Sometimes we tried to look at a recorded video, full of enthusiasm and joy, only to realize that it came out shaky and unsaturated. After all, they may have come a long way, but video cameras and smartphones (especially smartphones) are still not the best at capturing the best results automatically.
A stock video will often give you bad contrast and brightness levels, high levels of noise (during the night or in dark environments), unsaturated and dull-looking colors, and things like that. Not to mention anything about sound.
Of course, that doesn’t apply to everyone. There’s lots of good equipment out there which you can use to get great results right out of the box.
But, these kinds of equipment are usually too expensive and/or complicated to use anyway. And even then, there’s always room for improvement.
In most cases, there’s actually a hell of a lot to improve – and that’s where video enhancers come in.
They are still considered video editors. But they are generally easier to use and our picks are FREE as well. So, without any further ado, let’s get right into it!
Note: Though we talk about free video enhancer below, you might also be interested in taking a look at some of our other lists of the video editing software that show how you can play media, download YouTube video, convert video or make video recording.
Our top 3 favorites
There are always a few premium options out there with more features and a well-designed UI. But, for now, let’s just focus on the free ones. And that’s not to say that the free options are bad. In fact, some of them are actually quite decent. Especially our top picks.
- HitFilm (Formerly HitFilm Express)
1. Shotcut (Windows, Mac, and Linux)
Shotcut is a free, open-source video editor/enhancer that can be used across all of the most popular operating systems. That includes Windows, Mac, and Linux.
You can use it for making basic adjustments on things such as brightness, contrast, sharpness, and anything like that. But, if you wish to go through the extra mile and create something brand new with multiple video and audio tracks, then the option is always there.
Of course, we highly doubt that Shotcut can compete with some of the top paid, full-fledged video editors. But then again, that’s not what we need it for. You’re here for a simple and effective video enhancer which is a suitable role for this specific program.
Just the basic tools like brightness and contrast enhancements along with sharpening, noise removal, and a bit of extra color saturation can turn a dull scene into something powerful. Here is an example of how a video looks before and after basic enhancements:
Of course, in order to get these results, we had to sacrifice the clouds and focus on the trees instead. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can edit your videos in any way you want.
And that comes from a 4K drone shot. If we’re talking about videos that have been captured with smartphones or low-end video cameras, the results are going to be even more drastic.
Apart from video editing/enhancing, you can also use it to improve the audio. You can add or remove bass and treble, reverb, delay, compression, and more.
If there’s downside then that’s definitely going to be the UI. It feels a bit different; alien. So, most of you may have to spend a bit of time working with the program in order to get used to it.
- Easy to use once you get used to it
- Offers all the basic video enhancements along with more advanced options for free
- Available to use on most of the popular operating systems
- The UI is a bit different compared to other editors and that makes it tough to get used to at the beginning (Unless this is your first editor)
- Not a whole lot of support and guidance on how to use it (Even though there have been a few additions on their website and lots of YouTube tutorials by users)
2: HitFilm (Windows and Mac)
Compared to Shortcut, you’ll find a lot of pros and cons with HitFilm. The very first thing you’re likely to notice is that this one is not available on nearly as many platforms.
As an open-source program, Shotcut can be installed on pretty much anything. HitFilm (formerly known as HitFilm Express), on the other hand, is only restricted down to Windows and Mac. And that’s obviously not going to be a problem for those of you who are on these operating systems. But Linux users will have to stick with Shotcut or one of the many alternatives that we are going to mention later.
The very first thing that we liked with HitFilm is that it gives you the option of choosing if you want only the basics or the complete package.
And the very first thing that we didn’t like is that while the basic package is free, most of the other additional effects need to be paid.
Of course, the developers do need to make money somehow. So, there’s not much room for complaints there.
Now, the percentage of free vs paid effects that you’ll find will greatly vary depending on what you’re after. For example, most of the audio effects are free while simulation and particles are paid only.
Speaking of particles and simulations, chances are you’ll particularly enjoy how they interact with the video. And you can’t see it in the screenshot, but we suppose that the program uses some sort of AI tool in order to recognize what’s going on in the video and calculate how the various simulations should react with it.
There are lots of options to play with. It doesn’t matter if you only need some basic enhancements or a ton of effects to apply. Chances are you’ll get what you’re after it.
- More effects than you’ll ever need
- Great UI
- Extremely easy to use
- The base app may be free, but lots of effects are paid-only
3: iMovie (Apple/Mac Exclusive)
If you only need a basic video editor/enhancer, then iMovie is a pretty decent option. However, do keep in mind that it’s an Apple exclusive – meaning that you can only get it on Mac and iOS.
Of course, there are a few complicated tricks to get around the compatibility issues. But now is not the time for that – not to mention that there are some great alternative options for Windows and Linux computers as well.
One thing that’s particularly impressive about iMovie is that despite being a free option, it offers full 4K editing support! And, of course, you can expect to find most of the features that we saw on other free editors over here as well.
We’re talking about pre-made styles, extra effects, filters, and even free soundtracks that you can use. While you can’t expect to find all of the special simulations that programs like HitFilm Express offer, don’t forget that these are paid-only anyway.
As a Mac exclusive, iMovie has a bit of extra functionality to offer to anyone who is interested in using it with a Macbook Pro as well. To be more specific, as you can see in the image above, you can take advantage of the Touch Bar for gaining easy access to various controls.
Overall, iMovie is free, generally easy to use while offering most of the functions that you’d want from a movie enhancer and works well with Apple’s ecosystem. Hard to go wrong with it if you own a Mac.
- Works very well with Apple’s ecosystem
- Generally easy to use
- Offers a ton of features as a video enhancer
- Only available for Mac and iOS
Others we considered
Don’t like our top picks? That’s alright. To each their own. Thankfully, there are still a ton of other free programs to choose from.
- VideoProc Vlogger
- Canva Video Editor
VideoProc Vlogger is a free but feature-rich video enhancer/editor for both Windows and Mac system. One thing that makes this program standout is the unique full-GPU acceleration, which enables a speedy and smooth user experience. What’s more, VideoPorc Vlogger also performs well in processing large 4k GoPro and drone footage.
You can make every basic editing with this intuitive and capable tool, such as cut and split, adding text and subtitles, applying effects and transitions, etc. For those who look for more precise adjustments, you can make stunning videos using advanced tools in VideoProc Vlogger, including speed ramping, motion effect, color grading, and audio editor. Even if you’re a beginner, you can still edit like a pro with detailed user guides and tutorial videos. This versatile and user-friendly tool is a must-have to improve video quality.
Canva is a simple, user-friendly editing program to make amazing visual content for the web. Its video editing suite comes with many of the robust features offered by its image editing tools.
Canva is using a scene-based approach that it says feels more like building a video like a PowerPoint project. It offers a lots of ready-made templates that span online platforms like TikTok, YouTube, workplace and business videos, plus fun templates for Halloween, New Year, and other celebrations.
It still features a timeline, like a more complex video editor, but they’re easier to work with drag-n-drop. If you’d like to polish up your video, Canva is also offering animations and automatic transitions in its classic easy-to-use interface.
Lightworks (Windows, Mac, and Linux)
Lightworks is in a lot of ways very similar to HitFilm Express. It offers a very straight-forward UI that’s easy to use, all the features that you’ll need for video enhancement, and of course, if you wish to go the extra mile and edit a video, the timeline and everything else that you’ll need are there as well。
This option offers free and paid options alike. But, if all you need is a basic video enhancer, you should be just fine with the free version – that is unless you absolutely need 4K.
Clipchamp is unique in a number of different ways. For once, it actually works online and doesn’t require any installation.
This brings some pros and cons to the table. But, mostly pros. The only small downside is that you absolutely need a stable internet connection or you’re going to run into some issues.
One of the best things about Clipchamp is that since you’re dealing with an online editor, you should be able to use it on pretty much any platform. As long as your browser and hardware can handle it, of course.
Avidemux (Windows, Mac, and Linux)
Avidemux is more like a basic editor rather than a video enhancer. It offers some filters and encoders. But, for the most part, that’s about it.
It’s mostly useful for things like cutting, mixing and applying filters. So, we’re most certainly looking at an option that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
At the very least it’s available for most platforms. You can find it for Windows, Mac, Linux, and BSD.
Blender (Windows, Mac, and Linux)
We assume that most of you already know what Blender is. While it’s originally designed as a 3D creation suite, you can also use its video editor for video enhancement.
It’s definitely not the easiest program to use. Far from it. However, if you’re a creative person and you’re willing to go through the extra mile in order to learn how to use it, the sky is the limit!
With up to 32 slots for adding media files (video, images, audio, etc), most of us will be hard-pressed to fully take advantage of it. And that’s without even mentioning anything about its 3D rendering capabilities!
Not a big fan of iMovie? Then FilmoraGo is most likely your next best bet. It’s mainly designed for mobile devices and at the moment, you can only find it on iOS – but it’ll soon be ready for Android as well!
You can use it to edit and enhance videos on the go with effects, filters, text, stickers, and even some slightly more advanced options. Things like adjusting the speed, adding transitions, and more.
Is “free” the best option?
Maybe “almost free” is better, unless you don’t expect too much from your video. Yes, you probably already noticed, most of our picks are rather simplistic. And while they do get the job done, it’s no secret that they don’t offer the flexibility of a full-fledged editor.
Even the editors that are mostly targeted towards beginners have so much more to offer. But does that mean that you absolutely need them? Well, yes, and no – depending on what you’re after.
More advanced software do tend to offer more stuff. That’s for sure. But do you really need them? If not, you’re only making things harder for yourself. After all, more features means that you’ll be spending more time (and possibly money as well) just to find the one thing that you need at specific moments.
The only way to truly find out what’s best for you is to take the time and think about what you want to accomplish. After that, feel free to try out and experiment with different options by yourself. Only then you’ll be able to decide if you need more advanced video enhancement software or not.
After all, the best things in life might not be free — just almost free.