A lot has happened to HitFilm since we were last rated the video editor. For starters, there has been a complete rebranding, with HitFilm Express now simply being called HitFilm.
At the time, we described one of the best free video editing software tools as “most impressive”, with a toolkit so broad and useful that, ultimately, “when we see the quality of other free or very cheap alternatives, it’s hard to think of a reason why you’re wasting the time of should give the day, while 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. Allows you to export footage with a resolution of up to 4K (the free Hitfilm limits that to HD), including 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 a slew 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 includes 200 songs, 200 sound effects and 50 templates.
Now if you’re not a fan of subscriptions, fear not: Perpetual licenses for HitFilm Pro and Imerge Pro are still available, including 12 months of updates and technical support. If you are an existing HitFilm user, you can also renew your license at a discount. Unfortunately, HitFilm Creator doesn’t seem to be available that way.
Pro is the subscription service they’re pushing, but we’ll see how the latest free version, now known as 2022.1, stacks up.
The interface has had a pretty major overhaul. Gone is the off-white look that graced the version we looked at two years ago, replaced by a sleeker, more modern, dark gray design. That’s all well and good. Unfortunately, if you’re running HitFilm on a Mac, the interface guidelines aren’t respected, ignoring the menu bar and the menus instead respecting Windows principles, eating up unnecessarily precious real estate.
The justification for that might be the giant ‘Upgrade’ button, top right, which constantly reminds you that you should send FXHome some money every month by taking one of their juicy subscriptions.
Maybe being subtle didn’t work for them with the previous look, but this is garish and intrusive, and a really big step backwards in our opinion.
If you are new to video editing software, launching such an app can be daunting. So many windows or panels, so many options, where to start?
That’s why we really appreciated the new Sidebar, simply called ‘Learn’. You can turn it on and off via a simple button, to the right of the top menus.
Here you will be honored with three videos explaining the basics – the basics of the interface, how to manage your media and how to export your final product.
But there’s a lot more: click “All Categories” to see all 39 available videos designed to teach you most aspects of filmmaking, including green screen work, changing the pitch of audio, and adjusting video. the color balance of a clip, among other things.
This is a very welcome addition – it makes HitFIlm one of the best video editor apps for beginners, and the bundled tutorials are sure to improve a new editor’s skills quickly.
Art is not free
Another new addition for HitFilm version 2022.1 is the inclusion of stroke and vector stroke effects. This essentially lets you paint lines along a path, using points that you can easily turn into curves to give a more organic feel to what you’re drawing.
They are very easy to use and can be a nice addition to your arsenal of edits and compositions, except there is a caveat: while you can use them with the free HitFilm version, those effects will be watermarked . The only way to remove it is to subscribe or get a perpetual license.
We must emphasize that this is not an uncommon sales tactic. Free video editing software without watermarks hidden somewhere in the app are rare. If you scroll through all the available effects, you’ll see that most of them can really only be used by upgrading.
the recording of VFX software, making HitFilm a true all-in-one post-production tool is a nice touch. But if you’re looking for a real one alternative to Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects Alternativesyou should move on 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 like that big, ever-present ‘Upgrade’ button, it doesn’t leave a good taste in the mouth.
Additions and deletions
Most of the other improvements for this version are 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 scrolling with the mouse wheel in drop-down menus. Mac users working on computers with the latest internal CPUs will also be pleased with extensive 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 (you can’t access this with the free HitFilm, but there are tons of free alternatives online that you could use and import as media in your project).
But you will see that some other things have been removed, such as the integration between HitFilm and Vegas Pro† Adobe after effects Plugin support is gone, and neither is the ability to import and export AAF files.
Operating system support is limited. If you are using Windows, HitFilm now only works on versions 10 and 11. While the oldest Mac operating system is Catalina (MacOS 10.15).
This version feels a bit like a disappointment. Rebranding happens from time to time, and we won’t begrudge FXhome for trying to improve the look of their best video editor app.
HitFilm is still excellent video editing software, with loads of powerful features, all for free (check out our previous review for more on this). And it’s much less intimidating than a competing free video editor, DaVinci Resolve – it’s actually more aligned with Lightworks, both of which are among the best free video editing software for beginners.
But after two years we expected more than what we have now with HitFilm.
It doesn’t affect what you might already be doing, of course, but we expected more than a rebrand and more prominent requests to upgrade. Still, it’s easy to end up ignoring that big “Upgrade” button, and you’ll still have a full-featured video editor and all your spare change in your pocket.
If you’re looking for free video editing software, we still recommend downloading a copy and checking out HitFilm for yourself.