VideoProc Vlogger

The Best Free Hitfilm Express Alternative for All Users

  • For fun or creativity. Split screen, green screen, PiP, stylish transitions
  • Full GPU acceleration for 4K/8K,HDR and large videos
  • Beginners can make pro-looking videos easily
  • Speed ramp, motion crop, color grading, and beyond
Go To the YouTube Channel

HitFilm Express 16 Review - Best Free Video Editing Software for VFX Movies

By Cecilia Hwung | Last Update:

Verdict: 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 I 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.


  • 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.

Highlight Features

With HitFilm Express, you can add animated captions, getting rid of unwanted video clips, chopping off unnecessary frames, and make other basic edits with common tools. You are also presented with a large library of effects (including color correction, distort, gradients & fills, and lights & flares), a few powerful compositing tools that allows both 2D and 3D layer-based compositing. Below I list some of its killer features.

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.

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.

Behavior Effects

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.


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.

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.

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.

Audio Editor and Mixer

Also working as a professional audio editing program with a bunch of capabilities that 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.

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.

Support Most Media Formats

HitFilm Express 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.

User Experience

I'm gonna talk about the user experience of HitFilm Express from 4 aspects: ease of use, speed, and stability.

Ease of Use


Easy editing software that supports basic things like cut, trim, and subtitles are everywhere. However, it's hard to find a premium video editing software like HitFilm Express which supports 3D geometry, 2D motion tracking, and many advanced features, but still has a very clear layout.

Beginners can choose a preset one to get a workspace that suits your editing demand best. For instance, you can choose All panels to show the major editing and compositing features of HitFilm Express, Compositing to focus on the Controls and Effects Panels, Colorist to emphasize Texts, Effects, and Controls panels, or Editing (it's the one that I use most often) to get a workspace optimized for fast video editing…

HitFilm Express offers an easy way to organize your source media files. You can import the video, image, and audio file(s), image sequence, 3D camera tracking data, compositions shot, and other assets to the Media panel. To organize these assets, simply arrange them in the different folders created by you.

When you select a file under the Media panel, the video starts to play on the Trimmer window. Herein, you can mark the In-point and Out-point for the source video. When you drag that video onto the timeline track, only the segments in-between the two points will be used. This ensures you are placing edits exactly where you want them effortlessly.



Unfortunately, HitFilm Express is very unstable. It goes crashes when I open an existing project, drag the video to the video track, change workspace layout, search for an effect, and preview the video… I tested HitFilm Express on both Windows and Mac, and there is no luck for me getting a stable and smooth editing experience.

HitFilm Express registration page
HitFilm Express Crashes

Rendering Speed


HitFilm Express, from my test, has a slower rendering speed than Adobe Premiere, Davinci Resolve, VideoProc Vlogger, and many competing products. This may be due to it can't make full use of the dedicated graphics card. In most cases, it takes over 80% of the CPU usage while taking only 10% to 20% of the CPU usage.

HitFilm Express FAQs

Is HitFilm Express Safe

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).

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).

HitFilm Express Free Version Limitations

There aren't lots of limitations like other free version NLE editing software. In HitFilm Express, you can enjoy the majority of editing and VFX compositing features. It only requires you to purchase the add-ons to use many advanced features, such as Boris FX 3D Objects, Imagineer Mocha HitFilm tracking, HDR import, Wireframe, and 360 View Panel.

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

Well. It depends. 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. Otherwise, HitFilm won't add a watermark to the outcome.

How to Download HitFilm Express

I 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. Go to the HitFilm Express page, and click the Download FREE button. On the pop-up new page, drag the prize slider to the left. After that, press Download. Then at the registration page, fill out the blanks, and it will send you the download URL.

Step 2. Go to your email box, and click the download address to get the installer.

HitFilm Express registration page
HitFilm Express registration page

Step 3. Run the installation file, and follow the instruction to complete the job.

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.

How to Activate HitFilm Express

Step 1. Now open this software, and we are going to activate this program. First, there would pop up a login and activation screen. Just click the GET FREE LICENSE menu, which will take you to the website.

HitFilm Express-activation screen
HitFilm Express-activation screen

Step 2. On the website, choose Account to log in your FXhome account, which is created in the first step.

Step 3. 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.

HitFilm Express Alternatives

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

1. VideoProc Vlogger

If you are searching for a video editor like HitFilm Express, but not pretty care much about the VFX, then, VideoProc Vlogger should be put into your pocket.

VideoProc Vlogger can do all the stuff about video editing, from most basic features like cutting and cropping, to adding transition and other effects, to more advanced features like color and audio adjusting.

For more details about how VideoProc Vlogger change the way you edit your video files, please refer to here for more details.

2. 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 >>

3. Lightworks

HitFilm Express 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 >>

4. 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 editor-in-chief of Digiarty VideoProc. With over a decade of experience, she specializes in delivering insightful content on AI trends, video/audio editing, conversion, troubleshooting, and software reviews. Her expertise makes her a trusted ally in enhancing users' digital experiences.

Home > Video Editor > HitFilm Express Review Guide

Digiarty Software, established in 2006, pioneers multimedia innovation with AI-powered and GPU-accelerated solutions. With the mission to "Art Up Your Digital Life", Digiarty provides AI video/image enhancement, editing, conversion, and more solutions. VideoProc under Digiarty has attracted 4.6 million users from 180+ countries.

Any third-party product names and trademarks used on this website, including but not limited to Apple, are property of their respective owners.