Top 5 Free Programs Needed for Video Editing like a Pro


top-5-free-programs-needed-for-video-editing-1So for the past two months, I have been helping a fifth-grade teacher on her journey towards National Board Certification. My contributions have consisted of videotaping (is this the appropriate term still?) her lessons and then clipping and compressing the video. Along the way, I have tried out many editing & compression programs for video and I wanted to share them with you. I will say in advance that this post is for those educators who know how to edit video or want to get serious about making high-quality video. My list of programs here are all free to use or at least have a free version. While not all may apply to what you are doing in your classroom I guarantee that more than one will help you out.


Let me first come out of left field with a free application that has nothing to do with video editing at first glance. Instead of jumping straight into video editing I wanted to point out a great graphic design program. Aside from using Canva for 99.9% of all my social media and blog headers and posts it can be used as a title page or transitional piece of text within the video you are creating.

Canva Screenshot

Canva has many of preset layouts including a YouTube Art Channel template which can be editing to fit your specific channel.


Aside from having many powerful editing tools, Canva also allows users to upload original photos and artwork into the program to manipulate.  Aside from being a powerful design tool, Canva is also a great resource for any amateur designer wanting to improve their skill. Check out their tutorials page.


Click here to read a full list of the features that come with the free version of CanvaCanva can be accessed from any web browser and is available in app form but only for iPad.

DaVinci Resolve

DaVinci Resolve is a powerful video editor that is used by millions of professional movie-makers around the world. Resolve gives you a high level of control over your videos from editing & Multi-cam views to color correction and media management.

Color Correction
Color Correction

In Resolve you can easily separate and categorize media clips to use in your projects. You can even tag clips as you would a blog post. For those of us who have for years painfully exported the audio from their videos and used Audacity for noise cancellation we, unfortunately, have to keep doing this unless you are willing to pay for Resolve. While the paid version of Resolve has Real-Time Noise Reduction software, the free version does not.Resolve Workspace

One great weakness about Resolve was that I was unable to use it on my district issued 5-year-old laptop. Resolve takes a bit of horsepower to run and so when I tested the program out I had to run it on my home desktop which is nice (double monitors anyone?).  Resolve is for the video editor who loves to have complete control over every aspect of modifying and producing their video.

HitFilm 3 Express

As far as I’m concerned DaVinci Resolve is the undisputed King of free video-editing suites; however it would be wrong to not even mention HitFilm 3 Express for the more casual video creator with not much time on their hands (which is most of us in education!) Something that I like about HitFilm is that it includes some Blender 3D elements. It sounds complex but after watching some videos from their expansive video tutorial page, I was able to learn how to edit video in a 3D environment.


Even though HitFilm is not as powerful a video editor and compositor as Resolve, it is easier to edit and add quick effects to your video on HitFilm. The user interface is very intuitive for the inexperienced video editor. HitFilm is basically the best free alternative to After Effects that you are going to find.

Open Broadcaster Software

I cannot say enough good things about Open Broadcaster Software. As far as I can tell there is practically no one using OBS in the EdTech world. The reason for this is because it is mainly used by professional/amateur gamers to stream their game play online. Open Broadcaster Software is 100% free of cost. The interface can be a little techy but there is a lot of online support and a strong community that can help beginners. OBS is specifically designed for broadcasting video from your desktop to different streaming platforms such as Twitch.TV or YouTube; however it can also be used to record straight to your computer.

Open Broadcast Software
Open Broadcast Software

OBS is my go-to program that I use when making an online tutorial video for teachers or students. It’s my own virtual video studio. With my webcam and trusty Snowball USB Microphone I am able to make some high-quality tutorials. One feature that I like is that there are several scenes that you can set up and switch to during recording or streaming. For instance, I might just want a shot of my face and then switch to a scene where my face is much smaller in the corner and the rest of the screen shows what’s on my Chrome browser. There is a lot you can do this with this powerful program.


Handbrake will save your hard drive! Handbrake is a powerful and relatively easy program that compresses video files. Handbrake has a lot of presets that are easily understood in layman terms. If you want to compress a video so that you can view it on your iPod, you simply click on the iPod preset.


I used this to compress friends video for National Board. I was able to compress a 3 GB video down to 300 MB with minimal quality loss. That might be an extreme way to go in terms of compression; however you can adjust the quality even after selecting a preset.



I hope this list of programs will assist you as you flip your classroom and make those screen-casts! I will keep this list updated if better programs (that are free) become available. What are the “go-to” programs that you use for video creation in your classroom? Please share in the comments below!



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