Gone are the days when Hollywood film editors cut and glued film by hand. Though technology has changed, the importance of having the right tools hasn’t. Professional video editors today need the best video editing software, hardware, and skills to go from production to final deliverables. Masters or rookies should read below to learn about the best programs, equipment, and practices for post-production work.

Let’s dive into the professional video editing tools that they’re using to cut Hollywood movies in the film industry.

1. Non-Linear Editor (NLE)

Avid Media Composer

For decades, Avid Media Composer was the Hollywood standard for professional video editing software. It was the first major non-linear editing (NLE) program. Like all NLEs, it features timelines, media bins and editing tools to help keep you organized. In the past, Avid was the most expensive option. However, prices have dropped to as low as $239 a year. “Mission Impossible: Fallout” and “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” are two recent films edited with Avid which show its ability to handle special effects and complicated edits. If you want to make movies in — or like you’re in — Hollywood, Avid is a safe bet.

Adobe Premiere Pro

Another NLE, Adobe Premiere Pro, now rivals Avid in popularity within the industry. A couple of Hollywood films edited with Premiere include “Gone Girl” and “Hail Caesar.” Adobe offers an integrated product suite capable of handling video, audio, graphics, titles, color correction and more. Sensei, Adobe’s AI, helps with tasks such as detecting and balancing light around faces. It starts at $239.88 a year, comparable to Avid. Also, for a little over $600 a year ($52.99 a month), you can access the entire Adobe Creative Cloud. If you’re already familiar with Adobe, Premiere could be a good option.

Final Cut Pro

Yet one more NLE used in Hollywood is Final Cut Pro X. Final Cut was the video editor for films like “No Country for Old Men” and “300.” For those raised on Macs, Final Cut X’s film editing tools may seem more intuitive. This version supports 2D and 3D animated titles, audio, graphics, and more. It costs $299.99, but you own the program outright. This makes it a smart investment for years to come.

Pro tip: Read our guide on Captions and Subtitles in Final Cut Pro X.

Other Professional NLEs

There are many other functional video editors on the market. DaVinci Resolve Studio is a free video editing software, with the NLE built on top of the color correction program still popular in Hollywood. Vegas Pro is yet another NLE. Each has strengths and weaknesses. Finding the best fit for you depends on your experience, hardware, and preferences. Many NLEs offer free or trial versions, even the major three, so be sure to test out multiple ones before investing.

2. Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

A digital audio workstation (DAW) is a software application for editing audio from a number of sources. For small projects, free programs like Audacity may work, but professionals need more powerful software. Just like with NLEs, testing trial versions is always recommended before shelling out big bucks.

Avid Pro Tools

Avid Pro Tools is still a popular choice in Hollywood. It offers broad compatibility and the interface is intuitive. Pro Tools is the industry standard for audio recording software.

Apple Logic Pro X

Apple Logic Pro X is another good option. Musicians like Brian Eno and Calvin Harris have used Logic. It offers an array of virtual instruments that are perfect for music production—even in a home studio.

Other DAWs

These are just two of the many capable DAWS programs available, such as Ableton Live 9, Cakewalk Sonar, and Adobe Audition. Some are better for scoring, some for vocals and some for mixing sick beats. Whatever you’re considering purchasing, make sure it’s compatible with your other software and hardware.

3. Closed-Captioning and Subtitling

Providing closed-captions and subtitling to make your content accessible to the deaf or hard-of-hearing and people who speak a foreign language, respectively, can set you above other editors who aren’t familiar with captioning workflow.

Many NLEs have built-in functionality for adding subtitles and closed-captions. Plenty of other programs can do this as well, even free ones like Aegisub.

Whatever you use to add and sync, you’ll first have to generate the text. Manual transcription is far too time-consuming for most professionals. Some programs can automatically transcribe, but they require know-how, time and can be error-prone.

Captioning Service

To maximize the time you spend working on what gets you paid, consider a reliable service like Rev. Upload your video and, voilà, 24-hours later your subtitles arrive in whatever format you need. It costs just one dollar a minute and guarantees 99% accuracy or higher. The service offers accurate translation into multiple languages, crucial for breaking into expanding overseas markets.

4. Editing Workstation

Every superhero needs their person in the chair. They offer advice and comic relief from behind a safe desk. If actors and directors are superheroes, then postproduction is the guy or girl in the chair. To help heroes, you need heroic tech.

Editing Computer

You have to be able to see and hear your work. It is vital to invest in a monitor with high resolution, a large display area, and superb color accuracy. Whether spending $500 or $10,000 per screen, you’ll need a powerful computer to plug into. Desktops are preferable because you need all the processing power, RAM and SSD storage space you can get. Plenty of ports to connect everything is also a necessity.

If you’re looking to upgrade, check the system requirements of the software you’ll be running. Editing video and audio takes a lot of processing power, memory, and storage. You can either buy a new computer retail or build one yourself. Assembling a tower computer is easy and helpful resources abound. Websites like PCPartPicker show part compatibility for free.

Building machines yourself saves money upfront and makes upgrading over time easier. Setting up a professional post-production workstation is expensive, whether DIY or readymade. These expenses are investments in your future and will pay for themselves over time.

Audio Equipment

Another essential for a pro workstation is superior speakers and headphones. For speakers, you’ll definitely want studio monitors, professional audio production loudspeakers. Likewise, monitoring headphones are the best earpieces, as they render sound most accurately.

File Sharing

If you’re running multiple machines or collaborating with teammates, you need at least one KVM extender. They’ll help with accessing external files quickly and creating massive arrays of screens. These handy devices enable seamless work between multiple computers.

Editing Keyboard

Video editing keyboards specialized to your preferred NLE are also major productivity and learning boons. Check out this one for Premiere and this one for Avid.

Desk Chair

Since you will spend countless hours at your workstation, get a chair that supports a healthy posture. Ergonomic ones like the Herman Miller Embody Chair are costly, but so is back surgery. Electronically adjustable height desks can be had for as little as $250. Try to get up once an hour to stretch. Or, use an app that reminds you, like MacBreakZ. Consider springing for wearable tech like Lumo Back, which monitors and reports on your posture. Aching lower backs and stiff necks kill efficiency. Don’t forget to care for your most valuable hardware: your body.

5. Digital Audio Transcripts

Plain and simple, if you’re editing a lot of dialogue—especially interviews for a documentary, you’ll save time scrubbing through hours of footage by having a digital audio transcript. Why? Editing with a digital transcript provides the following benefits:

  • Search for keywords in spoken dialogue
  • Quickly identify key timecodes
  • Keep an archive to reference footage content

The list could go on, but you get the picture. Editing with digital transcripts helps a professional video editor locate key audio content, fast.

Get Hollywood Tools to Edit Like A Pro

While the tools don’t make the editor, they sure do help. To cut your next project like the pros, consider using a non-linear editor (NLE), digital audio workstation (DAW), closed-captioning (CC) and subtitling, and make sure you have editing equipment that can handle the job.

Don’t spend your time creating closed-captions and subtitles by hand. Trust us, it’s much easier to use a captions file in Adobe Premiere than it is to type up every bit of spoken dialogue and matched timecode. Check out Rev for transcription and captioning on your next project.