Find & Compare the Best Deals on Video Editing Software
Video editing software helps you create and edit new videos, or modify ones that already exist.
It can bring in images, sounds and text to create multimedia displays that entertain and impress customers to help show off your brand’s image or communicate information.
Check out our review of the 27 best free video editing software 2021.
Video marketing is one of the marketing channels with the most potential for viral growth – just think about how much content on YouTube has over a billion views.
Unfortunately, though, it’s also one with the highest barrier to entry.
Making professional videos that carry across your brand values is hard and time-consuming.
Simply recording an advertisement on your iPhone isn’t enough to stand out in today’s world of slick, attention-grabbing videos.
Video editing software is an important business tool because they level this playing field and let you work with Hollywood-grade tech on your own company’s marketing content.
It’s simply not possible to make truly professional-looking video content without the use of an editor.
Editors allow you to add things like titlecards, watermarks and logos to videos, letting viewers know who created it, as well as numerous improvements to visual fidelity, such as removing noise or increasing the resolution.
Something that might turn people off of creating video content themselves is that they think it’ll be difficult and time-consuming to make everything from scratch.
Thankfully, the companies that make video editing software agree, which is why many of them come pre-loaded with templates which make crafting unique and enthralling videos easier than ever before.
When companies decide they want to use video content in a marketing campaign or as branding, the typical course of action is to contract an outside agency to produce it for them.
If you want content that would be impractical to produce yourself – such as an animated segment, for instance – this makes sense.
But in many cases, it’s trivial to learn how to produce high-quality videos in-house.
This saves you money, of course, but a much bigger advantage is that it saves the time and hassle of negotiating with an outside entity.
In addition, you get the final say on every aspect of production. When hiring someone else to create content for you, the final product is never going to be exactly what you imagined, even if you wrote the most detailed brief in the world.
Using video editing software to produce content yourself lets you sidestep this and produce precisely what you want, every time.
Editing is a very broad concept, and it might not be immediately obvious what video editing software can do.
Let’s go over some of the basics…
Perhaps the simplest kind of editing, this is when you just chop off parts off the video.
This can be in terms of the canvas – flattening the aspect ratio to make it more cinematic, for example – or in terms of time, where you cut out dead air or bloopers that shouldn’t be in the final product.
These are ways to make your video move seamlessly between two disconnected pieces of footage.
These include fade-ins, fade-outs, cross-dissolves and more.
They’re a useful way of adding a sense of professionalism to your videos.
Editors these days go far beyond simple scene transitions.
They also include more niche effects, like different kinds of blurs and pixelation effects.
These can be useful if you want to protect sensitive information, like someone’s identity or personal details.
Adding identifying graphics to your videos is a good idea for two main reasons: they stop others from ripping off your content and presenting it as their own, and they give the viewer a constant reminder of your brand’s name.
In addition, title cards and other similar screens provide a convenient way to summarise the content of the video, hooking casual viewers, or give credit to the people who helped make it.
Back in the day, you used to have to edit your video and your sound separately, and then smash them together once both were ready.
As you might suspect, this process wasn’t always the most intuitive way to do things.
Thankfully, modern video editing software is now advanced enough to handle any kind of audio editing operation you might want.
This includes removing background noise or normalising sound levels, so that no one part is significantly louder or quieter than anything else.
Colour grading is how you control the colour levels in a video or still image.
It used to be called colour timing, because you adjusted the colours by how long you exposed different parts of the camera’s film.
Colour grading has two main use cases.
The first is to give multiple images the same colour palette, so that one doesn’t look more subdued or blown-out than any of the others.
The second use is to give your images a specific style or theme – washing the colours out to achieve a grayscale effect, for example.
3D editing, as the name implies, is editing footage that’s been shot with 3D cameras.
Because 3D footage is typically stored as two separate ‘reels’ of film, 3D editing software typically works by letting you combine and separate the two reels as necessary to produce the effect you’re after.
One of the basic techniques of 3D editing is called ‘muxing’, which is the process of syncing together the two reels – one for each eye – into a single 3D video source.
This is often very difficult to get right without the use of specialised software, as the timing has to be precise down to the millisecond.
An aspect ratio is a convenient way to think about the size of a video. It works by comparing something’s height to its width.
Think of a square. Its width is always the same as its height, and we call this a 1:1 (‘one-to-one’) aspect ratio.
Now imagine a rectangle. It might be twice as long as it is tall, and that would be expressed as a 2:1 aspect ratio.
We use ratios because they let us easily define the overall shape of a video without having to talk about exact measurements, which don’t conjure up a clear image and are likely to change when your content is seen on different devices, such as mobile phones.
Videos work by showing several images so closely together that they look like one continuous image.
It’s basically an optical illusion, and to work, the video has to go through dozens of images a second. This is its framerate, expressed in frames-per-second (FPS).
Movies and TV shows are usually shot at 24 frames-per-second, whereas things like video games usually run at either 30 or 60.
The higher your framerate, the ‘smoother’ the final video will feel.
It’s best to stick to standardised framerates, however, as unusual ones can feel very disconcerting to viewers.
These are two big terms for a simple concept: converting a video file from one format to another.
It should be no big surprise that there are a lot of different computer formats for video files, and that each of them have their own benefits and drawbacks.
Some of the most common formats for modern usage are:
Transcoding simply means converting a video file between these formats.
Because these formats treat audio and visual quality differently, it also generally means you’ll be losing some amount of information each time you convert the file.
Avoid unnecessary file conversions when possible.
Standards conversion, in turn, refers to getting your video into one of a handful of industry-recognised formats.
These include things like PAL or NTSC for television content.
More than other kinds of software, there are massive differences between the capabilities and usability of different video editing software.
Finding the right one for business use can be especially tricky, because you’re often more concerned with ensuring a direct return on investment than a professional video editing software, who can justify using multiple editors as a professional expense.
With that said, let’s consider some aspects to keep in mind when choosing a video editor.
Video editing is a very complicated subject.
Every video editing software falls somewhere on a spectrum that balances how easy it is to use with what it can easily accomplish, and figuring out where on this spectrum your company’s needs lie is essential to finding the right editor.
Consider your goals.
Are you trying to produce wholly-original, Hollywood-grade content that specifically shows off your visual and technical skills?
If so, you’ll want industry-grade software, like Apple’s Final Cut Pro.
If you’re simply trying to create regular video content for a social media platform or internal briefing, however, that level of complexity won’t be necessary.
You’ll be better served by a less powerful tool that can afford to lay out its fewer features in a way that’s easier for newcomers to understand.
It’s important to do your research on what formats your input and output files will be in.
Input files are anything which you use to create the video, such as pre-existing clips which you string together into a longer piece.
If your video editor doesn’t support the format those files are in, you’re out of luck.
Similarly, think about where your final video will be seen. If it’s on YouTube, it’ll need to be in a different format than if you wanted to put it on a DVD, or display it on television.
More specialist formats might only be supported by more complex, industry-focused tools, so do some research to see what other people with the same goals as you use.
Video editing is actually one of the most demanding things you can do on a computer, besides 3D rendering or playing high-end video games.
In other words, if your computers aren’t beefy enough, it might take you hours to output the final video.
In a worst-case scenario, video editing software that’s too feature-rich might run so slowly it’s unusable on your system, or even crash.
Be sure to check the minimum computer system requirements listed on the vendor’s website to see if you’ll be able to run the editor without any problems.
When we say non-linear editing, all it really means is that the original files you’re working with don’t get deleted or modified while editing.
If you realise afterwards that you want to undo something or start over from scratch, they’ll still be there, untouched.
Choosing video editing software with a non-linear editing workflow is a good idea, as it means you won’t have to worry about backing up your workfiles every time you want to start a new project.
Check out our review of the 27 best free video editing software 2021, or use our video editing software comparison function to find the best tool for you.