Let’s dive in! Here are our recs for the top 10 best pieces of video editing software or video editing apps for beginners—from cheapest (i.e. free!) to most expensive.
1. Apple iMovie
Ok—so to those of you working with PCs, this one won’t really apply; but we’d remiss to leave it off the list. If you’re looking for simplicity and elegance, it doesn’t get much better than Apple iMovie. iMovie’s ten high-fidelity filters are some of the classiest in the video editing game; and if you’re shooting on your iPhone, or have been editing a project on your iPad, you can use AirDrop to wirelessly and seamlessly transfer your project over to your Mac.
One of iMovie’s most coveted features is its green-screen, or “chroma-key” tool, which allows you to place your characters in exotic locations—Hawaii, say—at a moment’s notice. Want to overlay the scene with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”? iMovie ties directly in with iTunes and GarageBand, so you can easily implement custom tracks and sounds. When your movie’s finally ready to ship, release it into the wild using iMessage, Facebook, YouTube, or any other of iMovie’s succinctly connected platforms.
Standout Features: Seamless Apple product integration; green-screen; audio and social platform integration
Pricing: Free with the purchase of a Mac
2. Lumen5: How to Edit Videos Without Much Technical Ability
We’ll put this more in the category of a video editing “tool” than video editing software, but for social media marketers who want to create fun, flashy social promos in the blink of an eye, Lumen5 is a no brainer.
Lumen5 markets itself as a tool that turns blog posts into social promos. While the process isn’t perfect, and you’ll likely have to do some tinkering to get your blog content looking just the way you want it, the rest of the video creation process is a cinch. Merely refine some copy that teases your blog post; drag and drop some gifs, screengrabs, or video clips; add some music; and your engaging social video will be ripe for Facebook and Twitter.
Standout Features: Blog-to-social-promo creation; drag-and-drop interface
Pricing: Create as many 480p videos as you want with the free version; or, for $50 per month, upgrade to 1080p HD.
3. Nero Video
One of the cheaper options around ($49.99), Nero Video holds its own on this list—it comes well-stocked with a lot of the tricks and effects you’ll find among other products vying for video editing supremacy, and as far as software for beginners, you can certainly do worse. If you’re going to spend money learning how to edit videos, however, you might want to steer clear. Nero just doesn’t have the speed and functionality of some of the other products listed here, and if it’s value proposition is its price, $50 is still not all that cheap.
Standout Features: Low pricing
Pricing: One-time payment of $49.99
4. Corel VideoStudio
Corel VideoStudio has all the characteristics of the other top-of-the-line products on this list, including 360-degree VR and 4k support, but it also has the distinction of being the first piece of consumer video editing software to offer motion tracking—which, if you’re not already familiar, is a feature that allows you to track specific objects throughout your cut (if you wanted, say, to point an arrow at one of your characters, blur out his face, or bestow him with a funny hat). Most of the products on this list come equipped with motion tracking, but VideoStudio still boasts one of the best motion tracking systems around.
One of the knocks on VideoStudio is its speed, which lags notably behind some of the faster systems on this list, like CyberLink PowerDirector and Pinnacle Studio. Still: for a one-time payment of $51.99? You can do much worse.
Standout Features: Motion tracking
Pricing: One-time payment of $51.99
5. Filmora from Wondershare
When it comes to free video editing software, Filmora is about as multi-faceted as they come. Filmora is Wondershare’s standard, simple, high-quality video editing offering; but Wondershare also offers FilmoraGo (for mobile editing) and Filmora Scrn (for screen recording and editing). The design is intuitive and easy to use, and comes replete with filters, overlays, motion elements, transitions, and a small selection of royalty-free music. Here are a few more of the “basics” Filmora offers:
4k and gif support are boilerplate features for most video editing products today, but one thing Filmora does particularly well is titles. Title tools are trending in video software, and while Filmora’s doesn’t have the functionality of say, an Apple Final Cut Pro X, which can superimpose 3D titles over your videos and rotate them on three axes, it nonetheless has some snazzy titling features for the money you’re spending.
Another Filmora feature beginners to video editing will find attractive is “Easy Mode,” which allows you to create fun, polished edits by merely dragging and dropping clips, choosing a theme, and selecting music.
Standout features: Title tool; mobile and screen editing; “Easy Mode”
Pricing: Starts at $59.99 for a lifetime license; or, $39.99 for a year.
6. CyberLink PowerDirector
So—we stretched the meaning of “software” a bit earlier; now, we’re going to stretch the meaning of “beginner.” We included CyberLink PowerDirector on this list because its interface is, at the end of the day, pretty straightforward. Head to the product page, run through the tutorials, and you’ll be alright. There is within the interface, however, an embarrassment of options and effects. If you’re not willing to invest the time in learning all of them, it can get a bit overwhelming.
Don’t be scared of CyberLink’s extra features; just be wary of your commitment level!
In terms of rendering, PowerDirector is regarded as one of the fastest video editing systems around. It also operates consistently in the sphere of the innovative and cutting edge. PowerDirector led the charge in the switch to 4k, and today, it’s one of the first systems to support 360-degree virtual reality footage.
Price: you get what you pay for! $79.99 gets you unlimited access to one of the most capable pieces of video editing software around.
Standout Features: Lightning-fast rendering; comprehensive suite of effects
Pricing: One-time payment of $79.99
7. Adobe Premiere Elements
We include Premiere Elements on the list mostly because it’s been an industry leader in the video editing game for some time. And $79.99 is not egregious, but we’re here to say that at that price, you’re mostly paying for the name. In the time since Premiere Elements’ inception, too many other products have surpassed it in speed and capability for us to place it among the cream of the crop. That’s to take nothing away from Premiere Elements’ usability, though—specifically for beginners.
The Guided Edits feature makes Adobe Premiere a particularly attractive option for beginners, as it allows them to take on both quick edits and advanced projects with substantial assistance from the software.
If you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing, don’t sleep on Guided Edits!
So while Premiere Elements lags behind the competition in terms of speed, 3D editing, multi-cam, and some other advanced features, it’s still a great choice for the beginner looking for a comprehensive suite of effects, and some guidance on how to implement them.
Standout Features: Guided Edits; simple interface
Pricing: One-time payment of $79.99
8. Pinnacle Studio
At the higher end of the Corel product line is Pinnacle Studio—which, at $129.95 (the amount you’ll need to pay to edit 360-degree and 4k content with the “Ultimate” version), costs more than twice as much as VideoStudio. What do you get for the extra money? Well, not only does Pinnacle come readily equipped with all the features you’d expect from an upper-echelon product—motion tracking, 360-degree VR support, 4k support, multi-cam, etc.—but you’d be hard-pressed to find a faster product on the market in terms of rendering.
For all of its features, Pinnacle’s interface is still as user-friendly and intuitive as anything on this list. Thus, is you have the need for speed, and you don’t mind shelling out a few extra bucks for it, Pinnacle might be the product for you.
Standout Features: Top-of-the-line rendering speeds; full range of features and support
Pricing: One-time payment of $129.95
9. Adobe Premiere Pro
With a virtually unmatched suite of features, 360 VR and 4k support, and a newly implemented ability to store, organize, and share assets online with a team, Adobe Premiere Pro is perhaps the most complete piece of video editing software around. Here’s a recent video promo for our free AdWords account structure guide we cut using Premiere Pro.
One of the more dazzling of Premiere Pro’s tools is the Lumetri Color tool, which offers color adjustment and manipulation on par with that of a Photoshop. The multi-cam feature is also a winner—whereas most systems allow you to work with a limited number of camera angles, Premiere Pro’s latest iteration allows for an unlimited amount.
Throw in a wealth of titling options, readily connected ancillary apps (like Photoshop and After Effects), and a flexible, easy-to-use interface, and Premiere Pro is a no brainer.
Standout Features: Multi-cam and coloring options; title tool; easy integration with Adobe Products; straightforward interface
10. Apple Final Cut Pro X
For the most advanced, least fiscally prudent of beginners, there’s Apple Final Cut Pro X. $299.99 might be a little steep for a product you may well have a difficult time understanding; but for those among you who enjoy a challenge, and who aspire to some level of professionalism in video editing, why not go for it? Apple has made the transition from iMovie to Final Cut Pro more painless than ever—so if you’re the kind of guy or gal who enjoys him/herself an Apple product, and has worked with iMovie to the point of mastery, it might be time to splurge on Final Cut Pro. The power is still daunting; the interface, significantly less so.
Standout Features: Magnetic Timeline; Touch Bar support
Pricing: One-time payment of $299.99
Some Final Thoughts
Are you a content or social media marketer looking to get in the video editing game for the sake of keeping up with the growing video trend? Don’t stress! Any of the above software apps would make a fine choice for a beginner.
Think about your budget, your current level of expertise, and how much time you’re willing to devote to learning a new skill. Whether you’re looking for the best video editing software for YouTube, or the responsibility has simply fallen on you to get your team’s video marketing strategy up to snuff—don’t wait around deliberating! Get invested in one of these video editing products, and make it yours.