VideoPad by NCH Software is a basic video editing program that you can use for free as long as it’s for non-commercial purposes. The program fits that price tag, though. It has many of the tools you’d find with the other video editors we’ve reviewed, but it falls just short of our best video editing software.
The interface is antiquated and counterintuitive. New editors will have a harder time learning it compared to other programs and veterans will feel like they’ve taken a massive step down with the workflow. Plus, the program often stutters and crashes unexpectedly, causing the need to repeat your work.
VideoPad is a mixed bag. If you can tolerate what it lacks and the foibles in what it does have, there should be nothing stopping you from using it for free.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Unlimited video tracks
- Almost full feature set
- Poor performance
- Antiquated interface
- Counterintuitive workflow
Alternatives for VideoPad
Those who have edited video before will be familiar with VideoPad’s timeline and storyboard workflow. The two modes complement each other because you can lay out the general idea of your project in storyboard mode and do the fine-tuning in the timeline.
VideoPad gives you unlimited video tracks to work with. That’s outstanding for complicated projects because it makes the program quite versatile. If your project calls for a lot of visual elements, you’ll need as many tracks as possible.
The amount of audio tracks you get in VideoPad depends on how much you pay for it. The Home Edition gives you unlimited video editing tracks but only two audio tracks. The Master’s Edition gives you unlimited audio tracks.
We like that versatility because it only makes you pay for what you need. Most simple projects won’t call for more than two audio tracks, making VideoPad great for things such as home videos. If a project is complex, like a music video or film would be, you’ll need more room.
Getting text on your videos is more complicated than it ought to be. Clicking the “add text” or “add title” buttons launches a separate editing window where you input your text and design how you want it to look. The process isn’t intuitive. Other editing programs provide a simpler, cleaner way to get things such as titles, credits and other text into your projects.
The library of visual effects and transitions in VideoPad is quite basic. You can crop the frame of your footage, pan and zoom, add motion blur and adjust picture values such as hue, saturation, exposure and more. They’re good for what they do, but they don’t go far.
The effects library includes a number of preprogrammed filters that you can use to give your video a distinct look. Filters include “black & white,” “sepia,” “night vision,” “X-ray,” “old film” and more. They’re a good way to give your clips a unified look, but they don’t have near the utility of the color correction and augmentation tools found in other video editing software.
Another place where VideoPad falls down is in the audio editing section. It has no sound mixer because it has a sister program, MixPad, that handles the in-depth audio work. You’re left with merely the ability to trim sound clips, adjust volume and add fades and effects. For anything else, you’ll need another program.
The audio effects library also leaves a lot to be desired. You can add things like reverb, echo and distortion, but not much more. Additionally, you can adjust the speed of audio and even play it in reverse, but that’s standard for most video editing software
VideoPad comes with an impressive library of stock sounds that you can use for free. You can choose from hundreds of sounds from bells, telephones, horns and gunshots to ambient noise and mood-setting tones. Make sure to browse the sound library before you pay for the element you’re looking for.
The stock sound library also comes with an impressive selection of music. You get dozens of songs in genres such as blues, classic, dance and rock. Each song is instrumental and about 30 to 40 seconds long. That’s great if you’re working on a project but don’t have a lot of money to license music.
VideoPad Green Screen
One of the staples of video editing programs is chroma key. It allows you to take footage you’ve filmed in front of a green screen (or blue screen) and put whatever image you want behind it. That’s great for putting people on a foreign planet or just in front of a weather map.
Like the chroma key, 3D editing used to be something only big Hollywood studios could do. VideoPad allows you to import, edit and export footage captured in a 3D format, as well as convert 2D footage into 3D. It’s a fun tool, even if you only want to relive your family vacations in the third dimension.
Though VideoPad is compatible with 360-degree footage, the tools it offers are meager compared to other programs at its price point. That shouldn’t be a deal breaker, though, because 360-degree video isn’t used by many people. That said, the format is gaining momentum, so VideoPad should update its offerings soon.
VideoPad Features Overview
|Action Cam Tools|
|Chroma Key (green screen)|
|360-degree Video Editing|
|Export to YouTube|
|Export to Facebook|
|Export to Vimeo|
|Burn to DVD|
|Burn to Blu-ray|
- : (billed quarterly at $16.50)
VideoPad comes in two versions: Home Edition and Master’s Edition. The Home Edition costs about $60 and is all you need for most projects. The limitation to two audio tracks will hamper your progress for more complex projects, though. Plus, the Home Edition isn’t compatible with plugins from third-party developers, so you’re limited to what VideoPad offers.
Upgrading to the Master’s Edition gives you unlimited tracks to work with and the ability to work with plugins. The price seems like a lot to pay for that extra functionality, but if you find that VideoPad is the program for you and intend to make complex video projects, it’s worth the extra cash.
If you don’t want to pay $99 upfront but still want the full VideoPad experience, you can buy a subscription to the Master’s Edition for $5.50 a month. That works out to just $66 a year. You get updates as they’re released, too, which means no waiting (or paying) for the next version update. It’s also a good option if you know you’ll only need it for a short time.
You can also use a fully functional version VideoPad for free. It’s technically a trial version, so VideoPad prompts you to purchase a license whenever you try to export. Even so, you can download VideoPad for free for personal, non-commercial use.
Ease of Use
VideoPad’s interface feels like it’s 10 years removed from the present. Veteran users will feel like they’ve taken a big step down and will struggle with the outdated layout. It’s even worse for beginners who have to learn to edit on the dated interface. That’s not to say novices can’t get the hang of it, but other programs do it better.
The program also lacks several tools that’d make it much easier to use. For example, there are no preprogrammed themes or templates. It also doesn’t have an automatic video creator like other programs do. If VideoPad included anything that made it quick and easy to make a video, it’d be far more worthy of buying.
That said, NCH Software takes steps to make sure users know how the program works. Its website includes a decent amount of tutorials and answers to common questions. Plus, the company’s YouTube channel has hundreds of tutorial videos that cover all its products. They’re useful, but not as comprehensive as what other programs provide.
File Formats & Resolution Support
VideoPad is capable of working with most popular video file formats. You can import and export videos in .3gp, .asf, .avi, .dv, .flv, .gif, .apng, .mkv, .mov, .mp4, .mpg, .ogv, .rm, .swf, .webm and .wmv. That’s not comprehensive, but as long as you’re not working with pro formats, it should be fine.
If you run into a file format that you can’t use with VideoPad, you might have to convert it with NCH Software’s Prism Video Converter. Alternatively, you can check out our guide to the best video converter software.
Though you can import a good list of audio formats, including .wav, .mp3, .m4a, .aac and more, the program lacks the ability to export audio-only files. That’s a huge omission, and one more thing you’ll have to do in MixPad.
Considering how dated the program sometimes feels, the ability to edit ultra-high-definition 4K resolution videos is a boon for VideoPad. We wonder how many users who capture footage in that resolution would tolerate the program, though.
VideoPad allows you to share your finished projects directly to the internet without leaving the program’s interface. From the export menu, you can publish to sharing services, such as YouTube, Facebook and Flickr. That’s great because it eliminates several steps in the publishing process.
You can also upload completed videos directly to cloud storage services, such as Dropbox and Google Drive. That’s convenient because video files that stack up on your hard drive can eat your storage space fast. Plus, it’s always a good idea to have things backed up in the cloud.
If you know your video will be viewed on a specific device, VideoPad has preprogrammed export profiles you might find useful. You can optimize your project for playback on smartphones, tablets and gaming systems. All you have to do is pick the product you want to watch on and click export.
That said, the choices are Apple-centric. It gives you specific profiles for every iteration of the iPhone, iPod and iPad, but only generic “Android device” presets. You get a decent selection of gaming consoles, though, including PSP, PSP Vita, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Nintendo 3DS.
You can also burn your video projects onto optical disc media, such as DVD and Blu-ray. Doing so is as easy as any other export method. Simply click the Blu-ray or DVD buttons on the export menu. You can make a disc that’ll work like the ones you buy at the store or a data disc for backup and archival purposes.
Though VideoPad has a lot of the tools and features we look for in video editing software, it doesn’t bring them together in the seamless way that programs such as PowerDirector and Adobe Premiere do.
The interface feels a decade out of time, and it has felt that way for a long time. Though the most recent iteration has done a bit to smooth out the program, it still doesn’t feel like the kind you should buy in the 21st century. It’s clunky, counter intuitive and just an overall subpar experience.
We also had performance problems during our testing. The program occasionally froze and crashed, requiring us to force quit and reload the application. You’ll need to make sure you save your project frequently so you don’t lose hours of work. Plus, every time the application lags, you’ll have a minor heart attack wondering if you have saved in the last few minutes.
When we tested VideoPad for this review, we used footage that was originally captured to make a short film. The program imported, edited and exported the footage as well as can be expected. When we were done, we exported a 14-minute test video, and it took about 66 minutes. That’s slow compared to the other video editing programs we tested.
We watched the finished product back and looked for imperfections, such as pixelation, blur and other distortions, as well. The picture was crystal clear and identical to the source footage, so even though you may run into performance issues while you’re using the program, that doesn’t translate to a worse final product.
We also exported multiple one-minute clips in various formats to get an idea of how long it takes the program to produce files and how large those files would be. The results are in the table below.
|Format:||Time to Export (min/sec)||File Size (MB)|
VideoPad has other tools worthy of noting. First is the ability to capture video and sound directly from within its interface. You can record video with your computer’s webcam, sound with a microphone and even what’s happening on your computer screen. Those tools are great for vlogging, making tutorials, lectures and more.
You can also create text-to-sound clips, meaning you can type words you want to be heard and VideoPad will make a sound file of them. The voice is quite robotic, but it’s convenient if you need voice-over but don’t want to use your own. VideoPad is the only video editing program we’ve reviewed that has this ability.
Another tool worthy of note is the video stabilizer. It allows you to smooth out shaky footage. That’s great for videos captured with handheld devices or from cameras that weren’t on a tripod.
VideoPad is one of the few video editing programs on the consumer level that allow you to input closed captions for the hearing impaired into your videos. Closed captions are different from subtitles in that you can turn them on and off. That’s great, especially if you know that some in your audience may be hard of hearing.
There are tool omissions that bring VideoPad down when compared to other products. For example, there’s no multi-cam module. That’d allow you to take videos of the same event and easily sync and edit them, which is good for cutting together concerts, sporting events and anything else likely to have been captured from more than one angle.
VideoPad also lacks an action cam module. That’d be good for footage caught with specialized cameras, such as the GoPro Hero or the Rylo 360. Those cameras capture high-definition footage that require special care and tools. Unfortunately, VideoPad even lacks the ability to remove the fish-eye effect on that type of footage.
VideoPad is available for macOS and Windows computers. That said, the macOS version hasn’t been updated in a long time. The Windows edition is one full version ahead of the macOS offering.
If you’re using VideoPad for free, you paid the right price. Though it’s filled with useful tools that’ll help you make a great project, it lags behind the competition when it comes to workflow, performance and design. If you’re short on cash and need to make a video, use VideoPad. If you can afford to pay for a better product, do that.
What do you think about VideoPad? Do you plan to try it? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.
- You can export video from VideoPad for free as long as it’s only for home use. There’s a prompt before exporting to upgrade, though.
- VideoPad costs $60 for the Home version or $99 for the Masters version. Alternatively, there’s a free version for non-commercial use and a subscription to the Masters version, which costs $5.50 per month.
- You can download the free version of VideoPad from the NCH Software website. It’s limited from the paid version, though.
- You can overlay videos in VideoPad by adding your video clips to tracks above the clip you’re targeting.