How to edit videos in HitFilm Express for free

by birtanpublished on August 29, 2020

No matter what kind of videos you want to create, one of the first and most important steps is mastering your video editing tools. I’m Axel from FXhome, and in this video we are going to look at the basics of editing. So if you are brand new to HitFilm, or to filmmaking in general, this video is for you. To demonstrate these tools, we will be using HitFilm Express, which is completely free to everyone, so anybody can download a copy and follow along. But the same tools exist in most video editing applications, so if you already have a different editor you want to use, this information should still prove

Useful. You can download the video files I’ll be using from the link in the description, but this is all general stuff, so you can follow along just as easily using your own video files, if you prefer. When you launch HitFilm, you see the Home screen, which is where we begin. In most video editors, you can open the File menu and select New to create a new project. The project settings allow you to define the details of your project, including its resolution and how many frames per second it will use. If you are using the

Renegade example files we have provided, you will want the template for 1080p Full HD @ 29.97 frames per second. If you are using your own files, you can select whatever settings match your files. Click OK, and we are moved into the main HitFilm interface. By the way, if you aren’t sure what settings to use, don’t worry about it, in HitFilm you can just import your files, and the first time you add one to the timeline, the software can automatically match the project settings to the clip for you.

At this point, your project is a blank canvas, and you can use it to create whatever type of content you want. Do you want to create short films? Music videos? Gameplay videos, video blogs, or product reviews for YouTube? Advertisements, title sequences, travel videos, it is really up to you. HitFilm allows you to combine video, audio and visual effects to create any video program you can imagine. The HitFilm interface is made up of different panels, each of which serves a specific purpose. The media panel is where we import the video,

Audio and image files that we use to build our project. You can click the Import button to select files to import, or you can drag and drop files from an open window right into the media panel. Once they are imported, we can use them to build our project. And remember that any changes we make to media files while we are editing in HitFilm, or any other video editor, do not affect the original files on your harddrive. So there is never any risk of altering, damaging or losing your original files.

Click any file in the media panel, and we can preview it in the Trimmer. This panel is called the trimmer because we also use it to trim our clips, and remove any start or end bits that we don’t want to use in our project. To trim a clip, move the playhead to the starting point you want, and click the In Point button, or press I on the keyboard. Then move the playhead to a later frame and click the Out point button, or O on your keyboard. The area between those frames is displayed as a different color, so you can see how much

Of the source clip is selected, and you can now add the trimmed clip to your timeline, by clicking the Insert button, or dragging straight from the Trimmer to the timeline. The exact steps or buttons used may differ from one editor to the next, but this process of selecting a portion of the clip for use, then adding it to the timeline is common to almost all video editing applications. Let’s add a few more clips to the timeline, using either the Insert button or dragging them. Its up to you. Notice that while the

Insert button drops the clip right where the playhead is, when you drag a clip straight to the timeline, you can position it anywhere you like. But as you near the end of the existing clips, it snaps into place. This Snapping feature is very useful for ensuring you don’t need up with blank frames between clips, but sometimes you might need some blank frames, or you may need to edit with greater precision, in which case you can toggle snapping off. In HitFilm, you do so using this little magnet icon, or you can use the Shift+S keyboard

Command. You will probably find that you turn snapping on and off pretty frequently, so learning that keyboard shortcut will be handy. You can adjust the view of the timeline as well, using this menu at the top to change the size of the tracks, and the zoom slider at the bottom to control how much of the time ruler is visible. You can change these at any time to help see what you are doing. If you want to add a few more clips, to get really familiar with the Trimmer and how it works, feel free to do so. This is the basic process

Of assembling a rough edit. You select the general portion of each clip that you want, and sequence them on the timeline. Once this is done, you will want to refine your edit, using the editing tools. These tools help you perfect your edit by adjusting the timing, pacing, and sequence of the clips to get a nice, polished result. There are eight tools on the Editor to help with this. Let’s look at them one at a time. First is the Selection tool, whose icon is an arrow. This is a multi-purpose tool, and

Probably the one you will use most often when editing, as it allows you to make all your most basic adjustments. You can use it to grab clips and move them around. You can click-drag to select multiple clips and move them all at once. If you hover the mouse near the start or end of a clip with the Selection tool, you can trim the in and out points. This is essentially the same as what we did previously in the Trimmer panel, except you are now doing it right on the timeline. Remember that none of your decisions are permanent, and throughout

The process, every choice you make can be fine-tuned or changed at any time. Moving and trimming clips are the basic building blocks of editing. If you can do that, you 6657675loikl;opcan edit. But we also have more tools that make things faster, easier, and more efficient. For example, suppose we want this clip to end sooner, so that the clip that comes afterwards starts playing sooner. Based on what we have just learned, we can trim the end of this clip on the left a bit, then drag the clip on the right to

Close the gap. That is a perfectly valid method, and gives you the results you want. But you know what’s easier, and saves us a few steps? Using the Ripple Edit tool. I’m going to use the History panel to undo my last few actions. The history panel logs everything you do, so if you ever make a mistake or change your mind, you can step back through your history of actions to undo them. It’s very useful, a8iuytnd a feature you’ll want to remember. I’ll now select the Ripple Edit tool, which is the line with arrows on

Both ends. When we drag the end of the clip with the ripple edit tool to shorten it, the other timeline contents will shift left so the gap is deleted automatically. When I release the mouse button to perform the edit, the result is the same as the whole sequence of steps we performed earlier, but, of course, with far fewer steps. Each of these editing tools provides that sort of efficiency and speed boost. Everything they do could be accomplished with the select tool, if you have all the time in the world, but using the dedicated

Editing tools saves you a lot of steps and gets you the results you need quicker. The Slip tool makes it easy to change the in and out points of a clip without changing its overall duration or its position on the timeline. Note the four images on the Viewer, when we make a slip adjustment. The top two show the out point of the preceding clip, and the in point of the following clip, which do not change during a slip edit. The bottom two show the new in and out frames of the clip you are slipping. The Slide tools moves

A clip on the timeline, without moving any surrounding clips or creating any gaps. In this case, the top two previews show the in and out points of the clip that you are sliding, which are unchanged during a slide edit. The bottom two show the out point of the preceding clip, and the in point of the following clip. The ripple tool we already looked at. Its companion is the Roll tool, which moves the out point of one clip, and the in point of the next, in one step. The two previews show those two frames, the out point of the first

Clip, and the in point of the second, which is handy for referencing the continuity of the cut. The Slice tool, which looks like a razor blade, is used to split a clip on the timeline into two clips. All of these tools have keyboard shortcuts, which are definitely worth learning. Selecting the tools from the keyboard, rather than moving your mouse all the way across the screen every time, makes things flow more quickly and smoothly, once you get the hang of it. Hovering the mouse above any tool reveals

Its shortcut, and you can edit the shortcuts in the HitFilm Options, if you prefer to customize them. Pressing V, which looks a bit like an arrow, activates the Selection tool, pressing C for ‘cut’ activates the Slice tool, and so on. Although actually, its possible to slice a clip without changing tools at all. With any tool selected, hitting Ctrl+shift+d (cmd+shift+d on Mac) will slice the currently selected clip right at the playhead position. The Drag tool, which looks like a hand, is unique, in that you cannot use it to do any

Editing. All it controls is your view of the timeline. The drag tool allows you to navigate the timeline without there being any chance of accidentally moving a clip or changing your edit. And as your timeline gets more complex, this can be quite useful. You can do the same thing with the scroll bars, but being able to select the Drag tool by pressing H for ‘hand’, then dragging wherever the mouse happens to be can often be faster than moving the cursor to the scroll bar. You will find that most video editors, including HitFilm,

Offer more than one way to accomplish things, so that as you get more experience, you can find the method that works best for you in any given situation. The bottom tool is the Rate Stretch tool, which changes the speed of your clip. The in and out points of the clip will remain the same, but the duration of the clip changes by playing its contents at a different speed. So as you shorten a clip, it will play faster, and lengthening a clip will slow it down. There isn’t a preview in the Viewer for

The Rate Stretch tool, but there is a little info pop-up at the cursor, which tells you how many frames you have moved the edit point, and the new Duration of the clip. If all of this is sounding a bit complex and overwhelming, don’t worry. As we discussed before, all you really need to get started editing is the Selection tool. Over time, you will get familiar with the other tools as you edit more projects, and you will begin to figure out your own preferred way of editing. Most video editing applications, including

HitFilm, offer other tools for editing as well. You can use multiple video tracks, for creating titles, or basic compositing. Multiple audio tracks allow you to build a more interesting soundscape, combining dialog, sound effects, and music. Transitions can control how you visually shift from one shot to the next, and visual effects can be used to enhance your original video or create elements that are impossible to film practically. As you get more familiar with the software, you can branch out into some of our videos covering

These topics and expand your skillset. But this video has gone on long enough. If you are still with me, thanks for watching, and I hope you have learned something. Check our channel for hundreds more videos on using HitFilm, and please subscribe and hit the bell if you want to be notified of our future videos as well.

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