After conducting dozens of hours of research and hands-on testing, we have determined the best professional video editing software is Adobe Premiere Pro CC. We came upon this decision based on Premiere's support for both PC & Mac, a vast array of editing tools, a positive industry reputation and integration with Adobe's other multimedia software (like Photoshop & After Effects).
However, if you are a Mac user (especially if you are editing on a MacBook), then you'll want to consider using Apple's Final Cut Pro X software which has been overhauled in recent years to allow stellar editing performance even on a machine that is relatively underpowered. For more information and alternative software recommendations, continue reading below.
The ideal choice for most offering industry-standard technology integrated within Adobe's stellar media suite.
Premiere Pro has been a popular choice for the last 14 years and their latest CC release offers an excellent set of features mixed with support for both PC and MacOS.
Best For Mac
The best choice for Mac users with a sleek interface, lots of features and excellent resource management.
While Premiere Pro CC runs on Mac too, Apple's newest version of Final Cut Pro X offers the best native video editing experience with an optimized experience that can run smoothly on virtually any modern Apple computer.
*Pricing as of 12/18/17
Formerly known as Sony Vegas Pro, this PC software offers excellent value and has all the features most pros seek.
MAGIX's Vegas Pro 15 version is a lesser-known software due to its switch from being branded under Sony to MAGIX, but the software still remains highly competitive for PC editors on a budget.
*Pricing as of 12/18/17
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Determining the right professional video editing software isn't an easy decision with all the different areas to take into consideration. Even after consuming all the information in this article, some of you may still have questions.
Feel free to share any concerns or questions in the comments section below this article. Our team will do our best to answer each response in a timely manner to be as helpful as we can in your search for professional video editing software.
Why Invest In A High-End Video Editing Software?
If you are new to video editing or coming from a cheaper editing software, then you might not understand the benefits of investing several hundred dollars into a professional video editing program.
We have come up with three main points as to why there is substantial reasoning to invest in a professional-grade editing application over an entry-level or free version. Not all video editors' needs will match up so the ideal choice for you might differ from the next reader.
One of the biggest downfalls in free or low-cost video editing suites is the lack of compatibility for high-end video recording formats.
With the influx of new camera technology bringing ultra high-definition, HDR or 360-degree video to the post-production table, it is a necessity as a professional to be ready to edit any type of sophisticated footage.
The best professional video editing software will offer native support for these new video formats without any need to convert them before ingesting the footage into your project.
A pretty obvious attribute to any editing software is the ability to utilize both basic and advanced features for manipulating the media in such a way that is ideal for your project, client or the overall vision.
The right professional editing software will allow you to utilize a slew of features beyond your traditional elements like chopping up footage, inserting titles and transitions.
You'll want to look for advanced features like audio syncing, multi-cam editing, shake reduction, audio adjustments/filters and color correction tools. While many of these can be done in another third-party software, there is extra convenience when the software has native support for these types of features.
In this day and age, internal computing components are more powerful than they have ever been and also more affordable.
For example, the performance of NVIDIA's graphics cards over the years have exploded with specs doubling, tripling and sometimes even 10x their previous generations that were released just a few years back.
For many PC users who rely on powerful desktops to conduct their video editing then performance should be pretty solid across the board with the software mentioned below.
However, those editing on weaker laptops will need optimized software that can utilize aspects such as GPU acceleration, file optimization and built-in video proxy support to be able to seamlessly edit without experiencing resource bottlenecks.
Depending on the type of work you do, where or how you save your edited project could be a deciding factor as to which software you decide to go with.
Most professional options will offer you to export in web-friendly H.264 codec or allow you to directly upload to popular video sharing services like YouTube, Vimeo or Facebook.
What To Look For When Choosing A Video Editing Software
If you are going to invest hundreds of dollars into a professional editing software for video, then you'll want to make sure it will accomplish everything you need it to.
With all the modern video editing technology and features, we understand that it can be as complicated as ever to determine which is the right choice for you.
However, the professionals who are charging for their work need the extra performance compatibility and feature-set to accomplish their tasks to the best of their abilities and here is where we will cover the primary attributes of these competing software.
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We came up with a list of elements we think should be considered when choosing the ideal video editing software:
- Brand – selecting a video editing software that is developed by a reputable company, you'll often find better reliability and tech support (if you run into issues) as well as frequent updates with new features.
- Price – as a professional you should have a sufficient budget to support buying a proper editing software as it is one of the most important tools in producing video content for the web or other formats. This can range from a one-time fee or monthly/annual license.
- Supported platforms – depending on your current editing stations, you'll want to choose a software designed for your operating system of choice: Mac, Windows or both.
- 4K resolution – with modern video cameras shooting 4K and beyond, you'll want to make sure your editing software supports ultra high-resolution video.
- HDR – (aka High Dynamic Range) this concept has been used in photography for years, but modern video cameras have begun offering increased spectrums to support HDR video so accepting these files natively is a big deal.
- 360/VR – while some consider it a fad, 360-degree video is becoming more common due to the popularity of VR headsets. Choosing a video editing software that can ingest and edit 360-degree video is something you might want to consider.
- ProRes – one of the most popular video formats in professional video/post-production, if the cameras you are editing footage from are high-end enough then chances are you'll want to be working with ProRes files straight out of the camera for increased editing performance.
- GPU Acceleration – depending on your situation (especially in the case of high-resolution video), having a video editing software that can utilize your GPU for scrubbing/previewing/pre-rendering your timeline will help boost performance immensely.
- Native proxy support– most important with underpowered editing rigs, the use of native proxy support allows the software to automatically optimize your project media to utilize lower-quality proxy files during the editing stage and replace them with the full quality files during export.
- Native color correction tools – with so many new cameras shooting in logarithmic color profiles for post-production color correction (CC), choosing a software with a decent set of CC features can save you a lot of headaches.
Comparing The Top Video Editing Software
Premiere Pro CC
Final Cut Pro X
DaVinci Resolve 14 Studio
Vegas Pro 15 Edit
EDIUS Pro 9
Color Correction Tools
*Pricing as of 12/18/17
Best Professional Video Editing Software (2018)
Adobe first launched their Premiere Pro video editing software in 1991, and over the years it has been widely adopted by filmmakers and professional video editors due to its competitive features, cross-platform OS support and deep integration into the existing Adobe CC suite.
There is licensing available for either the Premiere Pro CC individually or the entire CC suite as a whole paid on a month-to-month or annual basis. Premiere Pro utilizes the traditional non-linear editing approach with a standard timeline coupled with a preview, media and effect windows.
Recently, Adobe added a lot of new features to Premiere making it up to date with all the latest file types including 4K UHD, HDR and 360-degree video. Their recently revamped Lumetri color panel is excellent for color correction or grading, something that used to require Adobe's Speedgrade.
When Apple first launched Final Cut Pro back in 1999, it became a highly-used video editing software for professionals including some Hollywood and TV show productions. Their release of Final Cut Pro 7 was most notably one of their most highly recommended versions, but in 2011 they released Final Cut Pro X.
From an old-school perspective, Final Cut Pro X seems a bit too sleek and flashy with some drops in both legacy and non-legacy features. Over time, Apple updated Final Cut Pro X to offer more features, better window sizing and overall performance to the point where it is again widely used by professional video editors who are editing a Mac.
The best part about Final Cut Pro X is the software is HIGHLY optimized for the Mac OS/hardware. This gives it the ability to edit complex 4K projects even on a weaker computer like the 12″ MacBook. Don't believe me? Check out this video from Jonathan Morrison where he shows it in-action.
BlackMagic Design has been a powerhouse in the digital filmmaking world with their affordable yet powerful cinema cameras as well as their excellent video editing software which first made its mark as a staple for color correction.
Since then, BlackMagic has put a lot of work into making the software a full-fledged NLE that is ready to compete with the likes of Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X. Right now, BlackMagic offers a free version of the software with limitations and their Studio software which has no limitations, added features and an affordable price-point of $299.
Keep in mind, that Resolve takes an interesting approach to video editing, and while it has pretty much all the features you can need or want, the presentation of these features is unique and has a steeper learning curve (especially with the node-based color correction structure).
The Vegas Pro video editing software was originally developed and released as a Sony branded product, but Magix acquired the assets and trademarks recently with an overhaul to the software to bring it up to date.
Vegas Pro Edit is easy to pick up on even if you don't have prior experience with any previous generations of Vegas due to their traditional UI and timeline approach that hasn't swayed much since the Magix takeover. This software still remains for PC only with no support for use on Macintosh computer.
From a features standpoint, this new version offers all the latest and greatest features of modern video editing software including support for high resolution and 360-degree video, native ProRes and proxies, support, dedicated audio and color-correction tools and GPU acceleration.
The first EDIUS video editing software launched in 2003, developed by a Japanese company and later sold to Grass Valley in 2005. Edius is a PC-only NLE that packs a slew of competitive features for a flat rate with no subscription required.
EDIUS has been used by professional filmmakers for many years now, but it is becoming a more difficult choice when compared to the more advanced software from the competition that we also mentioned here.
While it offers a lot of the features a professional video editor seeks, the lack of VR/360-degree support as well as the no integration with other multimedia software (like Premiere Pro' stellar integration with After Effects/Photoshop) make it a more difficult sell for someone looking for a premium video editing program.
If you are involved in the Hollywood post-production scene or have spoken to anyone qualified about it, you'll likely hear of AVID Media Composer as it is a favorite for much of Hollywood.
Similar to their popular Pro Tools software for editing audio, Media Composer is designed for professional grade film manipulation offering all the latest and greatest features with excellent performance on both Windows and Mac OS.
AVID follows the same non-linear editing approach as you'd expect, but since it caters to the high-end you'll find fewer tutorials or free information online as compared to something like Premiere Pro so expect a learning curve initially.
The downside of AVID is the cost which starts at $49.99 per month with access to the entirety of the software. AVID has since offered a free version called Media Composer First, but this has less features and also has hard limits on the number of video and audio tracks that you can be editing on a single timeline.
Congratulations on making it this far in this guide on professional grade video editing programs. At this point, you should have learned a lot about the different options out there and more informed as to which software is ideal for you.
We understand that all of this information can be a lot to take it at first so we recommend saving this page for future reference.
If you find yourself stuck or confused as to anything related to video editing then write a message in the comments below and we will answer as soon as possible.
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All of us at The Tech Reviewer hope that we were able to help you better determine the best professional video editing software for your needs and budget!