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What is the Best Video Editing Software?

Give that heading a little Googling and you’ll discover an ungodly amount of results.  Frankly it’s a small miracle if you did Google that and landed here!  (thank you SEO-gods)  First, let’s set something straight.  When we’re discussing video editing software, what we’re really looking for is non-linear editing software – NLE for short.  Non-linear simply means you can edit a piece of video out of order.  Want to start in the middle, cut the beginning, and then edit the end?  You can!  Because you’re not beholden to editing in a beginning-to-end linear fashion.  Ok, enough with the semantics.  Here’s what you came here for.

In today’s market, there are really only 4 NLE options for professional editors:  Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X, Avid, and DaVinici Resolve.  That’s based off their widespread adoption in the industry.  Each of these programs is great.  They’re all professional level video editing softwares that have strengths and weaknesses.  That’s not the answer you’re looking for, so I’ll briefly dig into each below.

What The Pros Use

Adobe Premier Pro

Part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, Premiere easily integrates with other industry standard creative apps like After Effects and Photoshop, making it extremely flexible and powerful.  Especially so for smaller production companies and large ad agencies.  For old Final Cut Pro 7 users, it has a very familiar feel, but with a more robust feature set.  Premiere is my workhorse and where I spend the majority of my time while editing.  That’s why it’s the core program for Better Editor’s content (course link).  A downside to Premiere is it currently doesn’t support dual graphics cards (GPUs), slightly hindering performance.  Overall though, for the swiss-army knife like flexibility it provides, it simply cannot be beat.  Premiere Pro Free trial.

Final Cut Pro X

Apple’s Final Cut Pro X has redesigned classic non-linear editing.  At it’s launch in 2011, that out of the box thinking was to its detriment, forcing many long-time Final Cut Pro users to abandon ship (myself included).  Since then Apple has grown FCP X into a worthy NLE, perfect for single users and small teams working on tight deadlines.  The magnetic timeline feature and powerful metadata filters make FCP X an extremely fast program.  The major downside to FCP X is that it only runs on Macs, so us Windows users are SOL.  For Mac users though, that means FCP X is fine-tuned and built to run like a camp on your computer.  Final Cut Pro X Free Trial.

Avid Media Composer

Avid’s Media Composer is the NLE that started it all.  Avid is still considered the industry standard for video editing software, though its popularity has waned in the last decade.  Avid has been used to cut countless films, shows, and more.  The software itself has won multiple Emmys!  Avid’s strength lies in its robust media management features – essentially taking care of the media itself and keeping the user as far from it as possible.  Media Composer can be an intimidating software on the surface though, with an older interface and bigger learning curve that today’s other NLEs.  I first learned to edit on an Avid and am thankful for it because it forced me to learn good editing fundamentals like using keyboard shortcuts and it laid a solid foundation for growing into other editing programs.  Avid Free Trial.

DaVinci Resolve

Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve is the program that’s going to run the industry one day and soon.  From its inception Resolve has been developed at a blistering pace.  Coming from an industry-leading color corrector it now has an integrated full-fledged NLE with unique time-saving features, an integrated node-based compositor, and an integrated digital audio workstation – all for the low price of FREE.  Yes DaVinci Resolve has a paid version (that I recommend), but the majority of Resolve’s features can be used in the free version provided by Blackmagic Design.  In short, Resolve is power and full of potential.  There’s a few minor things that I haven’t quite adjusted to on the NLE side, so I still primarily use it for color grading.  I’m looking forward to letting it consume more of my workflow in the future though.

The Best Video Editing Software

So what is the best video editing software?  The programs above are all great in their own right and ultimately as a video editor it’s in your best interest to learn as much as you can about each of them.  The more flexible you are with the tools you use to edit, the more easily you will find work doing what you love – editing.  Flexibility makes you a Better Editor.