If you’re just beginning your editing journey, or are a professional looking to change up your chosen software, it can be challenging to know where to start. There are several big players in the video editing software game, each with a dedicated user base that will tell you their choice is the best.
Part 1: Overview – Table of Key Features & Differences
Discover at a glance what software makes the most sense for your video editing needs and budget.
|Features||DaVinci Resolve||Premiere Pro|
|Cross-Platform Editing||Yes, works on Mac, Windows & Linux.||Yes, works on Mac & Windows.|
|Price||Free, with limitations. |
Studio Version: $299.
No monthly premium plan, but this one-time purchase can save you money in the long-run.
Future version updates are free.
|Annual Subscription: $239.88|
Monthly Subscription: $20.99
Costs can add up over time because of the subscription-based pricing.
|User Interface||Layout of windows and tools change and adapt to each stage of the editing process. |
Designed to run across multiple monitors.
|Great user interface. |
You can customize the layout and window size, and save your own template workspace.
|Timeline||Arrange the clips how you want in a traditional timeline.||Arrange the clips how you want in a traditional timeline.|
|4K Editing||Not available in the free version. |
4K and 8K available in the paid version.
|Color Correction||Full manual control of color correction and grading. |
New Auto Color Balance and Matching features available in Studio.
|Easy and intuitive color controls.|
|Text & Titles||Yes, easily create text and titles in your projects.||Yes, easily create text and titles in your projects.|
|Motion Graphics||Yes, with new 3D compositing engine for VFX.||Yes, plus After Effects integrations.|
|Audio||Fairlight digital audio workstation, including ADR tools and access to Foley effects sound library.||Great audio controls, plus links to Adobe Audition.|
|Integrations||Integrates with web-based Frame.io review platform.||Yes, compatibility between other Adobe programs.|
|User Collaboration||Free version is limited.|
Studio version has a full range of collaborative features, including read only mode and built-in chat.
|Great for working with a team across multiple systems and/or other programs in the Creative Suite.|
|File Management||Import complex file structures that keep folders organized in bins. |
Export presets for popular platforms.
|Simple, organize your files how you want|
|Plugins||OpenFX capability for third party plugins. |
Library of visual and audio FX with Studio.
|Vast amounts of third party plugins available.|
Part 2: The Review – DaVinci Resolve vs. Premiere Pro
When considering your budget for editing software, you must account for the difference in payment terms.
Adobe Premiere Pro uses a software as a service (SaaS) model of distribution and pricing. The SaaS model means the program is accessible and downloadable via a cloud service and paid for by monthly subscription. The cost per month of Premiere is $20.99 or a discounted annual payment of $239.88. If you’re conscious of spending, the recurring fee might be a dealbreaker.
The standard version of DaVinci Resolve, however, is completely free and ready to use once downloaded. Many advanced features exist in the free version, with the upgraded Studio edition costing $299. This is a one-off payment, after which all future upgrades are free.
In the long term, a one-off payment is undoubtedly an advantage of using Resolve. If you combine any of the other Adobe Creative Cloud suites into your subscription though, the monthly cost has potentially more value.
Both Premiere and Resolve are available to Mac and Windows PC owners. If you happen to be a Linux user, DaVinci is also available on that platform. So in that respect, the majority of editors will be able to use either or both on their computer system of choice.
The timeline in Premiere is a classic non-linear space, allowing you to assemble clips in any placement order, without restrictions. You’re not forced to work to a specific, default workflow for putting your shots together.
This is much the same in Resolve, which also offers a new Cut Page featuring tools to produce edits faster within a streamlined interface. This would be a good option for editors working to tight deadlines needing to produce quick results, such as news reporting.
As an editor, you sometimes need support and help with technical issues occurring within the software. Given its popularity and wide user base, there’s a wealth of online support forums and discussion pages focused on Premiere Pro CC.
Blackmagic Design, the makers of DaVinci Resolve, host a well-indexed number of support pages on their website. Given they also produce cameras and physical editing equipment, it makes sense they’d offer comprehensive support to filmmakers for their choice of hardware and software products.
Color Correction & Color Grading
DaVinci Resolve began life as a dedicated color grading program, before developing more offline and online editing features. This means hands-down it has more professional-level tools for precise and intricate color correction or artistic grading.
Blackmagic even produces physical desk hardware that allows hands-on, fingertip control over the grading process. However, the depth of these tools can be overwhelming and beyond the needs of some editors. This is especially true if you’re working with footage that doesn’t have the resolution or bit-depth to be exploited by the deep grading options.
Premiere, on the other hand, has more familiar-looking tools within its dedicated color editing workspace. These might be easier to pick-up if you have experience with photo editing software.
Both programs will allow corrections and layers of effects to be placed on individual clips or on entire timelines.
Now that DaVinci is integrated with Fusion, you can create some pretty cool and advanced motion graphics. Premiere Pro, being an Adobe product, uses many of the After Effects features for its motion graphics functions.
DaVinci’s motion graphics capabilities are more significant in scope than Premiere Pro. To get the Adobe software to match these capabilities, you would likely need both Premiere and After Effects.
While DaVinci can technically do what two Adobe programs can, it’s nowhere near as user-friendly for first-time video editors. Even seasoned professionals might have difficulty making the change to DaVinci!
Audio editing is pretty straight-forward in both Premiere and DaVinci. You’ll have access to all the tools you need to edit and effect dialogue, add music, and a sound library to help you build your soundscapes.
Premiere also links directly into Audition allowing for greater control over your sound design.
Both Premiere and DaVinci offer a multicam solution, with audio syncing and a simple interface.
While multicam editing is generally the same from software to software, user feedback indicates that Premiere’s multicam workflow is the most stable. DaVinci has some problems when using a large number of synced clips.
Export Rendering Options
In terms of the choices for exporting files, Premiere has an advantage with a broader range of export options and presets via Adobe Media Encoder. DaVinci Resolve 16 does feature a new Quick Export feature, allowing smooth outputs for Vimeo and YouTube.
Minimum System Requirements
Premiere’s basic level of computer power is fairly standard if you have a system geared towards video editing: 8GB of RAM and 4GB of GPU VRAM from your graphics card. Premiere also needs 8GB of hard disk space for installation.
Blackmagic’s approach to recommended hardware is slightly different. They offer full configuration guides that recommend Mac and PC options across desktop and laptop models. The assumption is that Resolve will be used as part of a professional editing studio set-up, but you don’t have to go all-out to get the benefits DaVinci Resolve has to offer if you stick to the specifications they suggest.
Overall, DaVinci Resolve will demand slightly more processing, RAM, and graphics card power to deliver optimal performance, compared to the needs of Premiere.
If you want to expand your powers by adding animation or design to your toolkit, Adobe is the platform to choose. As part of the popular Creative Cloud Suite, Premiere works seamlessly with other Adobe programs such as After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator.
While being more self-contained and independent in terms of creativity, Resolve does integrate with the Frame.io video review platform. This handy function allows comments and collaboration to exist within the editing application, synced to Frame’s online platform.
Third party plugins are available for both pieces of software, including some excellent grading and audio effects. Using the Essential panels in Premiere offers a wealth of motion graphics functions, of which there are thousands of templates available to download online.
Adobe software is top dog when it comes to group workflow, and has been designed to make the process as simple as possible. Both pieces of software work well when moving your projects between devices. Although, we have to admit that it’s the cloud aspect of Adobe that makes it the winner here.
Part 3: Conclusion – Which NLE Should You Choose?
The information above should (hopefully) give you a clearer idea of which software will be best for your needs. If you’re still on the fence, let’s just quickly take the logical approach.
DaVinci Resolve is without question a brilliant piece of kit, and the fact that there is a free version should automatically make it a winner. However, for editors just starting, DaVinci can do a lot to put you off with its steep learning curve.
To be able to use the software well, you already need to know what you’re doing as a video editor. If you’re sold on DaVinci, it’s well worth investing in some training to use the product. Even a beginners course can get you on track to create stunning compositions and visual effects in no time.
Premiere Pro is a much more user-friendly piece of software, and Adobe has worked hard to make it accessible for beginners. The interface and workflow of Premiere mean you can be editing in minutes, and over time discover the full scope of the program.
When it comes to the choice between Premiere Pro vs. DaVinci Resolve, it’s essential to consider how much time you have to invest in learning the software. Once you learn how to edit a certain way, it can be challenging to change. Ultimately, you should choose the video editing software that is best for your project needs, skills, and budget.