November 21, 2015

Meet HitFilm 4 Pro, a Powerful Editing & VFX Software That's Genuinely Affordable

HitFilm 4 Pro
HitFilm 4 Pro gives users a viable and affordable alternative to the other editing and visual effects software on the market.

If I'm being honest, I've been on the lookout for an alternative to Premiere Pro for quite some time. Considering that my living isn't made in post-production work, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for me to pay for the software on a month-by-month subscription basis (which I've been doing since Creative Cloud was announced several years ago). Though DaVinci Resolve is the clear favorite to take over, I'm also intrigued by HitFilm 4 Pro, a software that aims to be an all-in-one solution for editing, visual effects, and 3D compositing.

First up, here's a quick overview of the HitFilm Pro workflow. This video is demonstrated in HitFilm 3 Pro, so some of the functionality might have changed slightly (for the better) with the release of version 4.

Here's a more in-depth video that shows off the editing capabilities in HitFilm. Again, this comes from HitFilm 3, but as far as I can tell, the editing interface and functionality haven't changed much.

And here's an overview of some of the VFX and 3D compositing features that have been added in HitFilm 4 Pro:

And here's an in-depth list of the various features and abilities of HitFilm 4 Pro:

Editing & audio effects

  • Editing tools: trim, ripple, roll, slice, roll, slip, slide
  • Rate stretch for retiming
  • Clip & playhead snapping
  • Insert & overlay edits
  • Separate video & audio for J and L cuts
  • Transitions: dissolves, push, slide, split, wipe, zoom, fade, iris
  • Audio meters with peaking monitor
  • Audio effects: reverse, cathedral, channel levels, echo, equaliser, large/medium/small room, pitch, shortwave radio, telephone, tone
  • Mix formats, resolutions & frame rates
  • Upload direct to YouTube
  • Pre-built Vimeo & Instagram templates
  • and more...

Compositing

  • 2D layer compositing
  • 3D compositing with cameras & lights
  • Includes mocha HitFilm (worth $59.95)
  • Broadcast quality chroma key
  • Spill simulation for perfect lighting match between layers
  • Matte cleaning & transferring
  • Import .ma camera tracking data (Boujou, SynthEyes, PFTrack etc)
  • Live rendering of 3D models
  • Video stabilization
  • Bezier controls for spatial interpolation
  • Multiple camera, perspective & orthographic views
  • Multiple blend modes
  • Ambient occlusion casting & receiving between layers
  • and more...
HitFilm 4 Pro Editing

Realistic 3D objects

  • Multiple light types: directional, spotlight, point, ambient
  • Texture slots: diffuse, specular, normal, bump
  • Real-time reflections & environment maps
  • Multiple 3D cameras with motion blur & depth of field
  • Wireframe rendering
  • Use 3D models as particle textures
  • Generate wraparound 3D environments from panoramas
  • Animation of individual model groups
  • Unified 3D space, enabling easy compositing with other 3D layers
  • and more...

Particles

  • World class 3D particle engines
    HitFilm 4 Pro Logo
  • Texture options: static image, animated sequence, 3D model
  • Physics-powered: adjustable bounce, friction & mass
  • Full integration with 3D cameras, lights & shadow casting
  • Global & local physics forces: direction, attractor, detractor & turbulence
  • Generate sub-emitters - perfect for complex behavior such as fireworks
  • Particle simulator exists in unified 3D space, enabling easy compositing with other 3D layers
  • Form-based particles can be created from grid or 3D model shape
  • and more...

Effects library

  • Gunfire
  • Fire
  • Heat distortion
  • Blurs: Angle, bilateral, diffuse, lens bokeh, motion, radial, zoom
  • Sci-fi: Animated lasers
  • Lightswords
  • Lens dirt
  • Shake
  • Blood spray
  • Lightning & electricity
  • Rain on glass
  • and more...
HitFilm 4 Pro

Looks

  • Quick fixes: Auto color/contrast/levels
  • Color correction wheels
  • Curves
  • Levels histogram
  • Grading: Color cycle, color map, color phase, color vibrance, duo tone, hue colorize, hue
  • shift, invert, shadows & highlights, vibrance, vignette, tint
  • Damage simulation: Film damage, TV damage, flicker, jitter, shake, stutter
  • Repair: Sharpen, unsharpen, denoise, rolling shutter, pro skin retouch
  • Essentials: Brightness/contrast, color balance, color temperature, crush blacks & whites,
  • custom gray, exposure, gamma, hotspots & white balance
  • and more...

Animation & mograph

  • Alembic support: Import complex animations from other software
  • Keyframe animation
  • Bezier controls for spatial interpolation
  • Value graph for temporal interpolation
  • Point/null layers for rigging
  • 2D & 3D planes for creating solids
  • Audio-powered visuals: waveform, spectrum & atomic particles
  • Procedural textures: radio waves, caustics, clouds & fractal noise
  • and more...

Titling

  • Boris FX 3D Objects (worth $299)
  • 2D & 3D text
  • 3D lighting & cameras
  • 3D extrusion with adjustable bevel & surface materials
  • Material presets (eg chrome, brick, marble, brushed metal)
  • Textured surfaces with bump maps
  • and more...

If you're interested in trying out HitFilm, you can either download the Pro version and start a free trial, or you can get the free HitFilm 3 Express, which was used on a recent Film Riot short, Portal Combat. Head on over to this page to see how it was done. Also, if you're wondering how HitFilm stacks up against After Effects, Caleb Ward at PremiumBeat recently did a great review and side-by-side comparison of the two.

Lastly, if you're interested in buying HitFilm 4 Pro, it comes in at a reasonable $349, and it can be purchased from the HitFilm website. If you guys have used HitFilm, be sure to share your experiences with it down in the comments!      

Your Comment

18 Comments

didnt hitfilm3 just come out!?!?!? am i missing something here

November 22, 2015 at 12:28AM

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Carsten Weizer
Independent swiss army knife of a film maker
355

You missed a whole year there. Hitfilm Pro 3 was released in November 2014. However if you meant Hitfilm Express 3, that was released in July 2015.

November 26, 2015 at 12:07AM, Edited November 26, 12:07AM

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i'm switching from premiere pro cc to HITFILM4 now

November 22, 2015 at 2:07AM

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Multiflave
Director , Editor , Audio Engineer
190

that may be dump

November 23, 2015 at 5:17AM, Edited November 23, 5:17AM

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Nico Saiger
Indie Filmproducer
147

HitFilm does not support cineform files so I uninstalled 5 minutes after installing it.

Put this software back in the oven because its not done.

November 22, 2015 at 3:49AM, Edited November 22, 3:49AM

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treykaiza@gmail.com
Cat Herder
255

The price is completely reasonable, but when you called it "genuinely affordable" I expected it to be priced below fcpx + motion.

Hitfilm seems to come out with major updates every 12 months, which is great for rapid improvement. But it's also paid updates at 50% of the full price, making it twice as expensive as fcpx + motion over a 3 year term. Even though I don't know how hitfilm compares to this combination, this is where "genuinely affordable" ends for me. Especially because it's actually more expensive than my full creative cloud student version. This is obviously an unfair comparison, but it's still true for me.

November 22, 2015 at 4:58AM

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Paul-Louis Pietz Pröve
director / dop / editor
541

Hi Paul-Louis, of course everyone has their own way of looking at it, but isn't it just amazing how far things have come that we are now merely debating hundreds of dollars, as opposed to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

November 22, 2015 at 3:22PM

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Saied M.
1176

looks like this is designed 95% for vfx/composit work and as an after thought, they threw a timeline in there.
Changing the source monitor to the trimmer, can you put a sequence with all your media clips in the trimmer window and select from that into a second sequence on your right?

Not trying to make comparisons but the NLE in resolve (which, like this isn't a full on NLE yet) is a lot more powerful with a very good colour grading service, and with fusion free also I'm sure they do the job better.

I'm solely an offline editor though, these one-stop shops sometimes need to notice that not everyone wants every aspect of post in an application.
It's a very reasonable price so it's interesting but in a below post I see it doesnt support certain files, thats a must in this day and age.

November 22, 2015 at 5:17AM

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Greg
Editor / Assistant Editor
89

I always wondered why Hitfilm seemed to be some sort of "unmentionable" on many sites - thanks for putting that right.

November 22, 2015 at 6:14AM

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Saied M.
1176

Wow this looks great. Does anybody use it for production? Thinking about switching from Resolve.

November 22, 2015 at 7:37AM

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Never used it. But I hope it finds its user.

November 24, 2015 at 4:23AM

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Einar Gabbassoff
D&CD at Frame One Studio
1198

Hitfilm definitely has a lot going for it, but for whatever reason when I tried out Hitfilm 3 Pro it was unable to playback 4k files from my GH4 in the editor, Native and converted to Prores. This is rather odd since FCPX and Premiere Pro is able to play back in the editor smoothly, native and prores.

Hopefully they figure this out with this version?

November 24, 2015 at 2:54PM

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Jason L. Wang
Director/Cinematographer/Editor
110

I'm able to play back 4k mp4 files from my FZ1000 in HF3P. They're choppy, but that's due to my laptop having an older 570M GPU. I can create a proxy file that plays smooth. I haven't tried an AVCHD file, though.

November 28, 2015 at 12:48AM, Edited November 28, 12:48AM

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I find it strange that articles like this one fail to mention early on that this runs on Mac only. Believe it or not, there are several of us that edit/composite on PC and it would be nice to know that there is no reason for us to read the article.

Looks like nice software for the price though!

November 27, 2015 at 12:13PM

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HitFilm does work on PC. That's where it began, and was later ported over to the Mac. I use HitFilm 3 Pro for my compositing/FX needs, and enjoy the program. I probably won't be upgrading until after the first of the year.

I have Adobe CC, and do my editing in Premiere. HitFilm's editor is functional, but fairly basic. But I prefer HitFilm to AE. I like it's interface better. Plus, I don't have to add great particles and 3D through plugins.

November 28, 2015 at 12:32AM

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There are a few flat out misconceptions in a few of the other comments below:

Hitfilm is cross-platform.
Hitfilm can accept GH4 files.
Hitfilm can import Cineform.

As a VFX/Compositing program, Hitfilm is fantastic. For 3D compositing work, especially involving 3D models and particles, Hitfilm is actually faster and easier than its Adobe competition. For more stylized 2D/mograph work, AE is faster and more powerful.

The editor is still Hitfilm's weakness. It has the basic tools to assemble and edit, but that's about it. I do a lot of event work, so Hitfilm's lack of multicam makes in unsuitable as my editor, but round-tripping isn't that big a deal.

Hitfilm's biggest weaknesses (especially in terms of a full production pipeline, rather than one-man-band) are a lack of XML support and limited output choices. Mp4 is fine for Internet or Blu-Ray, but for master quality output you're limited on PC to uncompressed AVI. Mac users at least have Quicktime. There's also PNG and Open EXR image sequences. This does mean another bounce through outside software for other formats, but a slew of Hitfilm users on the forum are transcoding with MPEG Streamclip, or other software (some users are frameserving from Hitfilm to other encoders), so limited output formats are an inconvenience, not a deal breaker.

Hitfilm 4 Pro should be considered by advanced users as an additional FX Tool for their kit that has a few idiosyncrasies to work around. Beginners who don't have other tools would be hard pressed to find a better attempt at "all-in-one."

January 12, 2016 at 7:00AM, Edited January 12, 7:00AM

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I have been using hitfilm for a while now. I upgraded from 3 to 4. The color tools are great. The versatility is incredible. I am now experimenting with the advanced 3D abilities and I have a major learning curve to overcome.

The only issue I have, is not a hitfilm issue, but rather no 64 bit quicktime for PC, so I cannot export in ProRes. I have been using OpenEXR to share work and it works fine. Just a bit of a different workflow.

January 15, 2016 at 8:43AM, Edited January 15, 8:43AM

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John Garrett
Filmmaker
74

I've been using HitFilm 4 Express with a couple of the add-on packs for a while - upgraded from HitFilm 3 Express - and I'm very pleased. It takes some tweaking here and there, but you have a lot more control than Premiere, at least Premiere CS4 (the last version I own). When I get the additional $$, I'll be upgrading to Pro.

November 3, 2016 at 9:12PM

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AJ Bouchard
Just about anything.
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