HitFilm Express Review

HitFilm Express Review

If you need a simple and user-friendly video editing software, read my HitFilm Express review to know how to create special visual effects and stylized color grading in several clicks. Is HitFilm Express everything you need to make something cool from several simple video clips?

What is HitFilm Express?

HitFilm Express is a free version of HitFilm video editor from the FX Home company that is designed to creating special video effects. That's why HitFilm Express may be considered an analog to After Effects rather than Premiere Pro.

HitFilm Express logo

Platforms: Windows and Mac OS
Price: FREE



Here you may create visual effects as you saw at Iron Man or Star Wars. The second competitive advantage of this video editor is compositing. In fact, these are tools for the combination of visual effects and 2D/3D animation

If you are fond of adding visual effects to your videos, find out how to get Adobe After Effects for free and use them for creative unusual video footage without paying for the Adobe’s subscription.

So, if you need a good free program for video editing on Windows or MacOS, and you want to add some great effects, pay attention to HitFilm video editor. All its details will be revealed in my overview below.

  • Reliable timeline video editor
  • Playback options that speed up editing
  • Flexible and intuitive export features
  • Ability to continue editing during export
  • Some playback options remove special effects
  • Export performance is low
  • Some popular functions require purchasing the add-ons

HitFilm Express Price

HitFilm Pro

hifilm pro download


HitFilm Studio

hifilm studio download



HitFilm Express Add-On Packages

Starter Pack is a diverse selection of color gradations, titles, moving graphics and compositing effects. Get support for Dolby AC3 / AVCHD and MPEG-2 video formats. Check the logos on the side of the camera twice to see if you need Premium Formats package. Do you want to go back to 90’ s? Then generate trance-inducing waveforms vibrating to bass lines or even old-school bar equalizer graphics with the help of the Audiovisual Package. Capture the attention of your audience from the very first frame with high-quality 3D animations made in FXHome HitFilm. Emulate your favorite debuts or create your own unique style from a custom model taken at the Boris 3D Objects bundle.

HitFilm Express Review

This program can easily cope with simple video editing tasks as well as very complicated effects. In fact, there is nothing impossible for HitFilm. I'd like to present to you the best functions I have noticed after HitFilm Express download.

Read more about the best video editing softwares for beginners and professionals that will suit any budget. A complete and honest comparison review of 18 free and paid video editors.

HitFilm Express Main Functions

If you’ve never used a video editing software but decided to download this one, read my complete overview with video samples to understand what you can do with your video clips.

High Preview Quality

You can select from several viewing quality settings, including custom playback and pause. It makes playback faster and helps eliminate viewing delays, especially for high-resolution videos. There is also an opportunity to choose quality and resolution of playback and pause quality, each with four choices from low to high.

This HitFilm Express function is very convenient and easy-to-use. But there is one thing you should keep in mind. In case you decrease the quality very much, some special effects may be hidden while playing back. For example, picture in picture or animated text.

Customizable Layout Panel

Every HitFilm review states that the program provides you with new opportunities to align and organize objects in your scene and work on different types of projects. There are workspaces such as 360-degree video, Audio, Colorist and Organize. They allow you to focus only on the necessary functions, eliminating unnecessary ones on the panel.

The Layout panel makes it easier to customize and rearrange the elements, such as text or an inserted image in your clip. This allows you to place all elements exactly where you need them, using controls that place or distribute objects over the entire canvas.

Artistic Widget Graphic Effects

When you apply a special effect in HitFilm Express or any other version, you can control it using the slider or numeric menus. With a recent update, you can do it right in the viewer. Simply select an effect and the controls will appear automatically, allowing you to customize it directly in the viewer.

Useful Behavioral Effects

If you add motion graphics to your videos, then three new effects give you an easy way to move elements without tediously placing a few keyframes. Acceleration, Gravity and Throw do what their names suggest. Acceleration allows you to adjust the speed at which the element moves on the canvas, as well as the direction. As you may expect, Gravity moves in one direction – down. A Throw is like throwing a ball so that an object will eventually move to the desired place. You can combine behaviors to speed gravity or throw.

Very Fast Export

HitFilm allows you to export the movie in the background while you continue working in the video editing module. The word “Export” appears on the video editing screen, so you do not need to guess which tiny icon will export your clip. Hit Film Express also revised the export module, adding two new panels: Project and Preview.

The project bar allows viewing the editor timeline and component parts. It means you can add them to the queue without switching back to the Edit panel. A preview window displays information about the file, such as frame rate and size, entry and exit points, and duration. 

What is more, you don’t have to wait for the export to finish editing other clips. It is useful just to be able to manage the export functions on one panel without dominating its actions in the rest of the video editing process, as well as watching the preview export.

HitFilm Express Color Correction

Color correction effects are designed to improve the visual quality of layers by adjusting their tones. It is intended for initial color manipulation and color problems removal.

Autocolor for Beginners

HitFilm includes three automatic sorting effects for adjusting color, contrast or layer levels. Threshold: sets the threshold below which the colors remain unchanged. Blend with Original: You can soften the Auto Color effect by increasing this setting. Higher values preserve more of the original color. Select Frame: By default, the automatic sorting effects are updated for each frame. It can cause the appearance of the layer to fluctuate when the frame content changes. By activating the “Select Frame” option, you can choose it manually. As a result, it will be used as the source for the automatic adjustment, for the duration of the layer.

Use Autocontrast for Quick Color Grading

In addition to automatic color adjustment, the program can automatically modify contrast. Almost every HitFilm Express review you can find on the Internet states that the app produces quite a good result automatically. Tools for adjusting autocontrast are the same as for autocolor – Threshold, Blend with Original and Select Frame.

Clear Сontrast of Brightness

Quick adjustment of the brightness and contrast of the layer. Brightness: adjust to the left to decrease the brightness, or to the right to increase it. Contrast: adjust to the left to decrease the contrast, or to the right to increase it.

Use Wheels for Deep Color Correction

These wheels are available in a color correction package of HitFilm Express or newer versions. Such effect provides a visual way to quickly adjust the hue and color of glare, undertones and shadows of your layer.

You can move the color wheels to adjust the color balance of the bright areas (upper wheel), mid-tones (middle wheel) and shadows (lower wheel). The further you move a point from the center of the color wheel, the more saturated the colors will be. Finally, you can use sliders to regulate the strength and ease of adjustment, and the rotator on the wheels changes shade.

Use Curves for Realistic Results

Curves is a powerful tool in HitFilm Express for color correction based on editable graphics. The horizontal axis on the graph is the original image. The vertical axis represents a graded result. Therefore, if you follow the line vertically upwards from any point on the graph, until you reach the curves, and then go to the left, you will see how the input changes.

Dehaze Tool for Detailization

This tool of HitFilms restores detail in areas where haze dims or reduces detailization when shooting an image or video. This is especially useful in wide photos and in distant landscapes where fog or other haze in the air hides more faraway things. You can add clouding to frames as well. Moreover, it can be a useful tool for adding extra details to black and white shots.

Exposition to Correct Poor Light

It simulates the effect of changing the amount of light that enters the camera lens. The end result is lightening or darkening of the footage, but it is more natural and dynamic than direct brightness control. In addition to it, decreasing the exposure reduces the overall contrast of the image. Its increase adds the contrast between the brightest and darkest areas. Available controls give you access to three main tonal ranges of the image according to the best HitFilm Express review.

Universal Presets

Using presets can greatly speed up your workflow with HitFilm. Filters can be created for 3D effects and combinations of 2D effects. Plugins store your chosen settings so that you can quickly recreate them elsewhere in your project or even in completely different tasks.

HitFilm Express Effects

The panel displays the entire library of built-in effects and transitions. HitFilm Pro also supports third-party OpenFX plugins. So if you have them, they will also be listed in this panel.

You can look for effects using the search bar. As you start typing in, the list will be updated instantly to display the corresponding results. You do not need to select the name accurately. For example, when searching for "lenses" you will find the effect of “light flashes”. There is also a great opportunity to filter the list to display specific types of effects clicking on “Show All”. 

You Get Full Control

Do you want to add effects to the clips? Drag a desired one from the Effects panel onto the selected clip. Then you can adjust it on the control bar.

Now let’s see how to do it. First, select the corresponding clip in the timeline. Its properties will be displayed in the "Controls" panel. All applied effects are listed in the "Effects" section. You can expand it as well as individual ones to reveal more elements of control and details.

By clicking on a property once, you enter a new value which you can change by dragging it.

Create Professional 360 ° Videos

HitFilm has dozens of tools that are designed specifically for working with 360 ° video. 360 ° Blur. 360 ° blur is available in the toolbox: 360 °. It is a standard quick blurring optimized for use with 360 ° video. 360 ° Channel Blur. The blurring of color channels is individual. It is useful for creating the impression of chromatic aberration. 360 ° Fisheye Converter. When working with a movie that was captured with two opposing 180 ° lenses, such as video from Samsung Gear 360, the 360 ​​° fisheye effect allows you to convert it to a standard equilateral format for clip editing. 360 ° Fractal Noise. It creates a range of textures optimized for use with 360 ° video, applying procedural methods. But it is not everything. Each fractal method includes a number of properties to customize the appearance of the effect.

360 ° Glow. It adds a glowing aura to bright areas of the layer, optimized for use with 360 ° video. Channel intensity properties allow you to change the hue of the glow. Advanced options provide additional customization of its appearance, including the creation of a specific color gradient.

Unreal Visual Effects

You will need Harmonious particle arrays to create amazing fractal animation with thousands of bits. By the way, shapes can be animated to the music after HitFilm 3 download or any other version. 3D particle simulator combines 3D physics, dynamic forces and collision reflectors. The effects of dirt and damage will help create realistic images of damage, effects of filthy camera lenses, artificial grain, automatic shake and optical motion blur.

The program has the ability to work with different lighting effects. You can create your own glare effects on the lens and automatically pin them to the brightest part of the frame. Also, it is possible to include dimensional light effects in the scene. Procedural destruction will be required for dividing images and videos into thousands of 3D fragments, adding realistic blood splashes, effects of shots, electric storms.

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Working with Sound

There is a variety of sound effects available in HitFilm for adjusting the sound.

Doppler Shift

This effect is combined with an animated layer and brings a realistic Doppler shift to the sound layer. It must be added directly to your sound layer. Go to the properties in order to connect it with a separate layer, which can be animated later. For example, if a point layer is created and animated to move to the camera, the sound will receive a Doppler shift, as if it is approaching the device.


Do you need to adjust the strength of certain frequencies in an audio clip? Then pay attention to Equalizer. It can be used for selective tuning, for example of bass and treble, depending on the aim. The Presets menu provides quick access to common tasks, such as high and low frequencies as well as bass enhancement.

Audio reverse.  It helps play a selected clip in the opposite direction. The effect simply inverts the sound when it is applied. Balance. It provides panning audio from left to right in the stereo field of your project. Negative values ​​move the sound further to the left channel, and positive values ​​move it to the right one. Zero sends audio in equal amounts to both channels. Gain. It decreases or increases the overall volume of the processed audio.

HitFilm Express Additional Features 

Besides regular features and tools, HitFilm has a lot of what was developed specifically for it and is actively used by professionals.

Sky Replacement Tool

This HitFilm 4 Express tutorial demonstrates a re-creation of scenes and effects in the style of Westworld. Moreover, it provides an option that allows users to change the background in their scenes. It is called the sky replacement tool. Use it to turn a flat and dull plain into a breathtaking mountain range or a dull winter sky into a sexy sunset.

Masking and Overlaying Technique

HitFilm 32 bit or 64 bit also has masking and overlaying tools that facilitate the casting of characters battalion. This is the technique of creating an army of attack aircraft in the movie “Star Wars: Uprising”. Using it, the actors in the film are duplicated in just a few minutes.

3D Models

Animation of 3D models is one of the amazing features offered by software for video editing and visual effects. Users can import their 3D models for the production and animation of transport and combat vehicles, such as All Terrain Armored Transport or AT-AT walkers in Star Wars.

Sci-fi Visual Effects

Iconic HUD Iron Man can be recreated with special lighting and framing in HitFilm Express. Users can even make their own version of it. This and the ability to animate weapons using a muzzle flash and portal effects make the software suitable for creating incredible sci-fi action sequences.

Advanced Screen Tracking and Simulation

HitFilm Express 4 highlights one of its advanced features, which gives users the ability to track the movement of shifting objects in videos. Once they do it, they can add new objects that follow the same pattern of motion. This enhanced software tracking feature is also used when replacing the interface of gadgets or devices present in the segments, where the new interface simulates the movement of these devices.

HitFilm Express Requirements

Operating system: Windows 7 and higher, Mac 10.10 and higher.

Processor: Intel Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 or AMD equivalent. 

RAM: 4GB RAM (8GB or more is recommended).

VRAM: A graphics processor with at least 512MB of video memory, 2GB or more is recommended for 4K UHD.

Hard drive space: 200MB Disk space for HitFilm Express installation.

Read about the best computers for video editing you can buy at any price range to make professional and basic video post production without distracting lags.

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