If you are already familiar with HitFilm Pro you know it is a powerful video editing software that fills the role of both non-linear editor and visual effects generators. After the release of what FXHome calls a ‘significant’ upgrade, we are taking a look at some of the new features in HitFilm Pro 13 and how updates from the past several years have made it one of the top contenders for professional and (simultaneously) entry-level video editors and visual effects designers

In one program, users can cut scenes together and composite intricate shots featuring everything from color correction to motion tracking. HitFilm Pro, made by FXHome, has advanced tremendously over the past few years. It’s now among some of the best video editing software available for several key reasons.

What makes HitFilm Pro stand out?

First, it’s non-subscription based model provides an alternative to Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription model. It’s free-to-use express version also allows users to start producing professional material at no cost. Users can pick and choose effects they would like to purchase individually or in packs. This gives new users a chance to add features as desired at costs they can afford. HitFilm Pro is a powerful editing/effects solution for both professionals and amateurs looking to edit and augment any video project they may be tasked with. 

HitFilm Pro may have flown under the radar for more professional editors and visual effects creators over the past five to ten years. After their version 12 re-vamp in early 2019 and this new version 13, they now have features worth looking further into. They have carved out a niche that can now contend with their more established competitors and, if they continue to improve, may give them a run for their money.

Includes motion tracking tools

The two giants, Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut, have over the years chosen to focus on different markets. Final Cut now focuses on a consumer-friendly platform and Premiere has taken on a more professional clientele. HitFilm Pro, if it continues to adapt to consumer desires, may be able to take a considerable chunk out of both of those markets; it provides powerful tools for professionals and a cost-effective path for beginners all in one. 

Whether you are new to HitFilm Pro or a long-time user, the new version 13 should grab your attention. At the top of its list of attractions are its power, its features and its ease-of-use.

New Features in HitFilm Pro version 13

FXHome has added many updates and bug fixes to HitFilm Pro’s version 13, below are some of the more interesting updates. 

New 3D Camera Tracker by Foundry software

First and foremost, version 13 integrates a much anticipated 3D camera tracker made by Foundry into HitFilm Pro. Foundry’s technology has been used in some of the biggest studio films in recent years. Titles include “Star Wars,” “Jurassic Park,” “Avengers” and the “Terminator” films, just to name a few. Although HitFilm Pro already features a planar tracker called MochaHitFilm (which has been upgraded to ver. 6.0.3 with this update), Foundry’s 3D tracker boasts a more sophisticated algorithm that helps configure ground planes, solve shots and generate previews even faster than ever before. 

Track locking 

It is now possible to lock tracks on the editor timeline and in the composite shot timeline. Locking tracks is a key feature when editing a large number of different tracks. It prevents accidentally moving something out of place. 

Masking from the editor

Masking no longer requires creating and switching to a composite shot. This speeds up the process of applying effects with a mask. 

LUT strength slider

LUTs or Lookup Tables are a great way to quickly get a ‘look’ for your footage. More properly, they can help recreate the color profile of a specific film stock or video color gamut. Now, you can easily adjust the intensity of an applied LUT in HitFilm Pro. 

Ribbon bar update

The ribbon bar now provides information on what updates are available.

New Tone Coloring Effect 

The new Tone Color effect provides color controls in a new and improved interface allowing for fine tonal range adjustments.

Remove Stock Background effect

You can now simply remove black or white backgrounds with the Background Remove Tool. This speeds up the process of adding particle-like clips to composite shots. 

Mocha HitFilm update

Mocha HitFlim has now been updated to version 6.0.3. The motion tracking tool remains in the software despite the addition of the Foundry 3D Camera Tracker. Mocha excels in stabilization and still features tools beneficial to editors alongside Foundry’s Tracker. 

Highpass Sharpen

Originally made for FXHome’s Imerge Pro, version 13 adds a Highpass Sharpen effect to HitFilm Pro to help sharpen video if called for. 

Fill color effect update

Prior to this update, the Fill Color effect did not default to one hundred when opened up. That meant adjustments had to be made each and every time if a full fill was your default preference. 

File handling improvements

With the help of user feedback, HitFilm Pro improved file support. The software now supports files with multiple audio streams and MP3 files with multiple ID3 tags. Version 13 also improved support for H.264, Cineform, MP4 and MP3 media.

4K FPS update

HitFilm Pro now supports 60 fps 4K footage.

Editor’s Note: New in version 14

Since our review period concluded, FXHome has released HitFilm Pro 14, which adds new support for After Effects plug-ins from Red Giant and Video Copilot.

Diving deeper into HitFilm Pro 

HitFilm Pro is modular, allowing you to set up your working environment however you would like. It comes with seven default workspaces for 360 editing, audio, color, compositing, editing, organizing and all panels. Its overall look is very sleek and somewhat reminiscent of Adobe premiere. That’s not to say that HitFilm Pro is derivative. However, it will be familiar if you have already worked in Premiere, After Effects or any other modular editing software. In that way, it’s intuitive and easy for someone to jump right in and start using it immediately after installing. 

Stand-out features

As stated before, the stand-out feature is the fact that you can switch seamlessly between editing and applying advanced video effects without changing programs. Immediately after cutting scenes, you can create a composite shot filled with special effects. There’s no need to wait for another program to start up. This allows editors to speed up their workflow and save resources while editing. It also saves money with the purchase of only a single program. 

Who is HitFilm Pro for?

HitFilm Pro’s extremely flexible payment options allow a range of different users to get the most out of their purchase. Professional users can install the robust library of tools from the start. At the same time, beginners can get their foot in the door without having to worry about high up-front costs. For professionals, the full HitFilm Pro suite includes over eight hundred effects, animation tools, motion tracking and particle generators. This costs a one-time payment of $349. That includes twelve months of software updates, technical support and three licenses that can be installed and run simultaneously.

If that amount is cost-prohibitive, FXHome’s HitFilm Express allows anyone to download and use HitFilm free of charge, minus a few features. Tool and Effect add-ons can then be purchased and added individually, many with prices starting as low as $10. 

Testing HitFilm Pro 13’s full capabilities

To begin, HitFilm Pro supports most common audio, video and image types and can export into just as many. The software supports the Alpha channel and offers nearly all of the same transparency blend modes as Premiere or Final Cut. It only excludes several less used blend types such as Linear Burn, Vivid Light, Pin Light and Hard Mix. All of those blend mode effects can be achieved in HitFilm Pro simply by modifying one of the overlaying images.

Editing view

Everything in HitFilm Pro works similarly to Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro. In the editing view, HitFilm Pro shows a media window on the left-hand side stacked on top of an effects panel. Two viewer windows rest atop a timeline where video files can be stacked on atop one another above the audio timeline. HitFilm Pro now supports up to 8K video all the way down to the smallest video resolution anyone in their right mind would use. 

When testing the software on a modest mobile workstation (2.6GHz Intel i7 CPU, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M, 8 GB RAM, HDD) the program ran smoothly while scrubbing through 4K video footage playing back at full resolution. When overlaying HD clips on top of one another, HitFilm Pro didn’t start glitching or skipping frames until we added the fifth or sixth clip. And that was with all clips blended together and playing back at full resolution. The timeline and preview window seemed able to handle quite a load before skipping, even on a laptop set-up.

Getting started with HitFilm Pro

When starting up HitFilm Pro for the first time, users are directed to the landing page showing up-to-date videos and playlists with tricks, tips and techniques for creating a variety of different genres of film and video. This provides editors with creatively inspiring materials and resources to learn the basics of the software.

Because HitFilm Pro looks and operates like other video editing software, though, intermediate and advanced users should be able to jump right in without having to learn everything from scratch. This landing page also links to a user manual on FXHome’s website and an active community forum. If the manual doesn’t answer one of your questions, the forum is full of helpful users and FXHome staff.

Rendering

After dropping a few HD files onto the timeline, adding some text, tracking that text to the video movement and overlaying another HD file on top of a crawling text layer I set this two-minute sequence to render. With an overlay, text and some effects, the render took about five minutes, two minutes longer than the same render out of Adobe Premiere Pro. Although the difference between them is slight with this clip length, longer exports may see relatively longer export times in HitFilm Pro. Because the default export method is an export queue, however, it is very simple to set your film or video to export, move back to the edit window and continue working without having to fire up another program like Media Encoder.  

Improvements 

Before moving into the VFX capabilities it is important to note a few things HitFilm Pro is currently lacking in the editor. The software does not currently support XML or AAF files, Pick whips and expressions or a Multicam editor.

Although HitFilm Pro is a very powerful tool, it lacks two key features that professionals love and some would say require.

Although HitFilm Pro is a very powerful tool, it lacks two key features that professionals love and some would say require. Without XML or AAF file compatibility HitFilm Pro cannot open already edited sequences made in other programs. This also severely cuts down on portability for editors hoping to jump from one program to another, say for editing in another program and then adding effects in HitFilm Pro. The desire for XML and AAF is very prevalent on the FXHome forum and, if they continue to serve their user bases’ desires as they have in the past couple of updates, this may be a feature coming soon.

If you like to get in-depth with your VFX software and write scripts of your own (“expressions” in After Effects), HitFilm Pro does not have an answer or you at the moment. The absence of expressions and the handy Pick Whip tool leaves users with more manual work when editing some effects.

Needless to say having a Multicam editor would improve HitFilm Pro’s list of features, especially for more professional users. That too may be in the works soon. However, given that FXHome generally doesn’t comment on new features before release, we won’t know until future updates. 

Video effects

HitFilm Pro’s VFX environment is also similar to After Effects, with a few exceptions. The software boasts a vast library rivaling other visual effects software, and Youtube is chock full of tutorial videos from FXHome themselves and amateurs alike. Now with the new Foundry 3D Camera Tracker, all of HitFilm Pro’s 3D effects are even more powerful and render even faster. If there were any critiques of the software, they aren’t found in the compositing side. This software was built to composite, and it does it well. 

Plug-ins

HitFilm Pro also uses OFX for its visual effects. This is a standardized software interface between the host and plug-ins. OFX allows HitFilm Pro to easily accept plug-ins from any third-party developer also using OFX. This greatly increases capability and saves users from having to abandon previously purchased plug-ins used within other video editing software.

Due to OFX’s increasing acceptance, more and more plug-in developers are adopting the standard. This has increased the total number of plug-ins available to HitFilm Pro users and makes effect portability much simpler. It is now widely used for visual effects and video processing and is supported by numerous other hosts such as Assimilate, Blackmagic Design, Digital Anarchy, NewBlueFX, RE:Vision Effects, and more, meaning plug-ins and effects you may have purchased for any of the above can be used with HitFIlm Pro as well. 

FX Home also allows users to take the effects they enjoy from HitFilm Pro out of HitFilm and use them in whatever other editing software they may migrate to. Say you move to a production already anchored in another software like Adobe or Final Cut, Ignite Pro 4 (FXHome’s Plug-in software) will allow you to use their proprietary plug-ins in whatever environment you may migrate to with just a one time charge.  

Is HitFilm Pro for you?

HitFilm Pro is a powerful editing and visual effects software for anyone from beginners to full-fledged professionals. Its price options allow anyone to access its powerful tools and create professional Hollywood-level products. It also allows those beginning video editors to build on their effects library and skill-sets little by little, without having to commit to a large purchase from the start. Professionals can purchase the full HitFilm Pro and hit the ground running.

Given its strengths and limited weaknesses, HitFilm Pro is a strong contender for the best post-production solution for professionals and beginners alike. Their attention to their users’ hopes and desires and aggressive update schedule also paints a bright future for the platform and promises many more exciting and useful tools to come.

Helpful note for windows users:

It is very important to have up-to-date drivers for your graphics card when using HitFilm on a PC. Follow this link for a handy guide on how to do that.  https://fxhome.com/faqs/view/10 

For mac users, MacOS manages all drivers for you and updating your drivers is not necessary. 

Summary

HitFilm Pro is a relatively new editing/visual effects software that, with it’s combined cost, abilities and express+add-on model, proves to be a very strong contender in its field.

Strengths:

  • Powerful Compositing capabilities
  • Non-subscription based model
  • Thriving online community
  • Aggressive Update schedule

Weaknesses:

  • No XML or AAF compatibility
  • Does not have an expressions equivalent
  • Slightly longer render times
  • No Multicam editor

Minimum system requirements:

  • Apple: macOS 10.14 Mojave, 10.13 High Sierra or OS X 10.12 Sierra
  • Windows: Microsoft Windows 10 (64-bit), Microsoft Windows 8 (64-bit)
  • Internet connection: Required for online activation
  • Processor: 4th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors or AMD equivalent.
  • RAM: 4GB (8 GB Recommended)
  • Graphics card:
    • NVIDIA GeForce 600 (Kepler) series (2012)
    • AMD Radeon R5 240 (2013)
    • Intel HD Graphics 5000 (GT3) (2013)
    • Video memory 1 GB minimum (2GB or more required for 4K UHD.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hello Sky,
    I’ve been using Hitfilm Pro for years and am disappointed that most reviews, like this one, come off more like a sales promo than a serious endeavor to explore the real capabilities of the software. Your comment that there are no real critiques of the software’s compositing capabilities is inaccurate. Many users reported speed issues with pre and post rendering after release of their so-called GPU enabled speed improvements in version 12 and I have a long outstanding issue with 3D artifacts and 3D model anomalies with FX Home that were well documented in tech reports since version 2017, none of which have been resolved to my knowledge. FX Home loves releasing new bells and whistles without really fixing the underlying bugs and true industry professionals aren’t going to buy into a product that doesn’t fix core performance and quality issues. Adding blurs and noise to your scene may help to mask these problems but in other software, such workarounds are not necessary.
    For this and other similar performance reasons, many users were comparing HF Pro to Blackmagic’s Fusion for 3D compositing as an alternative which has very powerful capabilities that HF Pro does not but falls short in handling scene reflections and lighting (at least in Fusion 9, Fusion 16 may have improved that). Moreover, Blackmagic’s Davinci Resolve blows HF Pro out of the water even in its free version for color grading, editing, file management, and audio, which also includes its 3D compositor Fusion.
    For real 3D rendering, so far, beyond either of the aforementioned products, I’m attaining far superior renders using Cycles in Blender 2.8. Although not as good a compositor overall (it’s pretty clunky and cryptic), Blender is truly amazing software for a free program and rapidly becoming a serious contender in its own right for film producers, most notably those doing CGI work.
    So bottom line, HF Pro is capable of much, but since 2017 I have not seen core issues resolved and every new release for me got slower and slower on my computer, even after complete system overhauls. I am holding at version 12 until I see real evidence that FX Home has finally resolved the core 3D render issues with real speed improvement. Until then, all the new features are just window dressing to me and probably fraught with their own new bugs if past experience holds true. FX Home appears to be releasing new updates faster and faster without really stabilizing past versions. Since user free updates expire in one year from the time of purchase, no matter where you are in your version cycle, you risk never seeing bug fixes without constantly having to buy updates, especially as it appears that FX Home never goes back to repair past bugs once they’ve flipped over to a new version number. In one year they have gone from v12 to v13 to v14 and that should tell you something.

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