Top 15 Video Production Tools for Professionals [2021 Edition]

Evelyn Trainor-Fogleman

10 min read time

Are you ready to finally put together your ultimate professional video production studio, but don’t really know where to start? 


We’re here to take you through the latest and greatest video production tools that will help you turn all those great ideas into great projects. 


First, let’s start with the essentials: hardware.



Basic Video Production Hardware


Any video production professional needs some hardware “tools of the trade” to get started. These are:


  • A video camera capable of shooting at least 1080p, but 4k is preferred
  • A PC or Mac with at least 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive (solid state if you can afford it)
  • A tripod
  • An external microphone
  • 2-3 external hard drives for storage and backups
  • Ideally, a large RAID backup drive that continually backs up all your files in duplicate or triplicate to avoid data loss


Most video production professionals will have much, much more gear than this, but this is the bare minimum that you’ll need to start creating high-quality videos. 


Now, we’ll get into what are becoming the real tools of the trade: software. Having lots of high-quality footage is great, but you’re going to need software that can help you transform it from a bunch of loose video clips into a polished final project. You’ll also need software to help you keep your projects and your team organized and in constant communication. 


Here are our top software tool picks for professional video producers:


Video Editing Software


This is where the magic almost always begins. Your video editing software will be your command center where you assemble your video projects and begin to see everything come together into one cohesive project. There are three main editing platforms that are beloved by video producers worldwide, and will always be hotly debated as to which one is the “best.” 


Adobe Premiere Pro

One of the “Big Three” video editing platforms on the market, Adobe Premiere Pro is one of the most popular video editing platforms available for video production professionals. 


Pros:

  • Available for both Mac and PC
  • Can handle nearly any audio or video format
  • Works seamlessly with other Adobe programs
  • Used widely among other professionals
  • Can export in any format for distribution or visual effects editing


Cons:

  • Can take some time to learn how to use it effectively


Rating on G2

  • 4.5/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Starts at $20.99 per month for an individual license, or can be part of a bundled Creative Cloud package of all Adobe creative apps for $52.99 per month.  


Final Cut Pro X

This video editing platform is exclusive to Mac users and includes all the professional tools you’ll need for any project, but in a drag-and-drop interface that makes it perfect for beginners. 

  • Pros:
  • Ultra-intuitive user interface (heavily favors “drag and drop” style editing)
  • Great VR editing features
  • Included motion-graphics templates and visual effects 
  • Fast rendering times
  • Cons:
  • Only available in the Mac App Store
  • Lacks some more complex features shared by other professional editing programs.
  • Rating on G2
  • 4.3/5 Stars
  • Pricing
  • A one-time purchase price of  $299.99.



Avid Media Composer

There was once a time when Avid battled against Final Cut in a “Mac vs. PC”-esq battle of editing platforms. However, now it is just one of three great editing platforms that video producers will continually debate between as to which one has the best workflow. This rounds out our “Big Three” editing platforms that every video production professional should at least be familiar with.


Pros:

  • Available for both Mac and PC
  • Can handle nearly any audio or video format
  • Used widely among other professionals
  • Seamlessly compatible with Pro Tools and other external creative software


Cons:

  • More complex than some other platforms
  • Doesn’t work as seamlessly with Adobe platforms like After Effects


Rating on G2

  • 4.1/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Starts at $23.99 per month for an individual license, with discounts available for paying yearly up-front.  


Graphics and Special Effects Software


It’s easier than ever to add a whole slew of computer-generated effects to your projects, and as such, any video production professional should have at least a basic familiarity with programs that will allow you to add everything from motion graphic title cards to firearm muzzle flashes to your projects. 


After Effects

After Effects is almost undisputedly the most-loved visual effects program out there. It makes popping in professional-quality effects relatively easy, and its capabilities are only really limited by your skill level. 


Pros:

  • Available for both Mac and PC
  • Powerful image manipulation tools
  • Advanced motion-tracking AI 
  • Beginner and Advanced motion-graphics tools
  • Seamlessly integrates with Adobe Premiere Pro for easy back-and-forth editing


Cons:

  • Somewhat steep learning curve


Rating on G2

  • 4.6/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Starts at $20.99 per month for an individual license, or can be part of a bundled Creative Cloud package of all Adobe creative apps for $52.99 per month. 



Adobe Photoshop

While this is traditionally thought of as a photo editing platform, it can actually become a video producer’s best friend. Photoshop is a great platform for designing title cards and motion graphic elements that you can seamlessly import into After Effects to be animated. 


Pros:

  • Available for both Mac and PC
  • Works seamlessly with other Adobe programs (most notably Premiere Pro and After Effects)
  • Can handle still images and even extract images from video files
  • Tons of tutorials available online to help you learn


Cons:

  • Can take some time to get used to the workflow


Rating on G2

  • 4.6/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Starts at $20.99 per month for an individual license, or can be part of a bundled Creative Cloud package of all Adobe creative apps for $52.99 per month.

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Sound Editing Software

Sound is one of the most important, and least praised, elements in taking a video project from good to great. While most video editing tools contain at least some basic sound editing tools, to really get the most out of your audio, you’ll want sound editing platforms that can help you create complex effects and mixes.  


Avid Pro Tools

Pro Tools has long been an industry standard for professional mixing of everything from student films to Hollywood blockbusters and is packed with features to create the perfect soundscape for any project. 


Pros:

  • Available for both Mac and PC
  • Packed with all the features of a full mixing board
  • Seamlessly integrates with both AVID Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Compatible with external mixing boards for precise, tactile control


Cons:

  • Requires a lot of bandwidth to deliver high-quality audio and video
  • Limited chat and note-taking functionality


Rating on G2

  • 4.5/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Starts at $29.99 per month for an individual license. 


Adobe Audition

This is Adobe’s software answer to the popular Pro Tools platform. It has many of the same features as Pro Tools, but works seamlessly with the other platforms in Adobe’s Creative Suite. 


Pros:

  • Available for both Mac and PC
  • Similar workflow to Pro Tools and other professional DAWs
  • Seamlessly integrates Adobe Premiere Pro and other Creative Suite programs
  • Compatible with external mixing boards for precise, tactile control


Cons:

  • Not as widely used as Pro Tools
  • Interface can be a bit confusing


Rating on G2

  • 4.4/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Starts at $20.99 per month for an individual license, or can be part of a bundled Creative Cloud package of all Adobe creative apps for $52.99 per month.  



File Sharing Software

Whether you’re sharing files between team members or sending final projects to clients, you’ll need file sharing software that can handle large files with ease. 


Dropbox

Dropbox has been around since the earliest days of cloud storage and continues to be a contender thanks to its robust storage sizes and top-notch security.


Pros:

  • Auto-sync features to keep selected folders continuously updated
  • 30-day file recovery for documents that are accidentally deleted
  • 30-day version history to track older versions of documents
  • Desktop and mobile support


Cons:

  • Can be difficult to organize files
  • Free version is limited to just 2GB of storage which isn’t sufficient for most users


Rating on G2

  • 4.4/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Free for basic plan, paid versions starting at $9.99 per month for 1TB of storage and additional features



Google Drive

Google’s answer to cloud storage comes pre-loaded with any Gmail account and includes tons of features that project managers love.


Pros:

  • Nearly everyone already has it
  • One of the most affordable cloud storage options
  • Includes 2-factor authentication and mobile device management for secure access
  • Can sync with Google Docs for collaborative document editing


Cons:

  • Offline features are extremely limited


Rating on G2

  • 4.7/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Free for basic plan of 15 GB, upgraded storage starts at $1.99 per month for 100 GB, enterprise plans are available. 



Team Communication Software


Team communication software is crucial for almost every team. Whether you’re all working on one big project or you’re juggling multiple projects at once, these project management platforms will help you keep everything organized and everyone on task. 


Evercast 

Evercast is a video streaming and communication platform that is specifically built for creative teams that need to stream professional editing tools while chatting with their team. If you want to keep your team safely socially distanced without missing a beat, this is a nearly must-have tool. 


Pros:

  • Ultra-low latency (less than 150ms)
  • On-screen annotation and timestamped notes to keep project notes organized and accurate
  • Simultaneous video chatting and workstation streaming
  • No additional software is required for participants who are just joining a meeting


Cons:

  • Requires a small amount of setup time for editors who want to stream their workstations.


Rating on G2

  • 4.5/5 Stars


Pricing

  • $599 per virtual room, per month with unlimited users




Slack

Slack is one of the most popular messaging apps thanks to its easy-to-use interface, industry-leading security, and fun features that make engaging with co-workers feel less stuffy. 


Pros:

  • Call and chat features
  • Customizable “channels” that allow you to separate people into different messaging groups, so the right information goes to the right people
  • Controlled, secure access
  • Emojis to eliminate long strings of “I got it!” replies


Cons:

  • Can be a bit expensive for smaller teams that want full features


Rating on G2

  • 4.5/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Free for basic plan, professional plans starting at $6.67 per user/per month



Microsoft Teams

Microsoft has thrown its hat into the ring with its own team communication platform meant to integrate directly with Office 365. 


Pros:

  • Office 365 integration
  • Can initiate calls directly without an invite link
  • Indicators showing which team members are available and online
  • Screen and file sharing


Cons:

  • Limited customizations
  • Some users find the interface difficult to navigate


Rating on G2

  • 4.3/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Free for basic plan, also included in Microsoft 365 plans starting at $5 per user, per month



Mobile Apps


A decade ago, the idea of mobile apps being part of a professional video editing workflow would be almost unthinkable. However, more and more professional content is being specifically designed for social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram Stories. If you want to be able to create and edit professional video on the fly, these are some must-have tools. 


Adobe Premiere Rush

This is the baby brother/sister of Adobe Premiere Pro. You get a powerful mobile video editing workspace in the palm of your hand, so you can edit away to your heart’s content.


Pros:

  • Precise video editing tools
  • Built-in templates for vertical video sharing
  • Access to the Adobe stock image and sound libraries
  • You can share projects between Adobe Premire Pro and Premiere Rush via the cloud. 


Cons:

  • Requires a lot of phone memory
  • Can be laggy


Rating on G2

  • 4.4/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Included with a Premiere Pro or Creative Suite subscription



iMovie

While we’re not huge fans of the desktop iMovie, the mobile iMovie platform is handy for editing on the go. 


Pros:

  • Simple drag-and-drop interface
  • Fast export times
  • Video templates to make vlogging a breeze


Cons:

  • A bit light on extra features
  • Only available for iPhone/iPad (sorry Android users)


Rating on G2

  • 4.3/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Free



FiLMiC Pro

FiLMiC Pro can turn your phone camera into a cinema camera, allowing you to access manual controls like white balance, depth of field, shutter speed, and so much more for a much more professional, polished mobile video look. 


Pros:

  • Full manual camera controls
  • Support for external microphones
  • Multi-cam support


Cons:

  • Expensive for a mobile app


Rating on G2

  • N/A


Pricing

  • $14.99 in the App Store and Google Play



The right tools can make all the difference when you want to work smarter, not harder. Hopefully, this guide will help you start your creative journey out on the right foot with the right tools.

Evelyn Trainor-Fogleman

Evelyn Trainor-Fogleman is a writer based in New York City. After over half a decade in the film industry, she came back to her Journalism roots to write for a variety of media outlets about subjects including technology, business, marketing, and social and environmental justice.

Top 15 Video Production Tools for Professionals [2021 Edition]

Evelyn Trainor-Fogleman

8/23/21

Are you ready to finally put together your ultimate professional video production studio, but don’t really know where to start? 


We’re here to take you through the latest and greatest video production tools that will help you turn all those great ideas into great projects. 


First, let’s start with the essentials: hardware.



Basic Video Production Hardware


Any video production professional needs some hardware “tools of the trade” to get started. These are:


  • A video camera capable of shooting at least 1080p, but 4k is preferred
  • A PC or Mac with at least 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive (solid state if you can afford it)
  • A tripod
  • An external microphone
  • 2-3 external hard drives for storage and backups
  • Ideally, a large RAID backup drive that continually backs up all your files in duplicate or triplicate to avoid data loss


Most video production professionals will have much, much more gear than this, but this is the bare minimum that you’ll need to start creating high-quality videos. 


Now, we’ll get into what are becoming the real tools of the trade: software. Having lots of high-quality footage is great, but you’re going to need software that can help you transform it from a bunch of loose video clips into a polished final project. You’ll also need software to help you keep your projects and your team organized and in constant communication. 


Here are our top software tool picks for professional video producers:


Video Editing Software


This is where the magic almost always begins. Your video editing software will be your command center where you assemble your video projects and begin to see everything come together into one cohesive project. There are three main editing platforms that are beloved by video producers worldwide, and will always be hotly debated as to which one is the “best.” 


Adobe Premiere Pro

One of the “Big Three” video editing platforms on the market, Adobe Premiere Pro is one of the most popular video editing platforms available for video production professionals. 


Pros:

  • Available for both Mac and PC
  • Can handle nearly any audio or video format
  • Works seamlessly with other Adobe programs
  • Used widely among other professionals
  • Can export in any format for distribution or visual effects editing


Cons:

  • Can take some time to learn how to use it effectively


Rating on G2

  • 4.5/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Starts at $20.99 per month for an individual license, or can be part of a bundled Creative Cloud package of all Adobe creative apps for $52.99 per month.  


Final Cut Pro X

This video editing platform is exclusive to Mac users and includes all the professional tools you’ll need for any project, but in a drag-and-drop interface that makes it perfect for beginners. 

  • Pros:
  • Ultra-intuitive user interface (heavily favors “drag and drop” style editing)
  • Great VR editing features
  • Included motion-graphics templates and visual effects 
  • Fast rendering times
  • Cons:
  • Only available in the Mac App Store
  • Lacks some more complex features shared by other professional editing programs.
  • Rating on G2
  • 4.3/5 Stars
  • Pricing
  • A one-time purchase price of  $299.99.



Avid Media Composer

There was once a time when Avid battled against Final Cut in a “Mac vs. PC”-esq battle of editing platforms. However, now it is just one of three great editing platforms that video producers will continually debate between as to which one has the best workflow. This rounds out our “Big Three” editing platforms that every video production professional should at least be familiar with.


Pros:

  • Available for both Mac and PC
  • Can handle nearly any audio or video format
  • Used widely among other professionals
  • Seamlessly compatible with Pro Tools and other external creative software


Cons:

  • More complex than some other platforms
  • Doesn’t work as seamlessly with Adobe platforms like After Effects


Rating on G2

  • 4.1/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Starts at $23.99 per month for an individual license, with discounts available for paying yearly up-front.  


Graphics and Special Effects Software


It’s easier than ever to add a whole slew of computer-generated effects to your projects, and as such, any video production professional should have at least a basic familiarity with programs that will allow you to add everything from motion graphic title cards to firearm muzzle flashes to your projects. 


After Effects

After Effects is almost undisputedly the most-loved visual effects program out there. It makes popping in professional-quality effects relatively easy, and its capabilities are only really limited by your skill level. 


Pros:

  • Available for both Mac and PC
  • Powerful image manipulation tools
  • Advanced motion-tracking AI 
  • Beginner and Advanced motion-graphics tools
  • Seamlessly integrates with Adobe Premiere Pro for easy back-and-forth editing


Cons:

  • Somewhat steep learning curve


Rating on G2

  • 4.6/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Starts at $20.99 per month for an individual license, or can be part of a bundled Creative Cloud package of all Adobe creative apps for $52.99 per month. 



Adobe Photoshop

While this is traditionally thought of as a photo editing platform, it can actually become a video producer’s best friend. Photoshop is a great platform for designing title cards and motion graphic elements that you can seamlessly import into After Effects to be animated. 


Pros:

  • Available for both Mac and PC
  • Works seamlessly with other Adobe programs (most notably Premiere Pro and After Effects)
  • Can handle still images and even extract images from video files
  • Tons of tutorials available online to help you learn


Cons:

  • Can take some time to get used to the workflow


Rating on G2

  • 4.6/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Starts at $20.99 per month for an individual license, or can be part of a bundled Creative Cloud package of all Adobe creative apps for $52.99 per month.

Sound Editing Software

Sound is one of the most important, and least praised, elements in taking a video project from good to great. While most video editing tools contain at least some basic sound editing tools, to really get the most out of your audio, you’ll want sound editing platforms that can help you create complex effects and mixes.  


Avid Pro Tools

Pro Tools has long been an industry standard for professional mixing of everything from student films to Hollywood blockbusters and is packed with features to create the perfect soundscape for any project. 


Pros:

  • Available for both Mac and PC
  • Packed with all the features of a full mixing board
  • Seamlessly integrates with both AVID Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Compatible with external mixing boards for precise, tactile control


Cons:

  • Requires a lot of bandwidth to deliver high-quality audio and video
  • Limited chat and note-taking functionality


Rating on G2

  • 4.5/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Starts at $29.99 per month for an individual license. 


Adobe Audition

This is Adobe’s software answer to the popular Pro Tools platform. It has many of the same features as Pro Tools, but works seamlessly with the other platforms in Adobe’s Creative Suite. 


Pros:

  • Available for both Mac and PC
  • Similar workflow to Pro Tools and other professional DAWs
  • Seamlessly integrates Adobe Premiere Pro and other Creative Suite programs
  • Compatible with external mixing boards for precise, tactile control


Cons:

  • Not as widely used as Pro Tools
  • Interface can be a bit confusing


Rating on G2

  • 4.4/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Starts at $20.99 per month for an individual license, or can be part of a bundled Creative Cloud package of all Adobe creative apps for $52.99 per month.  



File Sharing Software

Whether you’re sharing files between team members or sending final projects to clients, you’ll need file sharing software that can handle large files with ease. 


Dropbox

Dropbox has been around since the earliest days of cloud storage and continues to be a contender thanks to its robust storage sizes and top-notch security.


Pros:

  • Auto-sync features to keep selected folders continuously updated
  • 30-day file recovery for documents that are accidentally deleted
  • 30-day version history to track older versions of documents
  • Desktop and mobile support


Cons:

  • Can be difficult to organize files
  • Free version is limited to just 2GB of storage which isn’t sufficient for most users


Rating on G2

  • 4.4/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Free for basic plan, paid versions starting at $9.99 per month for 1TB of storage and additional features



Google Drive

Google’s answer to cloud storage comes pre-loaded with any Gmail account and includes tons of features that project managers love.


Pros:

  • Nearly everyone already has it
  • One of the most affordable cloud storage options
  • Includes 2-factor authentication and mobile device management for secure access
  • Can sync with Google Docs for collaborative document editing


Cons:

  • Offline features are extremely limited


Rating on G2

  • 4.7/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Free for basic plan of 15 GB, upgraded storage starts at $1.99 per month for 100 GB, enterprise plans are available. 



Team Communication Software


Team communication software is crucial for almost every team. Whether you’re all working on one big project or you’re juggling multiple projects at once, these project management platforms will help you keep everything organized and everyone on task. 


Evercast 

Evercast is a video streaming and communication platform that is specifically built for creative teams that need to stream professional editing tools while chatting with their team. If you want to keep your team safely socially distanced without missing a beat, this is a nearly must-have tool. 


Pros:

  • Ultra-low latency (less than 150ms)
  • On-screen annotation and timestamped notes to keep project notes organized and accurate
  • Simultaneous video chatting and workstation streaming
  • No additional software is required for participants who are just joining a meeting


Cons:

  • Requires a small amount of setup time for editors who want to stream their workstations.


Rating on G2

  • 4.5/5 Stars


Pricing

  • $599 per virtual room, per month with unlimited users




Slack

Slack is one of the most popular messaging apps thanks to its easy-to-use interface, industry-leading security, and fun features that make engaging with co-workers feel less stuffy. 


Pros:

  • Call and chat features
  • Customizable “channels” that allow you to separate people into different messaging groups, so the right information goes to the right people
  • Controlled, secure access
  • Emojis to eliminate long strings of “I got it!” replies


Cons:

  • Can be a bit expensive for smaller teams that want full features


Rating on G2

  • 4.5/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Free for basic plan, professional plans starting at $6.67 per user/per month



Microsoft Teams

Microsoft has thrown its hat into the ring with its own team communication platform meant to integrate directly with Office 365. 


Pros:

  • Office 365 integration
  • Can initiate calls directly without an invite link
  • Indicators showing which team members are available and online
  • Screen and file sharing


Cons:

  • Limited customizations
  • Some users find the interface difficult to navigate


Rating on G2

  • 4.3/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Free for basic plan, also included in Microsoft 365 plans starting at $5 per user, per month



Mobile Apps


A decade ago, the idea of mobile apps being part of a professional video editing workflow would be almost unthinkable. However, more and more professional content is being specifically designed for social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram Stories. If you want to be able to create and edit professional video on the fly, these are some must-have tools. 


Adobe Premiere Rush

This is the baby brother/sister of Adobe Premiere Pro. You get a powerful mobile video editing workspace in the palm of your hand, so you can edit away to your heart’s content.


Pros:

  • Precise video editing tools
  • Built-in templates for vertical video sharing
  • Access to the Adobe stock image and sound libraries
  • You can share projects between Adobe Premire Pro and Premiere Rush via the cloud. 


Cons:

  • Requires a lot of phone memory
  • Can be laggy


Rating on G2

  • 4.4/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Included with a Premiere Pro or Creative Suite subscription



iMovie

While we’re not huge fans of the desktop iMovie, the mobile iMovie platform is handy for editing on the go. 


Pros:

  • Simple drag-and-drop interface
  • Fast export times
  • Video templates to make vlogging a breeze


Cons:

  • A bit light on extra features
  • Only available for iPhone/iPad (sorry Android users)


Rating on G2

  • 4.3/5 Stars


Pricing

  • Free



FiLMiC Pro

FiLMiC Pro can turn your phone camera into a cinema camera, allowing you to access manual controls like white balance, depth of field, shutter speed, and so much more for a much more professional, polished mobile video look. 


Pros:

  • Full manual camera controls
  • Support for external microphones
  • Multi-cam support


Cons:

  • Expensive for a mobile app


Rating on G2

  • N/A


Pricing

  • $14.99 in the App Store and Google Play



The right tools can make all the difference when you want to work smarter, not harder. Hopefully, this guide will help you start your creative journey out on the right foot with the right tools.

Evelyn Trainor-Fogleman

Website
Evelyn Trainor-Fogleman is a writer based in New York City. After over half a decade in the film industry, she came back to her Journalism roots to write for a variety of media outlets about subjects including technology, business, marketing, and social and environmental justice.

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