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Find Your New Favorite Tool: Five NLE Alternatives to Premiere

Frustrated with Premiere? Tired of the subscription model? Today, we’re taking a peek at some of the alternative NLEs available to editors.

Many editors have a love-hate relationship with Premiere Pro. Whether it’s a bug that deletes all of the footage on your hard drive, being limited to only the most recent versions of the subscription-based software, unstable releases, or any of the other host of issues users have been dealing with for years — many users feel let down by Adobe’s flagship editing software.

If you’ve found yourself frustrated with Premiere, know that you’re not alone.

Today, we’re taking a look at five alternative NLEs to Adobe’s. Best of all, these are all affordable, and users can purchase and use them without the reviled subscription-based model pushed by Adobe since 2015.


Via EditShare.

Professional editors have used Lightworks for twenty-five years. With credits like The Wolf of Wall Street, Pulp Fiction, LA Confidential, and The King’s Speech (among many others), Lightworks has a well-established place in the NLE game.

The most recent version of the software has all of the essential tools for modern projects. Lightworks supports 4K timelines with integrated Proxy workflows to speed up the editing process, and can reconnect and export videos to a variety of formats up to 4K.

The timeline can take a bit of getting used to when coming from Premiere. As you resize clips, the timeline automatically adjusts. However, with a bit of practice, it’s actually a pretty nice feature.

Find Your New Favorite Tool: Five NLE Alternatives to Premiere — Lightworks

Lightworks is a simple editing system for mastering video. Image via Lightworks.

Lightworks feels nice and lightweight. The editing process breaks down into four main sections: Log, Edit, VFX, and Audio. Simply work through each tab to finish your video.

There’s a free version that allows for very basic video assembly, and a really flexible licensing path if you decide you like it. Users can purchase Lightworks outright for about $500, license annually for $175, or monthly for $25. The only real features you’ll miss out on by using the free version is the ability to export to a desired codec and access to bundled plugin packages.

The Lightworks Tutorial playlist has a pretty comprehensive guide for anyone wanting to give full projects a shot. For users creating simple videos, Lightworks isn’t half bad.


Via Teacher’s Tech.

Shotcut is a free, open-source NLE originally developed in 2004. It’s since been completely re-written based on MLT Multi-Media Framework. MLT authors, manages, and runs multi-track video in all sorts of applications beyond just NLEs, which makes Shotcut a very interesting NLE for developers of web and mobile apps.

Shotcut uses FFmpeg to natively support nearly every video and audio codec ever created. Because of this, Shotcut natively supports pretty much any video codec you can throw at it, just like any other paid editing program does, including 4K flavors of ProRes and DNxHD.

Find Your New Favorite Tool: Five NLE Alternatives to Premiere — Shotcut

Shotcut is a free, open-source NLE made for developers of web and mobile apps. Image via Shotcut.

Because Shotcut is open source, it supports user and community-developed plugins. There are a plethora of useful and niche plugins for video stabilization, noise reduction, video glitching, and many other image and audio mastering effects available for free download and integration into Shotcut.

However, Shotcut has a fairly comprehensive set of video filters, color wheels, text generators, opacity tools, and audio mastering effects available to use out of the box. Shotcut also expands its functionality through hardware support of Blackmagic and Leap motion tools.

Overall, Shotcut seems like a great tool for hardcore computer techies and developers creating content for web or mobile apps. Meanwhile, some of the other NLEs in this list will better serve the needs of straightforward video editors and content creators.

HitFilm Pro

Via FXhome.

More than just a replacement for Premiere, HitFilm brings some really cool features to the table not found in any other NLE on the market. HitFilm boasts that it’s the only editing software you’ll need to finish your film. This may well be true, with a comprehensive audio suite, full 3D compositing, modeling, an animating environment with Ray Tracing support, motion tracking tools, comprehensive text tools, particle engine, motion graphics, Academy Award-winning tracking, support for resolutions up to 8K, and the “largest VFX toolkit in the industry,” just to name a few of the features HitFilm Pro is packing under the hood.

Beyond marketing, HitFilm is a super solid NLE with extremely intuitive controls and functionality. For users familiar with Premiere, the transition couldn’t be simpler. All of the essential tools are pretty much where you expect them to be. Cutting, adding effects, and transitions are all extremely simple.

Find Your New Favorite Tool: Five NLE Alternatives to Premiere — HitFilm

HitFilm is a comprehensive and unique NLE with intuitive controls and functionality. Image via FXhome.

Despite the massive set of tools at hand, HitFilm looks to be one of the simplest NLEs for beginners. Its tutorial and guide splash page place the full features of the program within immediate reach when you launch the program. The team at FXHome regularly put out masterclasses on how to emulate looks from Hollywood films within their flagship editing system.

HitFilm Pro is a really unique piece of software, offering far more to editors than most of the other entries on this list. For those looking to move away from Premiere who worry about replacing the workflows of the extended creative suite, HitFilm could be the ticket. Head over to the Learning HitFilm page to explore on your own.

Via Teacher’s Tech.

HitFilm Pro is available for $300 — the same price as six months of an Adobe subscription. HitFilm Express has many of the essential features found in the Pro version, and is also completely free.

Vegas Pro

Sony Vegas is a tried and tested industry staple with a twenty year history. It’s a fully-featured NLE with all of the tools and functionality an editor would expect out of their software.

Vegas has support for all modern video codecs and formats, multi-cam editing, proxy workflows, and compositing and opacity tools. This NLE also offers support for S-Log, ACES, LUTs, Boris FX plugins, and makes use of hardware acceleration for supported machines and graphics cards.

Vegas was initially a sound-only tool. This remains in its DNA with a robust sound-sweetening and mastering toolkit, including a full multi-track DAW and the tools that go with it, right inside the NLE.

Find Your New Favorite Tool: Five NLE Alternatives to Premiere — Vegas Pro

A solid NLE, Vegas Pro comes with all the tools and functionality an editor could want. Image via Sony.

The most recent version (16) brings some significant improvements to the user interface and usability, bringing it pretty much up to speed with Premiere. Vegas 16 also supports HDR and 360 degree video, as well as beefed-up motion tracking and video stabilization tools.

Overall, Vegas is a solid NLE. It lacks some of the polish of Premiere and other high-end editing systems, but you won’t hurt for the tools you need if you go with Vegas. At $300, however, I would personally give HitFilm a go before Vegas. Apologies to Sony fans everywhere.

DaVinci Resolve

Via BlackMagic Design.

No list of NLEs in 2019 is complete without DaVinci Resolve. Over the past five years or so, DaVinci took aim at the likes of Premiere and Avid by putting some real muscle into the editing side of its color grading suite.

Resolve is built from the ground up to support multi-user collaboration on projects. So, single clicks will switch users between its media ingest, editing, audio, color, VFX, and export functionality.

Resolve has a fully-featured editing suite built-in with intuitive controls and workflows. Version 16 supports any video codec and format up to 8K resolution, new adjustment layers (called “Adjustment Clips”), as well as facial recognition to simplify sorting clips. It also offers overhauled speed retiming and image stabilization tools, along with a host of other features.

Find Your New Favorite Tool: Five NLE Alternatives to Premiere — DaVinci Resolve

With a fully-featured editing suite built-in, DaVinci Resolve’s controls and workflows are intuitive. Image via DaVinci Resolve 16.

The newest version also brings a new “Cut” page to the software. This page functions as a hyper-streamlined NLE for rapidly assembling footage, with a simplified interface designed to help you get those fast turn-around jobs out the door.

Resolve costs $300, but if you aren’t going to be fully finishing your projects, or don’t need Resolve’s industry-leading premium tools, the free version has almost the exact same functionality.

There’s really no better free software on the market than Resolve. If you haven’t tried it, download it and start learning it. It may well become the new industry standard NLE in a few years’ time.

There are more legitimate options than ever before for editors. So, take some time to familiarize yourself with the NLE’s available to you. You might just find a new favorite tool.

Top image via ImageBySutipond.

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