The 7 best video editing programs of 2021: beginner, advanced, and professional

Professional video editing software must offer ever more functions in order to meet different challenges and keep up with the competition: whether it’s 4K resolution, depth impression for 3D films, or 360-degree recordings for VR (virtual reality) videos. Thanks to high-resolution smartphone cameras and action cameras such as the GoPro, the demand for video editing programs has grown among amateurs and hobby enthusiasts to easily edit their video material.

The good news is that even affordable video editing software now offers many of the features used by budding YouTube stars and hobby filmmakers and postproduction professionals alike. In this article, we present an overview of the best video editing software of 2021 currently on the market.

Comparing the best video editing programs of 2021

Criteria

Adobe Premiere Pro CC 14

Adobe Premiere Elements 2021

Apple Final Cut Pro X 10

Wondershare Filmora X

Costs

Subscription costs £19.97/month for the full video package, £49.95/month for all Adobe apps

A one-time fee of £72

A one-time fee of £299.99

£50 for a lifetime license or £29 for a year

Suitable for

Professionals, semi-professional users

Beginners and advanced

Semi-professional users, advanced

Beginners

Operating system

Windows, macOS

Windows, macOS

macOS

Windows, macOS, Android, iOS

Image traces

Unlimited

102

Unlimited

100

Supports 360° virtual-reality

-

Multi-camera editing

-

-

Motion tracking

3D-editing

Supports 4K

Video formats

AVI, MOV, MXF, 3GPP/3GPP2, BWF, 3GP, 3G2, AAC, AIFF, AIF, Apple ProRes, ProRes HDR, ProRes RAW, ASF, ASND, AVC-Intra, AVCHDAVI, BWF, CHPROJ, CRM, DNxHD, DNxHR, DV, GIF, H.264 AVC, HEIF, M1V, M2T/, M2TS, M2V, M4A, M4V, MOV, MP3, MP4, MPEG-1, -2 & -4, MPE, MPG, MTS, MXF, Native MJPEGs, OMF, OpenEXR, R3D, Rush, VOB, WAV, WMV

AVCHD, H.264, HDV, HEVC, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, QickTime, QuickTime, DV-AVI, DVD, WMV, WMA, MP3

AVI, AVCHD, AVC-Ultra, DVCPRO HD, DV, ProRes, ProRes RAW, ProRes RAW HQ, H.264, HDV, Quicktime, MOV, MPEG IMX, MP4, MTS/M2TS, MXF, iFrame, Motion JPEG, XAVC, XDCAM, RAW (with Plug-in)), XML, PTP, AAC, AC3, AIFF, CAF, MP3, WAV

Import:AAC, AIF, AIFF, AVI, DV-DIF, H.264, NSV, FLV, MKV, MP4, M4V, 3GPP, MOV, MPG, MPEG, DAT, TRP-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Quicktime, WMV, WAV, WMA, MP3, DV, MOD, TOD, MTS, M2TS, M2T, FLV, F4V, ASF, DVR-MS

Export: MP4, MOV, FLV, WEBM, 3GP, AVI, MKVOGV, VOB, VRO, M4A, OGG, FLAC

Supports HEVC

-

Supports social media uploading

Criteria

Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 17

Cyberlink PowerDirector 19 Ultra

Movavi Video Suite 2021

Costs

Free (Studio version £225)

From approx. £79.99

From approx. £65.95

Suitable for

Professionals, semi-professional users, advanced users

Beginners

Beginners

Operating system

Windows, Linux, macOS

Windows, macOS

Windows, macOS

Image traces

Unlimited

100

100

Supports 360° virtual-reality

-

Multi-camera editing

-

Motion tracking

-

3D-editing

Supports 4K

✔ (8K in the full version)

Video formats

AVI, Quicktime, MP2, MP4, WMV (only Export), MXF Op-1A und MXF Op-Atom, AVCHD

Import: TS, ASF, M2V, VOBArriRaw, AVC HD, AVC Intra HD, AVCHD, AVI, MOV, MP4, TIFF, CINE, CinemaDNG, Cinema RAW Light, Cinema RAW, Cineon, DNG, DPX, easyDCP, MXF OP-Atom und OP1A, MPEG-2, easyDCP, RAW, , DPX, RMF, DNG, OpenEXR, R3D, VRW, MP4, NEF, Quicktime, TIFF, VRW

AVI, MOV, MP4, TIFF, AVCHD, AVC-Intra, MXF Op-Atom und Op-1A, MPEG-2, easyDCP, RAW, ArriRaw, Cin in 10/12/14bit, DPX, RMF, MPEG-2/4, DNG, OpenEXR, R3D, VRWMVC (M2T), AVI, FLV (H.264), MKV, 3GPP2, AVCHD (M2T), DAT, DivX, DV-AVI, DVR-MS, HD MPEG-2, MOD, MOV, MOV (H.264), MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC (H.264), MP4, TOD, VOB, WMV, WMV-HD, WTV in H.264/MPEG2, DSLR in H.264

AVI, MPEG-Format, H.264, MOV, AVCHD, XAVC-S, TOD, VOB, WMV, MP4, 3GPP2. WMV, DV-AVI, DivX, WTV in H.264/MPEG-2, HEVC in 8/10bit, MKV, Dual-Stream-AVI, equirectangular project format for 360° video 3GPP, 3GPP2, ASF, AVI, DIVX, FLV, SWF, MKV, MPEG, MPEG-4, MXF, OGV, Quicktime, RM, RMVB, WEBM, WMV, WTV

Supports HEVC

Supports social media uploading

Adobe Premiere Pro CC

The professional video editing program Adobe Premiere Pro CC meets almost all requirements for modern non-linear video editing. Adobe Premiere Pro is only available on a subscription basis which requires a monthly fee. The investment is worth it for professional and semi-professional users. The Creative Cloud package provides access to a diverse range of tools for image, sound, and video editing. Within Adobe’s Creative Cloud, subscribers can also directly access Adobe’s After Effects if they are subscribed to it. The program is a powerful post-production tool, allowing you to add effects and graphics to your videos.

The Cloud Server also improves team workflows. Team members can quickly and easily share data. Plus, Premiere Pro automatically downloads Adobe Media Encoder. This helps you to quickly and easily render the appropriate video format for your output medium. Adobe is also known for its user-friendly layout. If you’ve worked with other programs from the Creative Cloud before, you’ll be able to quickly familiarise yourself with the video editing software.

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For beginners and advanced users, we recommend the cheaper product option: Adobe Elements. Even its slimmer functional range should be sufficient for most semi-professionals. That having been said, Premiere Elements also offers beginners easy-to-understand functions that enable presentable results – for example, with the help of automated video editing.

As for special effects, Adobe Premiere Pro can’t quite compete with other professional video editing programs. That’s how Final Cut Special Effects integrates without sacrificing efficiency. Premiere Pro, on the other hand, works with high-resolution video formats. For 4K videos, you need a powerful graphics card and a good processor. You won’t find special effects and graphics in Adobe Premiere Pro either. You’ll need a Creative Cloud subscription for Adobe After Effects. However, Premiere Pro’s toolbox does include 3D titles.

The split layout is especially helpful for teamwork, since different experts usually work on professional projects. The different workspaces offer specialised tools for each individual task area. Everything can then be put together in the cloud. For this purpose, the person in charge creates a team project when opening the program. However, this function is primarily used for producing complex films. This is why it’s only available to Enterprise customers.

Summary

Adobe Premiere Pro is currently one of the best video editing programs and offers countless possibilities for professional post-production. The clear layout is subdivided into different work areas. The Creative Cloud allows users with different tasks to work together on the same project. What Premiere Pro lacks in effects, it brings back with well-integrated plugins from other programs. Thanks to the many tutorials and a clear layout, even amateur filmmakers can achieve very good effects with Premiere Pro. However, due to the relatively high monthly price, the program is actually only worthwhile for professionals.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Clear, user-friendly layout

Can falter with large amounts of data (e.g. 4K video editing)

Wide range of tools for professional video editing

No special effects preview

Powerful colour correction and matching tools

High cost

Compatible with many applications and directly connected to the Creative Cloud

 

Supports multiple formats

 

Adobe Premiere Elements

Premiere Elements is Adobe’s home video editing software. Beginners use it to easily create short clips, dynamic slideshows, and small videos. The library helps you find and organise videos on your hard drive.

So, Premiere Elements does a lot of work for its users. Automation is the key word. Thanks to templates for colour correction, editing, and audio design, even professional-looking videos can be produced in a relatively short time.

To download Adobe Premiere Elements, you don’t need cloud access, but you do need an Adobe ID to sign up for Adobe Premiere Elements. The software is available at a fixed price. Minimum download requirements are 8 GB RAM and 10 GB disk space for the app (32 GB RAM are recommended for 4K media). In the test, the installation took some time. Then the program opened with a dialogue window. If you buy the complete Elements family, you can use Photoshop Elements too.

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The video editing interface has some elements in common with Premiere Pro. You’ll find four different user interfaces on the horizontal menu bar.

Tip

Do you want to make your slideshows livelier? Use the video collage tool in Premiere Elements media directory. The tool combines photos, videos, and music to create a dynamic video collage.

Summary

Adobe Premiere Elements differs from its professional sister program by focusing on a different target group. Accordingly, Premiere Elements has a smaller range of functions. However, amateur filmmakers can still achieve good results with the software thanks to how easy it is to operate. Automatic image correction and suitable templates simplify the entire process. With integrated tutorials, inexperienced users learn how and for what they can use the expert tools. Therefore, we recommend the video editing software especially to untrained enthusiasts who want to carefully approach professional video editing programs.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Supports 4K video and 3D editing

Some videos falter even with low picture quality

User-friendly interface

No way to compare original and edited sequences

Many tutorials available

Occasional issues with HEVC videos (iPhone)

Large range of features

 

Apple Final Cut Pro 10

Final Cut Pro is on par with Adobe Premiere Pro when it comes to professional video editing. In contrast to Adobe’s competitors, however, the video editing software runs exclusively on macOS. This can lead to compatibility problems if you want to render a video in a native Mac format and play it on Windows computers. However, Final Cut also scores points with its smooth operation, even with storage-intensive media. Organise complex projects in the library using tags and a rating system. Professional audio editing functions and a wide selection of visual effects round off the program.

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Final Cut Pro aims to bridge the gap between the professional technology of its predecessor and simpler, easy-to-use, free applications. The tool palette includes enough tools to satisfy the needs of both semi-professional users and freelancers. Additionally, the software costs considerably less than the professional version.

However, Apple’s product receives fewer updates than Adobe’s competitor. These updates are done automatically through the Apple App Store. For example, the latest version adds a colour-correction tool that rivals Premiere Pro. The Apple product supports 360-degree video editing with extensive features and boasts up to 8K resolution.

As one of the world’s best video editing programs, Final Cut Pro offers a powerful database: the Smart Collection. The directory imports media, recognises image content (like people, for example), and sorts clips by their size.

Summary

Final Cut Pro is constantly expanding its range of functions. With integrated 360-degree video editing, high video quality with consistently good performance, and improved colour correction, Final Cut Pro X 10 will win over professionals and dedicated amateur filmmakers alike.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Clear layout

Not natively backward compatible with earlier Final Cut versions

Professional tools with intuitively understandable operation – this facilitates the changeover from beginner software like iMovie

Limited to macOS – can lead to compatibility problems

Very solid performance thanks to new Metal Engine

Colour correction is inferior to other professional tools like Premiere Pro (but has been improved)

Fully integrated 360-degree video editing with VR headset support

 

High image quality with relatively small file size

 

Integrates plugins into your own user interface

 

Wondershare Filmora X

Wondershare Filmora is a good entry-level video editing program. Even inexperienced users can create presentable videos in minutes using the simple mode, since in this mode you can leave most of the work to the software. You just load your video clips and music into the program. The rest is done by an algorithm. The advanced mode, on the other hand, offers you all the usual functions you can use to create your own video. In action cam mode, you can optimise videos that you have recorded with special action cameras like GoPro. You optimise the image, adjust the colours, and the speed. The instant-cutter is a simple editing tool without accessories. Use it to cut clips and join them together.

The video editing software downloads quickly – it can be installed with just a few clicks. On the start screen, select the image format of your project and one of the editing modes provided. In addition to widescreen, standard, and smartphone formats (respectively 16:9, 4:3 and 9:16), there is also an ‘Instagram format’ (1:1).

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In advanced mode, you have more freedom. The left bar shows you the different tool themes within a category (here: different filter themes). On the far right, you can see the video preview. In between, you will find drag-and-drop elements (e.g. the ‘Canvas’ filter) that you drag onto the timeline and integrate into the video. For more complex projects, expand the timeline by clicking ‘Add New Track’.

Beginners and hobby filmmakers can enjoy postproduction with the existing selection. They simply upload media like videos, pictures, and music.

The special mode for action cameras makes Filmorainteresting for filmmakers who enjoy shooting sports or working with handheld devices. See your video clip on a track in storyboard format and preview. The toolbar has three categories: ‘Repair’, ‘Speed’, and ‘Colour’. In the ‘Repair’ category, for example, you can adjust the lens curvature and image format. Under ‘Preferences’ you will find a lot of common action cameras. When you select a camera, Filmora will optimise the video based on the pre-set lens settings. You can improve shaky videos with noise by clicking on the noise reduction checkbox.

Use the speed tool to set the scene for stunts. Slow-motion plays movements slower, which are otherwise too fast for the eye. You can play back a scene faster, but some shots only get the speed effect you feel at the moment they are shot. Every video editing software should also have a colour corrector. This is also available in action cam mode. Filters and vignettes allow quick adjustment, but you can also adjust colours manually and specifically.

Summary

Filmora is one of the best video editing programs for beginners. You won’t find any professional tools, but the clear toolbar allows users with little experience to easily create high-resolution videos with professional looking effects. You can even create small slideshows in minutes. If you don’t want your videos to show the Filmorawatermark, you can invest approx. £50 for the full version. There are even cheaper video editing programs – but they lack some important features. With Filmora, you get a good beginner software with a user-friendly design and enough functions to feel like a real master editor.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Action cam mode optimises dynamic shots

Watermark visible on free version

User-friendly interface

No HEVC

Supports 4K video

 

3D title via plugin

 

Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 17

The video editing software DaVinci Resolve Studio by Blackmagic is a real professional tool that Hollywood directors work with to cut video. DaVinci Resolve combines editing, sound editing, effects, and colour correction in one application. The functions are sophisticated, but require a certain amount of prior knowledge. The version DaVinci Resolve 17 is currently even available for free. All you have to do is register before downloading. DaVinci Resolve Studio 17 is available for £299 and provides plenty of additional features, including DaVinci Neural Engine Features, collaboration tools for multiple users, stereoscopic 3D tools, multiple ResolveFC and FairlightFX plug-ins, HDR grading and various tools for film grain adjustment, soft focus effects, and more. Blackmagic also offers editing professionals hardware compatible with the video editing software – for example, special grading control panels for professional colour correction.

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The download takes a little longer because the software needs a lot of memory space, due to its impressive range of functions. However, the installation runs smoothly. As one of the few professional video editing tools, DaVinci Resolve does not just work cross-platform on macOS, Linux, and Windows. It also enables a smooth transition to work with its biggest competitors in the professional segment: Final Cut and Adobe Premiere Pro.

The video editing program offers numerous tools and features: from timeline stacks to audio track controls to precise transitions even with time distortion. Accordingly, a number of toolbars are assembled on the user interface. If you don’t need a tool, simply minimise it. Two preview windows allow you to control your work. Below these, you will find the timeline. There, you can edit several clips on the video track at the same time by selecting them with the mouse. In the selected timeline packages, you can cut several scenes at once. The context-sensitive trimming tool helps you to set the best cut. The multi-camera tool also lets you capture multiple perspectives in a scene. The tracking tool tracks objects. Both tools let you seamlessly merge multi-camera scenes.

Summary

DaVinci Resolve 17 is rightly considered one of the best video editing programs on the market. Resolve has evolved from an already very mature, non-linear video editing program with unbeatable colour correction to an extensive video editing platform. It now integrates Fairlightaudio editing natively. The new fusion interface for special effects and animation complements the rich offering. Resolve 17 lets you edit a wide variety of formats, and preview multi-camera productions and marked track packages side-by-side. The intelligently designed tools help you to perfectly adjust sound and image, even for multiple clips. We recommend the free version to semi-professional users.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Extensive function package also in the free version

Longer training period

Very stable video editing program

High computational demands (RAM and storage space)

Post-production environment with integrated chat allows simultaneous work and continuous exchange

 

User-friendly interface with live preview

 

Cyberlink PowerDirector 19 Ultra

The Cyberlink PowerDirector 19 Ultra is voted again and again by numerous testers in the top video editing program ranks. And rightly so, because the video editing software offers more than enough features for home use. Whether it’s a slideshow or a small film project, the program lets even beginners achieve appealing results in a short time. At the same time, the software always works reliably: where other video editing programs get bogged down during editing, PowerDirector’s preview videos almost always run smoothly. The program is also a pioneer in 360-degree video editing. The price is in the acceptable middle range. Despite the relatively high memory requirements of video editing software, download and installation are quick.

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Something practical for users who record simple videos with their smartphone: PowerDirector also allows you to work in vertical aspect ratio 9:16. The MultiCam Director lets you fine-tune a scene from different perspectives and join up to four tracks together. You can render the finished video quite quickly with the video editing program. PowerDirector also offers several menu templates. You can use them to create a user interface for DVDs or Blu-Rays you have burned yourself. Alternatively, you can share your work on online platforms like YouTube or Vimeo.

Slideshows can also be created in just a few steps. First, import the desired images, then select a playback style (motion, camera, normal) and add appropriate music. Check your work in preview. Then render or share the slideshow.

Summary

Working with the Cyberlink PowerDirector is extremely easy. The intuitive user interface allows even beginners to create appealing videos. Colour adjustment and sound settings are self-explanatory. Even 4K videos can be edited with the video editing software without compromising on quality. We were particularly impressed by the ease of use even in 360-degree mode and in MultiCam Director. The template package is suitable for high-quality home videos. However, professionals will hardly be satisfied with the size of this collection. The manufacturer refers to the additional packages for sound or holiday special effects, but some of them cost more than the program itself. For experienced enthusiasts, the Director Suite, which includes the Photo, Audio and ColourDirector, is the best choice.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Clear layout providing intuitive operation

Clear template package (sufficient for beginners)

Supports subtitles and vertical format for smartphone videos

 

Broad range of features

 

Movavi Video Suite 2021

Movavi Video Suite 2021 for Windows and macOS convinces as a full-package solution when it comes to video settings and editing for private use. Subscribers can choose between an annual or lifetime subscription (from £65.95) which provides all the necessary software and features to edit videos and convert them into different formats. Screencasts for presentations or video blogs for YouTube or alternative channels are easy to create – thanks to special effects tools, filters, and high-quality background music. Further, Movavi Video Suite supports the digital archiving of VHS and printed photos. These can be stored on a local hard drive or exported to external storage media such as DVDs or Blu-rays.

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Other features of the Movavi video editing software include:

  • Access to additional features such as apps, online courses, or stock media (diverse range of effects)
  • Media player with high user comfort
  • Support of Chroma keying
  • Full HD and 4K support
  • Format setting for over 200 devices (e.g. PlayStation, iPhone, iPad)
  • NVIDIA® CUDA® and Intel® HD graphics hardware boost

As mentioned, Movavi Video Suite is compatible with Windows and macOS operating systems. Movavi recommends available hardware storage of 2 GB and 2 GB RAM.

Summary

Movavi Video Suite by Movavi Software is a full-package solution for the editing and creation of videos combining a video editor, video converter and screen recorder. It’s the perfect package for private users, video bloggers, or hobby creators.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Extensive range of functions

Limited test version (watermark)

Diverse filters and effects available

 

Quick upload of projects via FTP or social media

 


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