
  • Negatives
  • Render preview
  • No vob files
  • Do not share on social media

Nero Videos 2018

Over the past twenty years, Nero has grown from a simple burning program to an extensive multimedia package including video editor. Under the name Nero Platinum 2018, this multimedia package is still for sale (89.95 euros), although you can also purchase Nero Video 2018 separately for just under fifty euros. Like the Adobe Premiere Elements software discussed earlier, Nero collects all media files in a separate program. Within MediaHome you carefully build up a catalog, in which you provide the files with tags. As soon as you add a video with the h.265 codec, you will be prompted to download an upgrade. After confirmation, Nero strangely redirects you to a general download page where the required upgrade is nowhere to be seen. Very unclear and all in all it is not possible to get video material with the h.265 codec to work. Fortunately, other movie files work fine. The user interface feels somewhat dated, with side tabs offering you a choice of simple or advanced user interface. It is nice that you temporarily reduce the video quality of the preview, which benefits the speed of this editor. Nice extras are the possibility to tune the video project to the rhythm of the music and the borderless editing of a standing video. Confusingly, the list of effects also includes regular tools, such as image stabilization and contrast correction. As you would expect from Nero, an extensive burning function has been integrated.

Nero Videos 2018

Price

€ 49,95

Language

Dutch

OS

Windows 7/8/10

Website

www.nero.com 5 Score 50

  • Pros
  • Organize videos in MediaHome
  • Extended burning function
  • Negatives
  • H.265 codec not playable
  • Confusing navigation structure
  • Dated interface

Pinnacle Studio 21 Ultimate

There are multiple editions within the Pinnacle Studio range, but editing 4K images requires the Ultimate version. With a purchase price of 129.95 euros, this is the most expensive software in this field. The user environment looks quite busy because of all the small icons, so it does take some time to get to know all the functions. However, if you are short on time, Studio 21 can automatically create a ready-made film. All you have to do is select the intended video clips and (copyright) soundtracks. According to the specifications, this video editor can handle the h.265/hevc codec, but in our test files we only hear the sound. Vob files don't work either. Pinnacle has been working on video editing software for quite some time, but version 21 still contains some new gadgets. For example, you can correct the wide-angle images of action cameras and add moving 3D titles if desired. In addition, you can create a multicam film with up to six cameras. A handy function is that you can save your own projects as a video template, so that you can create even more films according to this template later. The Ultimate edition has more than two thousand effects as a bonus that you can use to embellish the montage. For the creation of DVDs including menus, you use the MyDVD utility. Burning to Blu-ray requires a separate (paid) plug-in.

Pinnacle Studio 21 Ultimate

Price

€ 129,95

Language

Dutch

OS

Windows 7/8/10

Website

www.pinnaclesys.com 7 Score 70

  • Pros
  • Extensive editing tools
  • Two thousand effects
  • Negatives
  • Pricey
  • High learning curve
  • Moderate h.265/hevc support
  • no vob

VEGAS Movie Studio 14 Platinum

From the stable of MAGIX we test (in addition to Movie Edit Pro Premium) another video editor, namely VEGAS Movie Studio 14 Platinum. The German software developer positions this package as a solution for advanced filmmakers, in which flashy titles and effects are represented. After creating a new project, specify the desired output resolution. You can also choose 5.1 surround sound. Then add your own media files and that's where this video editor unfortunately falls short. The software adds 4K videos painfully slowly or even not at all. Owners of a DVD camcorder also come home from a rude awakening, as the program does not read vob files. In terms of editing options, this video editor is very complete. Whether you want to shoot a multicam video, create disc menus (with VEGAS DVD Architect) or stabilize the images, it's all no problem. However, because of all the possibilities, it takes a while to find the right tools. To avoid rendering problems, the software shows the preview image at a lower resolution. A downside is that there is no Dutch translation. The regular edition of VEGAS Movie Studio 14 is available for 49.99 euros, but then you miss the necessary effects and the option to burn discs.

VEGAS Movie Studio 14 Platinum

Price

€ 59,99

Language

English

OS

Windows 7/8/10

Website

www.vegascreativesoftware.com 6 Score 60

  • Pros
  • Many editing options
  • Beautiful effects
  • Negatives
  • Support 4K videos
  • No vob files
  • English

DaVinci Resolve 14

DaVinci Resolve 14 is best known as a video editor for movies and TV shows, where the tasks of video editing, audio mixing and color correction are central. The paid version is quite pricey with a price tag of $ 299, but there is also a free version that you can do quite a lot with. For those interested, it's nice to see how a professional video editor works. Know what you're getting into, because the user environment is quite complex. For that reason, it is wise to start the introduction wizard beforehand, in which DaVinci Resolve sets the desired output resolution, among other things. The file support is limited, so you can't import all common file formats. Fortunately, there is support for 4K image editing, because that is a requirement these days. In the menus we find options to crop videos, add transitions and make a multicam video.In addition, there is a library of effects. If you do not want to apply (color) corrections at a detailed level, it is best to ignore this package. Despite the professional editing tools, this program lacks too many useful features for amateur videographers. This includes automatic corrections and sharing videos on social media.

DaVinci Resolve 14

Price

For free

Language

English

OS

Windows 7/8/10, macOS, Linux

Website

www.blackmagicdesign.com 6 Score 60

  • Pros
  • Professional editing tools
  • Negatives
  • Very high learning curve
  • Limited file support
  • Missing a lot of features

HitFilm Express 2017

With HitFilm Express 2017 we are once again dealing with a free program with professional editing tools, although the makers focus a little more on consumers compared to DaVinci Resolve. After starting the program, a slick opening screen will appear. Here you can purchase all kinds of extensions and find instructional videos. Because of the busy interface it takes a while to find, but you also have the opportunity to start a new project from here. After entering the output format, you will arrive at the extended editing window. Take some time to get used to all the options, as the navigation structure is quite different compared to other video editors. The list of supported input formats is not very large, although you can get started with mp4, m2ts and m2t files. For a free video editor, there are a striking number of effects, which include blurring objects, adding transitions and automatically correcting colors. Afterwards, you can export the video in various video formats. Sharing on social media or burning to a disc is unfortunately not possible. Moreover, because of the high learning curve, this package is not suitable for every amateur filmmaker.

HitFilm Express 2017

Price

For free

Language

English

OS

Windows 7/8/10, macOS

Website

www.hitfilm.com 6 Score 60

  • Pros
  • Professional editing tools
  • Many Effects
  • Negatives
  • High learning curve
  • Paid add-ons
  • Limited file support

Lightworks 14

With Lightworks 14 we again discuss a semi-professional video editor for which you don't have to pay anything. According to the makers, the program is widely used in the professional film world. However, the free edition does have some limitations. For example, you can only output movies in a maximum resolution of 1280 × 720 pixels. The paid version also supports exporting 4K videos, but you pay twenty euros per month for this. As with almost all free video editors, you can't import all video formats. You can add files with the avi and mp4 containers without any problem, as well as vob files from a DVD rip. Where the interface consisted of all kinds of unclear dialog boxes a few years ago, the makers have now arranged the navigation structure much better. You now add media to the timeline within the same window, so that you can adjust the order of the clips. You can add transitions to your heart's content and, if desired, set a delay at action moments. Many tools are located in the context menu under the right mouse button. Furthermore, there is a separate tab to adjust colors accurately. There is also a module to add texts and a handful of effects are available. Finally, the software includes an extensive audio mixer. The good thing is that this program feels very stable, with hardly any noticeable waiting times.

Lightworks 14

Price

For free

Language

English

OS

Windows 7/8/10, macOS, Linux

Website

www.lwks.com 7 Score 70

  • Pros
  • Improved interface
  • Stable program
  • User friendly
  • Negatives
  • Limited resolution output format
  • Few effects

OpenShot Video Editor 2.4.1

If you're looking for an accessible video editor that doesn't cost a cent, you can try OpenShot Video Editor. Compared to the other free programs, the uncluttered interface of this freeware is a relief. When you start OpenShot for the first time, you will receive an explanation in Dutch about all parts. Where commercial packages often do not know what to do with the h.265/hevc codec, you can add these 4K files to the project window without any problems. Support is also available for all other common video formats, including vob files from original DVD rips. OpenShot is packed with ingenuity. For example, by slightly overlapping video clips on the timeline, the video editor automatically creates transitions. Of course you are free to replace the standard transition with something else, because there is plenty of choice. When it comes to securities, the choice is not so wide. The video editor does, however, apply color saturation and blurring if desired. You can adjust the values ​​manually, although it takes some practice. You don't have to expect many more assembly tools in this simple program. In short, ideal for those who want to quickly put together a film without the need for a complete study. The end result is exported to a commonly used file container, such as mp4, mov or flv.

OpenShot Video Editor 2.4.1

Price

For free

Language

Dutch

OS

Windows 7/8/10, macOS, Linux

Website

www.openshot.org 8 Score 80

  • Pros
  • Very user-friendly
  • Broad file support
  • Lots of transitions
  • Negatives
  • Hardly any effects
  • Limited Assembly Tools

Shot cut 18

The user environment of Shotcut looks somewhat bare, because not all parts are immediately visible. For example, you have to activate the timeline separately. The well-known editing tools appear immediately on the screen, such as scissors to erase unwanted fragments and a split option. Like OpenShot Video Editor, this freeware also makes no mistakes when importing videos. 4K files with the h.265/hevc codec and DVD rips appear effortlessly in the playlist. The filters are somewhat hidden in the menu. You can use this to change the contrast values, brightness and colors. You don't have to expect many more functions from this simple video editor, so the program is only interesting for making simple movies. You can export the end result to just about any video format, because the choice is huge. You also set the desired resolution and video codec. Unfortunately, direct sharing on social media is not possible. Although the freeware is available in Dutch, not all parts are properly translated.

Shot cut 18

Price

For free

Language

Dutch

OS

Windows 7/8/10, macOS, Linux

Website

www.shotcut.org 7 Score 70

  • Pros
  • Broad file support
  • Simple to use
  • Negatives
  • Quirky user environment
  • Not everything translated correctly
  • Limited functionality

Conclusion

Unfortunately, we have not come across the ideal video editor that flawlessly swallows all file formats and also has an abundance of editing tools. Oddly enough, the programs with the best file support are freeware. Both Shotcut and OpenShot Video Editor accept almost all video formats, with the latter editing program recommended for those who have few frills requirements for the final film. So he gets our Editor's Tip.

Do you prefer a slick video montage packed with all kinds of special effects, ready-made movie templates and disc menus? In that case, you can't ignore a commercial video editing program. MAGIX Movie Edit Pro Premium offers the best value for money. You can choose from a lot of animations, titles, transitions and filters to give the video project a professional look. In addition, the multicam function and the burning options including disc menus are interesting additions for the average amateur filmmaker. In addition, unlike many competing video editors, MAGIX has excellent file support, although you have to pay extra for the hevc codec. Nevertheless, Movie Edit Pro Premium deserves the Best Tested rating.

Click on the table (.pdf) below for a larger version.

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