Free editing software at your fingertips
Lightworks is a free video editing tool created by EditShare that enables users to give their videos a professional-looking edge. Lightworks's free version provides ample features that many users will find fit exactly what they're looking for, with a premium upgrade for those wanting a little extra. If you've used video editing software before, you'll feel right at home with Lightworks.
Video editing made simple
Editshare has worked hard to provide users with software they can use for any type of project. Lightworks can be used for simple video edits where you may need to trim a video down to size, alter video levels or overlay basic effects onto your video track.
Lightworks is perfect for smaller YouTubers who want to merge some clips to make a montage or piece together an engaging vlog for their audience. A large portion of editing is tackling the timeline and working with the timeline's various tools. Fortunately, Lightworks' timeline is well presented and streamlined enough for most uses to pick up immediately.
If you need a helping hand, then don't worry; Lightworks comes preinstalled with many effect preset options. Once your video is on your timeline, you can use these presets to add a professional touch without having to understand how to create the effects yourself.
Having access to presets is helpful if you need a quick fix without any of the leg work. However, seasoned pros will be happy to know that Lightworks provides multiple options to create your own effects, including presets to save and use for future projects.
These include color correction, real-time effects, and a mix of other post-production options. Aside from direct video tools, you can use other features to add text as overlays, import images, and overlay them onto your videos or alter your videos orientation and placement.
Finally, those that have experimented with animation will be happy to see that keyframing is available and easy to use —allowing you to alter your designs and effects throughout your video with complete control.
What quirks to expect when using Lightworks
For the most part, Lightworks is intuitive in the way it handles the basic features it offers. Occasionally, you'll encounter something working slightly differently from other editing software that can be confusing at first.
One such instance is when you plan on moving a video track on your timeline. You'll find that your audio doesn't follow suit and instead requires you to move it simultaneously, even if the audio is linked to the video organically.
A big turn-off for many users will be the lack of quality exporting options when using the free trial. You are asked to specify the frame rate of your imported clip, which is useful if you don't plan to alter the export options. But many users who want to work with files over 720p will find that they cannot do so since additional export quality options are locked behind the premium version of Lightworks. A minor inconvenience for many but certainly a turn-off if you need to work with higher quality files.
When working on time-consuming projects, many of us who edit regularly know how important it is to consistently save our work in fear of crashes or application problems. So it can be confusing when you're using Lightworks and don't find a file>save option; this is because Lightworks automatically saves your work on the fly without any intrusive delays or buffering when it does so. We were surprised to see this feature, especially coming from a free version, but one that we're thankful for nonetheless.
Export features and platform support
Lightworks offers incredible format support diminishing the necessary transcoding you can find with other software. Formats such as Quicktime, AVC-Intra, H.254, AVCHD, XDCAM EX, and AVI are just some of those options, with many more available to free users. Linux and Mac users can rejoice as Lightworks is a cross-platform service alongside Windows.
Many of the preset exporting options are designed for social, meaning that they are effortless to share on sites like Youtube or Vimeo. You may find that some of these files can be shared on social media if your clip isn't too long.
Are the pro features worth the money?
Lightworks pro version is a significant investment, especially when selecting to pay monthly. For an annual subscription, it falls in line with most editing software currently on the market. That does, however, raise the question of why one wouldn't invest in something they're familiar with.
As far as premium features, you'll gain access to the sorely missed 4k quality export options, among other export options cut out of the free version. Additional functionality includes advanced project sharing options, 3D output, Blackmagic, Timeline rendering, Lightworks console support, and more.
The premium features certainly are extensive, but as with any investment, ensuring you know what you need is a significant first step to knowing whether the premium is necessary for you.
Is Lightworks worth it?
For free video editing software, there is really no reason not to give Lightworks a try, even if just to see if you prefer it over the selection of software you are currently using. The functionality on offer will be more than enough for many users, especially considering there is no cap on 720p quality. However, those needing more may have to consider using alternative software.
After a brief learning curve, you'll be up to speed on the timeline and effects on offer and can start creating highly engaging videos to share online.