Adobe Premiere Pro is one of the best video editing programs around—emphasis on “one of.” While Premiere is the industry standard, that doesn’t mean other programs have nothing to offer. There are plenty of great alternatives out there that match, or even surpass, Premiere in pricing, features, and design.
Table of Contents
- What to Look for in a Premiere Pro Alternative
- The Competitor: Sony VEGAS Pro 18
- Another Great Option: PowerDirector
- Time-Tested: Corel VideoStudio Pro 2021
- Smooth Editing: Wondershare Filmora X
- Color Mastery: DaVinci Resolve 17
- Open-Source: Shotcut
- Special Effects: HitFilm
- 3D Animation: Blender
- For Mac Users: Final Cut Pro
While you’re focusing on replacing Premiere, these programs still have to pass the basics of a video editor. Here are a few of the most important things to keep in mind:
- Basic Features: Cutting clips, adjusting audio, adding text, and transformations (rotating, resizing, cropping, etc.) are the basic features you should expect out of any editor. So of course, we’ve made sure that every program on our list includes these.
- Design: The programs on this list all focus on high-end, complicated video editing tools, but that doesn’t excuse a poor interface. To the best of their ability, these programs should be easy to navigate and intuitive to learn without sacrificing their robust nature.
- Advanced Features: If you’re jumping from Premiere, odds are you’re doing some complex work and need powerful tools to support it. Features like chroma-keying, keyframing, masking (which allows you to apply effects to a specified area of a clip), and motion tracking (tracking an object as it moves in a clip, either through an automatic tool or with advanced, manual keyframes). Because these are such a large focus of Premiere, we made sure that all the programs mentioned here have them as well.
- Performance: Video-editing programs are intensive for your computer to run, but that doesn’t excuse poor optimization. The software on this list all work to run as smoothly as possible, though a few hiccups along the way are inevitable.
- Platforms: Adobe Premiere Pro is developed for both Windows and Mac devices, so naturally, most of its competitors are as well (there are also a few on Linux). We’ll mention which operating systems every editor is available on, so you don’t need to waste your time getting interested in something you can’t even use.
- Pricing: One of the most divisive parts of Adobe’s software is the forced subscription model. And while many of the programs we’ll talk about here also use subscriptions, they offer one-time purchases as well. The downside is that editing software tends to get major, annual re-releases that add new features, and if you do a one-time payment you’ll have to purchase the latest release separately (albeit, usually with an upgrade discount). But if you’re on a budget, there are multiple free editors included on this list as well, and all the software mentioned here has a demo you can try out before biting the bullet.
- Versatility: While video editing should be the focus, there’s an increasing number of programs that include tools for other related fields of work, like audio editing and VFX. Having in-depth tools for these can be incredibly useful as a video editor, even if you don’t focus on them, so it’s definitely worth looking out for—but it’s not required for a great editor. Premiere itself primarily focuses on standard video editing and is great for it.
Sony VEGAS Pro is one of Premiere’s biggest competitors, with the features and legacy to support it. This is an all-purpose piece of editing software, with the latest version (18) featuring brand new improvements in audio editing, color grading, and VFX. This means VEGAS can do an admirable job filling the hole that Creative Cloud may leave in your life, but it’s also a great tool for the basics as well.
Even if you’re just cutting up clips and adding text, VEGAS includes all the tools you need to create the video in your head. The user interface is a bit tough to learn, but it’s efficient and decently customizable to make up for that; it’s robust enough to house the program’s more advanced tools, but not too daunting to scare away new users. If you’re looking for a tool that’s dedicated to meeting Adobe on its level when it comes to video production, VEGAS Pro has your back.
But, of course, along with professional options comes professional prices. You can buy VEGAS Pro 18 as a one-time purchase for $399.99, but you won’t have access to the new features once VEGAS Pro 19 rolls around. Or, if you want to be sure you have the latest VEGAS version at all times, you’ll need to sign up for VEGAS Pro 365, which costs $15.99 a month.
Sony Vegas Pro
A high-end video editor that meets Premiere on its level.
Moving to another big name is PowerDirector—a versatile program that aims to be the end all be all for video editing. The program features advanced video-editing tools such as masking, chroma-keying, and dynamic keyframes all wrapped into a clean and intuitive design. It even includes baked-in motion graphic tiles and one-click effects that can be added to any clip. PowerDirector makes creating quality videos quick and easy, with room to dive deeper if you need to.
You have a few options when it comes to purchasing this software. There’s PowerDirector Ultra and Ultimate, which are both one-time purchases; Ultra is $99.99 and is a trimmed-down version of the program, while Ultimate includes all the features for $139.99. Then there’s PowerDirector 365, which is a subscription that costs $69.99 a year (or $19.99 a month) and includes access to a large library of stock video, pictures, and audio.
PowerDirector allows you to choose just how in-depth you get with your editing.
Corel is a well-respected name that’s been around for a while now, so it’s no surprise that the latest version of its video-editing software, VideoStudio, is still one of the greats. It features hundreds of pre-made effects and filters, a clean design, and advanced features such as 360-degree footage compatibility and keyframing. You can do a lot in Corel VideoStudio, but if you don’t feel like getting into the complicated stuff, you can always use the instant templates to automate parts of the editing process. And for professional editors, Corel’s fantastic multi-camera editing system makes it easy to sync up clips from different angles to ensure the final product comes out just right.
Corel VideoStudio Pro 2021 is available as a one-time purchase of $79.99. Likewise, Corel VideoStudio Ultimate costs $99.99 and includes additional advanced tools like color grading and masking.
Corel VideoStudio Pro 2021
VideoStudio’s been around for a while, and that’s shown in how great this editor is.
Filmora aims to bring professional quality to brand-new editors with its streamlined interface and features. You’ll be able to access high-end tools—like motion-tracking masks, green screen, and color grading—in the simplest way possible. It also helps out in the publishing process by making it easy to share to different social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube. If you want to create professional-looking videos without getting into the nitty-gritty of the video-editing process, then Filmora is by far the best option.
You can get Filmora X either as a one-time purchase of $79.99, or as an annual subscription of $49.99.
Wondershare Filmora X
Professional tools wrapped in a beginner-friendly design.
DaVinci Resolve is a well-renowned piece of software, especially for its color grading tools, which are some of the best around. But what makes the deal even sweeter with Resolve is that it’s completely free to use.
Besides the high-end color grading tools, Resolve also features a full video-editing suite, including some excellent audio editing and VFX tools on top of it. The amount of stuff packed into Resolve would be impressive enough if it wasn’t free, but the fact that it is elevates it even further. If you’re new to editing and want to learn advanced stuff but don’t have the budget for the big-name options, Resolve is a fantastic resource.
There is a paid version of Resolve, DaVinci Resolve Studio 17, which costs a one-time payment of $295. This version includes more advanced features such as higher frame rates, higher resolutions, and 3D layers.
DaVinci Resolve 17
A free video editor with loads of great features, including some best-in-class color grading tools.
Open-source software is great for a lot of reasons—it’s free, easily modified, and isn’t as beholden to a specific company or team of developers. And Shotcut is a great example of this; the software is already a fairly competent editor on its own, but once you tip your toes into some of the third-party add-ons out there, you can truly turn it into your own personal editing toolbox. While most of the programs on this list support third-party plugins and add-ons to some extent, they will never be able to compete with something open-source.
Of course, that means you have to put more work into Shotcut by installing these add-ons, but that can be part of the fun. This one won’t be for everyone, not by a long shot, but if you prefer open-source software, or like the sound of it from what we’ve described here, it’s definitely worth a download.
Shotcut is the go-to open-source video editor.
While Adobe may separate its special effects tools away from Premiere into After Effects, HitFilm aims to merge both editing and VFX into one space. For standard video editing it’s great, with all the bells and whistles you’d expect, but jumping into the effects side of things is where things get even better.
Whether you’re using the free or paid-for version (which we’ll cover soon), you can do some impressive work within HitFilm without worrying about all the transferring you’d have to do between Premiere and After Effects. The VFX tools are deep and intricate, without sacrificing the video editing side of the program.
HitFilm Express is the free version of the program and includes an impressive suite of features all things considered. You can purchase individual add-on packs for Express if there are specific features you require though. HitFilm Pro is the full package, featuring high-end tools for both VFX and editing work from baked-in effects to better color grading tools. HitFilm Pro costs a one-time purchase of $349.99.
If you need your VFX and video-editing tools in the same place, HitFilm is the solution.
Blender is largely renowned for its 3D modeling and animation tools and for good reason: It’s a fantastic, open-source program made all the better by the massive community it’s fostered. But hiding within Blender is a robust video editor. While primarily designed to work with the 3D stuff done inside Blender, it works with regular video clips as well. If you’re interested in 3D animation, then Blender can be a one-stop-shop for both animating and producing your work. But it’s also great if you just want an open-source editor with a huge community—it’s even free.
An open-source, 3D animation program with a robust video editor waiting inside.
While a number of the editors on this list are available on Mac, Apple’s really cornered the market with Final Cut Pro. Not only does it feature advanced features in a slick, intuitive interface, but it’s also optimized to work well on macOS. You can expect better performance from Final Cut Pro as opposed to other macOS video editors (especially if you’re running an M1 Mac), while still getting all the high-end features you need. Whether you’re cutting clips, chroma-keying, or color grading, Final Cut Pro is the best option on macOS.
Of course, it doesn’t come cheap costing a one-time price of $299.99, but there’s always iMovie available as well. iMovie is free, available on iOS and macOS devices, and packs in an impressive suite of features with a focus on simplicity.
Final Cut Pro
Apple’s excellent solution to professional video editing on macOS.