If you’re a GoPro user, chances are that at some point you will want to edit your shots and try to create cool videos like those you see on YouTube.
You will want to take all that raw footage and start cutting it, stitch it, do transitions, add effects, stabilize the image if it’s too shaky, add music or voiceover, add titles or credits.
But where do you start?
How can you edit your GoPro videos?
So I get this question a lot: Cristian, what is the best GoPro video editing software?
And that’s exactly what we are going to talk about in this post.
Please note that it this post I am going to refer to desktop or laptop software. I like to edit all my videos on a PC because it is much easier and faster.
If you are looking to edit your GoPro footage on your phone, head over to this article.
Best GoPro Video Editing Software
Now, before we jump right into it, let me just tell you that there is not really such a thing as the universal best video editing software for GoPro.
It is more like a matter of personal preference and personal needs. Some people may just want to do really basic stuff like trimming the footage a little bit. For this purpose, a free, really simple video editor will do just fine.
Some, on the other hand, will want to do color grading, mask out objects or add visuals. In this situation, you will probably have to look at a paid video editing software which will be much more complex to learn to use.
So it’s not really a one size fits all kind of thing. You will have to decide on your own which is the best option for you personally.
With that being said, let’s get started on this.
Quick is a free basic video editor which was developed by GoPro itself.
So you would think that it is a great piece of software tailored specifically for creating GoPro videos.
The truth is that Quick is nothing more than a really simple and quite minimalistic video editing software that would allow you do the that much with your footage.
It’s more like a place or hub where GoPro allows you to keep all your clips and do really minimalistic edits.
There’s also a mobile version of it which I talked about over here if you’re interested in reading that.
But, the app is free, you can download it by clicking here and you’re ready to do. It will probably work if you are a complete beginner when it comes to editing videos. So if that’s you maybe Quick really is the best option in your case.
Now, GoPro had another piece of software out a while back called GoPro Studio. Unfortunately, that’s not available anymore so if you haven’t download it back in the day, well there’s nothing you can do about it now. They discontinued that in August 2017.
Those of you who have it, you can still use it, I think it’s better than Quick, it has more feature and it lets you do more stuff with it. But you probably won’t be getting any updates or support from GoPro on it.
Moving on to more serious stuff, Filmora is a video editing platform that offers both a free version and a paid one.
You can start with the free version and then decide if it’s worth to buy the paid version.
If you want my personal opinion, I would spend the money on a more professional grade video editing software if you do decide to get serious about your edits. But again, that’s just my opinion. Obviously, you can do whatever you want.
The free version is really good, definitely better than most free alternatives.
If you’re on Mac, the iMovie is actually a pretty good piece of editing software. Regardless if you’re looking to edit GoPro footage or any other kind of footage for that matter.
It’s great even if you’re not that new to video editing, it comes with plenty of options that will allow you to get really creative with your edits.
So big thumbs up to Apple for this awesome free piece of software. The Mac might be more expensive than a PC, I’m not going to even get into that debate now, but you do get great software with it, among other benefits.
If you’re on a PC though, Windows decided to retire their Movie Maker app, so you won’t be getting that anymore.
Don’t worry though, there are other free options that you can download.
VSDC is a great free video editing software alternative for PC users.
It is a really feature-rich editor and it can be a little bit confusing at first, but once you know your way around it, it’s really powerful and easy to use.
They also have a paid version which is just $20, and it will allow you to see the waveforms for the audio, do video stabilization, masking and chroma keying. So you might want that if you plan on editing green screen videos or you need to mask stuff in your videos.
But the paid one really has a ton of features that will keep you busy even if you are a seasoned video editor. I would’ve loved to have the waveforms and stabilization included in the free version, but $20 is a pretty good deal too.
Premiere Elements is developed by Adobe, which is world renowned for all the illustration/photo/video software such as Photoshop or Illustrator.
Elements is like a little brother of the Premiere Pro which is really serious stuff. It will run you around $70 I think, but you do get a lot more options and features than you would get from any other free alternative.
As I’m sure you guessed, Premiere Elements is targeted at beginners and it even comes with 3 different editing modes you can use: quick, guided and expert mode.
“Quick” is the easiest, “guided” gives you a glimpse at what all the features to and the “expert” mode just lets you tweak all the knobs and figure out on yourself how everything works.
So Premiere Elements it’s a pretty good start if you are looking to slowly transition to a professional video editing software such as Premiere Pro. Regardless if you are looking to edit just your GoPro footage or footage coming from any type of camera.
Alright, so this is one of my favorite piece of editing software to use.
Premiere Pro will allow you to do absolutely anything you want with your footage. The only real limitation is your creativity.
Obviously, it will also take more time and practice to lear how to use this amazing tool. So expect a learning curve of at least a couple of months.
Premiere Pro is a subscription-based, paid video editing software that costs around $200-$300 per year. If you’re lucky you can get it on sale on Amazon for a bit less.
There’s no point to even begin to talk about the software itself. What I can tell you is that this is a Hollywood grade video editor. It is packed with everything you will ever need. On top of that, it can be easily integrated with After Effects, which is Adobe’s animation tool.
There are also a ton of plugins, LUTs (used for color grading) and presets that you can download and load up in Premiere Pro. Another plus is that the community around Premiere Pro is so big. You will always find an answer to any question you may have about editing using Premiere.
Adobe also does a really great job at optimizing their video editing software for using the high-end hardware that’s available right now. So, it will use all the cores of your CPU and GPU, unlike other free or less expensive video editors.
I think that’s particularly important when you are editing 4K GoPro footage. I know GoPro uses a compression method which is not as good (or as CPU friendly) as the one used by other cameras.
If you’re on a Mac user, Final Cut is the probably the best video editor you can get your hands on. I’m on a PC so I don’t really have hands-on experience with it.
But from what I have been told and read, it’s just as good as Premiere Pro if not better. Also, I think it’s very, very well optimized for using the hardware and software configuration of the Mac since it is developed by Apple.
So you really can’t go wrong with it.
Final Cut costs around $400 which is on the pricey side, but again, it’s a premium video editing platform.
Lastly but not least, there’s Vegas Pro, initially developed by Sony, and now owned by Magic.
I used it a lot when I first got into video editing before I transitioned to Premiere Pro. From my own experience, Vegas Pro does have some ‘hiccups’ when you start to throw many large files at it.
It is also a bit on the pricey side. I think it will run you around $400, but at least that is a one time cost. Not a yearly subscription, as it is for Premiere.
Quick video editing tips for beginners
Before we wrap this up I wanted to give you guys a few tips on how to get the most out of your edits.
If you are interested in reading more about video editing I have a more in-depth article over here. So feel free to check out that one as well if you want to dive into this topic a little bit deeper.
These tips can be applied regardless of what video editing software you’re using.
Have the edit in your mind when you shoot
This is super important and I always say this. You need to plan your shoots so that they match the editing style or idea that you have in mind.
So you kind of decide upfront what type of video you want to create.
Do you want it to be emotional? Do you want it to be high-paced, or maybe funny?
You can even go as far as draft a little script if you’re into that.
Maybe you have a specific type of transition in mind for a particular scene. Think about how you will edit that transition and film in a way that will support your editing ideas.
Shoot way more than you need
The last thing you want to do is not have enough footage to chose from.
One rule that I try to implement all the time is to have at least 2-3 takes of the same shot/scene. That usually is enough for picking bits and pieces out of it that will make it to the final cut.
It’s not something unusual to end up with just 5 minutes of usable footage out of 40-60 minutes of raw video.
So keep that in mind next time you take out your GoPro camera and start filming.
Use the right GoPro accessories
The quality of your footage can depend a lot on the accessories you will be using.
Most of the GoPro footage that I get from clients it is kind of shaky. And that’s normal if you think about the fact that this is an action camera, right?
But there’s an easy way to make it look so much more smooth.
That’s where this awesome piece of gear comes into play.
A gimbal will make wonders for your footage.
Setup your video editing workflow
First and foremost you want to be really, really organized with everything.
You will probably have to work with tens or hundreds of video clips, multiple project files, audio files, logo, and branding stuff.
So what you want to do, or what I like to do when I edit GoPro footage or any footage for that matter is to create a well-organized folder structure.
I do this before I even start downloading the footage from the GoPro to my computer and before I start editing.
Here’s how my typical folder structure looks.
So there’s a folder a folder for everything basically.
I have all my footage in one folder, and that folder might have multiple subfolders if I have shots from different cameras or B-roll and A-roll.
Then there’s a folder where I keep all the project files, one for the .mp4 renders that come out of the video editing software that I use.
Then there’s the audio folder where I keep all the music, voice-overs and audio effects that I use.
Lastly but not least, I have the AE folder which I use specifically for After Effects project files and renders, in case I use any After Effects animations or elements inside the video edit.
This structure has been working great for me and I highly recommend you use something similar to keep all your stuff organized.
So I guess that’s pretty much it. Should be enough to get you started.
There’s no really good or bad video editing software to use for GoPro footage. It just depends on what are your goals and how much time you want to put into it.
Start off with a simple, basic, free editing software and upgrade to a pro one if this thing grows on you.
Oh and by the way, if you are using a different software which you think it’s great and it’s not listed here, please let me know and I’ll be happy to check it out.