Audio & Video, Tutorials

Hitfilm Express Basic Video Editing Tutorial

Hitfilm Express is one of the best free video editing programs available for Windows and Mac. This article and video above will explore the basics of video editing with Hitfilm. The tutorial is suitable for Hitfilm Express versions 3, 4 and 2017.

Hitfilm Express Instructions

In this beginner’s guide you will learn how to import files into your project, place them on the timeline and move them around. You’ll also learn how to cut and trim footage, add transition effects, text and image overlays. Additionally we’ll be looking at adjusting the volume on audio clips and changing other settings and attributes on video clips.

You can download Hitfilm Express from here.

Import Files

Hitfilm Express Import Files

Once you’ve started a project, there’s two options to import files. First option is to go to the “Media” tab on the lower left menu. There you can click on the “Import” button, browse to the folder where your files are, and import them. For the second option you have to also make sure the “Media” tab is open. Then open an external file browser window, and go to the folder where your files are. Now simply drag and drop the files into the “Media” tab in Hitfilm.

Place Files Into Timeline

Hitfilm Express Timeline

To place files into the timeline, go to the “Media” tab. Then choose a file that you want to add, left click it, hold and drag it into the timeline on the right. It’s that simple! Also when importing files with the drag and drop method, you can also drag them directly on to the timeline.

Move, Cut & Trim

Hitfilm Express Move and Cut

Moving video and audio clips around on the timeline can be done by using the selection tool. All the basic tools can be found on the toolbar between the tabs on the lower left and the timeline. The selection tool has a cursor symbol and can also be accessed by pressing V. Then just click, hold and drag the clips to move them around.

If you want to cut a clip into multiple pieces, use the slice tool. It’s in the same menu as the selection tool and looks like a razor blade. It can also be accessed by pressing C.

Hitfilm Express Trim

Trimming a clip can be done by first choosing the selection tool. Then go to the beginning or end of a clip, and hover around the edge untill the white cursor icon changes to a blue bracket icon. When that happens, you can click, hold and drag the clip either to the left or right to trim it.

Transition Effects

Hitfilm Express Transitions

Adding transition effects to audio and video clips can be done from the “Effects” tab on the lower left menu, next to the “Media” tab. Once in the “Effects” tab scroll down untill you see the transition categories. There is one for audio and one for video transitions.

Pick your transition effect and drag & drop it on to the video or audio clip on the timeline. You can further adjust the properties of the effect on the “Controls” tab when you have the effect selected.

Add Text & Image Overlays

Hitfilm Express Add Text

Adding text is a bit different with Hitfilm than with most other free video editors. In order to add text, you have to make a composite. This can be done on the lower left menu in the “Media” tab. Click on the “New” button and select “Composite Shot”, or press CTRL-SHIFT-N.

Hitfilm Express Add Text

Type in your composite properties, you can for example change the name or the length of the composite.

Hitfilm Express Add Text

Then once in the composite, add a text layer by right clicking on the timeline area in the composite. Select “New Layer”, and then “Text”. You can also press CTRL-ALT-T. Define the dimensions of the layer, these can be changed later by right clicking the layer and choosing “Properties”.

Hitfilm Express Add Text

Once the layer is created, go to the viewer on the top right, click inside the layer area and begin typing your text.

Hitfilm Express Add Text

To change the properties of the text, such as the font, size and color, go to the lower left menu. Choose the “Text” tab, you may have to press the arrow on the right to get to this tab as it may not be visible. There you will see the options. Note that you must have the text highlighted to make changes.

Hitfilm Express Add Text

Once you’re done with the text, go back to the “Media” tab. Then you will see the text composite in the menu with your imported video and audio clips. Now choose the “Editor” tab to get back to your video timeline and drag the text composite to the timeline.

Change Opacity, Position & Other Settings

Hitfilm Express Settings

To adjust the position, opacity and other settings of individual video clips, go to the “Controls” tab on the lower left menu. Here you can see all the various settings. Make your adjustments, they will be applied immediately to the clip. You can press CTRL-Z to undo your changes.

Adjust Audio Volume

Hitfilm Express Volume

You can adjust the volume of audio clips by selecting your clip in the timeline, and then going to the “Controls” tab. It works similar to changing the settings on video clips. Just adjust the “Levels” to change the volume.

Export Project

Hitfilm Express Export Project

When you are done editing, click on the “Export” tab on the top menu. You can export directly to YouTube, or to MP4 or AVI files, or alternatively to an image sequence. I would recommend using the MP4 file option. Click on that, make sure project settings are correct, and then click on the “Export” button at the bottom. It will prompt you for a folder and filename. Just go to the folder where you want to save the file, and choose a filename, then press Save and Hitfilm will start to render the video.

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