These Free Video Editors Can Match the Pricey Ones’ Features

BANGKOK, THAILAND - JANUARY 10: A pro-election activist uses a smartphone to video a city centre rally on January 10, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand. Over a thousand pro-election activists gathered in Bangkok's shopping district to show support for Thailand's upcoming snap-poll on February 2 and also voice opposition to a planned shutdown of Bangkok by anti-government groups. In Thailand's latest round of political turmoil, which has lasted over two months, anti-government groups have announced they will shutdown Bangkok early next week in an attempt to pressure the government to resign and derail the February election. (Photo by Rufus Cox/Getty Images)
Cut that video down to the good parts with these free programs. (Photo: Rufus Cox/Getty Images)

So have you kind of wanted to try your hand at video?

Seems like everyone is doing it, right? At least, you think, you could make a quick little video for you mom’s birthday? Editing video feels complicated, hard to learn and the software sounds like it’s expensive. Either you pay the Macintosh tax to get access to iMovie or you buy some version of Adobe Premier or Final Cut. While consumer versions of name brand video editors have been available for less than $100, the open source community is chasing after the big guys

Video editing is neither as expensive nor as difficult as you might think. On the latter point, Adobe has a solid video editor that has vastly more functions than most consumers or small businesses would ever need, for about $65. Here’s a price that’s even better than that, though: free video editors.

Here’s a few open-source video editors that are either out or close to it. They support multi-track editing, titles, different kinds of audio and clipping out that part where your mom ruins a perfectly good shot by saying, “Oh my gosh, put that camera down.”

  • Shotcut is an open source video editor that works across computer platforms. “In most software categories there is a choice for a free tool that works on most desktop operating systems that is also often open source and conveniently available,” Dan Dennedy, the lead developer of Shotcut told the Observer in an email. “Another thing that is nice about them is that they tend to work the same regardless of platform.” Shotcut announced its support for 4K video quality last month. The project was trending on HackerNews today, a site run by YCombinator that works much like Reddit.
  • Pitivi. Built by a French team over the last several years, it looks like this is going to be a really beautiful and highly functional tool, but version 1.0 hasn’t come out yet, though they welcome beta testers of the current build.
  • OpenShot. This one seems to lean on its animation features, though it can handle any kind of video. Free, open-source but only built for Linux so far.
  • Blender. This Dutch, cross-platform video-editor is really more about 3D modeling and animation, but you probably could use it for making a home movie.
  • Avidemux. This is the keep-it-simple, editor (but you’ve probably already got Windows Movie Maker).
  • YouTube. Just in case you didn’t realize it, you can make basic edits right on the site you are likely to post your video to, including clipping the edges of video and plopping two different videos together into one. If you’re logged in, you’ll find all the videos you’ve uploaded to the site ready for mild remixing here. Yahoo acquired an online video editing service, Jumpcut, back in 2006, but shut it down in 2009.
These Free Video Editors Can Match the Pricey Ones’ Features