9 Video Editing Tools to Bring Motion to Life

October 26, 2015

By Greg Scoblete

For many DSLR filmmakers, the phrase “8K” may seem more than a wee bit premature. But it’s a testament to how fast video technology is changing that at least one of the video editing programs in our roundup is supporting the resolution, even as other products are adding compatibility with 4K formats.

Apple Final Cut Pro X

Among people who care about such things, the introduction of Final Cut Pro X several years ago was deeply polarizing, with key features being dropped in favor of delivering a simpler, more consumer-friendly program. Now on version 10.2 (or is that X.2?) Apple hasn’t done a complete about-face, but continues to build upon the reconceived video editor with new features that will appeal to pros and enthusiasts alike. Among the new features is 3D titling with drag-and-drop functionality, along with 3D title templates with built-in backgrounds and animations. For color-grading and effects work, Apple improved Final Cut’s masking features, allowing users to save shape masks as presets for later use. You can now view up to four video scopes simultaneously in Final Cut to guide color grading and corrections. Several new video formats are supported in the program as well, including Panasonic’s AVC-Ultra and Sony’s XAVC-S. RED camera users will also enjoy GPU-accelerated transcoding, playback and rendering for RAW files  from RED cameras.

PRICE: $300


Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve STUDIO 12

Resolve 12 packs in more than 80 new features, tackling everything from media management to color grading. Moving deeper into editing, the updated Resolve Studio can now cut programs from multiple video sources in real time, syncing camera angles based on time code, audio waveforms or in/out points. The audio engine has also been revamped to offer higher sampling rates and better real time playback (including reverse playback and slow motion scrubbing). Media management tools now include a “smart bin” function that displays footage based on metadata tags for easier retrieval. DaVinci’s core strength, color grading, wasn’t neglected. There’s a new curves interface plus automatic color matching between two or more clips in addition to new tools for creating smart filters. To speed things along, Resolve Studio supports Intel Iris and Pro GPUs and can create customizable media proxies for RAW and high-resolution video files.

PRICE: $945


Red Giant Magic Bullet Suite 12

Red Giant’s Magic Bullet Suite 12 updates most of the company’s color-correction and color-grading tools. Among the major enhancements is GPU acceleration for several of the suite’s plug-ins to deliver real-time color correction without leaving a smoldering ruin where your CPU used to be. Magic Bullet Looks, the suite’s film looks and color-correction tools, gains 198 presets derived from popular films and TV shows. Suite 12 marks the introduction of Magic Bullet Film, a film emulator that the company says mimics “the entire photochemical process” from film negative to grading, grain and print stock. Magic Bullet Film includes 22 negative stocks and four print stocks to choose from. The color-grading tool Colorista III also gets a new user interface plus the ability to leverage Adobe’s masking and tracking features. The Mojo 2.0 colorizer enjoys a 20-percent speed boost with GPU acceleration in Adobe Premiere and an 80 percent bump in Apple Final Cut Pro. It also gains the ability to render effects in near-real-time. Magic Bullet’s skin touch-up tool, Cosmo 2.0, joins the GPU acceleration parade, gaining a 20 percent speed bump in Adobe products and for the first time gets compatibility with Final Cut Pro X and Sony Vegas. Magic Bullet Suite 12’s tools are all fully compatible with Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro, while host support for Final Cut Pro X, Avid and other editors will vary depending on the plug-in in question.

PRICE: $759


Adobe Premiere CC

As part of its 2015 Creative Cloud release, Adobe supercharged the color-grading capabilities of its marquee video editor. The so-called Lumetri Color panel blends the color-grading and correction capabilities that Adobe had earlier introduced in its SpeedGrade plug-in with Lightroom-style tools such as sliders for white balance, exposure, tone and tint. From the Lumetri panel, you can select presets (or “Looks”) to quickly apply an effect across your frame. If you need still more fine-tuning, you can send the project directly into SpeedGrade. Also new to Premiere is Morph Cut, which helps intelligently eliminate jump cuts between sound bites through a combination of facial tracking and frame interpolation. Premiere is now integrated into the Adobe Stock marketplace so you can add assets from the Stock portfolio into your work with just a few clicks. Adobe’s Mercury Engine, which boosts the performance of the editor on PCs and Macs, has been updated to improve Premiere’s playback on high-resolution external displays.

PRICE: $20/month


NewBlue Stylizers 3 

Packed with 250 presets and up to 23 plug-ins, NewBlue’s Stylizer lets you add effects to your video that run the gamut from subtle to cartoonish. You can create flicker, airbrush a scene, simulate motion or get more surreal with effects such as halovision and impressionist. You can separate your video into individual red, green and blue color channels for making more precise adjustments. Stylizers 3 is completely GPU-accelerated thanks to support for Native CUDA, OpenCL and OpenGL graphics engines. It’s also resolution-independent, so it can tackle files from standard definition to 4K and beyond. Stylizers 3 is compatible with all the major editors as well as DaVinci Resolve.

Price: $94 (4 plug-ins); $199 (Elite, 9 plug-ins); $284 (Ultimate, 23 plug-ins)



FilmConvert capitalizes on our insatiable desire to imbue digital files with the grainy, textured look of film. The program contains well over a dozen film stock presets, including motion picture films such as Kodak Vision 3 250D and Fuji Vivid 8543, as well as still films such as Ilford Delta 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400. It supports cameras from GoPros to Alexas and delivers several slider-based tools for tweaking color, grain, and luminosity. Three color wheels are also on hand to tackle shadows, midtones and highlights. You can select negative sizes to increase or decrease grain—smaller negative sizes yield a larger grain, while larger negative sizes produce smaller grain. FilmConvert is available as a stand-alone program or as a plug-in for the major video editors, including Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro and Sony Vegas, as well as Photoshop. The Mac edition of the stand-alone software now compensates for color/gamma shifts when viewing files on different platforms. The Premiere plug-in was also recently updated to support Adobe’s Mercury Playback Engine as well as CUDA GPU processing when using supported NVIDIA graphics cards—a pair of improvements that should speed editing when working with FilmConvert in Premiere.

PRICE: Price: $99 (Photoshop); $199 (standalone or individual video plug-in); $299 (plug-ins for all video editors)


Pinnacle Studio 18.5 Ultimate Edition

Pinnacle’s flagship video suite supports 4K video, the XAVC-S codec and 64-bit operating systems in version 18.5. The new version uses the iZotop Music and Speech cleaner to purge audio files of unwanted noise. Also included with your purchase is an effects pack from NewBlue that contains 750 templates and 55 presets to expand your creative options. You’ll also find 17 royalty-free audio tracks from Triple Scoop music. If producing instructional videos is your thing, Studio 18.5 supports screen recording with audio. Finished projects can be burned to discs, including Blu-ray, as well as uploaded to the web and encoded for a variety of platforms such as Apple TV, Xbox and YouTube.

Price: $60


Sony Vegas Pro 13

With version 13, Vegas Pro users can leverage the new Connect iPad app for remote collaboration. Using the app, remote users can jointly write comments on footage in tandem with a desktop user in real-time. They can also place frame-accurate markers and notes directly in the timeline as well as start/stop/pause video playback, all using a gesture-based interface. An offline mode lets creatives download proxy files to their tablet to mark up, with changes syncing to the project once the iPad is back online. Also new for version 13 is a multi-tool feature that collects frequently used editing tools into a pop-up box below the timeline for streamlined access. As with any new release, there’s been under-the-hood tweaks to improve performance, including the addition of an XAVC Intra Smart Render function that reduces rendering times when using templates. There are seven new video effects from FXHOME integrated into the program that leverage the OpenGL standard to accelerate rendering.

PRICE: $600; $400 (Edit); $800 (Suite)


Avid Media Composer 

While many videographers and filmmakers are easing into the 4K era, Avid is looking eagerly ahead to 8K with version 8.4 of Media Composer. The newest version supports video resolutions up to a maximum of 8192×8192-pixels in frame rates up to 60 fps—specs that will have TV marketers licking their chops. These video project dimensions are customizable from 256×128 pixels on up to 8K, with an option to save your dimensions as presets for quicker retrieval. According to Avid, these super high-resolution files won’t grind your existing PC to dust provided you’ve met the minimum specs, such as 32GB of RAM for 4K editing. The newest version also adds native support for Sony’s XAVC-I codec as well as ProRes 2K, 4K and UltraHD formats. You can also mix-and-match these codecs with others from Canon, Panasonic and Avid’s own DNxHR codec in the editing timeline without impairing real-time playback. Version 8.4 delivers quicker timeline searching through a new Timeline Quick Find feature. You can use the Quick Find field to type in queries as well as access a drop-down menu to sort your search according to visible timeline text, resolution, clip name, comments and more.

PRICE: $50/month (annual basis)