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Friday, March 23, 2007

Essential Free Software

NOTICE: Click here for the Updated 2011 List of Dwarfed Films' Essential Free Software.

There are some incredible programs out there for creating/editing/viewing/manipulation of images and audio. Even better is the fact that a lot of these programs are freeware or open source. At Dwarfed Films we use certain open source products like Blender 3d and The Gimp every day so we've decided to include a list of software that other filmmakers might find useful.
The following programs are the equivalent (and in some cases superior) to many commercial products so don't let the "freeware" tag scare you off!
Some of these programs are a lot less cumbersome and processor intensive than their commercial rivals and are suited to specific tasks. Many of them have very small file sizes because they don't come bundled with tonnes of tutorials and manuals.
Also this is a rough list and certain products may have been forgotten or excluded for other reasons and website names may be incorrect or have changed too.

Look up these programmes on

List compiled by Shane Sheils and Paula Sheils of Dwarfed Films.
Contact us


Essential Freeware or Open Source Software:
Note: items marked “*” are frequently used by Dwarfed Films.

Animation/Modelling Tools

*Blender 3D: Open source (freeware) 3D modelling, animation, sequencer for windows/mac/linux/etc

UV Mapper: Freeware UV texture unwrapper for 3D models.

Plant Studio: Freeware creator plants and leaves. Expots to .OBJ format.

Image Editor Tools

*The Gimp: Open Source image editor that is just like photoshop

*Irfan View: Freeware image viewer supporting practically every format from .png to .mov. Find it at

*Paint.Net: Similar to The Gimp but easier interface and it also loads much quicker. Supports layers and a whole range of effects.

Visual FX Tools

*Voodoo Camera Tracker: Freeware camera tracking software.

*Terregen: Freeware landscape creator for making stunningly realistic landscapes.

*Terranim: Freeware plugin for terregen that makes animations of created landscapes.

*Landformer: Freeware landscape map generator for use in Terregen

Win DV: Freeware tool for importing/exporting footage from DV camera to computer.

Super: Freeware video converter for conversion to avi/mpeg/wav/mp3/swf/ogg/mobile phone/etc and vice versa.

Audio Editor/Sequencer Tools

*Audacity: Open Source audio editor and recording

*Quartz Audio Master Freeware: Free version of audio/midi editor

*VM midi keyboard: Freeware virtual desktop midi keyboard

*Psychle: Freeware audio sampler/sequencer

*Audio Grabber: Freeware audio recorder/convertor/ripper.

Hammer Head Rhythm Studio: Freeware drum sequencer. Download available from DOWNLOAD.COM

Groove Drum Station DT-010: Freeware drum sequencer.

Shittalker: Basic text to speech program. A bit dated now but still funny.

DVD Tools

EXPRESS BURN: Excellent, Freeware DVD/CD/BlueRay/HD DVD burn sotware that is 100% compatible with Windows Vista. Nice clean design and the best DVD burning program we've yet seen. Choose this instead of Final Burner! Download it here

DVD Shrink:Excellent and versatile Freeware tool for copying DVD's and compressing them so that they can fit on a standard DVD-/+ disc. (NOTE: Copying a commercial copyright-protected DVD may be done for personal use only).

Final Burner: A great Freeware CD/DVD burning program like Nero (the program - not the Roman emperor). Small download size (about 2mb) and with a user friendly interface. Recommended (Note for personal use only).

Presentation Tools

*Open Office: Open Source equivalent to MS Office, but far superior. Can write direct to .pdf format.

*Wink: Freeware tool to create presentations in .swf (shockwave flash) or .exe (executable file) format. Records mouse movements and allows you to edit this into a tutorial demo.

*Cam Studio: Open Source screen-grab utility that records video/audio to .avi or.swf format. Pretty much similar to Wink except for the .avi capabilities. Very useful.

*Foxit PDF Reader: Freeware PDF reader and editor. Better that Adobe Reader.

*PDF Xchange Viewer: Freeware PDF reader and editor. Again better than Adobe Reader.

Compression Tools

*7Zip: Open source compression software. Much better compression than winzip/win rar etc. Supports all compression formats.

Web Browser Tools

*Mozilla Firefox: Open Source web browser. Far more secure and user friendly than Internet Explorer.

Operating Systems

Linux Ubuntu: Open Source (ie: FREE) operating system that is updated every 6 months. Has received a lot of very good feedback and reviews and is considered to be more secure that Windows. Comes with software such as Open Office, etc. Can be downloaded from the site or you can apply to receive a copy by post for free!


Good Commercial Software Products:

At Dwarfed Films we don't just use freeware. The following are some of the best commercial products out there. You might wonder why we haven't included Final Cut pro, Adobe After Effects, Avid or indeed the free learing edition Avid Free DV? Well the reason is that these programs get the job done without too much fuss and without wasting too much processing time and they are very stable (crashes are generally rare).

*Magix Movie Edit Pro: Video editor. Renders on the fly so gives fast playback when editing which is very important! Newer versions handle .png / .tga formats which is suitable for compositing. Trial Versions available but you would need broadband connection.

*Sony Vegas: Video editor. Fast, lots of FX and extras. Supports .png / .tga formats. Trial Versions available but you will need broadband connection to download.

*Deep Exploration : The best 3D model viewer. Made by Right Hemisphere. Also renders and exports to variety of formats. Very useful to find stuff on your hard drive when in a rush. Trial Versions available. File size approx 15mb.

Reaper: Audio editor (also includes video playback) with layout that would be familiar to users of Sony Vegas. Trial Versions available. File size approx 8mb

Freeware Websites

Major Geeks: Safe and secure freeware software arranged into various categories. Click here to visit site

Sourceforge: Directory of open Source projects with downloads. Not the best laid out site in the world but you can find programs of all types for all formats. Click here to visit the site

VST4FREE: Site offering free VST plugins for creating and editing music. Use the plugins alongside other free audio creation software such as Psycle or Reaper. Click here to visit the site

PC-Utilities: Website of the PC-Utilities magazine. You can directly download software in various categories. Click here to visit the site

Wikipedia: The Wiki list of Free/Open Source software. Click here to vist the site

FSF/UNESCO Free List: A list of freeware compiled by the UN. Click here to visit the site

Light Links: This is a bit strange but it's religious site offering freeware! You can ignore the christian preachy stuff and check out the free software links on the left hand side of the main page. Click here to visit the site

As always you can contact us here
Or you can leave a comment or any other links to free software that you think others might find useful.

NOTICE: Click here for the Updated 2011 List of Dwarfed Films' Essential Free Software.


sebastian said...

I want to congratulate you because your blog is very interesting.

dwarfed films said...

Hi Sebastian,
Glad you like the site.

Dwarfed Films

Leon said...

I use Irfanview a lot and also some of the other programs you mentioned. Great list.