Free Video Tools for the “Budget Challenged” Production

At Moving Picture we are all too aware of how expensive it can be to create art. So, for the budget minded filmmakers out there, we’ve provided a few useful free video tools for you to try out.

MPEG Streamclip

MPEG Streamclip is one of those oddly versatile tools that should be installed on every computer you use. It will play nearly every sort of digital media you throw at it. This includes XDCAM MP4 files from the Sony EX-3 and F3 and MXF files from Sony F5/F55 and Canon C300. About the only thing it won’t play is RED media. These features make it a great tool for reviewing footage in the field on anyone’s computer.

MPEG Streamclip features a very basic familiar front end. (click to enlarge)

It is available in both a Mac or Windows version, and it is a single executable file, which means you can keep a copy of MPEG Streamclip on a personal jump drive to use on any computer if you need to review some material.

MPEG Streamcip also has a powerful video export engine that allows transcoding of single clips or a batch of clips to another video format.

MPEG Streamclip’s export tools are quite powerful and useful by any standard. (click to enlarge)
( is an online directory of free video loops to incorporate into your video project. Spice up your ENG or corporate video project with their generous selection of free background animations, transitions, and lower thirds.

Matrix style animated digital rain available for free at

No free tool would be complete without their commercial counterpart. If the free selections don’t fit the bill for you, Movietools also offers full sets of matching graphics (at a reasonable price) to use for your ENG project. Complete with full HD virtual sets for use with your green screen material plus matching title, transition, background, and lower third selections.

Premium HD Sets can be purchased for $49.99 each. ( + (

Keepvid is an online tool that allows you to download a copy of videos posted to Vimeo and YouTube. It features a very simple interface. Simply copy and paste the URL of the video in question into the Keepvid interface and it will present you with an MP4 downloadable version of the video. The MP4 file is in a universally playable format, good for Mac, PC, and mobile devices.

Keepvid’s interface is simple enough for even the most novice computer user. (click to enlarge)

SnipMP3 is created by the same organization as Keepvid, and features an identical user interface. The difference is that, instead of serving up a video file, it will extract the audio from an online video and give you an MP3 file to download.


Lightworks 11

Lightworks is a free full-featured non-linear editing package for Windows. This tool is not for the faint at heart amateur, as it has a rather steep learning curve. However, there is ample documentation and a ten episode tutorial series on YouTube to get you up to speed.

Its free version will support AVCHD and H.264 video, which will cover a wide array of pro-sumer camcorders and DSLRs. However, if you want to natively edit in RED, ProRes, or XDCAM, you’ll have to spring for the $60 Lightworks Pro package. Lightworks also runs rather well on a low-horsepower Windows laptop.

Lightworks main interface (click to enlarge)

In fact, Lightworks is so capable it’s even been used on major Hollywood features such as Mission Impossible and Batman. So, if you are the highly-technical sort seeking a (legally) free editing package, then look no further than Lightworks.