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edit videos for freeSometimes it seems like the big audiovisual spectacles are unattainable if not accompanied by a big financial budget. After all, the top notch editing suites all have a pretty hefty price tag. It might seem that way, but that’s far from the absolute truth. For almost every big software name, there’s a great free (or even open-source) application alternative. Photoshop has Gimp. 3D Studio Max has Blender.

“First place” is debatable, but it’s undeniable that a lot of these applications are operating in the same league, and provide the same functionality—the same artistic potential—to creative individuals around the globe.

The same is true for video editing software. Yes, we’ve all heard about Adobe Premier Elements, Pinnacle Studio, Avid Media Composer, and Sony Vegas; amazing software, every last one. But enthusiasts need not take a second mortgage on their home to do what they love. Below are a few tools, ranging from simple to advanced, offering a large part of video editing functionality without charge.

Lightworks

Allow me to start by saying that Lightworks is the big fish in this roundup pool. Previously covered in a MakeUseOf directory article, this advanced editing suite is largely oriented towards the user base of the aforementioned pieces of software; that is, a full-fledged post-production suite.

edit videos for free

Without charge, Lightworks attempts to bring the same functionality that you would expect of a video editing suite costing thousands of dollars, including support for a number of third-party plug-ins. A professional version is available too, offering more import/export possibilities, additional tools and extended licensing for an annual of USD 60. Take a look at a comparison of the two versions here.

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Movie Maker

Lightworks is great, but you might not be looking for an advanced video editing solution. If your goals are more minimal, a simpler solution might be better. That’s where Movie Maker comes in. Users of previous Windows versions are likely to be familiar with the software, but although it’s not present on Windows 7 and higher by default, you can still download it as a part of Windows Essentials.

The feature set is very straightforward, with one-click filters, transition effects, animations, and text overlays. It’s everything you need to make a simple montage of several videos, and add a personal note.

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As of Windows 7, Movie Maker (part of Windows Essentials) follows the same UI overhaul as does Paint and Microsoft Office, with a tab-specific large ribbon at the top of the screen. Not everyone is excited by this new interface. If that sounds familiar, I’ll let you know that it’s possible to install the old (Windows XP) version of Windows Movie maker. Simply download the old Movie Maker 2.6 installer from the Microsoft website.

VirtualDub

A lot of people in the video editing scene will be familiar with VirtualDub. Unlike the previous two pieces of software, VirtualDub might not be the ideal choice for video montage and composition. It nevertheless excels at (AVI) video processing.

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Previously, we published articles on MakeUseOf, telling you how to use VirtualDub to hard-burn subtitles How To Add Subtitles To A Movie Or TV Series How To Add Subtitles To A Movie Or TV Series Read More , merge multiple video files Merge Multiple Video Files With VirtualDub Merge Multiple Video Files With VirtualDub Read More , and compress your videos How To Compress Videos To Send Them By Email How To Compress Videos To Send Them By Email Read More . Jessica wrote an article detailing 7 Video Editing Tasks VirtualDub Handles With Ease 7 Video Editing Tasks VirtualDub Handles With Ease [Windows] 7 Video Editing Tasks VirtualDub Handles With Ease [Windows] Read More .

What tools do you use to (post-)process video, and why? Let us know in the comments section below the article!

Image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net / digitalart

  1. Lori Rake
    March 10, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Is light works pretty user friendly? It looks kind of complicated.

  2. Kyle Pearce
    December 15, 2012 at 12:56 am

    I used to be a huge user of Windows Movie Maker to help me make videos for my mortgage website, simply because it came preinstalled on Windows. Now that I've got myself a MacBook, I've jumped into iMovie and it is a much better program overall.

    I think using iMovie was harder for me to learn since I was used to another program, but if you are a beginner, I think iMovie would be easy enough to dive into.

  3. Keith Swartz
    October 2, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Wow! There is more online for video than I thought! Thanks for the article 'IamAshMcLean'! Thanks for printing it Makeuseof.com!

  4. venkatachalam ravindran
    September 28, 2012 at 6:29 am

    for adjusting brightness and contrast and trimming, I am using iWisoft Free video converter.

    ffmpeg is also good to adjust the sound track of a video without disturbing video part

  5. Priya Agarwal
    September 26, 2012 at 4:56 am

    Best alternative to Windows Movie Maker..

  6. Sachin Kanchan
    September 25, 2012 at 1:37 am

    was quite impressed with Lightmaker

  7. James
    September 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Is there a simple one that can import and export AVCHD? I only need to do basic edits of my videos like combining or cutting my full HD videos but most seem to not handle it. I was thinking of just using an older version of Sony Vegas Pro but if there are better solutions, would be nice to know.

  8. Raymond Beets
    September 24, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Been using Movie Maker for quite a few years now and it's been doing the job in such an excellent manner, that I actually never bothered to look for any other tools that are also free. After reading through this article though, I'm going to give Lightworks and VirtualDub a try and see what works for me. Thank you very much for this article.

  9. Kory Arthur
    September 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    What is the best one if your using Linux? I personally use Avidemux but I'm sure there are better.

    • Lee
      September 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      Actually, the developers behind Lightworks are working on Mac and Linux versions, so you could wait for that.

      I've used Cinelerra before, and it seems the most feature-filled (even though it's buggy). There's also OpenShot and Kdenlive.

    • Tom Pullen
      September 25, 2012 at 2:08 am

      Any word on when it might be available for Mac?

    • Lee
      September 25, 2012 at 2:22 am

      According to their forum, they are working on it but there isn't a predicted release date or anything yet.

  10. HLJonnalagadda
    September 24, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks! Was using Vegas before. Will give Lightworks a go.

  11. GrrGrrr
    September 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Thanks for the options.

  12. josemon maliakal
    September 24, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    light works is a cool,has a magic on it

  13. Lee
    September 24, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Lightworks is pretty awesome, but it has a really steep learning curve. If you're coming from something like Movie Maker (pretty much like I was), then you probably wont be able to just install it and use it right away. I had to watch a bunch of videos about it to start getting a feel for how things work.

    If you just need to cut out parts of videos, WLMM and VirtualDub will probably work fine for that.

  14. druv vb
    September 24, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Nice article. Movie Maker is a real winner for beginners. Simple and straight forward.
    I personally use Avid Studio for all my editing.

  15. Victor Hurtado
    September 24, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Hello,
    I always use moviemaker. It has been doing a great job with all conversion, but I think I am going to try the others one too.
    Thank you Simon.

  16. Richard Borkovec
    September 24, 2012 at 7:58 am

    For the super basic stuff, Movie Maker really is all you need. I tried Lightworks before, but was completely overwhelmed. Just diving in really isn't the way to go with it, but it's insanely powerful.

  17. bonioloff
    September 24, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Good app, as replaceer of Windows Movie Maker..

  18. Tom Bogan
    September 24, 2012 at 6:08 am

    Love the article. I will give lightworks a try ASAP.

  19. Ibrahim Ali
    September 24, 2012 at 4:22 am

    Simon - you missed the VSDC Video Editor @ http://www.videosoftdev.com/ - it's similar to Windows Movie Maker but inputs/outputs more formats and has green screen (chroma key) editing ability. Here's a review from TechGiants @ http://techiedownloads.blogspot.ca/2012/07/vsdc-free-video-editor.html

  20. Edward Bellair
    September 24, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Nice. Thank you

  21. IamAshMcLean
    September 24, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Windows Movie Maker is simple and by far the best for beginners...

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