Best Free Movie Editing Software

In today’s multimedia-heavy world of online news, entertainment, and social sharing, the ability to edit video and audio on one’s PC is an absolute must. Powerful and inexpensive computer hardware allows anyone to produce professional-looking movies and video clips nowadays, provided they have the right program. Fortunately, there are a slew of free video editors available online that can produce stunning results without costing a penny. Here’s a few top-notch video editors you may want to take a look at.

Windows Movie Maker Live

Windows Movie Maker Live

Windows Live Movie Maker 2011

If all you need to do is cut, paste, and rearrange video clips, edit audio, and perform other simple tasks, there’s no reason not to use Movie Maker .  Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 is one of the many helpful tools available to Windows users from the Windows Live Essentials bundle of software. Simply put, Movie Maker is one of the easiest video editors to use for home or office projects that you’re going to find anywhere.

>Pros and Cons

Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 has a user-friendly interface that’s intuitive and hassle-free. It also supports a large number of add-on modules to extend the functionality of the base program. The learning curve is fairy gentle, so you can be up and editing in no time. In addition, Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 integrates with other Live Essentials products like SkyDrive so that you can share your work easily with friends and colleagues. The only drawback is that it’s not open source.

Avidemux

Don’t let its web page fool you: Avidemux is a full-featured editor that can do anything that Windows’ Movie Maker is capable of. Its functionality covers all the basic tasks you’d expect, as well as more complex operations beyond simple cutting and pasting. Its primary strength is the sheer number of formats and codecs that it can work with natively. Whether you need to splice DVD images, AVI files, or ASF clips, Avidemux is up to the challenge.

>Pros and Cons

In addition to excellent codec and file format support, Avidemux is also quite good at automating your work flow with its scripting tools and capabilities. While Avidemux is easy to work with, fairly powerful, and generally quite effective, it’s not without its flaws. It sometimes suffers from the occasional bug here and there, but patches are often quite quick to roll out. For your everyday encoding, filtering, and splicing needs, Avidemux is your go-to software tool.

Blender

All the cool kids nowadays seem to be using Blender for their more intensive multimedia projects. Much more than a simple cut-and-paste video editor, Blender supports 3D graphics and animation. In addition, it can be used for 3D modeling, retouching raw video footage in post-production, and even interactive video games. Blender is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, giving anybody on any platform the ability to do some serious editing regardless of the operating system they prefer.

>Pros and Cons

The nice thing about Blender is that it can do pretty much anything you want. And that’s also the bad news. Those who aren’t particularly tech-savvy may feel a bit daunted when faced with navigating Blender’s rather intimidating interface. While novices can certainly get the hang of some of the simpler features Blender has to offer, it’s really geared more towards experienced amateurs and professionals. Regardless, Blender has a lot to offer if you have the time and energy to devote to learning how to use it.

Lightworks

Used for years in Hollywood to edit such blockbusters as Pulp Fiction and The Departed, Lightworks is making some serious waves with average Windows users as of late. They recently decided to go open source and publish their code base. Still in public beta, Lightworks is freely available to download and use. Lightworks feels a lot leaner than you’d expect in everyday operation, considering its capabilities. Despite its polish and power, this slick video editor doesn’t come off as overly complicated.

>Pros and Cons

Featuring advanced, GPU-accelerated layers, color correction, and video capture, Lightworks gets the job done right without feeling like it’s working too hard. Snappy and responsive in all the right ways, Lightworks is more than the sum of its parts. Aside from being free, the main advantage to using Lightworks is its well-formed UI and seamless work flow. Though not as simple as Movie Maker or Avidemux, it’s easy enough to use if you’re willing to put a little time into learning the ropes.

Still confused about all of the different image file types?  Not sure what the difference is between .JPG and .PNG?  Check out our article about Image File Formats.

The Final Word

If simplicity and ease of use are your primary concerns, Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 or Avidemux are probably your best bet. If you need a more full-featured and comprehensive digital editing suite and don’t mind a bit of added complexity, Blender is the way to go. For the best of both worlds, Lightworks is the program for you. In any event, all of the aforementioned programs are more than capable of handling basic movie editing needs.

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