Last Updated on 19.06.2022
A professional video editor that can do anything. This must be really the best program to edit videos.
Often when we say the words “professional” and “best”, we perceive them almost as synonyms when applied to programs.
Is it correct to say that?
On the one hand, a professional video editor must really meet the highest requirements so that the technical quality of the result is high and the ability to implement creative ideas effectively and accurately exists.
On the other hand, it must also meet the market requirements for both video production, playback media and audience needs.
Of course, the most advanced video editors and studio solutions are pretty much universal in their capabilities and in the hands of a professional they can do anything.
Why not use a universal video editor always and for all kinds of projects? Especially when their abilities sometimes make them nearly indistinguishable from one another?
Because the question of price here comes to the fore. When a video editor is asked a lot, he responds with needs, and this mainly applies to the team.
The question of the difference between the capabilities of a particular video editor and those of others in most cases becomes an informative background.
What does this mean in practice?
Hardware requirements for professional video editing
Lots of RAM!
If your workstation has 8 GB of RAM, then you can safely assume that this corresponds to the minimum entry level.
If you’re working with HD and UHD, then you should focus on around 16GB, and if you’re at 4K resolution and above, you’ll need to spend money on a computer with at least 32GB of RAM.
But today the possibility of recording videos with 4K and 8K resolution is available in ordinary mobile phones! And all these pocket video studios, which promise fantastic image quality, generate huge video files and require a lot of computing resources.
No one denies it, resolution is quality. But today even 4K playback devices cost a lot and 8K is an even more expensive rarity.
And processing videos requires processing power! A 2.5 GHz 4-core processor is for HD resolution, and if you plan to work at 4K resolution, your starting point is a 3 GHz 8-core processor.
Add to that a powerful 2GB graphics card (4GB for 4K resolution), a main system SSD, and a fast RAID storage array for 4K resolution and higher media storage.
These are the main requirements.
And also a high-quality monitor.
We do not consider special keyboards, devices for connecting specialized equipment and other expensive things in this review.
So what were we talking about before we got carried away with the question about the high cost of equipment?
You decide the budget, the choice of target platform and the creative level.
When we talk about budget, we also mean that this review covers programs with an annual subscription or a perpetual license starting at $150.
It only remains to understand the distinctive features of video editors and decide on the price and type of license.
Versatile video editors for professional video editing.
Adobe Premiere Pro professional cloud video editor
So much is known, said and written about this video editor that it is very difficult to add anything.
But we will try.
The author of these lines had the opportunity to work with the first version of Adobe Premiere in early 1992.
Over the years, without criticism, the product simply changed for the better in accordance with the changing capabilities of technology and the requirements of product quality.
This is a rare case (but not the only one for Adobe products): when a proven product not only held its own in the market, but constantly progressed, maintained and strengthened its position.
In our opinion, the most important thing that happened with this video editor was its connection to Adobe Creative Cloud. In full compliance with company policy, this connection automatically came to mean use of company programs on a subscription basis.
The starting price for an Adobe Premiere Pro subscription at the time this article was written is with an annual subscription plan and is billed monthly at around $21.
The plan also includes 100 GB in the cloud, Adobe Premiere Rush cross-platform video editor, Adobe Portfolio personal website builder, access to the Adobe Fonts library, and an Adobe Spark app for quickly creating engaging social media content.
If you already work with Creative Cloud or it’s important that you use different types of devices and actively post to social media, this is what you need. Just check if the capabilities of Adobe Premiere Rush are enough for you; If you have already passed this stage, it is time to move on to the next level.
The next level is a familiar and convenient interface, guaranteed quality of work, output resolution up to 8K, and all the modern editing and editing tools available on the market. Detailed documentation, many tutorials and guides are at your disposal.
If the possibilities of creative design of your video production using the effects available in the program are not enough, then you should subscribe to the Adobe After Effects application.
At the same time, the total cost of the subscription will double and you will spend almost 500 USD per year.
This is no small feat, especially if you work alone and for yourself, but it’s perfectly acceptable if you have enough video production orders.
Avid Media Composer professional studio video editor
Avid is one of the oldest digital video technologies on the market. He managed to not only withstand tough competition, but also raise the bar. Once their products occupied a niche close to the ordinary but qualified user; today the company has clearly moved in the direction where the “big movie” is made. Or “great video”.
After the sale of the Pinnacle Studio video editor to Corel in 2012, the MediaComposer video editor became Avid’s flagship editor; the company calls it “video editing software for everyone.”
We can partially agree with this definition, considering that the MediaComposer First version is available for free.
As with all competing products, this is more of a trial version. It includes all the necessary tools for video editing, but the number of available effects is very limited and the maximum resolution is 1080 pixels.
Overall, this program doesn’t look like a winner compared to other free video editors.
This is not the case with the paid versions. Of course, it should be noted that Avid produces not only programs, but also high-end studio equipment.
Therefore, the MediaComposer video editor, especially in the case of expensive licenses, focuses on working with this type of equipment.
In addition to the free one, there are 3 paid licenses available. Perpetual licenses are also mentioned in the documentation, but they are not for sale, only perpetual licenses sold in previous years have not been revoked and remain active.
MediaComposer license is $23.99/month and MediaComposer Ultimate license is $49.99/month.
The cost of the MediaComposer Enterprise license is calculated individually based on the requirements for the configuration of the equipped studio and the distribution of staff roles in projects. In general, everything is serious and real.
So, the MediaComposer and MediaComposer Ultimate licenses. The cost is at the level of the highest in the considered niche. What can you get with this money?
The company’s approach to pricing is significantly different from anything you’ve read before.
Since the company works professionally in the professional studio equipment segment, the increase in the cost of licenses is associated with the organization of teamwork.
This means that if you get the simplest and cheapest license, you will have access to an absolutely complete set of possibilities that this program offers.
No additional payments to increase the number of effects, support additional formats and activate advanced tools.
For the money that the company asks for, it is not more expensive than its competitors. Everything will be available to you at once!
There is no point in listing all the features of this video editor; there are enough for work of any complexity, but the main points of interest should be taken into account:
- work with a resolution of 16K and higher at rates up to 120 frames per second,
- support for 4 workspaces for the main stages (editing, color correction, dubbing, effects),
- the availability of the full keyboard layout feature,
- support for 64 video tracks and 64 audio tracks,
- support for working with sound, including the number of 7.1 channels,
- interfacing with Avid and other manufacturers’ equipment.
The program requires significant computational resources to run, a conventional “out of the box” computer will not work.
DaVinci Resolve Studio professional video editor
The full version of the most popular video editor. The free version contains everything you need for daily work at intermediate and advanced levels of difficulty.
A perpetual license costs 385 USD. For this money, the following options are added to the features of the free version:
- DaVinci Neural Engine: Provides facial recognition to automate the classification of media files, high-precision work with audio snippets and timing, provides various timing effects, automatic alignment, and application of a color scheme,
- work with 3D video,
- dozens of plugins for various effects,
- work with grading, including HDR footage.
We have attributed to the list of notable features of the video editor:
- the ability to add tracks with different sizes and frame rates to the timeline,
- excellent quality and functionally complete tools for working with sound using the Fairlight module,
- serious tools for teamwork and special support for compatibility with project formats from other professional video editors, particularly Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro, making it possible to organize cross-project work,
- the ability to process materials in 4K, 8K and higher resolutions at up to 120 frames per second.
To all this, you can add the proven quality of working with color, the use of a proprietary codec to speed up working with RAW videos, the ability to use professional editing equipment, and the ability to work with stereoscopic videos.
Final Cut Pro X professional video editor
An Apple proprietary solution. Fully functional standalone video editor.
As usual, Apple’s interface is unique and not all users evaluate it unequivocally: there are both positive and negative reviews (the negative ones are much less abundant, however).
Perhaps this is due to the fact that Apple always strives to innovate. But it cannot be ruled out that a video editor, so full of tools, is almost impossible to provide with an interface that suits everyone without exception.
Those who have worked with Apple’s free iMovie editor will find the interface easy to master.
The video editor works well on many models of Apple computers, but its potential is fully revealed on MacPros in an advanced configuration, of course, along with a ProDisplay XDR monitor.
The following functions and tools can be specified separately:
- original editing tools (“magnetic” timeline, support for audio roles, powerful multi-camera mode – up to 64 angles, advanced format and size conversion options),
- advanced means of organizing content storage with support for collections and automatic metadata parsing,
- color grading with LUT support and excellent grading tools,
- excellent tools for working with sound and support for multi-channel sound directly in the timeline.
Overall, there’s probably no better solution for Apple fans.
HitFilm Pro professional video editor
Another full version of a free video editor. The free version is a mid-level video editor of very good quality.
A perpetual Pro license costs $349. These are the main differences between this version and the free version:
- editing at resolutions up to 8K in 32-bit color, 16-bit is also supported (in free format – 4K and 8-bit color, 16-bit is only supported in some cases),
- work with 3D objects, including the BorisFX 3D package for titles,
- full set of effects for 360º videos (in the free one – only preview and transformations),
- more effects when working with audio,
- more color correction tools,
- LUT support and a full set of settings for grading,
- Many, many effects!
The main feature of this video editor is a large number of effects.
The developers rightfully acknowledge some of the truly outstanding features of the HitFilm Pro program, which they consider to be the best in the film industry, for example:
- simulator of objects composed of particles (dust, smoke, clouds, fog, …),
- tools for animation, texturing and other effects for titles,
- realistic 3D simulation of various objects (eg shooting effect),
- tracking the movement of objects with reference and overlay of other objects.
At the same time, this video editor is not very demanding on your equipment compared to some of the ones presented in this review. It is said that to run at 4K resolution you need 8GB of RAM and a video card with 2GB of memory.
Lightworks Pro studio video editor
This video editor does not have a free version, but there are 3 license options.
A monthly license will cost €19.99 per month. It includes a complete set of video editing tools.
A license with an annual fee will cost 134.99 euros per year. In addition, it includes a pack of Boris Graffiti effects to work with 2D and 3D titles.
A perpetual license will cost 337.99 euros. It also includes Boris Graffiti and BorisFX effect packs.
This video editor also has a rich history, many famous movies have been edited with its help and it has been used by professionals for a long time.
Features of this program:
- compatibility with studio equipment from various manufacturers,
- tools for teamwork,
- the ability to use it with the developer’s own build kit,
- most modest requirements for a working computer (3 GB of RAM and a video card with 1 GB of memory).
The program is available for Windows, MacOS and Linux.
VEGAS Pro professional studio video editor
Because I study? We simply have the opinion that this software product is more suitable for use in a specialized studio than in a separate workplace.
The main argument is the price. VEGAS Pro, even with the purchase of a basic editing license, will cost around $399 USD.
Minimum hardware requirements (8GB RAM, 16GB recommended for HD/UHD, 32GB for 4K; high-speed SSD or RAID; generally level is clear).
For this money you will receive a powerful program for working with resolutions up to 8K, which will include everything you can imagine.
Except for the world’s best Boris FX packs, NewBlue transitions, and a host of other high-end plugins. To get them, you need to purchase a Suite license for $799 USD, which includes everything.
VEGAS Pro license costs 599 USD and differs from the basic license in the provision of SOUND FORGE Pro multi-channel audio tool and multimedia tools.
The same capabilities are available for the VEGAS Pro 365 “cloud” license, which costs $19.99 per month and additionally provides access to cloud services, including 100GB in the Microsoft Azure Cloud.
The following capabilities and features deserve special mention:
- efficient support for hardware acceleration,
- the use of artificial intelligence to solve various image styling tasks,
- excellent grading tools, including HDR rendering mode,
- black and white film “colorization” mode,
- tools for serious work with LUTs,
- advanced work with masks and motion tracking.
Soon all users of the program are promised a free update, which will include tools for working with media libraries.
Perpetual professional video editor
For professional work with movies, VegasPRO will be the best choice, especially if you intend to work in a collective project. This is an expensive option and you should choose wisely.
For a professional videographer, who can also be the operator, in our opinion, DaVinci Resolve Studio is ideal.
The fact is that the company also offers recording equipment unique in its capabilities, including very compact cameras with the form factors of conventional digital cameras and the ability to use interchangeable lenses of various types.
In this case, you will be able to record in 4K and 6K and process video in RAW format, without intra-camera compression.
These cameras are no more expensive than conventional modern mid-range cameras and have a “native” interface with a video editor.
If you record by yourself and image quality comes first, this is your option.
The HitFilm Pro video editor is suitable for those who work alone with ready-to-use video material and They give a more finished look.
Lots of effects and great tools for working with titles. Receive the footage and deliver the finished film.
Lightworks Pro Video Editor is your choice if not just having a great set is important to you of high-quality video effects, but also use Boris Graffiti and BorisFX video effects. Also, this program does not require large hardware costs.
If you’re running MacOS and have a MacPro with a ProDisplay XDR monitor, you probably don’t need our advice. You have a wide variety of options, but you will most likely prefer Final Cut Pro X
Professional video editor by subscription
For those who work with Adobe products and use the CreativeCloud infrastructure, the choice, of course, is predetermined.
For those who want to work with a quality product, need a cloud service and cross-platform programs to work on projects for social networks, there is not much to say either.
Adobe Premiere Pro has virtually no competitors offering this capability at the same time that provide high-quality video editing.
The VEGAS Pro 365 subscription option has no worthy competitors when it comes to work collective or individual with Microsoft Azure Cloud.
If you’re not going to spend much on hardware, there are monthly and yearly license options for using the LightworksPro. A better option is the one-year license, as it includes the Boris Graffiti effects pack for both 2D and 3D titles.
For the established professional looking for a full-featured, high-end software solution, Avid MediaComposer is the perfect choice for a low monthly fee.
In case you are going to open your own business and plan to equip a studio, MediaComposer Ultimate and MediaComposer Enterprise are what you need.
Which video editing software to choose and how to do that