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HitFlim3, One Of Best Free Video Editing Software

HitFilm3 from the UK company FXHome is a bit of an enigma. It acts perfectly well as a very capable stand-alone package, very well indeed in fact as it has many features others don’t, but when installed, it also acts as a plugin to a host NLE, thus making all those extra features available no matter what NLE you use (as long as it is supported of course).

Now there is HitFilm3 Express, which as you’d expect is the ‘Lite’ version of its bigger brother, and to all intents and purposes is free. There are some things missing from the fully blown version,, including 4K capability, ‘only’ 157  included effects (you buy extras in ‘Packs’ at USD$9.95 each) and it is purely stand alone (no Vegas, Premiere etc plugin-in support). FXHome has also seen fit to take out ‘professional’ chroma-keying, the de-noiser and rendering is limited to 8 bit.'

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Additionally, the AVCHD and Dolby 3 licences are not included due to licencing restrictions, so they will be available in a ‘Premium Pack’ along with others as mentioned.

Like its bigger brother, there are in actual fact two components to the core of HitFilm 3 Express, those of the editor proper, and second, the compositing/effects side. For the first time user, this aspect could be very confusing with due respect to the HitFilm 3 designers. But make no mistake, even though HitFilm 3 Express is to all intents and purposes, free on both the Mac and PC, compositing abilities add hugely powerful features to the program and make the slog of learning it well worth the effort.

To assist in this, there is a very good PDF manual available – much better than an online help system in my books as it can be printed off, bound and read or perused at leisure as well as on-demand as needed. Better still fxHome has put together more than 40 tutorial videos explaining the basics of editing and how to put together specific features to make effects.

One of these, and the project files are available, is called “Portal Combat” and is a sequence of tutorials showing how this movie, developed by production company Film Riot, was put together.

So how does this compositing work?

As is to be expected these days, HitFilm 3 Express is a multi-tracked system, letting different clips be placed on tracks, including audio, transitions, still images etc. However, a track can be converted to a special compositing track. This is in turn able to be broken into multiple layer tracks.

To each layer track an effect can be added and fine-tuned, and there is a huge library of possibilities from correction filters to effects and even 3D options so you have clips and objects in x, y and z space.

Due to its roots – the first thig I remember from fxHome was a plugin for adding muzzle flashes to guns – there is a strong element of effects in the library and indeed, two of the two main tutorials run through creating a “portal” in space / time as well as the aforementioned muzzle flashes to simulate gun fire of all different sorts.

As mentioned, there are a number of add on packs you can purchase to supplement these supplied effects, and some examples of these include Damage, Colourist, Destruction, Pro Light Flares, Sci-Fi Adventure, Particle Simulator, 3D Modelling Toolkit and Film Looks.

If your filmmaking is heavily involves the use of effects, and many aspiring filmmakers do seem to tend towards the genres of zombie, high action and dystopian Earth type stuff, then HitFilm 3 Express will be of very great interest. Of course, it can be used for less effects driven material as it is a very able editor in its own right, and the price tag is of course attractive.

For the first time user, the learning curve may be a bit steep and daunting beyond basic editing. But persisting with the tutorials will certainly pay off in the long run. Just don’t expect to install HitFilm 3 Express and to be creating your version of Star Wars within minutes. But take your time, learn the application and the sky is certainly the limit.

You can download Hitfilm 3 Express from its dedicated website.
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