A lot has happened at HitFilm since we were last there checked the video editor. Firstly, there was a complete rebranding, HitFilm Express is now simply called HitFilm.
At that time we described one of them best free video editing software tools as “impressive”, with such a broad and useful toolkit that in the end “when we see the quality of other free or very cheap alternatives, it’s difficult to find a reason to give them the time of day when HitFilm Express offers so much in comparison.”
That’s still largely true of the powerful video editor, with some welcome new improvements – but also some unwanted feature removals.
HitFilm is still free, mind you. That hasn’t changed. However, there are also two subscription-based tiers that give you additional features.
Creator ($9.99/£9.99 per month or $6.25/£6.25 per month billed annually) includes the Hitfilm Creator and Imerge Creator apps. You can export footage up to 4K resolution (the free hit movie limits this to HD), contains 100 songs, 100 sound effects and 25 templates from the Artlist library and offers “Premium Support”.
Pro ($15.99/£15.99 per month or $9.99/£9.99 per month billed annually) comes with loads of software – HitFilm Pro, Imerge Pro, Mocha HitFilm, BorisFX 3D Objects and Foundry 3D Camera Tracker. You can also export up to 8K, and the subscription comes with 200 songs, 200 sound effects, and 50 templates.
If you’re not a fan of subscriptions, don’t worry: perpetual licenses for HitFilm Pro and Imerge Pro are still available, which include 12 months of updates and technical support. If you are already a HitFilm user, you can also renew your license with a discount. Unfortunately, HitFilm Creator doesn’t seem to be available this way.
Pro is the subscription service they’re pushing, but we’ll see how the latest free version, now known as 2022.1, fares.
The user interface has undergone a fairly extensive overhaul. Gone is the off-white look that graced the version we viewed two years ago, replaced with a sleeker, more modern dark gray design. That’s all well and good. Unfortunately, when you run HitFilm on a Mac, the interface guidelines are not respected, as the menu bar is ignored and the menus instead respect Windows principles, unnecessarily eating up valuable real estate. Luckily there is an option to disable this and put the menu back where it belongs, but why isn’t this “feature” enabled by default?
The justification for this could be the giant “Upgrade” button in the top right, which is a constant reminder that you really should be sending FXHome some money every month by subscribing to one of their hefty subscriptions.
Maybe being subtle didn’t work with the previous look, but this is garish and overbearing and really a big step down in our opinion.
If you are new to video editing software, launching an app like this can feel daunting. So many windows or panels, so many options, where do I start?
That’s why we really appreciated the new sidebar, which is simply called “Learn”. You can toggle it on and off via a simple button to the right of the top menus.
Here you’re graced with three videos that explain the basics – the basics of the interface, how to manage your media, and how to export your finished product.
But there’s a lot more: click All Categories to view all 39 available videos, which teach you most aspects of filmmaking, including green screen work, changing pitch and tweaking a clip’s color balance.
This is a very welcome addition – it makes HitFIlm one of the best video editor apps for beginners, and the included tutorials are sure to improve a new editor’s skills quickly.
Art is not free
Another new feature for HitFilm Version 2022.1 is the inclusion of line and vector line effects. These essentially allow you to paint lines along a path using dots, which you can easily turn into curves to give a more organic feel to what you’re drawing.
They’re very easy to use and can be a nice addition to your editing and compositing arsenal, except there’s a catch: although you can use them with the free HitFilm version, these effects are watermarked. The only way to remove it is to either purchase a subscription or purchase a perpetual license.
We should emphasize that this is not an uncommon sales tactic. Free video editing software without watermarks hidden somewhere in the app is rare. If you browse through all the available effects, you’ll find that most can really only be used by upgrading.
The recording of VFX software, which makes HitFilm a true all-in-one post-production tool, is a nice touch. But if you are looking for a real one Alternative to Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects alternativesneed to switch to HitFilm Pro which offers the best of both worlds.
Still, you can at least try them out to see how you like the included effects, but just like that big, ever-present “Upgrade” button, it doesn’t leave a good taste in your mouth.
Additions and Removals
You’ll find most of the other improvements for this release under the hood.
For example, the puppet effect has been improved, HitFilm now supports a wider range of TIFF images, and there is a new user preference to enable or disable mouse wheel scrolling in drop-down menus. Mac users working with computers equipped with the latest in-house CPUs will also appreciate the expanded support for Apple Silicon.
If you pay for any of the subscription tiers, you’ll find direct access to Artlist’s music, sound effects, and templates through the Creative Library Panel (the free HitFilm gives you limited access, and the perpetual Pro license gives you no access). , but there are plenty of free alternatives online that you could use instead and import as media into your project).
However, you will notice that some other things have been removed, e.g. B. the integration between HitFilm and Vegas Pro. Adobe After Effects Plugin support is gone, as is the ability to import and export AAF files.
Operating system support has been limited. If you are using Windows, HitFilm now only works with versions 10 and 11. The oldest Mac operating system is Catalina (macOS 10.15).
This version feels like a bit of a disappointment. Rebranding happens from time to time and we won’t blame FXhome for trying to improve the look and feel of their top video editor app.
HitFilm continues to be an excellent video editing software with plenty of powerful features, all of which are free (read our previous review for more info on that). And it’s far less intimidating than competing free video editors, DaVinci resolution – It’s actually more geared towards Lightworks, both of which are among the best free video editors for beginners.
But after two years we expected more than we have now with HitFilm.
It doesn’t detract from what you can already do, of course, but we expected more than just a rebrand and more prominent upgrade requests. Still, it’s easy to eventually ignore that big “upgrade” button, and you’ll still have a full-featured video editor and all your loose change in your pocket.
Still, if you’re looking for free video editing software, we recommend downloading a copy and trying HitFilm for yourself.