Hitfilm Express 14 Review - Best Free Video Editing Software for VFX Movies

By Cecilia Hwung | Last Update:

Summary: Hitfilm Express is a free video editing software running on Windows and Mac operating systems, but more focuses on visual effects. If you are looking for a tool to help you with an Oscar-level film editing and producing, Hitfilm Express would be one of the best options.

Hitfilm Express Overview

Hitfilm Express uses a sleek video editing method, providing tools to create effects like Star Wars or Westworld since it includes over 400 visual effects and presets. Speaking of its visual effects, Hitfilm Express undoubtedly beats any video editing tools out there on the market, which is also the reason why we name it the best free video editing software for VFX movies. It contains everything you need to make professional-quality products. In special cases where it cannot provide what you want, you can expand its functionality by purchasing additional features. HitFilm Express takes the first steps to help you become a professional filmmaker. It is suitable for beginners, film students, and self-media people.

But, these words cannot show you what exactly Hitfilm Express is, right? Don't worry, and keep reading. You can find all the details about it in the following words, which you must care about.

Is Hitfilm Express Safe

Definitely Yes. There are over 4 million users who have downloaded and tried Hitfilm brand, and spans over 160 countries.

Is Hitfilm Express Free

Yes, Hitfilm Express is the free version of the Hitfilm brand. There is also the other version, Hitfilm Pro, which requires paying. Obviously, compared to the Pro version, Hitfilm Express will have some limitations on its features, for example, fewer VFX features (Hitfilm Express with over 400 effects and presets, while Hitfilm Pro with over 850 effects and presets).

For more differences between the Express version and the Pro version, you can visit this page here,

Compare HitFilm Pro & HitFilm Express >>

Does Hitfilm Express Have a Watermark

Yes. If you're using HitFilm Express with an effect that comes in an add-on pack that you haven't bought, the watermark would be added

Good and Bad of Hitfilm Express in Brief


  • Numerous VFX tools, but not as many as the Pro version;
  • No need to install many other plugins for post-editing and production, since it has lots of such things;
  • No harsh requirements for exporting format;
  • 2D and 3D compositing


  • With Watermark;
  • The large size of the installation package (More than 400MB for Windows, and More than 460MB for Mac);
  • Only runs on 64-bit Windows and Mac operating system, not includes 32-bit;
  • Compared to decoding H.264-encoded file, decoding Cineform and ProRes files seem slower;
  • Not support .mov files directly, and needs help from QuickTime;
  • Crashing happens occasionally, especially conflicting with Dell Backup and Recovery or Alien Respawn software. However, the developers are working on it.

Where to Download & How to Activate Hitfilm Express

We do recommend you download Hitfilm Express directly from its official website. And any other third-party site resources and cracked packages are deprecated.

Honestly, the installation and activation of Hitfilm Express would be a little cumbersome and error-prone. So in the following, we will lead you to step by step to make the whole process clear. Check them now.

Step 1. Download the installer file on its website.

  1. Go to the Hitfilm Express page, and click the Download Hitfilm Express button.
  2. Then at the registration page, fill out the blanks, and it will send you the download URL.
  3. Hitfilm Express registration page
    Hitfilm Express registration page
  4. Go to your email box, and click the download address to get the installer.

Notice: The installer is over 400MB in size (More than 400MB for Windows, and More than 460MB for Mac), so it would take a little while to get the file on your computer. Why its installer is much larger than many other editing software? Guess the reason is that there are many plugins pre-build in it.

Step 2. Run the installation file, and follow the instruction to complete the job.

Install Hitfilm Express on computer
Install Hitfilm Express on computer

Step 3. Now open this software, and we are going to activate this program. First of all, there would pop up a login and activation screen. Just click the GET FREE LICENSE menu, which will take you to the websit.

Hitfilm Express-activation screen
Hitfilm Express-activation screen

Step 4. On the website, choose the Account to log in your FXhome account, which is created in the first step.

Hitfilm Express account login
Hitfilm Express account login

Step 5. After you log in your account, find the serial code, and now you can go back to the software for activation by clicking the ACTIVATE & UNLOCK menu and entering the serial code.

Interface and Features of Hitfilm Express

Now, in this part, we will show you the interface of Hitfilm Express, and the highlights, or specific explanation of its unique features.

After you finish the activation as the steps mentioned above, open this software and you will see the homepage. But this is not the place where we are going to edit our video files. Choose the New button to create a fresh project, or the Open button to load the existed one.

create a new project on Hitfilm Express
create a new project on Hitfilm Express

After you choose the New menu, a pop-up screen will enable you to choose the exact new project settings, like video resolution, frame rate, audio rates, etc. Then click OK into the editing screen.

Hitfilm Express new project settings
Hitfilm Express new project settings

Now we are on the editing page. The layout is very clear, pretty much similar to many other editing applications. You can get used to it in several minutes. The main features can be found on the page. But mastering all of its features in a short period seems impossible. You need practices and guides. Here are the official user guides which can help you a lot.

Hitfilm Express User Guides >>

Hitfilm Express interface
Hitfilm Express interface

More highlights of its features would be listed below,

1. Video editing

HitFilm Express provides a range of powerful non-linear editing tools to ensure you have your job done smoothly.

2. Animation tools

Numerous advanced animation tools are available. This allows you to create and edit audio and video transitions without having to create composite footage. And there are a lot of animation tools available in composite shots, more than ever before.

3. Audio editing

Also working as a professional audio editing program with a bunch of capabilities which allow you to standardize audio without any external software. You can make all the adjustments you need in HitFilm Express to create the perfect performance.

HitFilm Express also allows you to add unlimited video and audio tracks on the timeline.

4. Audio mixer

The audio mixer allows you to fine-tune your sound for professional-quality output. With this feature, you can easily modify, balance and mix tracks, or precisely control individual elements with mute and solo features.

5. Picture in Picture

Picture-in-picture is a very common video style in online content. HitFilm Express now provides a quick solution to this with a picture-in-picture effect, allowing you to position one clip within another with different scales and positions relative to the layer.

6. Behavior efffects

Behavioral effects have now added a range of possibilities for creativity. The Rotate by Layer allows one layer to rotate by a specified multiple of the rotation of another layer. Creating an animated timepiece or orbiting a planet has never been much easier.

7. Vertical video

HitFilm Express now supports vertical videos. You can create a blurred version of the original video to use as a background, so the video can seamlessly fit other aspect ratios.

8. Synthesis and layering

Add new dimensions to your movie production by combining 3D layers, models and particle simulations in the same space. Create stunning user interfaces by layering 2D graphics directly in the 3D model.

9. Transitions

You can use HitFilm Express Dissolve, Push, Slide, Split, Wide, Zoom, Fade or Aperture transition functions for smooth transitions or dizzying transitions between shots. You can even build your transition types in a composite shot or editor timeline.

10. Support A large range of video and audio formats

HitFilm supports a large number of file formats with more compatible formats than ever, including Quicktime, AVI, MOV, MP4 (AVC / H264 and AAC), MPEG-1 (TS, ps, MPE, MPG, MPEG, M2V), MXF (DVCPro HD), DV, HDV, WMV, etc.

A range of audio file types in HitFilm Express can be integrated into your project, including AAC, MP3, M4A, MPA, WAV, and WMA.

Hitfilm Express Alternatives

In this part, we mainly share with you some video editing tools similar to Hitfilm Express.

DaVinci Resolve

DaVinci Resolve also comes from Hollywood high-end production. But it assumes a little more video knowledge, compared to Hitfilm Express, and is much less likely to cause you grief halfway through a project.

However, in terms of ease of use, Hitfilm Express would be better. To some amateurs, starting with DaVinci Resolve may frustrate you too much.

For more details about DaVinci Resolve, you can refer to this full-review guide on DaVinci Resolve >>


Hitfilm is a good way to start for video editing. But compared to Lightworks, it's a bit more limited and doesn't have as many features as Lightworks. The layout is closer to Sony and Abode so it's easier to transfer to those programs.

Lightworks is a very powerful program but also has a very high learning curve. Once you figure out how to use it, it can be a very good tool. The Lightworks free version is limited to 720p, while Hitfilm Express has no limits on the exporting file resolution.

For more details about Lightworks, you can refer to this full-review guide on Lightworks >>

Adobe Premiere Pro

If you are just beginning in the video editing and you want to perform just a few operations like trimming, cropping, Hitfilm Express will be the best option with ease of use compared to that of Adobe Premiere Pro.

Adobe Premiere Pro will have more editing features than the HitFilm Express. What HitFilm Express has over Premiere is its built-in visual effects compositor, which for Adobe would be another application, Adobe After Effects.

Lastly, Adobe Premiere Pro comes under the subscription of Adobe creative cloud while Hitfilm Express is free.

About The Author

Cecilia Hwung is the marketing manager of Digiarty Software and the editor-in-chief of VideoProc team. She pursues common progress with her team and expects to share more creative content and useful information to readers. She has strong interest in copywriting and rich experience in video editing tips.

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