Filming with a GoPro can be a magical experience. Suddenly, areas that were once closed off to you as a filmmaker are now open; you can film underwater, take your camera with you on challenging hikes, and subject it to a much larger degree of punishment than a regular camera would be able to endure.
Once you’ve got that footage, though, where do you take it? Well, the good news is that GoPro editing software is essentially the same as regular video editing software; once you’ve retrieved the video files from your GoPro, you can edit them in the same way as you would any other video project. With that said, due to the nature of GoPro footage, some features become more important than others. Here is some of the best GoPro editing software for 2023.
What GarageBand is to Logic, iMovie is to Final Cut. It’s a free, fairly simple video editing suite that still offers a huge amount of power and flexibility, especially considering its nonexistent price tag. iMovie supports image stabilisation, which is critical for GoPro footage; if you’re filming while you’re out adventuring, then you’re going to need software that can clean up and stabilise your image for you, and iMovie does that, as well as most other things you could want a video editing suite for. Windows users are out of luck, sadly.
Considering the amount of features and options DaVinci Resolve has, it’s a wonder the program is completely free, but that’s the truth; you won’t pay a penny for this remarkable app. It’s available across Windows, Linux, and Mac, and it offers professional-grade video editing with access to features like image stabilisation, colour correction, and more. If you somehow find that the base Resolve isn’t enough for you, then you can also opt for a paid upgrade to the more powerful Studio version.
Another great Apple-only option, Final Cut Pro is an industry-standard application for professional filmmakers and producers. As such, if you’re just looking to transfer your holiday videos over from your GoPro, then it might be overkill for you. However, if money is no object and you truly want the best video editing suite around (and you’re a Mac user, natch), then Final Cut Pro is pretty much the best piece of software available on the market right now.
If you don’t mind a steep learning curve and you’re willing to spend a little time getting to grips with a slightly more obscure interface, then Lightworks is an excellent free video editing suite that offers a hugely powerful range of features. Make no mistake; this is pro-grade software, whether or not there’s a price tag attached. There’s also a friendly and supportive community available to help you with anything you might need, so if you don’t know the answer to a question within Lightworks, you can bet someone will.
Like Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro is one of the biggest and most popular software suites for movie producers and editors, so you know it’s seriously feature-rich. That complexity comes at a potential cost of alienating beginners and hobbyist users, but if you’re serious about your filmmaking – if you’re putting together an exploration YouTube channel with your GoPro footage, for instance – then investing in Premiere Pro is probably going to make a lot of sense to you.
If options like Lightworks and DaVinci Resolve offer too steep a learning curve for you, then Shotcut might be the perfect app. It’s a much cleaner and simpler program than many of its peers, but it’s no less powerful into the bargain; you can still use it to import, clean up, and export your GoPro footage, as well as add a range of filters, effects, and other production tweaks. The software can be a little buggy at times, but if you can overcome that, then Shotcut is a powerful and flexible editor.
HitFilm is another great video editor that you can download for absolutely nothing at all (although it does add watermarks for the free version). There is a paid version available in the Pro package if you want to get serious, but for most GoPro users, HitFilm’s free version will more than suffice. You can import your footage, edit it using the built-in editing track, and do pretty much everything else you could want to do with your video. If there’s something HitFilm doesn’t do, then you can bet there’ll be a plugin available which adds that functionality.
Despite the fact that its name sounds like some kind of nightmarish cyberpunk corporate CEO, Cyberlink’s PowerDirector is a fully-featured video editing suite that strikes the perfect balance between ease of use and depth. It’s not quite as intuitive or powerful as some of the industry leaders, but it’s got a very competitive price and it should have everything you need if you’re an amateur GoPro filmmaker. Bonus points for the choice between lifetime licence and subscription fee.
If you know that you’re not going to need any of the above apps’ more advanced features, then OpenShot is the program for you. While it certainly has its fair share of effects and extras, at its core, OpenShot is a simple, easy-to-use video editor that’s free and easy to learn. That ease comes at a cost of depth, so once you’ve mastered OpenShot, you might find yourself wanting something a little more complex. For most entry-level and intermediate users, however, OpenShot is excellent.