Editor's Note: A new version of this software is now available. Clicking the Buy button will take you to this version for purchase. We will evaluate, rank and review the new version when we next update the professional video editing software reviews.
Lightworks is a professional video editing program that's been around longer than many of the products in our buying guide. It's never gained widespread acceptance by the video editing community. However, just because it lacks the name-brand status of other programs doesn't mean you should reject it out of hand. This pro video editor has many unique features that set it apart from the competition.
Lightworks is by far the most customizable of the top pro video editing programs in our guide. This is due to how radically different the interface is from other video editors. Lightworks consists of a decentralized canvas of free-floating windows that users can create or dismiss at their convenience. This allows you to create a workflow that is completely customized to your needs. This is great because each video editing project is different, and every video editor has a unique style. This approach is a nice alternative to the one-size-fits-all approach offered by industry-standard applications.
Although Lightworks makes some excellent pro video editing hardware, the application itself is quite lightweight. A full installation only requires 200MB of storage space. This is a fraction of the storage requirements of the top tier applications. Additionally, you only need 2GB of RAM to run the software, and a scant 3GB is recommended to operate the program effectively. This means that you can install and run Lightworks on even the most inexpensive of netbooks.
You might think that this light usage of system resources translates to substandard tools. This is not the case with Lightworks. Almost all the professional editing tools you find in name-brand applications are present and just as functional in this pro video editor. There are some notable exceptions to this: You can't create closed captions, and there are other disc-authoring tools that you'll have to rely on a third-party application for.
A professional video editor is a big investment. All the big names in this space offer free trials that last for a couple of weeks or a month. Lightworks, on the other hand, offers a completely free version that has much of the functionality of the premium version, but you'll miss more advanced features like project sharing, stereoscopic output and timeline rendering. You're also limited in your output options to MP4 format directly to YouTube and Vimeo with a maximum resolution of 720p.
Another notable aspect of the program is it's the only professional video editing software that is available on all the major operating systems, including Windows, Mac and Linux.
Lightworks is a very good alternative to big name professional video editing applications. Its biggest advantage is how customizable, lightweight and versatile it is. It doesn't have everything that the best pro video editing software offers, but you can get more or less the same results with it.