Lightworks for Windows review: The free version falls short in export options

Export limitations mean it’s really more of a try-before-you-buy version.

Credit: Samuel Axon/IDG

Lightworks has an unusual history for free video editing software—it was born out of high-end, professional film editing software that was used to edit such Hollywood classics as Pulp Fiction. Today, it’s just as good with digital media, and it’s offered in both a paid and free version. The free version is strikingly powerful in terms of features, but its export options are very limited.

Lightworks guides you through the process of setting up your first project with simple tooltips, but they’re a far cry for the powerful tutorials and wizards available in some other software. While it supports all the import formats that the paid version does, it can be tricky getting everything to import easily for the uninitiated—you have to define project settings like resolution, framerate, and so on before you import your files. If you set anything different from your video, you’ll have to dive into settings and tweak them until you get it right.

Once you’re in though, it’s one of the most powerful free video editors you can find. For example, its visual effects tools are easily accessible, and they let you tweak every aspect of the image to a fine degree of detail. You can finely tune titles down to the exact pixels of their orientations and locations, carefully customize their shadows, and more. Unfortunately, the software doesn’t offer a satisfying solution for users who just want to drag and drop pre-canned effects and titles into their home movies.

As mentioned, Lightworks’ free version limits export resolution and format. It maxes out at 720p, and only in MPEG4/H.264. You can, however, export directly to YouTube or Vimeo. Other features like 3D, timeline rendering, and project sharing are also exclusive to the paid version. 

The export formats make the free version of Lightworks too limited for serious video editing enthusiasts, but it also doesn’t provide enough help to the sorts of home users who wouldn’t care about the 720p cap. Lightworks is extremely powerful, but its export limitations mean it’s really more of a try-before-you-buy version than a useful application.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Samuel Axon

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?