Skip to main content

HitFilm Express review

HitFilm Express is an easy to use, and powerful, free video editing platform with lots going for it.

HitFilm Express
(Image: © FXhome)

Our Verdict

HitFilm Express is a powerful free video editor that's also easy to use and is massively extendable to suit many users' needs.

For

  • Free to use
  • Online tutorials
  • Very extendable
  • Pro-grade tools

Against

  • Powerful system required

HitFilm Express, from FXhome, is a free to use video editor that gets you professional quality software, regardless of your user level. It's that easy to use. For those reasons, and many more we'll get into, this has made it onto our best video editing software list for 2021.

This software aims to let you create Hollywood quality movies right there at home. But also it helps with the exporting so you can share that with online platforms that you may already use.

With both 2D and 3D composition tools, this is powerful beyond basic editing and with the backing of comprehensive online tutorials, all that is placed within the reach of any user. There is a Pro version with even more options and the difference between the two options will be covered in the review below.

HitFilm Express: Features

HitFilm Express first and foremost is a video editor, meaning you have the basic and simple to use timeline system which allows for the moving cutting and splicing of video and audio clips.

But this goes beyond the basics – far beyond. You get advanced cutting tools, filters for both video and audio, all the smarts of layers and masking, composition tools and even keying for green screen effects, plus support for 360-degree video. It's what you'd expect from top programs like Adobe Premiere Elements.

HitFilm Express

(Image credit: FXhome)

HitFilm Express offers great personalization allowing you to find what works for you and have that fit around how you're working on any one particular project. It's then easy to change again to suit the next edit you work on.

Color-coding is a powerful tool which allows you to use colors to see, at a glance, which clips fit into which section, speeding up workflow.

GPU decoding for Intel and Nvidia users is a great addition which allows for very fast workflow. Threaded-rendering means the interface and the video work independently so you always have a lag and judder free editing experience, if your home computer is up to the job.

Masking works well as you can use either a freehand mask tool or a customizable shape mask. Despite high-quality video editing, this has enhanced the rotoscoping process so you should get a smooth experience even in these more complex tasks.

HitFilm Express: Performance

HitFilm Express uses largely recognizable workflow processes for anyone that's used a timeline based video editor before. The key here is that there are a huge number of video tutorials available online which can not only help beginners to get the hang of this tool, but will also guide more experienced users to master HitFilm Express.

The ability to work freely allows for great exploration and creativity. Drop clips into the timeline, add effects, try out composition tools – it's all easy to do and the results are quick so you can see the effect you're having, directly. 

HitFilm Express

(Image credit: FXhome)

HitFilm Express has a selection of preset work spaces including Audio, Colorist, Composition and so on, which are ideal to work on specifics. But these are customizable so you can have a setup that works on specific effects you may be adding throughout a project – making that a faster and easier process to repeat.

There are lots of add-ons available in the Effects menu. Many are available to download but these will cost you to do so. But for most needs these are very much specialist tools that won't be required.

Since the software keeps getting updated you get very cutting edge features and constantly improved speeds. Some recent updates include features like a crop, pan and zoom tool; export audio using WAV; Track Select Tool to highlight everything; and the ability to add multiple outlines to text – to name just a few.

How much does HitFilm Express cost?

HitFilm Express is free to download and use right now. This gets you up to 4K resolution editing, over 420 preset effects, 3D compositing and editing, audio meters, export queue and codec presets, keyframe animation and plenty more.

Go for the HitFilm Pro version, at $349 for use on up to three computers, and you get lots more including over 880 effects, 8K editing, Boris FX 3D, Dolby support, 16-bit color, 360 View Panel and lots more.

For the full comparison of the many features, head over to the HitFilm website.

Should you buy HitFilm Express?

HitFilm Express is a fantastically powerful, easy to use and customizable video editing platform that works across lots of devices, is fast and stable as well as delivering a professional video finish. The option to pay for extra add-ons on a use by use case is a really nice way to offer freedom beyond the gratis version.

The Pro version isn't massively expensive so if you think you'll need 8K quality or more effects as standard that could be a better option for you.

Luke Edwards

Luke is a veteran tech journalist with decades of experience covering everything from TVs, power tools, science and health tech to VPNs, space, gaming and cars. You may recognize him from appearances on plenty of news channels or have read his words which have been published in most tech titles over the years. In his spare time (of which he has little as a father of two) Luke likes yoga, surfing, meditation, DIY and consuming all the books, comics and movies he can find.