Premiere Pro alternatives: free video editing software

When it comes to modern video editing, digital editing programs are indispensable. Among others Avid, Final Cut and Davinci Resolve, are all professionally-orientated and fee-based programs. However, Adobe Premier Pro has established itself as the professional software for sophisticated, digital editing. Thanks to modern editing programs, footage no longer has to be physically edited by hand. Instead it can be digitally cut in a variable and unchronological, a.k.a. non-linear, fashion without having any effect on the quality.

What makes non-linear editing software so handy?

Nowadays editing programs are taken for granted by many; unaware of the fact that the process of video editing was made so much easier by the digitalization of photo and video. Up until recently, video editing involved tedious and manual labor. But these days anyone with a capable PC can easily and conveniently edit films. Anyone who takes the time to immerse themselves in the world of non-linear editing programs, will have limitless possibilities to turn individual scenes into cinematic pieces of art.  

Video editing software now also means you can edit almost every film, produce smart phone videos for social media, or create video content for your own homepage. It is also no longer necessary to pay for software, e.g. Premiere Pro, as free software is now widely available. We have compiled a list of the best free Premiere Pro alternatives out there.

VSDC Free Video Editor – multi-functional & easy-to-use

The VSDC Free Video Editor is a freeware program with an extensive range of functions. It offers a very clear and accessible user interface with ribbon navigation; making it easy to both import and edit videos. It has a comprehensive set of base functions like cross-fades, color adjustment, adding sound effects or subtitles, and chroma keying for varying backgrounds like 3-D effects. These all mean the software offers limitless creative possibilities. The editor allows you to easily upload video clips from desktop folders onto the timeline, add music over them, and also simply drag & drop pictures or images into the project.

Above all, VSDC Free Video Editor’s additional functions make it particularly accessible for social media users. It allows for the simple creation of slideshows and also offers a handy screen capture tool, with which you can easily take screenshots intended for the likes of video tutorials and screencasts. As regards to picture quality, the editor leads the way and even caters for the editing of fully HD videos in 16:9 ratio with 1920 x 1080 pixel solution and a frame rate of up 30 fps (frames per second). The authoring tool means that the end result can be burned directly onto DVD or can also be exported onto devices like smart phones and iPods. One catch is that the editor is unfortunately not suitable for Mac or Linux users.

Conclusion: the VSDC Free Video Editor offers Windows users all necessary features for editing.  It’s a handy tool for both beginners as well as amateur filmmakers and is easy to use. With its many additional functions it leaves little more to be desired.

Pros Cons
Capture function for videos Only compatible with Windows
Full HD editing  
Accessible “ribbon style“ user interface  

Shotcut – the variable tool for high resolution

The open source editing software Shotcut also offers users a comprehensive free tool with very useful functions. It is as easy to use as the VSDC editor and allows you to simply drag & drop video clips into the timeline ready to edit. The clear and accessible user interface allows users to create, format and stabilize their own videos. A diverse range of default filter functions, e.g. for frame transitions, make image editing even easier. Filter functions allow for the volume level of individual sequences to be easily adjusted manually or even completely muted - to cater for the addition of background music. Color wheels allow for easy and intuitive color correction and saturation. When it comes to exporting data, a diverse range of file formats like MP3, MP4, MPEG or MOV, makes life even easier for Shotcut users.

Shotcut uses a ‘native’ cut meaning editing takes place directly within the original clip. This means that no additional file import is necessary and there is no danger of the quality suffering. One thing which makes the program particularly attractive is that it even supports videos with ultra-sharp 4K resolution (roughly 4 times as sharp as full HD) as well as offering informative video tutorials on its website. Shotcut’s capture tool is especially useful for video bloggers and tutorial makers as it allows webcam videos to be recorded, streamed, and integrated into other productions. The program’s FFmpeg also means Shotcut caters for every format of video, audio and image.

Conclusion: Shotcut offers everyone, from fans of high resolution clips to active video portal users, the opportunity to produce high-quality video clips and tutorials. At the same time, the wide range of filters and optimization options allow users to achieve their desired results without any loss of quality.

Pros Cons
Compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux Steep learning curve – and tutorials only available in English
Supports 4k resolution  
Webcam capture with streaming option  
“Native” editing – no need to import files  

OpenShot Video Editor – clear, simple & easy to use

Among the alternatives to Premiere Pro is also the free and beginner-friendly open source tool OpenShot Video Editor. Originally just available for Linux users, the most recent beta version of OpenShot is now also compatible with Windows and macOS, meaning that most users can get started straight away on their PC or laptop. OpenShot is notable for its particularly clear and accessible user interface. Simple drag & drop tools allow you to edit pictures, video, as well as audio files in the timeline itself.

Within the program are all the necessary functions for effective editing: filter effects, color and brightness corrector, transitions with preview, a chroma key tool for the use of a blue/green screen, as well as many other features. Along with this it also offers a range of useful additional features, e.g. user-defined keyboard shortcuts, integrated tutorials, and easily modified effect filters; all of which can be applied with the help of the drag & drop feature. On top of this, the free 3D design software Blender even allows for the creation of three-dimensional animation, e.g. for a title caption, within the editor. FFmpeg means that all popular file formats are supported.

Conclusion: With its clear overview and easy usability, OpenShot is the optimal video editing software for beginners looking to start creating right away.

Pros Cons
Compatible Windows, macOS and Linux Beta version sometimes prone to workflow defects
Keyboard shortcuts  
Integrated tutorials  
3D animation for titles  

HitFilm 4 Express – refined and comprehensive

When it comes to free alternatives to Premiere Pro, the freemium program HitFilm 4 Express undoubtedly leads the way. The user interface shares many similarities with the Premiere Pro model, with its effects panel, trimmer and preview window, as well as how the timeline and imported clips all neatly and efficiently arranged.

User-defined special effects and filters provide adventurous users with a wide range of possibilities for experimentation. With HitFilm 4 Express, default 3D effects can be seamlessly inserted and modified. Besides this, the compositing function allows for separately recorded 2D and 3D effects to be flexibly combined.

To access HitFilm 4 Express you must first register and set up a free account on the HitFilm hompeage. This will not just give you access to the free tool, it will also give you the possibility to purchase additional functions; for those wishing to get even more out of their respective projects. The website offers many free video tutorials with input from software functions and interesting information regarding topics like visual effects. The only downside of the program is its incompatibility with Linux.

Conclusion: Visually and functionally, HitFilm4Express has everything that a sophisticated video editing programme should have and is certainly up there with the best professional free Adobe Premiere Pro alternatives available.

Pros Cons
Accessible user interface Not compatible with Linux
Extensive range of functions Charge for additional functions
2D/3D compositing tool Registry required(free)
Free video tutorials and training  

Vast choice of Premiere Pro alternatives for the semi-professional sector

Adobe Premiere Pro is one of the most comprehensive and capable video editors on the market, providing a standard on par with that of the professionals. However the freeware programs listed above mean that anyone working in a semi-professional or hobby capacity has many alternative choices when it comes to producing eye-catching videos. These programs provide limitless creative possibilities - be it for your private archives, tomorrow’s presentation, or your own YouTube channel. The internet also offers many more free video editors and freemium tools available for download. Unlike most other free programs, these editors are both suitable for ambitious beginners as well as for keen amateur filmmakers, who require a lot more than the mere arrangement of clips. Below you will find a short overview regarding which video formats are supported by the various programs, as well as their compatibility with the different operating systems.

Program Operating system Supported video formats
VSDC Video Editor Windows AVI, QuickTime (MP4/M4V, MOV etc.), H.264/MPEG-4, HDVideo/AVCHD, WindowsMedia, DVD/VOB, VCD/SVCD, MPEG/MPG/DAT, Matroska Video, Real Media Video, Flash Video, DV, AMV, MTV, NUT, DivX, XviD, MJPEG
Shotcut Windows macOS Linux Processing via FFmpeg, incl: MPEG-1, H.261 (Px64),H.262/MPEG-2, H.263,MPEG-4, H.264/MPEG- AVC, HEVC/H.265 (MPEG-H Part 2), Motion JPEG, IEC DV, CD+G
OpenShot Windows macOS Linux Processing via FFmpeg, incl: MPEG-1, H.261 (Px64),H.262/MPEG-2, H.263,MPEG-4, H.264/MPEG- AVC, HEVC/H.265 (MPEG-H Part 2), Motion JPEG, IEC DV, CD+G
HitFilm 4 Express Windows macOS AVI, MPEG, MP4, MOV, WMV, DIVX, XVID, VOB, OGM, H.264, RM (exports AVI, WMV, MPG, MP4, MOV, 3GP as well as directly onto iPod, iPhone, YouTube, PlayStation Portable and Smartphone)

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