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Avid Media Composer First offers pro-level video editing for free

Most serious DSLR or MSC video shooters use either Adobe Premiere Pro CC or Apple's Final Cut Pro X to edit their footage; however, Avid's Media Composer has long been the editing suite of choice for TV and movie professionals. Now, the company has made a slightly scaled-down version of its pro tool, called Media Composer First, available to download and use for free.

The free version works in most respects pretty much the same way as its pro cousin, and only comes with a few limitations in terms of image resolution and available editing tracks.

There are four video and eight audio tracks, and exports are limited to Quicktime H.264 or DNxHD file formats at 1080p resolution and a frame rate of 59.94 fps. So if you're looking to output 4K video Media Composer First is not for you, but you can input 4K files if some of your raw footage was recorded at high resolution.

Avid Media Composer First is derived from a pro tool, so it might not be as intuitive as more consumer-oriented solutions and could be overkill for your average YouTube clip or home video. However, it offers a surprisingly comprehensive feature set at no cost—ideal for students or enthusiast who are thinking about making a move into professional film making.

Check out the intro video below, or read more on the Avid website.

Comments

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Oldest first
HowaboutRAW

Yeah, there are big installation problems, Win 7, and then some creepy big brother looking file update, which never completed for me--over a fast internet connection.

Clearly not ready for public release--at least the Windows installer.

Reverted my drive out of that mess.

Perhaps I'll try again in 6 months, until then I have Premier 5.5 and the latest Shotcut for 4K files.

1 week ago
NarrBL

If you were wondering how 'limited' free HitFilm might (not) be -- or how limited your free time could get if you play with it, have a look here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7hNaJ1sDQY

before someone complains, yes, they used one inexpensive effect, but also told how to do it with no purchases at all.

2 weeks ago*
Neuropsychology
Neuropsychology

will this be good for editing clips for instagram? :D lol

2 weeks ago
goodgeorge

This is not a good start for beginners:
- it behaves strangely if you throw at it some common formats
- very steep learning curve, but you can work very fast after weeks of training
- you cant do anything without propper training
- made for big institutions like TV and film industry where you have pro support and always have an IT guy on hand.

3 weeks ago*
jellyhat

I've been using Avid for almost thirty years professionally. I've tried many of the other systems (including cutting film and editing tape!) and I can safely say that Avid is excellent. I'm working on two films at the moment with Avid. One is on a fairly new Mac Pro and one is on a six year old tower and it hasn't crashed for weeks on either. I still use fcp7 sometimes and that is still a nightmare! Avid is pretty sophisticated after so long in the game and I can't imagine it going away any time soon.

3 weeks ago
mxx
mxx

Can't wait to process that video of my sleeping cat with this!

3 weeks ago
Stefan Sobol

Too bad there are problems with the files in the download that prevents the software from installing (at least in my case).

3 weeks ago
HowaboutRAW

Yeah, there are big installation problems, Win 7, and then some creepy big brother looking file update, which never completed for me--over a fast internet connection.

Clearly not ready for public release--at least the Windows installer.

Reverted my drive out of that mess.

Perhaps I'll try again in 6 months, until then I have Premier 5.5 and the latest Shotcut for 4K files.

1 week ago
BillBerner

59.94 Only?! Non-starter

3 weeks ago
Ivan Uskov

Not only

3 weeks ago
ewelch

You can buy this Porsche, but it has only a few limitations. Instead of a high-powered turbocharged engine, it comes with a free bus pass on your transit system. For engine noise, you sit in your Porsche, and yell, "Vroom, vroom! Get out of the way Prius drivers!"

3 weeks ago
El Jeffe

Gateway drug. It is a simple plan. Get it in the hands of students. This is the best way for AVID to survive. This is a smart move and sure to make a major impact.

3 weeks ago
Dr_Jon

I think the lack of UHD (TV's 4k) support is a big issue for Avid's free product, as will people want to spend a lot of time getting up the learning curve knowing it isn't near-future-proof. Of course you can buy the UHD version (which is presumably the aim), but I think it's a mistake when the free version of Resolve already has UHD. I'd have been inclined to rely on other features for the up-sell.

3 weeks ago
The Squire
The Squire

Maybe include UHD but not 'true' cinema 4K?

Resolve's approach is to give away a version that does 99.9% of what any individual film maker wants (perhaps the only exception is some of the 3D image processing). The non-free version mainly adds multi-user and remote workflows that a team or studio would require.

The one thing that bugs me about Resolve is that it's designed for teams - It installs a full-fat relational database on your PC and forces you to do all your file management inside it. For an individual its a pain not being able to work with files when it comes to syncing across devices, managing versions or backups. But for teams who have a workflow, it's a necessity.

3 weeks ago*
Dr_Jon

I think the free version of Resolve does more like 80% of what I'd want, but it's a really good mix for a free product. Also the Studio version is a pretty reasonable price (as of v14). Of course 14 is in beta and can be very dodgy (beta 3 did horrible things to my computer) so 12.5.6 is the safe (but slow) bet.

3 weeks ago
oysso

Better buy a full version of a cheap editing software like cyberlink powerdirector. More flexible, and cheaper for the amateurs than the free version of a pro software. Are you not amateur, then go for something else though.

3 weeks ago
The Squire
The Squire

No, really, dont. I've tried a lot of pro-consumer video editors and they all have massive failings. Why pay $50-$100 for something *worse* than Avid or Resolve?

I have one exception to this rule: I am *loving* Lumafusion on the iPad.... Best $20 I ever spent.

3 weeks ago
Ivan Uskov

Really powerdirector is nice editor for home video with cool hw acceleration support. I'm like it.

3 weeks ago
oysso

Powerdirector has 4K support. And supports more output format than the free avid media composer. Avid supports only 8 tracks of audio and 4 tracks of video... Its a joke in my mind.

2 weeks ago
Amateur Hour

Meh. I'll stop using Vegas when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.

3 weeks ago
NarrBL

I've been liking HitFilm Express, also free. Besides working well, it's pleasant that you can get minor or larger additions to it for fair prices.

I've also still got DaVinci Resolve -- it seemed to me that many, many of the useful abilities are not locked, but producing preventative overlays on the video. So, you can try them, but not use them. Fair enough, but good to know before diving in.

Two people complaining this Avid thing broke their machines, Mac and Win? Think to pass on that adventure, and not from naïveté...

ShotCut may need a tryout -- since it has a Norwegian Bokmål translation... :)

p.s. be sure to watch out for all the big colorful false Download buttons all over ShotCut, not just on the first download page you encounter.

They are all come-ons. The real downloads are text with links under them.

3 weeks ago*
toxotis700
toxotis700

there is no support for avchd or xavc-s codecs... so useless for most consumer editors.

3 weeks ago
M Jesper
M Jesper

What makes you say that, did you try it? Both are listed under video file formats where they link to this document: http://resources.avid.com/SupportFiles/attach/Avid_Supported_Video_File_Formats.pdf

Not to mention that while these 'formats' say something about a camera's recording capabilities, they're basically just regular AVC to a video decoder.

3 weeks ago
toxotis700
toxotis700

I tried it with archd and doesn't work..

Playback of other h.264 format is slow as hell with Ama support.
You have to import everything to have decent playback...and I have a very powerful machine.

3 weeks ago
munro harrap
munro harrap

I thought Ah! Amazing, gratefully gave them my email address and name, registered (why all this for a perpetual licence?)and downloaded onto an El Capitan Mac. Installed it: It wont open and the system hangs. Force quit necessary, 2 windows come onscreen , but they have a box over them telling you that you cannot save anything at all? and advising you to ensure your Mac does not go to sleep. It also states that the version is outdated. WhatdoIdo? (Be Polite) Hoping Aver will reply clearly telling everyone how to ensure this does not happen.

3 weeks ago*
maxnimo

It's a pleasant surprise to suddenly see at least 3 really good free video editing options available that can actually do useful stuff in a nice way.

3 weeks ago
Han Bin

Could you advise which are the other two that are free?

3 weeks ago
HowaboutRAW

Guess the likes of the freeware ShotCut are cutting into sales.

3 weeks ago
M Chambers

If it's free how "pro" can it be?

3 weeks ago
dash2k8

Did you even read the article? It retains most of the functions of the full version while limiting the output resolution and frame rate. DaVinci Resolve also has a free version that does most of what the full version does. Pro enough for most people without the color editing station.

3 weeks ago*
CallumG
CallumG

Oh sweet! Premiere Elements was giving me a headache anyway.

3 weeks ago
CallumG
CallumG

Nevermind, it literally broke Windows.

3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago
zubs

Always wanted to play/edit video. Can't go wrong if its free. Downloading now..

3 weeks ago
HowaboutRAW

Try ShotCut, free, 4K, all sorts of output options. Will import H265.

3 weeks ago
rsf3127

this one does not read h265?

3 weeks ago
HowaboutRAW

rfs3127:

Don't know it's still uncommon to import H265.

I'm going to try it. But just by way of example ShotCut will import and export 120 FPS video files from the Sony RX10III.

3 weeks ago
KubeKube

What used to cost $1K+ is now free. I guess it's a good thing ;)

3 weeks ago
Suntan

Can't complain about free. But it is odd that one of the limitations is to only allow 60p output.

3 weeks ago
BeefCoffee

I know, I'm confused by that. Can I not output or edit in 24p? I would understand if they don't want people dabbling in higher frame rates for free I guess....

3 weeks ago
piratejabez

Yes, you can output in frame rates less than 60p, and resolutions no larger than 1080p. Seems like a more than reasonable place to draw the line for a free product :)

More details here: http://www.avid.com/media-composer/comparison

3 weeks ago*
Janovlk

It used to be normal limitation in MC. Not long time ago you couldn't use any different framerate in sequence.

3 weeks ago
racenviper

Blackmagic Design offers DaVinci Resolve for free and does 4K.

https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/davinciresolve/

3 weeks ago
Dianoda

I'll second davinci resolve as an excellent free video editor - a few of the more advanced features are locked unless you purchase the full license ($1K), but all the basics and then some are available in the free version. It's a decent editor to start learning on.

3 weeks ago
David Rosser
David Rosser

Da vinci Resolve Studio (full licence) is now £239 - you will need to check if that includes VAT. (For those across the Atlantic that is about $320.)

3 weeks ago
Dianoda

Ah, you are correct, the full license cost has come down since I first starting working with the software. A license for Studio is now $300 in the US. That said, for my needs, the free version of 12.5 has proved to be more than capable enough; honestly, I feel like I've barely touched the surface of what the software can do.

3 weeks ago
dash2k8

Just want to add more love to DaVinci. Love it, but it's overkill for anyone who's not heavily into color editing.

3 weeks ago
Dr_Jon

I've moved to using Resolve as ab editor and I think it can be used as a fairly easy to get going with video editor and leaving the colour stuff for later. Somethings (like sharpness changes) aren't intuitive, but it's generally pretty easy to use.

3 weeks ago
timccr

Davinci Resolve now has Fairlight for audio I believe.

2 weeks ago
Dr_Jon

Fairlight is only in 14 which is still in beta. The last one I tried (beta 3) did some really nasty things to my computer so I went back to 12.5.6. They are at 14 beta 6 now (IIRC) but I think I'll wait a bit longer as the bravery level is a bit high at present...

2 weeks ago*
timccr

Yeah I'm waiting too but think it will probably be worth the wait

2 weeks ago
Prairie Pal

I'm not into video at all but it makes me want to start :) Is this the software that a typical professional wedding videographer would use?

3 weeks ago
panther fan

You could use it. But the majority uses either FCP X or Adobe Premiere. If you are havy into color grading than of course Davinci Resolve (which is also free btw)

3 weeks ago
Janovlk

MC used to be standard in professional world. As MC was more and more unreliable, editors finally resorted to other apps. But now the Premiere CC2017 is really strong to beat Media Composer's in unreliability.

3 weeks ago
nebulight
nebulight

Great way to get someone introduced to their software. I'm thinking about starting to dabble with video so I might give this a go.

3 weeks ago