There’s a reason why Best Film Editing is its own category at the Oscars.
It’s the under-appreciated “invisible art form” that goes far beyond simply piecing together bits and pieces of dialogue and visuals. Often, it’s in the editing room where raw footage is transformed into a visually-compelling, immersive story.
Of course, us marketers are not typically found rubbing elbows with Hollywood’s video editing elite (nor do we have access to their budgets). But, with the rise of video marketing — both in popularity and accessibility — we are being asked to don our own video editing caps with greater frequency.
Like the modern-day editors of Tinseltown, you should always leverage video editing software in post-production to make your story come to life.
For example, let’s say you filmed a killer off-camera interview with your boss for your website. Once you’re done, you can’t immediately upload that raw file for public viewing. You’ll need to edit out the interviewer prompts from behind-the-scenes and add some branding polish to make it shine.
But what are the best free and paid video editing software recommendations for marketers who are just getting started, as well as those who consider themselves to be more advanced video storytellers?
Video Editing Software for Beginners
If you’ve never edited a video before, don’t panic. There are plenty of free and paid video editing options on the market that are easy to use.
Oh, Windows Movie Maker. If you’re a PC guy or gal, it’s the video editing software (and slideshow builder) that gives so much and asks for so little in return — actually, it asks for literally nothing since it’s free!
If you’re ramping up an aggressive video marketing strategy, you shouldn’t look to Windows Movie Maker as your long-term solution. It’s designed for personal use, so it’s not going to have all the bells and whistles you’re looking for.
That said, if you haven’t dabbled in video-editing before, think of it as a great option if you’re looking to get your feet wet, but you still want to play in the shallow end of the pool for awhile.
If you’re looking to create a polished video that can engage your audience without the hassle of understanding technical video-editing techniques, then Animoto may be the right choice for you.
The great thing about Animoto is that you can use it regardless of your experience or comfort level in video-editing.
Animoto allows you to easily pull in a variety of elements to improve your video — including text, camera footage, and images — and then combine them together with ease for a cohesive and professional video.
Animoto is not free, however. Subscriptions start at $8 per month, although the $22 per month option is recommended for “professional” use.
Apple’s user-friendly iMovie app allows you to create visually rich videos on mac OS and iOS platforms with ease, including videos with 4k-resolution and movie trailers with Hollywood film-flair.
What’s more, you don’t need an expensive Mac setup to get started — you can begin the process from your iPhone or iPad.
You can also create a stunning video when you edit your content and take advantage of its studio-quality features. For instance, special effects like green screen and action shots, voice over recording, built-in sound effects, animated titles, and filters with high-fidelity.
Shakr makes it easy to edit video content from your web browser rather than using downloaded software — and you don’t need any prior video-editing knowledge. Simply drag and drop your video clips after selecting a video design that fulfills the look you want for your brand.
Similar to Animoto, Shakr is a monthly subscription, with plans starting at $49 per month.
Advanced Video Editing Software
If you’ve dabbled in video editing before — or you like to think of yourself as more of a video pro — you probably want to dive right into video editing software that caters to the more seasoned marketer.
We are all for that, but not without a word of caution first.
Advanced tools may seem appealing to a beginner, because you will get more “advanced” results. However, you should only take that step up in sophistication if you already have the skills in-house, or if you have a team member who is dedicated to learning the art of video editing.
In short, if you don’t have advanced resources, don’t pull in an advanced tool.
With that caveat in mind, here are a few of our favorite advanced video editing software options:
Lightworks is probably the most robust free video editor option on the market currently. (Fun fact: It used to edit The King’s Speech, which went on to be nominated for the Best Film Editing Oscar in 2010.)
First, while they brand themselves as “the video editor for everyone,” there is a somewhat steep learning curve. Lightworks is a professional-grade video editor with a unique interface that some might find counter-intuitive, if they’ve done editing work on other platforms.
Second, it’s more “freemium” than free, with clear sacrifices and trade-offs as you scale up their subscription model.
Lightworks can be a great option for the skilled video marketer with an eye on the bottom line, but you should evaluate what your needs are first before committing.
With Adobe Premiere Pro, you can edit your video in its original format and create professional video marketing content fit for distribution on multiple marketing channels — web, social, film, or TV.
Additionally, Premiere Pro is a cloud-based platform, which makes it easy to edit your video content from virtually anywhere.
Your team members can practice editing their videos in Adobe Premiere Pro with simple outdoor shots or trips that don’t require a script or storyline to get started. (Just remember to keep your folders organized, and your video content brief.)
Through Adobe’s Creative Cloud, plans start at $19.99 per month.
Use Adobe Premiere Elements to add interesting visual details to engage your audience, such as slow- and fast-motion effects to add suspense or energy to your video content.
You can also use this program to fine-tune your audio, add colors in different scenes and animate text to create titles with motion for an attention-grabbing effect. (As a bonus, Adobe provides tutorials that are useful for your designated team members that are learning the program.)
This software is currently available for a one-time purchase price of $59.99 until September 4 — at that time, the price will more than likely return to $69.99.
Apple’s Final Cut Pro is similar to Adobe Premiere Pro, but designed for Mac.
This video-editing tool offers a variety of advanced customization features that can give your video marketing content the professional and cinematic look you need, such as speed controls and titling. It’s also simple to set up, since it’s marketed as a “seamless jump” from iMovie.
Final Cut Pro is available for a one-time purchase price of $299.99.
It All Comes Down to What You Need
This is obviously not a “be all, end all” list of editing tools. But whether you choose from what we’ve suggested, or use a different application entirely, do your research.
Given that many of the best options are not free, you don’t want to end up regretting your decisions down the line.
If you’re struggling to make a choice, start with your video marketing goals — both for the video right in front of you, as well as how you envision your video marketing strategy will evolve in future.
Will a simple video editing tool do the trick, or is it worth investing the time and resources to go a more advanced route?
There are a lot of fantastic video editing software recommendations we can provide, but you will still need to make the right choice for you.