Filmora 9 Review and How-To
I recently needed to create, and subsequently edit a video using a Windows system. Unlike MacOS which comes with a free tool to create and edit videos, Windows doesn’t seem to anymore. Initially I tried DaVinci Resolve, running on a Surface Pro 4. Yes, I know, not exactly Mac hardware…
DaVinci Resolve crashed pretty much any time I tried to do anything with it on the Surface Pro 4. Investigations revealed that’s likely because the SP4 didn’t have enough RAM to run it.
Ironically, if I had been using the MacBook Pro I probably would have stuck with DaVinci Resolve. Or more likely I would have stuck with iMovie, since it comes free with MacOS.
Nonetheless, having used iMovie in the past to create videos for online use I was familiar with its layout and way of working. I wanted something similar to work with on Windows. So I downloaded Filmora 9.
Filmora 9 looks like iMovie
But Filmora 9 is considerably more powerful than iMovie.
One of the biggest, and earliest things you’ll find about using Filmora 9 instead of iMovie is that Filmora 9 supports a boatload more video formats than iMovie. I’m using an Android phone and a Panasonic bridge camera to record my videos. Both of these use MP4 format for the videos.
Filmora 9 will happily let you drag and drop these formats into your Media Library. iMovie doesn’t. You can import an MP4 into iMovie by selecting the File->Import menu, but it’s clunky. Of course, if you’re wanting something you can run on Windows or Mac then iMovie isn’t any good either.
Oddly, I find Filmora just more intuitive to use now too. I’m not sure if that’s because it is, or whether I’ve just spent so much time with it that I know my way around it.
Filmora allows you to mute the audio track of a clip without detaching it first. This can be helpful if you want to bring the audio back easily for a specific time.
Filmora also comes with a large number of audio tracks that you can use to provide music as a background track. iMovie doesn’t come with any at all, although it will use your iTunes library if you have any tracks in there.
The video preview window is clearer, sharper and has better colour definition on iMovie compared to Filmora though. At least out of the box. I’ve not fiddled around with any settings to see if there’s something that can be changed there. The other nice thing that iMovie does is that the playhead follows the mouse. Filmora 9 requires you to click on the timeline to move the playhead. Again, I can’t find an option to change that.
Both packages allow you to make colour corrections on the fly, or crop, pan and zoom on the video.
Filmora is more powerful though
However, where Filmora really excels is in its ability to have multiple video tracks, with multiple blend modes compositing the image in different to create some great effects. iMovie doesn’t appear to allow this at all.
This makes it much easier to add multiple camera angles to your video, by adding all the different video tracks you’ve recorded, lining them (you can use the audio waveform to get it just right) and then using the split and delete tools to create the effect of cutting to a different camera.
Using this compositing feature can enable you to create some fabulous introduction screens of your own too – which iMovie isn’t able to do for you. I’ve embedded a quick demo from Daniel Batal in this review so you can see the power of it. I’m not affiliated with Daniel at all – never heard of him until the other day – but his video is impressive.
Daniel has heaps of videos on his YouTube channel about Filmora so feel free to check them out too.
Filmora Supports More Export Formats
iMovie appears to only support MP4 format. This is the most common format for videos these days. Filmora though supports MP4, MKV, M4V, AVI and a bunch of others, including GIF! I’m not sure how big an animated GIF you can load into a browser but it could be fun creating an animated GIF from your movie. Though I must admit, the export process for animated GIF seems insanely slow compared to the other formats.
Filmora 9 Comes With A Huge Library
Filmora 9 comes with a huge library of audio tracks, transitions and different titles and subtitle effects straight out of the box. If that’s not enough, there’s also downloadable content that can be accessed for a monthly fee, with an enormous array of music and other effects.
Not only is there a massive library, but Filmora also have a number of tutorials to help you get your head around video editing. You can find out more about how to use Filmora at https://filmora.wondershare.com/video-editing-academy.html
Filmora Must Be Hard To Use Though?
With all that extra power compared to iMovie you’d think that Filmora would be hard to use. But in fact, I found it a lot easier to use than DaVinci Resolve. DR is probably a lot more powerful still, but Filmora has some seriously professional features.
For example, Filmora 9 comes with the ability to ‘green screen’ an alternative background onto your video. And the screen colour doesn’t have to be green either – it can be any colour you choose.
It’s difficult to show this effect in pictures, but below is an example of a ‘green screen’ composited effect. Bear in mind I’ve used a still picture, but you can just as easily use a moving video for the background.
Filmora even makes it super easy to choose the background colour. If you click on either of the images and look for the little blue square in the ‘chroma key’ section, you’ll see a little dropper symbol. If you click this your cursor will change to a magnifying glass. Just click on the colour you wish to become transparent and then the track below will show through instead of that colour.
You could make some incredible videos with this feature alone. I suspect it’s this sort of thing that many of the people use when I see videos with them blended onto a screencast or something similar.
Screen Recording with Filmora
Making tutorial videos using Filmora is easy because you can record the screen directly from within Filmora itself. You can record audio and system sounds while screen recording – although recording the system sounds does require a special driver to be installed.
You can choose whether to record the whole screen or just part of it and you can add yourself as a ‘picture in picture’ if you so choose too.
Unfortunately I’m not sure I can see how the green screen compositing could be used with this feature, even if you were sitting in front of a green screen as the saved video will have your PiP square already embedded in it. But nonetheless, if you’re wanting to make screencast videos you don’t need to purchase any extra screencasting software as it comes with Filmora 9.
Using Filmora 9 To Make A Video
So, having extolled the virtues of Filmora 9 – and probably only having touched the surface of the various different things it can do – let’s have a quick look at how to use it. I’ll only go into the simpler side of things here to give you a brief overview of how it looks and how to get started. As I mentioned earlier, there’s stacks of tutorials and how-to’s available at https://filmora.wondershare.com/video-editing-academy.html that can go into more detail.
Installing Filmora 9 on Mac
Installing is as simple as dragging and dropping the icon into the Applications folder – as is the case with most Mac applications.
Once installed, open up the Applications folder in Finder and double click.
Once the applications starts you’ll see this screen. It can take a little while for Filmora to open up depending on the speed of your Mac. I’m using it on a mid 2015 MacBook Pro with an NVME SSD drive and even on that it takes a good 15 to 20 seconds to start up. But it’s a pretty heavy duty program so be patient.
Any previous creations will show up on the right hand side of the dialog box. Using the drop down box on the left hand side you can decide which aspect ratio you want for your new video. You have a choice of 16 by 9, which is standard TV widescreen format. You could instead choose 1 to 1 (or square). There’s also 9 by 16, which is portrait mode which might be useful for editing mobile phone footage. The final two options are 4 by 3, which is standard TV width for those of us that remember TV format before widescreen came out, or you can have 21 by 9 which is cinema format.
Main Filmora Project Screen
Once you’ve chosen the size of your new project you’ll be presented with the screen above. This is the main screen from which you’ll do all your video editing with Filmora. Presently of course it’s empty, so you’ll need to import some media files. You can do this by dragging and dropping files from Finder into the area with the dotted folder outline – or you can choose File -> Import Media from the main menu. There’s a few options there, including importing just one file, or a whole folder of media. This latter option is handy if you’ve recorded a number of video clips and are planning to edit them into one.
You can also import media from a camera or phone – although I’ve not tried that option myself.
Dragging the video down on to the desired track might give you this popup dialog box. This means that you’ve probably recorded the video in 50 or 60fps but have chose a framerate of 25 or 30fps for your project. It’s OK to modify it.
You’ll see in the track timeline at the bottom that Filmora 9 has imported the audio and the video. If you want to mute the video you can right-click over the audio track and either choose to separate it, or you can just mute it.
You can add a different audio track – for example some music – by dragging a file down from the audio tab. You can then drag that audio track around to align it properly, checking the waveform that’s show to give you the best idea of where to position it. Zooming in using the slider just above the tracks will enable you to see close up how the audio track should be positioned.
Add A Channel Logo To Your Video
Adding a channel logo to your video is a cool touch and one that I’ve done for the videos I’ve created for Bearded Dragons Rock videos (another website I’m involved with – check it out if you happen to keep a bearded dragon as a pet!).
Not only is it a cool touch, Filmora 9 makes it super easy to do. I think Filmora actually makes this little effect much easier than iMovie does.
Simply drag your logo image onto an empty track and position your mouse pointer over the end of the image on the track. It should change to something that resembles a square bracket ( ] ). Then drag the mouse along until the image fills the same length of time as the video clip you originally placed. You can then double click the logo track to modify the size and position of this new track.
In my case, the logo I chose was a PNG format file with a transparent background, which makes the logo blend in seamlessly with the video with no square border around it. But if your logo file has a background colour you can use the ‘Chroma Key (Green Screen)’ section to remove the background.
To do this, place a tick in the Chroma Key checkbox. Click on the dropper icon and choose the background colour you want to remove from your logo and blend with the main picture. Be aware though that if your actual logo contains the same or similar colours that you’ll end up with some of the main video bleeding through and it won’t look good. If the colours in your logo are all completely different from the background colour you’ll be fine though.
You can also fade your logo in or change the effects by clicking the motion tab in the main window (but make sure you’ve double clicked the correct track) for some other neat effects. You can play around with the logo colours in the Color tab too.
The possibilities are limited only by your creative imagination!
Adding and Deleting Scenes
Adding additional footage, for example combining video clips into scenes is as simple as dragging them on to the end of the timeline from the main media window.
If you have multiple clips you can drag an effect down from the Effects tab onto the track you want. There’s so many different transition effects you can use between scenes that I’m not going to go into them all here. You can choose from fade, or dissolve, or rotating box or wave effect. Just have a play, you’ll find one you like. Or use a different one between each new scene.
You can of course cut parts of your scenes out if there’s things you don’t like. Just move the play head (the orange arrow with a vertical line going down through the timeline) to the start of the section you want to remove. Right click and select ‘Split’. This will split the selected track in two at the position the play head is currently at. You can then move the playhead to another position and select split again. Then you can select the piece of the track in the middle and right click again and select ‘delete’.
Bear in mind that when you select split Filmora will only split the selected track. The other tracks will not be split at this point. If you want all tracks to be split, right click and select split a second time without moving the playhead. All the other tracks will then be split at exactly the same point.
Saving / Exporting The Finished Product
Once you’ve finished editing, you can preview your work using the live preview window to the right of the main project screen. When you’re happy it looks right you can export your work to an actual video file.
Don’t be concerned if the preview mode is a little choppy. This depends on the hardware in your Mac and in my case, being a laptop, the hardware isn’t great. The finished product will be nice and smooth though.
Click the Export button at the top of the main project window and you’ll see a dialog box pop up that looks like the one above.
If you’ve not yet paid for Filmora you’ll be encouraged to do so at this stage. You can choose the Free option but your video will be limited to 3 minutes and will have an enormous ‘created by Filmora 9’ watermark across the middle. If you have already bought Filmora and are seeing the ‘Choose a Plan’ screen, then you’ll need to login.
Filmora uses a digital licensing scheme tied to your Filmora account to determine if you’ve paid for it or not. If you’re not logged in to the application you’ll need to create an account or login to an existing one.
Personally I went for the One Off licence – mostly because I don’t really like recurring payments, but the choice is yours. The One Off licence is only around $50 and if you’re going to be making YouTube videos or online courses or anything then it’s probably well worth it. I know it has been for me.
Once you’ve logged in and decided on a plan you can choose the format you want to save your finished creation – including some preset templates using the tabs across the top. Click the Export button and go and have a cup of tea. Depending on your computer hardware it could take Filmora anywhere from half to twice the length of time to create the finished product as the video is long… i.e. if your video is 10 minutes long, it could take Filmora up to 20 minutes or more to convert it.
A Word Of Warning Regarding Exporting
If you’re using Filmora 9 on a laptop, or in my original use case the Surface Pro 4, it’s likely to get very very hot. You are much better off using a desktop based machine to create videos as the processing required to produce the finished result is quite heavy. A desktop machine may well have a dedicated graphics card built in which will speed things up too if you can use hardware acceleration.
If your Mac has fans (as most do) you may want to look at installing Macs Fan Control before starting the render to help control the temperature.
In my case, I ended up destroying the screen on my Surface Pro 4 and had to fit a new one because the heat caused the screen to distort and flicker!
Filmora 9 versus iMovie
|Ease Of Use||Easy||Easy|
|Audio Tracks||Multiple Included||None Include – but will use iTunes|
|“Channel Logo”||Yes – Easy||Yes – Fiddly|
|Screen Recorder||Yes||No – have to use QuickTime|
|Platform||MacOS & Windows||MacOS|
I think Filmora 9 is an excellent tool for producing videos, particularly for uploading to YouTube and the price point is superb. It’s obviously not as cheap as iMovie (or indeed DaVinci Resolve which is also free). But it’s far more feature rich than iMovie and in my experience it’s a lot more reliable than DaVinci. I’ve not had Filmora crash on me at all, whereas DR was completely unusable on the Surface Pro 4.
Filmora 9 is easy to use, feature packed and excellent value for money. I use it myself for editing videos. Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obU5PNJ2Rrk for an example that was created in Filmora 9. You might recognise some of the footage 🙂
If you want to download Filmora 9 yourself you can get the free trial version at https://filmora.wondershare.com/
If you’ve any questions, comments or suggestions please leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer!