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Review: FXhome HitFilm Pro

This article continues our series of reviews of alternative nonlinear editors from the perspective of a longtime Premiere Pro editor with a look at HitFilm Pro from FXhome.

This article continues our series of looking at a few alternative NLEs from the perspective of a longtime Premiere Pro editor. FXhome’s HitFilm Pro is a relative newcomer to the nonlinear editing software scene. I would best sum up HitFilm Pro by saying that if Adobe made this, it would be called Premiere Effects, because FXhome has really done a pretty good job at mashing up a good NLE with a very good compositing application. It's like taking Premiere Pro and After Effects and making them all inside of one application.

UI Layout

To begin, let’s look at the general layout of the application. At the very top of Figure 1 (below), you can see there are four buttons: Home, Project, Edit, and Export. That’s your workflow as you open the application, what you'll see first and where you'd go from there.

Figure 1. Use these four buttons to get started in the HitFilm Pro UI. Click the image to see it at full size.

In Figure 2 (below), you can see the Home screen is different from most applications. It's flooded with all these links to their YouTube tutorials on their channel and even some of their tweets here.

Figure 2. The HitFilm Pro Home screen. Click the image to see it at full size.

If you just scroll through what you see immediately on their YouTube channel, you can kind of get a feel for the audience that they're going for. It's lots of wild, flashy effects. It's meant to be an application that people can use to make Hollywood or film-style effects in their videos. I get the sense that a lot of their audience is short-film or low-budget filmmakers, people on YouTube that just want to make something crazy or fun. That's not to say that's all it's for, but that does seem to be an audience that they're trying to appeal to by showing off all the cool stuff you could do, like the Iron Man boots tutorial shown on the upper right in Figure 2, which is actually a pretty cool tutorial I watched.

On the left-hand side of Figure 2, you can see there are New, Open, and Recent Projects options available right away. That project that's showing there is the test file we'll use as an example in this review. The next tab over is Project, which is what it'll take you to if you hit the New button on the left of the Home screen.

Figure 3 (below) shows the Project Settings dialog. Here you set your project parameters. You can see that HitFilm Pro does support up to 4K resolutions, so you're not going to be limited in the types of projects you can work on in here.

Figure 3. HitFilm Pro’s Project Settings dialog

After you've set your parameters and applied them, next you’ll go to the Edit screen (Figure 4, below).

Figure 4. The Edit screen. Click the image to see it at full size.

My project is already open, and Figure 4 shows the basic editing layout. It does have several workspaces, which you can access under the View menu (pull-down open in Figure 4), which will automatically change the layout of all the panels. You can break off panels in HitFilm Pro, which I really like. Just by right-clicking on a project and telling it to float the container, you can then move it around or move it even on to a second screen. But for this project for now, we’ll stick with the default workspace for editing.

In this default workspace, on the left, you have your media bins. Below that, there are effects, your timeline at the bottom, and then basically your source and timeline viewers at the top. They call the source viewer the Trimmer, and the timeline or program viewer is just the Viewer. You'll also notice the Layer tab that toggles with the Viewer tab. This is unique to HitFilm Pro. It will really come into play when we start looking at the compositing features.

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