Since its release in 2011, Apple’s Final Cut Pro X has divided users’ opinions over the updates. The wholesale changes to workflow, basic editing, and early compatibility issues forced many professional editors and hobbyists alike to seek a Final Cut Pro alternative.
In the years since, however, Final Cut Pro has begun to re-establish itself, thanks to many improvements, new features, and a loyal user base of happy fans. For some, there are still issues and considerations for something different remains. Perhaps the flat purchase price of Final Cut Pro is a preventative cost barrier, or the magnetic timeline doesn’t suit preferred working styles and editing habits. Maybe you plan to move away from a Mac system and need a PC compatible program.
It could be that you simply want to try something new, to freshen-up your work in a new environment. Today, we’re going to look at 12 alternatives to Final Cut Pro, covering both free and paid-for applications.
Part 1: Overview of Final Cut Pro Alternatives
|Final Cut Pro||Yes||$299|
|Avid Media Composer||Yes||$239/annual|
|Pinnacle Studio Ultimate||Yes||$113|
Part 2: Free Alternatives to FCPX
The following applications are Final Cut free alternatives. Versions are available for free, but can often be upgraded with more features via a fee or subscription model.
iMovie is Apple’s entry-level video editing tool. It comes preinstalled on every Mac and even has a free mobile iOS version available. iMovie shares many similar attributes with FCPX, including the basic workflow, interface appearance, and editing tools. Mostly, the two programs share the same DNA, and for Mac editors who don’t require advanced controls like keyframing, multiple content channels, or multicam functionality, iMovie is a reliable option.
iMovie is free with every Mac and has an identical look and feel to FCP. It’s incredibly stable due to the Native macOS integration. On the downside, the program is limited in the number of tracks and motion graphic options, and there is no multicam editing function.
- Free with every Mac.
- Comparable user interface and usability as FCPX.
- Native macOS integration for stability and performance.
- Limited number of tracks.
- No multicam editing.
- Limited motion graphic options.
- No third-party plugins available.
- Mac users who want a familiar working environment, but don’t require advanced, professional editing and compositing tools.
2. DaVinci Resolve
For a long time, DaVinci Resolve was mostly just a color grading application, with limited use for offline editors. In recent times, Blackmagic Design has sought to disrupt their post-production landscape, in much the same way they did with the camera market. As a result of that competition, DaVinci Resolve now provides full-scale end-to-end editing, that offers professional offline and online workflow features within a single application.
- Robust, free professional video editing software available before paid upgrade.
- In-depth color correction and grading tools.
- Seamless integration with Fusion and Fairlight for compositing and audio.
- Steep learning curve for users.
- Needs a top-spec system to really get the most from it.
- No third-party plugins.
- Editors that are looking to learn new skills or improve their all-round post-productions process, or those that want to specialize in color grading for movies and TV.
3. HitFilm Express
HitFilm Express might not be a name familiar to you, as it has only been around for seven years. Primarily, the big appeal of HitFilm Express is its wide array of 2D and 3D compositing features, including pre-installed special effects generators. For creatives and YouTubers alike, HitFilm offers some surprisingly advanced visual effects tools and functionalities. The 3D weather and object generation effects are long-standing favorites amongst an active and appreciative user base.
- Brilliant introduction to 2D and 3D special effects.
- Windows and Mac compatible.
- Pre-installed effects to get you started with extensive tutorials on their YouTube channel.
- Purchasing additional individual effects plugins could get expensive.
- Limited video format compatibility.
- Might become limiting and require a paid upgrade to the full version.
- No multicam function.
- Editors that want to experiment with 2D and 3D visual effects without having to create them from scratch and online entertainers who want quality special effects quickly and easily.
Lightworks has been around since the late 1980s, and in 2017, its longevity was recognized in the form of an EMMY Award win for pioneering digital nonlinear editing. Lightworks has been used on many well-known and successful Hollywood movies, including Pulp Fiction and The Wolf of Wall Street. Lightworks is quite intuitive, and for an experienced editor, finding all your usual editing tools, such as key-frame editor or stabilization, shouldn’t be too difficult.
- Industry-standard software.
- Includes multicam editing.
- Windows, Linux and Mac versions available.
- More advanced export formats only available with upgrade.
- No third-party plug-in support for free version.
- Editors that want to sample a lesser-known but widely used program at the highest end of the industry.
Started as a project in 2002, Kdenlive is an open-source editing program for Windows and Linux. Designed for semi-professional use, the availability for anyone to modify their own version of the software might appeal to some, but that also comes with potential complications. If you’re unfamiliar with coding or manual software installations, then traditional packages may prove less hassle. Kdenlive has all of the basic editing tools you would expect from an application, but many are still in beta testing, which can cause a few crashes.
- Stable performance for Linux users, others may find the application a little buggy.
- Customizable source codes allow you to change the applications to your needs.
- Can be complex to install manually.
- Potentially unreliable updates.
- Limited support resources.
- Linux users who want to be part of a broader open-source project community. Especially those who may want to develop custom versions or run a program with the potential to fully exploit their PC hardware.
OpenShot is another open-source editing platform, designed to be easy, approachable and user-friendly. The community of developers supporting the project are actively improving performance and adding new features. For a free piece of software, there is a surprising amount of functionality, including keyframing, 3D title animation, re-timing effects, and unlimited timeline tracks.
- Available for Linux, Windows, and Mac.
- Always free to use and redevelop.
- Multiple language support and a dedicated support community.
- User-interface is not as professional-looking.
- Limited effects, no video stabilization.
- Potentially buggy in performance.
- Entry-level editors who want to learn the basics of video editing with free software, or editors who want to develop their own editing application.
Next up in the open-source category is Shotcut, which has the distinction of having roots in the independent video and media development community. Designed to be a straightforward editing tool, Shotcut lacks some of the pre-built templates and transition effects you may be used to in other applications. Instead, it relies on keyframing for animation and track-stacking for multicam editing, along with other workarounds.
- Available for Linux, Windows, and Mac.
- Integration with multiple open-source initiatives
- Dedicated support and development community
- Less intuitive than other platforms
- Lacks pre-installed templates and themes
- Users report stability issues.
- Methodical editors who like a hands-on approach to work, and want to strip away the flashier elements often found in other editing software.
As far as free, open-source software options go, Blender is unique in the market. While it offers video editing functionality with splicing, masking, color grading, and audio mixing, that’s only part of the story. The real power of Blender is a full-scale 3D modeling and animation suite. So while the editing tools might be basic, there are infinite possibilities to explore in other areas of film production. Blender is a complicated bit of kit, and even experienced animators may have trouble navigating the tools and workflow.
- Free and open-source.
- Versions for Linux, Windows, and Mac.
- Comes as part of an extensive 3D animation creation suite.
- Video editing is more of an add-on than full focus.
- Potentially overwhelming and intimidating primary functions.
- Lack professional features of other dedicated editing software.
- VFX designers, artists, modelers, and animators who want to run basic video edits alongside their 3D creative endeavors.
Part 3: Paid Alternatives to FCPX
If you have a budget for buying an alternative to FCP X, there are plenty of different options for how you can spend it on a suitable replacement.
9. Premiere Pro
As an absolute industry standard, Adobe Premiere Pro has been the long-running rival for Final Cut Pro. Always keeping at the cutting edge of technology, Premiere is already the choice for professional editors across the globe. Premiere has all of the basic editing tools, advanced color grading tools, and a huge number of third party plugins to add any extras you feel the program is missing. If you find your need to use or collaborate with Adobe After Effects increasing, switching to Premiere would be a sensible option.
- Integration with Adobe Creative Cloud Suite.
- Extensive array of third-party plugins, templates, and presets.
- Updated annually with new features.
- Monthly subscription fee can be cost prohibitive.
- Learning curve if switching from FCPX.
- Editors who want to control every stage of post-production, or who want to collaborate with other creative professionals across a wide range of art-based projects.
- $20.99 per month (annual plan)
- $31.49 month-by-month
10. Avid Media Composer
As an industry-standard platform, Avid has been used for decades in film and television production. Such widespread professional use has often made it feel an area of editing reserved for insiders at the top of their game. The application can be difficult for new users to get to grips with, but there are some super cool tools included, such as 360 degree editing and the Negative Cut List generator, a must if you are shooting with actual film.
- Full range of professional tools.
- Cloud-based remote projects.
- Steep learning curve for new users.
- Overly complex processes.
- Interface needs modernizing.
- Editors who want to work on long-form content such as TV shows, movies, and documentaries. If you want Hollywood to come knocking, be prepared to know this application.
- $239.00 per year
- $34.99 per month
11. VEGAS Pro
Fewer editing programs have as dedicated a following as VEGAS Pro. Formerly released by Sony, it has since been acquired by Magix, a German developer who specializes in creative media software. The latest version of VEGAS Pro is designed to be the fastest non-linear editor available, making workflows and process quicker. The application is fine for editing your videos, but the powerful audio editing console means you don’t need to leave the program for advanced sound mix.
- Full range of comprehensive tools and features.
- New developers keen to push the product and innovate.
- Potentially confusing pricing and suite options.
- Takes a while to get to grips with for new users.
- Vegas Pro is best for experienced editors who are looking to upgrade to industry spec software. Project wise, this application is best suited to long-form narrative projects over short promotional or events based videos.
12. HitFilm Pro
The paid-for expansion of HitFilm features the same interface and workflow operations as the free versions. The most significant difference is the broader selection of motion graphics and visual effects. The application does still lack some of the editing tools you might want, and it is not really suitable for longer video creation. HitFilm is fast, and cutting together a basic video is a breeze.
- Great for adding 3D animation and visual effects.
- Supports chroma key/green screen compositing.
- Might lack reliable, professional features.
- No native multicam support.
HitFilm Pro is perfect for VFX enthusiasts, or people wanting to take their first steps into compositing. The platform is built with creative filmmakers in mind, rather than videographers.
13. Premiere Rush
Adobe’s pitch for the mobile editing market comes in the form of Premiere Rush, which has been designed for use on phones and tablets. There’s also a computer-based option; all versions connect to the cloud platform to make sharing projects across devices easy. While not fully-laden with features, it works as a simple to use standalone editor for social media projects and in-the-moment videos. The application limits you to three tracks: titles, video, and audio, so advanced compositions would be challenging. Check out this article for tips on how Premiere Rush can work alongside Pro.
- Easy to use on all mobile devices.
- iOS and Android versions.
- Great companion to Premiere Pro.
- Won’t replace a day-to-day editor for professionals.
- Limited features due to mobile emphasis.
- Hobbyists who want to edit on-the-go and professionals who want a reliable, mobile app in a pinch.
- $9.99 per month
14. Pinnacle Studio
Software maker Corel offers a paid-for alternative to their free video editor, VideoStudio Ultimate. Complete with all the pro-level features you’d hope for, it also has an impressive library of over 2000 titles, effects, and templates. New updated and enhanced features in Pinnacle Studio Ultimate 23 also include 360 video capability, color grading keyframes, and support for exporting Alpha channels.
- Windows and Mac versions.
- Stable and reliable.
- Huge pre-installed effects library.
- Decent hardware specs required to make the most of it.
- Not widely used, so collaboration might be restricted.
- Pinnacle Studio is an option for any editor at any stage, as it is intuitive and straightforward to use. It is best for free VideoStudio users who want an upgrade of features and capabilities.
WeVideo stands unique in this list of Final Cut Pro alternatives by being a 100% cloud-based platform. Accessed via a mobile app or web browser, WeVideo makes working across multiple devices easy. The emphasis is very much of quick edits for social media use, without compromising on features like chroma key and motion graphics templates. The Professional and Business subscriptions allow access to over one million pieces of stock media files—including images, video, and music—meaning you don’t even need to use your own footage to get creative in WeVideo.
- Works on Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, iSO, and Android.
- Cloud-based for easy sharing and collaboration.
- Access to stock library.
- Simple editor that is deliberately lacking in advanced tools.
- Not good for long-form, intricate editing.
- Editors that are looking for an entirely cloud-based editing solution, or who want a fast and simple way to create content for social media.