Lightworks user interface
Image: Windows Central.

PCs and laptops are getting pretty powerful nowadays, but one of the tests people can conduct to see if they rig is the real deal is by trying to run the professional video editing software of their choice.

Video editing remains one of the most computing-heavy tasks of all, and having the equipment necessary to run these programs is just as essential as picking the right one for your needs.

There are a multitude of tools and software suites, free and paid, that are focused on video editing. Below, we list some of the best options for professionals and filmmaking aficionados alike.

Adobe Premiere Pro CC ($19.99/month or $239.99/year)

The first entry on this list comes from no other software maker than Adobe. Better known for the ever-popular Photoshop program, the company has also placed itself as a leader of the video editing scene with Premiere Pro CC.

Premiere is the filmmaking industry’s choice for a reason, and a large part of that reason has to do with its seamless integration with other Creative Cloud solutions.

Adobe’s video editing program comes with features like Essential Graphics and Essential Sound borrowed from After Effects and Audition respectively. Adobe Stock and Team Projects are also supported in Beta.

Out of this list, Premiere Pro is the only one that can handle virtual reality and up to 8K footage in its native format. Being so popular, it also supports thousands of plugins and specific functions that only years of market experience can deliver.

Apple Final Cut Pro X ($299.99)

Apple’s once mighty Final Cut Pro has fallen from grace, but not too far. While Adobe’s Premiere has dethroned the Mac OS-exclusive over the last couple of years, the latest iteration of Final Cut Pro still has some great tools to offer.

Unlike the timeline-based Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X’s magnetic timeline is unusual yet intuitive once you learn to use it. Apple also shines at file organization with their exceptional Libraries settings to keep your footage in place.

There are a couple of drawbacks, though, including no support for VR footage and the somewhat outrageous choice to drop the H.265 format that many cameras still use. There is also no backward compatibility with projects edited in older Final Cut versions.

Still, new MacBook Pro users will be thrilled to know that the latest update to the program adds support and smooth integration with the Touch Bar. Apple, as usual, seems to be betting on something different.

PowerDirector 15 Ultimate ($259.99 – Sale: $79.99)

Renowned software makers like Sony and Corel have competing suites that stand their ground against Apple and Adobe, but in the end, it is PowerDirector’s 15 Ultimate software the program that deserves a place on this list.

PowerDirector’s case is the classic in which its biggest strength is also its biggest weakness. Ultimate 15 is just loaded with features, which is great but also overwhelming at times when simplicity is required.

From just the top of the feature list, the video editing program offers support for 4K, 360-degree, 3D, and multi-cam footage. It also supports screen recording capabilities, as well as stop-motion, motion tracking, and even vertical mobile video tools.

Lightworks (Free)

Lightworks is the bonus entry in this list for all those of you looking for a free alternative that is capable of high-end video editing. It is a full-fledged suite, so you will need a decent rig to install, run, and create on it.

It does not have the reach of other professional software, but it has an easy-to-use interface with all the timeline tools you need and hundreds of plugins to help you get the look you want in your projects.

Lightworks can import many of the industry’s most used video formats, but it is limited only to MPEG4/H.264 and a maximum resolution of 1280 x 720p to export video. There is also support to upload projects directly to YouTube within the platform.

There is a paid version, Lightworks Pro, that unlocks many of the capabilities that put it on par with other software makers. It costs £249 per year, and it runs on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.

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