Almost every creative professional will need to create a video at some point in their career. Maybe your wedding photography clients want a video slideshow, or a podcast producer needs a promo for marketing.
But not everyone is comfortable with advanced video editing software. And what starts out as a bonus project could wind up taking you way too much time to produce. The solution is to find a beginner-friendly program that helps you create videos quickly.
In this round-up, I’ll share my favorite beginner video editing platforms and tips on how to choose one that’s right for you.
What I Looked For in Basic Video Editing Tools
Before I dive into the recommendations, let’s look at some of the criteria that qualified the top program selections:
- Free has an advantage – For beginners, you probably don’t want to make a significant investment into video editing tools. Therefore, we featured video editing programs with free or “pay-as-you-go” options to keep upfront cost low.
- Less is more – Easy video editing software is all about stripping away the features that most people don’t need. My list of video editing programs embodies the “less is more” mindset.
- Community support and learning resources – It’s better to choose a tool that’s relatively popular if you want to learn quickly. A large user base tends to generate learning resources like YouTube videos that help you conquer the learning curve.
- Room to grow – Let’s say that you really take to video editing and want to advance your skills. It’s better if your program has room to grow and can handle more advanced techniques. It can be a tricky balance to strike, but I chose platforms that are easy to start with but contain advanced features under the hood.
The Best Platforms for Beginners
So here are the top choices for beginner video editing programs.
Adobe Premiere Rush
A relatively new entrant into the world of beginner video editing programs, Adobe Premiere Rush is a slimmed-down version of Adobe’s popular Premiere Pro.
Premiere Rush does a great job striking that balance between ease-of-use and professional effects. While it doesn’t feature highly advanced features like complete color grading, it has more than enough power to apply corrections and effects to your video footage.
My favorite feature about Premiere Rush is its excellent mobile app. In fact, there’s little to no difference between the macOS / Windows app and the Android / iOS counterparts. Combining those desktop tools with Adobe’s cloud storage means that you can pick up where you left off while working on the go.
iMovie has been a mainstay in Apple’s creative software lineup for many years and still holds a place amongst the best free video editing programs. One of my favorite features in iMovie is the Ken Burns effect that makes adding motion to stills and video a breeze. Named for the filmmaker who popularized the effect, this slow-pan is a mainstay in documentaries. This “pro effect for beginners” is precisely what earns iMovie a top spot in this round-up.
Much like Adobe Premiere Rush, iMovie gets major points for featuring a free mobile app. It works great on both iPhone and iPad so that you can stay productive even while working on the go.
Of course, iMovie is a macOS exclusive, so this option won’t apply to Windows users. But if you find yourself working inside of Apple’s highly walled garden, iMovie might just be the best beginner video program for you.
Pinnacle Studio has been around for some time, and it’s clear that the company understands its market position as a beginner-friendly platform. For Windows users, Pinnacle shines for its ease-of-use. It’s not free but is inexpensive, even for the occasional video editor.
With both a “Plus” and “Ultimate” version, you can tailor your experience based on your skillset and project needs. In this beginner-friendly program, you’ll also find more advanced features like multi-camera edit support and motion tracking.
DaVinci Resolve is lauded for two things: its advanced feature set, and its fantastic price tag: free! There’s a paid “Studio” version that unlocks some advanced features, but you might be surprised by how much is included in the free edition.
In DaVinci Resolve, you’ll find a program that’s highly focused on controlling the look and feel of your video footage. Since Resolve was originally a color correction software, today’s iteration has, by far, the most powerful tools for color grading and adjusting the mood of your video. Many beginner tools feature simple presets and sliders to tweak your footage, but Resolve has a thoroughly professional feature set.
DaVinci Resolve is further along the “complexity” curve, but you can’t ignore the deep library of learning resources. This program is perhaps the best combination of cost and capability. If you think that video production may become more than an occasional project, we highly recommend investing time in learning this program.
When you’re ready to make a video, keep the beginner programs featured here in mind. The key is to first find a “good enough” solution that helps you complete your project. Maybe becoming a master editor isn’t in your future, but these programs can help you deliver a polished video that will have your colleagues and clients thinking otherwise. And if you need stock footage to get started, explore our library of royalty-free video.