Sunday, June 2, 2019

HitFilm Express 12 Review

HitFilm Express 12 is a free video editing program that you can get just for sharing the program’s website on social media. It’s designed for beginners, but even experienced editors will find a lot of utility out of this free program. It is infinitely superior to other free video editing programs such as VideoPad by NCH Software and Microsoft Movie Maker. It even blows away Apple’s iMovie - it’s not even a contest.

Editing Tools
If you used video editing software before, the default layout and workflow looks very familiar. It’s reminiscent of Adobe Premiere Pro CC. So, it’s not only easy to make your way around, but also serves as a good training ground for that professional-level program.

While it’s easier for those familiar with video editing, newcomers will have to spend a few hours getting to know the software and watch a tutorial or two.

You get unlimited video and audio tracks on your timeline. This greatly improves the programs versatility. It means you can create very complex projects. If you’re using the software for quick, simple videos, you probably won’t use more than two or three. But if you want to edit an entire feature film, you’ll be glad to have the extra space.

HitFilm Express 12 also includes a wide array of video and audio effect tools. Effects run the gamut from simple blurs, slow motion to color correction and transforming 360-degree video. Also has about a dozen video and audio transitions. All great tools to start out with.

The compositing tools are some of the most advanced you’ll find in consumer-level video editing software. You’ll use the compositing module to create visual effects, titles, motion tracking and more. Compositing is a skill unto itself when it comes to video editing. If you’re a more advanced user, you’ll find great utility in the compositing array. And if you’re newer, it’s a great place to learn this valuable skill.

HitFilm Express keeps a history of your edits, this allows you to easily see what you’ve done and revert back to a previous version of your project if necessary. This is a small, but very useful tool that you generally don’t see in free, and even in some paid video editing programs.

To make things a bit easier, HitFilm has some preprogrammed layouts that are designed for specific tasks from simple video and audio editing to compositing, coloring and even 3D video editing. These are great, especially for beginner editors, because it takes a lot of the guesswork out of setting up a proficient workflow.

Ease of Use
HitFilm Express was designed with beginner editors and filmmakers in mind. But it is a pretty hefty program. If you’ve never edited video before, it can be confusing at first. However, the creator of the program, FXhome has gone to great lengths to make sure you know how to use the software.

When you launch HitFilm Express, you’re immediately shown a screen with links to YouTube tutorials that teach you how to use the program. But these tutorials aren’t just about editing video, they also have helpful tips for becoming a successful filmmaker. These are great because both editing and filmmaking are hard skills to learn.

There’s also a link to the user guide on the home page. It’s a good idea to download that and read the entire thing at least once so you have a functional knowledge of all the programs tools and features.

In the corner of every window is a question mark icon. When you click on it, a web page opens that explains exactly what the tools in that widows are, what they do and how to use them. This is invaluable for new video editors. 

Export & Production
When you’re done with your project, You can export your files in the MP4 and MOV formats. These are two of the most common formats and will suit most of your purposes. But it would me nice to have more options such as WMV and MKV.

HitFilm will export your videos in resolutions ranging from 720p HD all the way to the ultra-high definition 2160p. You won’t find the ability to export videos in this high of quality from any other free video editing program. 

Its preset options allow you to make a file that’s optimized for playback on specific devices such as an iPhone or iPad. 

These presets are useful because they take the guesswork out of export settings. But if you know exactly what they need out of a finished video that doesn’t fall into the presets, you can make your own. HitFilm allows you to customize your exported video’s dimensions, frame rate, aspect ratio, bitrate and more.

HitFilm Express is a free, fully functional video editing program - not a free trial. It’s hard to beat that price. To get the program for free, all the company asks you to do is share the HitFilm Express link to one of your social media profiles. There are no other strings attached.

The app makes money by offering in-app purchases of extra tools. For example, if you can buy the chroma-key (green-screen) tool for $20. It also offers bundles such as the Composite: Tool Pack. Which gives you the ability to remove wires and duplicate on-screen elements like soldiers to create the illusion of a large army.

Final Word
For free software, HitFilm Express is hard to beat. It makes other free programs seem inferior and antiqued by comparison - and for Apple users, it’s a massive step-up from iMovie. It’s filled with both basic and advanced tools, it’s easy enough to learn if you put in the time.

New video editors and filmmakers will find this to be an invaluable tool to cut their teeth with. And even veteran editors will find a lot to like about what this program offers. And given its price, there’s really no reason not to have it.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

REVIEW: Weber Spirit II Grill

In spring of 2018, the Purch Labs crew and I tested seven gas grills in a side-by-side evaluation. At the end of our analysis, we determined that the Weber Spirit II was the best gas grill you can buy for less than $500.

Read my full review on Top Ten Reviews