Some Alternatives to Adobe Cloud Products

Updated August 26, 2019, to include a link to Gimp.

Adobe has come to dominate with its extensive program offerings: Photoshop, Premiere, Lightroom, Dreamweaver, InDesign, Illustrator. For the professional, the suite might be a must-have. Some prefer the cohesion across the options, and they like access to conistently updated software.

Not everyone supports their subscription model, which can run several hundred dollars per year. I generally prefer to support indie or smaller developers, and “free” or “less expensive” means more money that can go toward a drone.

Here are some free or lower-cost alternatives to consider as part of your filmmaking processes.

Pixelmator Pro

Pixelmator Pro is an image editor that allows both photo editing and graphic drawing. I considered Affinity, but reviews mentioning the “weird workflow” put me off.

I’m glad I chose Pixelmator — I downloaded the program and was using it with ease in seconds. The program is intuitive, with clearly designed menus and commands. Searching for help yielded clear answers quickly.

I used the program for resizing a couple hundred photos and for creating five iterations of a basic board game. These tasks required engaging both photo retouching options and with graphic design elements. Working with shapes, layers, texts, and colors proved quite simple.

Pixelmator Pro runs about $40 plus tax. It is for Mac platforms only.

For those seeking a no-cost alternative, check out Gimp. It’s completely free and regularly updated.

HitFilm Express

While I have used Photoshop on and off for too many years, my experience with nonlinear editing programs is more limited. I have used iMovie (hush) and completed a short class in Premiere.

HitFilm Express is free nonlinear editing software available on both Macn and Windows platforms. The background in Premiere made HitFilm fairly simple to figure out the workflow and the workspace. I completed a few light cutting and assembly pieces that went quite smoothly, with features that made organizing different material types fast and easy.

Hitfilm also offers extensive extensions if you want to add specific features to the program without investing in the full-price version.

DaVinci Resolve is a free editor to consider as well.


Audacity is a respected and established sound editor available for free. With regard to ambisonic recording, Audacity handled the four-channel soundtrack quite well, converting it quickly. Audacity also allowed muting and unmuting various tracks to hear around the different sounds.

Audacity is available for Mac, Windows, or Linux.

For another sound editor to consider, check out Reaper. It offers a more than two month trial period, and then costs $60 for a license. It is available for Mac and Windows, with Linux in an experimental stage. For simpler audio editing, also check out Rogue Amoeba’s Fission.


While geared toward sound editors and sound effects, Soundly also offers organizing features for sound files. The program allows the creation of collections, and within those each file has spaces for time, format, description, and more.

Soundly is free up to 2,500 files. Afterward, the company requests a $15 per month subscription.

For those seeking quality effects, Soundly also includes more than 100,000 of them in its free libraries. The “Golden Era Library” might appeal to film enthusiasts.

Soundly is available for Mac and Windows.

What are some of your favorite Adobe alternatives? Leave them in a comment below, or feel free to @documentarysite on Twitter.

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