You’ve done it. You’ve finally finished filming your masterpiece. The story that will blast you off into cinematic superstardom and jumpstart the second golden age of Hollywood! Just one problem, you still have to take all the countless hours of raw footage and edit it into a perfect, palatable package. And with such a wide array of available editing programs to choose from, where do you begin? Edit on your android? No.
Where to Start
When diving into the world of post-production, there are a variety of different methods a video editor may approach cutting together a short film. Beginners will often use free versions of software or video editing apps, following online tutorials and templates to simply piece together video clips with transitions that serve a utilitarian purpose. However, in the social media currency of professional video content, whether it be high-quality video for a corporate setting which may involve video effects such as voiceover and motion graphics for overlays, or artistic Youtube videos incorporating special effects like three dimensional visual effects and particle simulations requiring chroma key of green screen assets, there are a variety of different reasons and requirements you may need of your video editing tools. Luckily, professional video editing knowledge has never been more prolific, along with the variety of options possible.
Today, let’s take a little look into some of the top editing systems available and see which one reigns supreme in showcasing your latest work of cinematic art. There are a number of more accessible non-linear editing softwares out there such as Final Cut Pro X, Rush or Apple iMovie, which certainly have user-friendly and intuitive interfaces, but for this article, our focus isn’t the best free video editing software, it’s the best video editor. That being said, let’s jump in.
Avid Media Composer
Starting with the big boy on the block, Avid Media Composer has been the industry standard video editing program for major film and tv productions for decades. Relying on its straightforward, durable workflow, Avid has carved a niche for itself in all the top Hollywood post houses. With a plethora of advanced features, such as its ability to adapt to different file video formats, from HD to 8k, without having to transcode the media, and cloud access, allowing different editors to work on the same project remotely, help cement its place as the industry’s golden goose. And coming in at $239 for an annual subscription, it’s affordable for consumers who want to hone their professional skills. The addition of Media Composer First as a free offering with less bells and whistles, is also incredibly beneficial to those just starting out, as it introduces even more editing features at your disposal. The results speak for themselves, at the 2022 Academy Awards, every single Best Picture nominee was edited on Avid.
Adobe Premiere Pro
If you haven’t heard of Premiere Pro (of course you have), you’re surely no stranger to their parent company Adobe. A wellspring of creative output since the 90’s, they’re the company that cornered the phrase (and software) Photoshop, along with a plethora of other useful software like After Effects, Lightroom, Audition and more. On the video side, Premiere Pro has grown into a behemoth in the prosumer and professional fields, used everywhere from basic video content like skateboard edits, to feature films. Thanks in part to its great user interface, customizable layouts, and intuitive design, Premiere has become the go-to system for quick, efficient edits for a variety of projects. Despite having a wide array of advanced tools within the selection of Adobe premiere elements, their ease of use has allowed Premiere to becomes somewhat of a gateway for many creators into the video content sphere. And with the integration of Frame.io after Adobe’s acquisition, in addition to their creative cloud, it’s easier than ever to collaborate with your team wherever they may be. Although Premiere is used mostly for shorter content, often being utilized by creators publishing to YouTube or Vimeo, focusing on video creation of drag and drop elements, using built in plugins for stabilization or 360-degree video, the application has been used for notable advanced video work such as the features Deadpool, Gone Girl, The Florida Project, and Mindhunter.
iPhone, iPad and Mac users reading this article have probably come across iMovie - the light, yet surprisingly intuitive editing software available on almost all Apple products. It utilizes a non-traditional, “magnetic” style trackless timeline, different from all the other programs in this article. When Final Cut 9, then Apple’s flagship editing software, made the jump to Final Cut X, it adopted this magnetic style interface, much to the chagrin of many of its users. Hollywood doesn’t love change, which is why Avid still looks like it runs on a Windows 95. Yet Final Cut has weathered the detractors, and has made a strong case for its new, intuitive workflow. And features like Intelligent Motion Tracking making it incredibly easy to have a graphic track an object, and Smart Conform, which automatically crops video to vertical for socials or square for Instagram, have welcomed a new generation of filmmakers with open arms. There may be a learning curve for those who have only edited on traditional systems, but it may work even better for certain creators.
If Avid is the old hound dog perfectly content outside in the dog house, DaVinci Resolve is the yippy little puppy, happily running around the house. Famous for years to editors of all systems, Resolve is the industry standard for post color correction. Whether coming from Adobe, Avid, or Final Cut, almost everyone would take their project into Resolve for the final coloring. DaVinci decided to take advantage of this and ask why not just do the whole project in Resolve? With an interface similar to Premiere, divided into separate pages for media management, editing, vfx, color correction, grading, audio, and delivery, those new to Resolve should have an easy time jumping in. It has features like auto face detection for sorting media, auto cut detection when importing previously edited videos, auto timecode compatibility, and works with XLMs, allowing you to switch between other systems if necessary. Its coolest feature is breaking its editing down into Cut and Edit pages, with Edit acting like a traditional track based system, and Cut acting like Final Cut with a magnetic timeline, allowing you to switch back and forth seamlessly with whatever you’re comfortable with! Its node-based color grading system will be a bit of a learning curve for those coming from Adobe’s Lumetri, but it’s in a class all by itself.
So Which Is the Best?
Well what do you want to do? If you want a job in professional films and tv with the best pay, Avid is the only choice! If you’re looking to edit amazing commercials, music videos, or your own content quickly and efficiently, go for Premiere. But if you’re willing to open your mind and spend a bit of time learning a brand new way of thinking, and possibly something about yourself in the process, you’ve got an appointment with Final Cut. But no matter what you do, always finish coloring in Resolve.