Ever wondered what kind of software is used to produce Hollywood films? There’s no doubt that Hollywood has set a new standard for filmmaking and when it comes to quality video editing – they surely take the crown.
Given the huge budgets that Hollywood film producers have, it’s easy to doubt your own ability to produce high-quality movies and videos. But, as more video editors appear in the market, professional filmmaking and video editing is becoming more accessible.
In this article, we’ll look at the software used to produce Hollywood films so you can go ahead and download them to produce awesome films yourself.
Let’s get started!
What Kind of Software Does Hollywood Use for Filmmaking
Now, discussing what kind of software most Hollywood producers use isn’t a one-word answer. For large production films, multiple types of software is used for a single film as each program might specialize in a certain aspect for a film.
For example, color grading your videos is important and so is adding VFX. But, the application you use for adding VFX may not be that good at color grading – I mean there’s so much a single app can do. So, how do you make sure your video has a good color range as well as realistic VFX?
You add the VFX in a separate program and then export that clip/film to another program for color grading. This way you end up with a video with proper color grading and VFX.
Alrighty, now that we’ve looked at why you’d use multiple programs for editing your videos, let’s see what programs most Hollywood filmmakers use for their films.
I’ve divided these into 6 different categories:
- Color Grading
- 3D Editing
Although many of the software discussed here are used for professional filmmaking, many of them have a free version such as a free trial or free open source variations.
Here’s a breakdown of each.
Avid Media Composer
Avid is the most popular video editing software used in Hollywood. Launched in the 90s, Avid is one of the first non-linear editing (NLE) platforms that revolutionized video editing.
It allows for SD, HD, 2K, and 4K video editing and is considered the industry standard.
Adobe Premiere Pro
Adobe is a big player in the creative industry. It’s used for most individual productions and has also been a part of a few Hollywood filmmakers’ toolkit.
Blockbuster titles such as Deadpool and Gone Girl were created with Premiere Pro. Since it integrates with other Adobe applications such as After Effects for VFX it can help you produce professional-quality films.
Check out this video from Adobe where actual Hollywood filmmakers explain why they use Premiere Pro for their projects:
Final Cut Pro
Although Final Cut Pro isn’t as popular as it once was, this Apple produced software was responsible for the making of The Social Network and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Despite its fall in popularity amongst Hollywood, FCP does seem to still be in use for small scale Indie productions.
When it comes to VFX compositing for the top Hollywood productions, Nuke by The Foundry is the top-dog. It’s used by almost every studio in the movie space including Universal Studios, Disney, and Dreamworks.
Adobe After Effects
Adobe After Effects has been used in films like Iron Man and Star Trek Into Darkness, but it isn’t applicable to larger scale motion graphics. It’s geared towards simpler graphics such as creating 2D and 3D movie titles and enhancing the visual appeal of some elements in a movie or even YouTube videos.
Blackmagic is the company behind the exceptional tool DaVinci Resolve which is used in color grading major industry films.
Ever since its acquisition by Blackmagic, Fusion has been a pressing choice as a 3D composition tool for Hollywood films. Movies such as Ant-Man and Thor were composed by this post-production powerhouse.
Developed by Blackmagic, DaVinci Resolve is the best choice for color grading movies. As other programs come and go in the entertainment industry, DaVinci Resolve seems to be the one tool Hollywood can’t seem to let go of.
Avid Pro Tools
Pro Tools is the first choice for Hollywood audio editors as it provides them with a complete suite of audio tools for all their sound-related needs. Also, since it’s developed by Avid, the same company whose video editing software is highly used for blockbuster films, it’s no surprise that Pro Tools is then the natural choice to go for.
Audacity is a free and open-source software compatible with Linux, Windows and Mac. It’s currently popular for mixing and editing music albums and YouTube audio, but its professional-level tools make it a great software for producing audio in commercial films as well.
Although Adobe Audition may not be very popular with most filmmakers, it is great for capturing live-action sound. It also includes other useful features such as non-destructive editing and multitrack options.
Autodesk Maya is a 3D computer graphics program. It provides the most comprehensive set of tools to help you create virtually any kind of animation you can think of.
Due to its versatility, It’s been used for creating visual assets for many films including Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Spider-Man, Star Wars.
Because of its wide use for professional 3D editing, many animators and visual effects artists are trained on Maya.
Autodesk 3ds Max
3ds Max is a 3D modeling software with similar capabilities as Autodesk Maya. Although it used in more smaller productions, it’s a fantastic tool for creating 3D models and immersive environments with high-quality rendering.
3ds Max was used in the films Mad Max: Fury Road and Lost in Space – both films that feature enchanting environments – showing you the possibilities of this software.
also know as Houdini FX is a node-based 3D editing program most often used for adding visual effects in action movies such as explosions. Despite its versatility in film effects, it’s also used for video games and motion graphics, and VR.
Renderman was officially created by Pixar and is still used by them for rendering all their films. It’s the perfect software for rendering most 3D animations, although it can also be used for live-action work as well.
V-Ray is a state of the art GPU accelerated 3D rendering software developed by Chaos. Its robust toolkit offers incredible versatility as it has multiple use cases including VFX, Game Development, and Interior Design.
It has been used across multiple action films such as the well-known Guardians of the Galaxy by Marvel Studios and seamlessly integrates with other popular 3D software like Autodesk 3ds Max
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Many of you film enthusiasts may have some specific questions. So, I’ve tried to answer the most common ones below.
What Editing Software Does Disney Use?
Disney uses various editing platforms such as Autodesk Maya for their 3D editing work. Most of their recent animated characters were made using Pixologic ZBrush, for the VFX they utilized Houdini and for rendering they shifted from Pixar’s Renderman to using their in-house rendering software, Disney Hyperion.
Which Software is Used for VFX in Movies?
There are quite a few VFX programs used in the making of movies but the most common one is Adobe After Effects. It has a huge library of effects that movie makers can use and implement to largely improve the look and feel of their films.
What is the Most Famous Video Editing Software?
Avid Media Composer is the industry standard video editor used for most Hollywood blockbuster films and individual productions.
Phew, that’s a long list of applications, but it goes to show that a lot goes into making your favorite Hollywood films. To summarize the video editing software used in Hollywood consist of the following:
- Avid Media Composer, Premiere Pro, and Final Cut Pro for editing
- Nuke, After Effects, and Blackmagic Fusion for compositing
- Davinci Resolve for color grading
- Protools, Audacity, and Adobe Auditorium for audio & sound
- Autodesk Maya, 3ds Max, and Houdini for 3D editing
- Renderman and Chaos V-Ray for rendering
I hope this article provides you with some clarity on what options you have to use when trying to recreate Hollywood style editing for your own projects.
Now go out there and create the next cinema hit!
Ibrahim Ahmed is the founder and CEO of Mediacaterer – an Art & Design blog covering the latest news, tips, guides, and product reviews for beginners, intermediates, and professionals. He’s a self-taught graphic designer and writer hoping to help aspiring artists and designers make it big in the industry