5 truly free non-linear video editors for Windows

    This post is intended to help those who, like me, suddenly became cramped with Movie Maker.

    Video editors almost did not interest me until last month, until we decided to shoot something original with friends for the New Year. Our creativity was limited by the fact that, in terms previously unknown to me, apply the effect of “Split Screen” (Split Screen). That is, implement something like this:

    We quickly realized that the default MM was not suitable for this task at all, and plunged into the world of nonlinear tools. Judging by Google’s extradition, it turned out to be unbearably many, and by itself, it was not possible to choose the only one, relying only on descriptions. In short, it was decided not to waste time reading reviews, but to download and test.

    In fact, it turned out that most of the free video editing programs are just functionally limited versions of software that you can buy. Well, since I don’t really want to buy a program for the sake of a single video a year, we were looking for one whose limitations do not contradict our needs very much. So let's go.


    An old-timer among video editing programs, about which they wrote on Habré in 2010. Nobody seems to have seen the source codes promised then, but the program today offers installations for the three main operating systems.

    System requirements: Intel i7, AMD or another processor with a higher frequency, minimum 3 GB of RAM, 200 MB of free hard disk space, PCI Express video card (NVIDIA or ATI) with a minimum memory capacity of 1 GB, support for DirectX 9.

    Lightworks developers declare that their product has been used repeatedly in Hollywood when filming such films as Pulp Fiction and The Wolf of Wall Street.

    It is believed that the “trick” in Lightworks is an impeccably implemented video slicing tool. I do not presume to judge perfection and intuitiveness - after Movie Maker all non-linear editors at first drove me into a short-term stupor.

    On business

    • The declared features in addition to the basic ones: editing support from several cameras, 100 built-in presets with video effects, image output to a second monitor.
    • Opens formats: ProRes, Avid DNxHD, AVC-Intra, DVCPRO HD, RED R3D, DPX, AVCHD and HD 422
    • Export formats: “archive” Lightworks or directly to YouTube / Vimeo in MPEG-4 format.
    • The main limitation of the free version: it allows you to export video only directly to YouTube or Vimeo, does not allow you to save the project on a computer in a readable format.


    VSDC is issued by Google among the first results for “free video editor”, despite the fact that no one wrote about him on Habré. The interface here is not modern and can even remotely remind the Office to someone. However, free and a wide range of tools, this minor drawback is balanced. The main advantages of VSDC developers are called full compatibility with all known formats, both in import and in export. Moreover, in the settings you can even choose the H265 / HEVC codec, which, as you know, gives the maximum image quality with a high degree of file compression. Those who plan to process video with a resolution of 4K at this point will be especially pleased, since other free tools did not notice this possibility.

    System requirements:Intel, AMD or other compatible processors with a frequency of 1.5 Hz, 256 MB of RAM, 50 MB of free hard disk space.

    A pop-up window was slightly embarrassing when starting a program that offered an upgrade for the PRO version, but from what was written it became clear that the main feature of the upgrade was hardware acceleration for export, and all other features were no different from the free version.

    • The declared features in addition to the basic ones: more than 20 presets of color correction in the style of Instagram filters, a lot of audio and video effects, including layer overlay, mask over the object, Chroma Key, wizard for creating a slide show.
    • Opens formats: AVI, QuickTime, HDVideo, WindowsMedia, DVD, VCD / SVCD, MPEG / MPG, DV, AMV, MTV, NUT, H.264 / MPEG-4, DivX, XviD, MJPEG
    • Export Formats: AVI, DVD, VCD / SVCD, MPEG, MP4, M4V, MOV, 3GP / 3G2, WMV, MKV, RM / RMVB, FLV, SWF, AMV, MTV
    • The main limitation of the free version: in addition to hardware acceleration, restrictions are either absent or implicitly indicated. If someone finds - I'm waiting in the comments.

    Davinci Resolve

    I had a double impression of Davinci. On the one hand, in terms of the set of tools and the interface, it is noticeably beaten out against the background of other free programs - a feeling of a really powerful professional video editor. Moreover, as in the case with VSDC, there are no significant differences for the average user between the free version and the commercial version for $ 995 (!). On the other hand, Davinci Resolve places high demands on the video card, since the application of changes is implemented in real time. This, of course, impresses me as a user, but also periodically drops the whole process on computers that are not powerful enough.

    System requirements:12 GB of RAM (16 GB recommended), a powerful video card with CUDA technology and a recommended memory capacity of 3 GB, a monitor with a resolution of 1920 × 1080 and higher.

    The biggest emphasis in the Davinci Resolve video editor is on color grading tools. If for you the ideal Hollywood level, the image is not a priority, then perhaps you, like me, will not have the patience to understand the settings. But judging by the tutorials, with the color of Davinci really able to work miracles.

    • The declared features in addition to the basic ones: professional color correction, cropping, sound mixing, working with text, support for the OpenFX plug-in for adding transition effects.
    • Opens formats: Davinci opens most of the popular video formats, however, the preferred working one for it is ProRes, so conversion is recommended before starting.
    • Export Formats: AVI, QuickTime, MP4, MOV, APNG
    • The main limitation of the free version: Davici Resolve clearly relies on the audience of video editing professionals, so the most likely unimportant buns for the average user, such as joint editing, noise reduction and stereoscopic 3D editing, were taken to the paid version.

    Hitfilm express

    Hitfilm Express focuses on special effects, and this becomes clear from the first seconds on the site, which is made using effects from Iron Man (at the time of writing, however, it was changed to Star Wars). Then you and the "shaking", and "rain", and "bloody spray." The second competitive advantage of this editor is compositing - tools for combining visual effects and 2D / 3D animations, which, according to the forums, are not inferior to Adobe After Effect.

    System requirements: 1.2 GB of free hard disk space, 4 GB of RAM (the recommended amount is 8 GB), a graphics processor with 2 GB of memory (minimum 512 MB).

    Hitfilm Express has a fairly simple and intuitive interface compared to many non-linear editors, but at the same time it’s a shame that support for such formats as, for example, AVCHD and MPEG-2 has been placed in the paid features section, which can be obtained for $ 10.

    • The declared features in addition to the basic ones: more than 180 visual effects and presets, 3D compositing, animation and graphic editor, Chroma Key.
    • Opens formats: Quicktime, AVI, MOV, MP4, MPEG-1, MXF, DV, HDV and WMV
    • Export formats: QuickTime, MP4, AVI and direct upload to YouTube direct
    • The main limitation of the free version: the export has a maximum resolution of 1080p and a color depth of 8 bits, while in the paid version the maximum resolution is 8K UHD 32-bit depth. In addition, the free version does not support OpenFX plugins.


    Speaking about free video editors for Windows, it's impossible to ignore the beta version of OpenShot - one of the first tools with open source and eight-year history. By the way, habrovchanam this project, it may be interesting for its campaign on a Kickstarter, where in 2013 a new version of OpenShot creator collected more than 2 times more than the required amount. Originally developed for Linux, this tool claimed the title of the most comprehensible professional video editor.

    System requirements: 8 GB of RAM (minimum 2 GB), 64-bit 4-core processor, graphics card with OpenGL 3.2 support and 2 GB of memory.

    The Openshot interface is probably the most minimalistic of all that I have seen, and the same can be said about the set of features. At the first launch of the program, each step is accompanied by a tooltip, although the menu items seemed so intuitive to me that it was impossible to get confused. I admit, it didn’t come to full testing - after several times the forced shutdown of Openshot, my patience ceased to be enough.

    • The declared features in addition to the basic ones: video effects, including the Chroma Key, animated 3D headers, animation and watermarking.
    • Opens: all FFmpeg formats, including WebM, AVSHD, HEVC
    • Export: there is both the ability to directly upload to YouTube and Vimeo, as well as the ability to customize export settings by independently choosing a bitrate, format and codec.

    Of course, these are far from all the free video editors that exist on the market today. However, by testing each of them, I can at least vouch for the fact that surprises in the form of a watermark, the lack of sound after export, or the inability to save the project are not waiting for you, as is the case with some "pseudo-free programs."

    Add your options in the comments; it would be nice to collect a more complete list of non-linear tools for thorough testing.

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