Save that money!

Low budget projects call for low cost solutions. Before referring cheapskate clients to an uncle with a camcorder, take a look at a few free tools which, with little else, can produce some professional results.

Stock images come in handy for all sorts of things: backgrounds, creating an environment, filling in for b-roll, Videomaker article cover images (photo by When it comes to low cost productions, low cost solutions are the way to go. Fortunately, long-long-favored free image site has stayed awesome, even after the rebrand to Search thousands of images to find the right one for a project and download it and as many others as needed. There are still attributions that need to be heeded, but the selection isn’t too bad. If the exact right shot isn’t available, premium iStock options will be displayed too and link back to the parent’s paid site.


8 Tips for Making a Stellar First Video

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Visual effects are tough to create, or require expensive plug-ins. Luckily, the effects gurus at Rampant Design Tools have launched a free selection of their amazing drag and drop effects absolutely free. Snow, dirt, sparks, fire, style mattes, and way more, all free. The best part is that the clips are pre-rendered Quicktime files, so to use them just drag one or more of them onto a layer above existing footage in an editing app or After Effects and change the blend mode. Voila. Instant Hollywood.


Lightworks is Editshare’s free editing application that has been used on films from Pulp Fiction to Wolf of Wall Street. Now available for Windows, Linux and OSX, Lightworks features robust, professional editing tools, 4K support, integrated waveform and vectorscope, and an intuitive interface. Toss in a suite of effects, preconfigured effect templates and pro color correction tools, and this is a bargain at any price. Particularly free. If I/O hardware and shared editing workflows are the name of the game, a simple and affordable upgrade to Lightworks Pro will fit the bill.


Blender is an open source 3D animation suite with the power, tools and support to compete with the Maxons and Autodesks of the world. Blender features all of the tools necessary to manage the 3D workflow: modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing, and motion tracking. There are even tools for video editing and game creation packed in there. Being open source, some people use Blender’s API for Python to customize the application and create their own tools. Another bonus of Blender is that it is totally cross platform, so it’ll run equally well on Linux, Windows and Mac computers.

What free tools help plug holes in your production pipeline? Share with us in the comments or hit us up on Twitter @Videomaker!

Russ Fairley is a producer, editor and motion graphic designer who enjoys writing for Videomaker. He has also written for (, RedShark News, Modern Drummer Magazine, and others. He is an Adobe Certified Expert, Adobe Community Leader, and co-founder of After Effects Toronto, Canada's largest motion graphic user group. Fairley is the creator and editor of, a popular production news website.


  1. Ok, so I know I've mentioned some companies more than others recently. The truth is, I pull from my own workflow quite a bit and I use each of these tools pretty often. I use others that are inexpensive as well: Wistia, DaVinci Resolve (not cheap, but great), Flip4Mac, Wipster, ClipWrap, EditReady, MPEG Streamclip, ScreenFlow, HandBrake, Cyberduck (FTP client), Adobe Creative Cloud (it's cheap now too!), HitFilm, Image Capture (free native OSX app), Garageband (free native OSX app), Google Drive, Quicktime Player (for screen captures), and a TON of paid stuff from Video Copilot, Red Giant, Imagineer, and others. Online services like Premium Beat for music, Revostock, Pond 5 and Videoblocks for stock clips and AE templates, and about a zillion others round out my toolbelt.

    Oh, I almost forgot, another cool production tool that won't cost a dime are a handful of free LUTs from Ground Control Color ( Check them out. They can really save the day!

    So those are my picks – what do you use to put your work together?

  2. I run my production company solo for now so I wear all the hats some of mine might not be exactly for video, but business in general.


    OpenOffice – Who needs Microsoft?

    Foxit Reader – Because PDF's are awesome.

    IMGburn – Sometimes you just need to make img disk's and this is the best free tool for it.

    Gimp – Without access to creative cloud, This is by far the best photo editing suit.

    Picasa – If setup correctly keeps all your photo's and videos sorted and easy to find, also has some nice photo touch up tools, and best of all free.

    Scribus – If you make posters/flyers/any kind of paper documents this program is a good replacement for microsoft publisher.

    Audacity – Free audio editing, and a very good one.

    Teamviewer – as long as it's not "business" I.E. making money it's free. This is a great program for controlling your home rig while away, even with your phone!

    Any video converter – free and not always perfect, but a great alternative when you need to convert files and formats. – free royalty free music, Kevin McLeod has tons of works and lets people use them with attribution for free.

    Tera Copy – Ever copy a large file or folder only to find out it failed halfway through? No More! This free file transfer utility has tons of great features.

    Explorer++ – Windows explorer on crack. Great for managing files and folders.

    wax – steep learning curve, but free and powerful 3d and effects.

    OpenBroadcast software – This is a suit of tools for capturing and streaming video from your desktop.

    Google Hangouts – Team meetings, Sharing screens, documents with GDoc's. Nothing better for free.

    Free Studio – This tool has lots to choose from, and while it might not be the cream of the crop, it's certainly worth the price tag.

    7zip – Zip files happen, so you need this tool.


    Nice article, you guys should revamp the android apps for video production article; in the last year or so there have been quite a few great video solutions for android. While editing on a mobile is not preferred its is highly possible now.

  3. Are you serious about LightWorks???

    I just wasted an hour downloading it and registering so that they can spam me and all I get went I try to open the software is a Prompt saying that my log in information is not good because "The License is expired"!!!

    This is the closest to a scam I've seen in a long time!!!

  4. Agreed, they got really greedy a few years ago. I almost bought a license from them at one point, but I am glad I didn't as their company has changed and I don't need the headaches.

  5. For full disclosure, the free version has limits. If you plan to use it at a profressional level, you need to buy a license to use all its features.

  6. Great article. I have used Audacity for audio editing and it works very well especially with multitracks! Also try Levelator, great for fixing audio level glitches in meeting recordings and interviews.

  7. “DaVinci Resolve (not cheap, but great).”
    True, DaVinci Resolve is not cheap, it is free. The free version of DaVinci Resolve ver 12.5 has 99% of what people need in non-linear editing software.
    If you really need multi-user workflow with simultaneous or different concurrent project and timeline sharing, then you might need to pay for DaVinci Resolve Studio.
    However, the overwhelming majority of powerful features in DaVinci Resolve Studio are available for free in DaVinci Resolve ver 12.5. [No, I don’t work for Blackmagic Design & I have no financial interest in DaVinci Resolve].

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