Why VSDC is the best free video editor in 2021
After experimenting with a number of free video editing software and reading users' comments, I have come to the conclusion that VSDC free version is the best free video editing tool available today.
I have tested this video editing software extensively on Windows. I am told it works as fine on Mac too, but since I have not used it on Mac, I don't know if any of its features are not available there.
Before we discuss why VSDC is the best among free video editing tools, let's talk a bit about the use of videos and why should a common blogger, web publisher or casual user of videos should bother about editing the video. You will find this discussion especially useful if you are very new to the world of video editing or have not applied your mind to this question.
Why use videos on blogs, websites, social media
For those used to putting only text and images on their blogs, websites, presentations, etc, putting videos looks like a big bother. If you have that feeling, get rid of that. You are losing a point or two as compared to your competitors if you are not using video because videos improve looks as well improve understanding of the subject.
Videos now make over 80% of all internet traffic. With increasing use of smartphones with good cameras and internet/ data getting more expensive in future, the use of videos is going to only increase.
So, it makes sense to use videos in different places. Think of these places where videos can make an impact much greater than text and images:
- On blogs and websites. Whether it is a professional blog or personal/ hobby blog, videos add value to the content. Websites big or small are benefited similarly. A product video can lead to better exposure. A website welcoming with a short video of services can create an instant goodwill.
It is found that videos make people stay longer on the website and thus increase engagement and CTR (clicking).
- Video channels. Thousands of people make money out of their video channels on YouTube and other video sharing platforms.
- Video tutorials. No words and images can show how a thing is done. So, video tutorials are very popular on YouTube as well as standalone blogs.
You can make video tutorials for online as well as offline classes.
- On your personal/ family collection of memories, videos are so valuable an asset. Keep videos of special occasions (e.g. birthdays, special parties, weddings, memorable trips) safe; you will love them later.
- You can use videos on professional presentations. On slide presentations also, video clips of something that cannot be brought to the venue explain things in a great way.
Videos can also be part of webinars, workshops, opening and closing videos of any seminar, and other professional settings where something is to be presented and explained to colleagues/ guests and visitors/ clients.
- On social media. It is known that videos are much more popular than text and image messages. They also make much better impact on people, so are used for messaging by brands and public service agencies.
In fact, videos add value to communication in almost any personal and professional situation.
Why go for video editing when not doing a highly professional video job?
If you are a beginner in this field, you might think that it does not serve much purpose to edit videos before using them, and on the other hand you will get scared of editing videos. A few beginner bloggers and YouTubers have shared on their blogs that video editing looked too overwhelming even when they knew image editing.
Let's see why video editing need not be so scary.
It is a fact that video editing is much more cumbersome than text and image editing. A video is a collection of thousands of frames - each of them is an image in itself. Each image has its own characteristics in terms of lighting, colors, composition, etc. These all pictures need to be woven together - and the way this is done leads to many effects. There is audio. So, editing a video involves modifying so many individual objects and processes.
Yet, for simple editing, you need not know the tricks that a highly professional Video Editor (as they are in TV channels and film studios) knows. The least you should learn to do, using a simple video editor, is some basic editing. For example, trimming the video. Trimming is very simple video editing action and very important too as it removes unwanted portions, reduces size so that the video file does not take up too much space, and makes it short enough for social media sites. (e.g. Twitter does not take videos longer than 140 seconds.)
You should look for a simple free video editor. Smartphones come with basic video editing software. However, these have too many limitations. Moreover, editing does not work well on small devices, except very minor changes. So, if you want to share quick videos on Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok or Twitter, no harm doing a quick edit on the smartphone itself. However, if you want to put a video on your YouTube channel or blog or website, you should edit it properly - at least to remove unwanted elements, trim it properly, rotate if taken from a wrong angle, add a bit of text and music, and so on.
I will not recommend going for a complicated and expensive video editor for video editing work unless you earn well from video work (e.g. you have a popular video channel on YouTube) or you are graduating into professional video editing. A free video editor - one that is available on desktop and has enough features - is all that you need.
Best video editing software for beginners
I started this post with declaring that VSDC is the best free video editing software. I do not give such thumbs up to software tools that I review unless I am fully convinced.
Let me tell you what features you should look for, on the video editing software that you will use for common video editing works.
- Should be simple to use, especially for minor editing.
- Must have options for routine jobs such as cutting, trimming, adding or removing audio, joining video, adding simple effects.
- It should be easy to import and export files, use videos of many formats, export quickly in social media specifications.
- Should not have a limit on how many minutes you can edit free. Similarly, should not put a watermark on the resulting video.
- Should have option for audio editing also.
- Should not crash or hang, especially when the file is big.
- Should not have repeated advertisements or popups asking to upgrade.
These features should be good enough, except when you have specialized video editing jobs to do.
Now, let's see what features VSDC free video editing software has:
- VSDC is very stable. [It does not usually crash or become unresponsive.]
- It is fast enough for general editing purposes. [It might turn slow when you are processing a very big file or exporting it, but overall it is fast.]
- It can import almost all types of media files, and exports to a large number of formats.
- It has single-click export option to many social media formats.
- It can record audio. [This feature is great for 'voicing over' the video.]
- It does not have any limit on the size of the file.
- VSDC does not put a watermark on the resulting video.
- It does not nag with popups or advertisements. [One popup comes at the beginning, not later. It may also tell you to upgrade when you try to use an advanced feature, but that is rare.]
- It is a near-professional-grade product, and therefore has numerous options. But for routine jobs, it is simple enough for beginners or common users.
- You can edit frame by frame and do very refined editing. There are many advanced editing functions, filters, effects, etc. Some of them can be applied even locally on a portion of the screen.
- VSDC comes with sister software for screen recording and video capture.
- To top it all, there are numerous tutorials on the free editor, on the developer site and their YouTube channel. In addition, there are many third-party tutorials on the web.
For best use of VSDC free video editing software, I suggest that you first familiarize yourself with the basic tools, and then learn using their how-to's and YouTube videos.
Shortcomings in the VSDC free video editor
No high-end software is perfect, especially because the developers have to strike a balance between conflicting needs such as resource use, video editing features and ease of use. In addition, the free version comes with some additional limitations. Let me list the shortcomings that you may notice in VSDC free video editor:
- It takes up a lot of memory. So, if your computer is an old one and you have already opened many other programs, it will slow down the computer. If you use a big video file and do a lot of editing on it, that may be real sucker of computer memory. [But that happens with all professional grade video editors.]
- It is not very intuitive and simple, as compared to some other free video editing tools. [However, the very simple ones do not have good enough features and also sometimes come with watermarking and a limit on the length of the final video. The quality of effects done using very low grade apps can be very bad.]
- Though the free video editor gives the option to add audio, it does not allow direct recording of audio (e.g. for voice over the tutorial video).
- There is no direct preview of the final product. If you want to see the final video, you have to click on preview, which opens a new window.
- Export of video can take time, especially when the video is long, because the free edition does not use hardware acceleration.
- On free version of the software, audio does not appear in waveform (display of sound in the form of rising or falling waves to show volume, etc). [This is not a big limitation, except for very precise editing of audio.]
Using VSDC free video editor: a quick walk through
I was getting prompted to give details of some simple video editing techniques on VSDC, However, the tutorial linked below is so simple and detailed that if I try to do the same job here, I would be wasting your time and I would still do a poorer job!
If you are very new to video editing, even the opening screen may confuse you. So, let me give a very simple description of the software. Let me also make the concepts of project, timeline and layers. These are used by all professional video editing tools/ software.
For video editing job, VSDC (or any other professional video editing software) opens a special type of container file called PROJECT. On VSDC, a project is saved with file extension .vproj. This file retains all the editing that you do on a video. When the work is done, you save it for use later. So, the video you import into the editing software, the music, voice, effects, etc - all are saved in the project file. Remember that the project file is not a video file but a file container with all the information about the 'project'. It does not open on video software or websites. You need to export your final video into a format (e.g. MP4) that can be played with a video player or uploaded on a website.
Another important concept in video editing is TIMELINE. Video is a sequence of frames, and when the frames move rapidly one after the other, they give the impression of things moving. But, how to go to a specific frame or point in the video? It becomes very easy to go to a particular frame if the entire sequence of frames (and audio) is spread on a scale. When you depict a video this way, this is called timeline. On VSDC, the timeline shows layers of video and audio.
Let us now come to LAYERS. This concept of layers is also used by all professional image editing/ creating software. For professional editing of an image/ video, the software keeps the image in a stack of layers. Layers are like sheets of plastic stacked one over the other. So, if we add text on an image/ video, it is like we have typed the text on a plastic sheet and kept it over the original image. This way, the elements of one layer can be edited without disturbing the rest of the image or video.
In VSDC editing software, each video and audio can be placed on different layers or put one after the other. Putting them in different layers makes it possible to modify, remove or mix them the way you like.
Let's now quickly look at the video editor:
Start the program on your computer. When you start the video editor, a pop up saying "Explore Pro Solution" comes on top of the screen. Click on the cross (x) to remove it.
The main screen has a number of menus on top. Under it you see the sub-menus. Under them, you have 5 main options and the bottom row has tutorials.
Where you should start is to open a new project. For this either click on the top menu "New project" or the big menu under it with a movie camera icon and written under it "Blank project". [You can explore other options later as you get more familiar with the software.]
The blank project opens a small popup. On it, the project name is given as Project1 and then a number of parameters. For now, do not change anything but click on "Finish".
Let us now add one video to this project. There is a plus (+) sign on top left of the screen. Click on it and you get a drop-down menu. Select "Video". [If you do not find this sign, look for a triangle inside a green button.] This will allow you to select a video from your computer. Once you have added one video, your screen will look like that shown in the picture here. Let me familiarize you with what you are seeing on the screen.
Your video has been imported into Project1 of VSDC. You can control playback from the tools under the window. The video will play in the playback window if you click on red triangle under this window.
Look at the timeline. When you play the video, a vertical line moves to show which frame is playing. Below it, it represents the location of the frame in hours, minutes, seconds and milliseconds.
Look at the layers panel. As of now, there is only one layer.
On the right hand, there is a big window with lots of details. This panel gives properties of frames, video, audio, etc whatever you have selected. You can use these for very precise video editing. For routine video editing, you will seldom need to look at these details.
Though video editing is a time-consuming job, VSDC has some very fast (one-click) options for effects. You can see them in top right part of the window, under "Quick styles".
Click on "Tools" in the top menu bar. It opens associated tools for screen capture, voice recording, video stabilization, etc.
If you are curious, about the dozens of icons distributed on all sides of the playback window, hover your mouse cursor over them to see what purpose they serve. That will give you the idea of the vast number of features available on this free video editing tool.
That was just a quick introduction to the interface and basics of VSDC. Go to this video for learning more on how you can do simple video editing using the free VSDC video editing software. This tutorial gives links to more advance tutorials. The next link tells how to do specific editing jobs such as putting flare effect and text shadow, cropping borders, video overlays, etc on VSDC free video editor: vsdc video editing task list
You can download the software here: vsdc free video editor download link
Final recommendation about free video editing tools
If you are a regular user of videos but not a video professional, VSDC free video editor would serve you well, without any need to spend money on a paid video editor. Though there are other free video editing tools available online and offline, I will stick to VSDC for its immense capabilities. When you have learnt the basics, you can make use of these features to further improve videos.
If you are a student or trainee who is learning professional video editing, VSDC would suit you very well in the initial days - especially if the institution/ trainer does not provide you a paid editor.
Only when your video editing needs are of top rung (e.g. making documentaries and films for studios, or running a YouTube channel that earns handsome amounts of money and needs heavy video editing), you should go for a paid professional video editing software such as Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, or the pro version of VSDC.
[Disclaimer: I do not have any type of affiliation or commercial dealing with VSDC.]