HitFilm Express light theme

Gregory_SmithGregory_Smith Website User Posts: 2
edited January 2020 in Post-production techniques

I apologise if this comes across as brusque or rude, but I just can't stand using programs with light themes. It genuinely hurts my eyes. Do I seriously have to pay for the dark theme?



  • Stargazer54Stargazer54 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,866 Ambassador

    @Gregory_Smith Which software are you referring to?  This is a forum for Hit Film and it defaults to a dark grey interface color set. So not sure what the question is about.

  • triforcefxtriforcefx United StatesModerator, Website User Posts: 1,120 Moderator

    @Stargazer54 @Gregory_Smith

    HitFilm Express now comes with a “Light” theme as the default, with the classic dark theme as a special add-in if you use the new “pay-what-you-want” option. 
    Gregory, if you’ve had a license for Express before today, you automatically get the dark theme for free, and it will default to the dark theme. If you’re downloading HitFilm for the first time today, HitFilm will start with the light theme and you’ll only get the dark theme if you use one of the paid options.

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0 Enthusiast

     Pay walling something as essential as a dark theme is undoubtably going to lead to a lot of angry users. Dark is the most common option in programs today by studies, and what concerns me is that they even thought that this was a good idea. They know people will want the dark theme, and hell, its not even obvious on the download page that you can get Express for free anymore. ?

  • KirstieTKirstieT Staff Administrator, Moderator, Website User Posts: 1,064 Staff

    @Gregory_Smith Thanks for your comment - did you have HitFilm Express prior to the release of this update? For clarification, every Express user who had the software already will automatically get the dark theme (as well as the light theme to toggle) by default. We know you're already used to it, and so we wouldn't dream of making people pay for something they already owned. You can change between the dark and light themes by going to Options > Interface and selecting which theme you’d prefer to use, which will apply when you next open the application. If you're not seeing this option, please restart HitFilm Express.

    We've experienced some issues with people getting confused between HitFilm Express and HitFilm Pro in the past, because of how similar the feature set is (excluding some of the most professional features) and their almost identical interfaces. Rather than remove any features to make HitFilm Express less powerful (which we would never want to do), we have instead implemented a light mode which makes it immediately visually different. Many 'lite' software options (which Express both is not (too powerful) and is, compared to Pro) in our industry have light interfaces to better contrast with their more powerful counterparts. Over the years we have also had users request a light themed version, so we're really pleased to add this choice and confident that it will be some people's preference.

    @CNK HitFilm Express is still completely free, if you would like it to be. In the copy at the top of the PWYW page, we specify that the software is free, but that we would encourage any users to support with a purchase. If you drag the slider to $0, you are still able to download for free as normal. However, I've taken on board your feedback about it being unclear for the next iteration of the page design.

    Thanks both for your comments!

  • Andy001zAndy001z Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,935 Ambassador

    I actually forgot how clean the white looked, might switch my pro back to it. If it is too bright, turn your brightness down, the default manufacture setting is often way to bright.

  • TheBenNorrisTheBenNorris Staff Administrator, Website User, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 1,664 Staff

    @Andy001z forgive my confusion, but you make it sound like you've seen light mode in pro in the past, which I don't believe there has been, unless I'm mistaken?

  • Andy001zAndy001z Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,935 Ambassador

    @TheBenNorris I stand corrected I thought it was the look of the earlier Hitfilm Pro say 4, but no its dark. However I loaded up Hitfilm Express 2 (I don't know why I still keep it installed!) and this is more of a light grey look with larger areas of white. To my aging eyes (40s) it certainly looks cleaner.


  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0 Enthusiast
    edited January 2020

    @KirstieT I appreciate your direct response to my feedback but in all honesty, I was a marketing graphics designer in the past and the way this looks it's definitely pushing people towards paying. Wouldn't it make more sense if it started on 0, and then with a small graphic explaining saying that paying tiny amounts get you discounted packs? The whole flashing text and red highlight make it look very humblebundle like.

    Forgive my ignorance if that is not the case, but that's how I read it. Also having to move the slider to the left is naturally not in most people's minds because you want to continue reading to the right, it's more comfortable. These are things that matter and I thought I understood it correctly.

    I'm still a faithful customer even if I can't pay money to use your software, I try to help in other ways. But I want to see your whole company evolve without any negativity since you've built something great. Yeah I may be more picky than others because I was trained in a class to manipulate people's minds when reading a graphic, but again, without a doubt, at the very least the dark mode starting at €9 is still nefarious to me. Graphics can be easily changed The dark mode was a decision you guys made and CEO signed, so what's next? People are going to ask that question as well.

  • KirstieTKirstieT Staff Administrator, Moderator, Website User Posts: 1,064 Staff
    edited January 2020

    @CNK Of course while HitFilm Express is completely free, we do want people to consider supporting the company, and therefore help us give as much money as possible to the good causes (and improve the software for their benefit, and future users). We could start the slider at $0, but this would stop new users from even considering the goodies and benefits available. And that's all we ask them to do - consider it. As well as moving the slider to the left, users can enter 0 in the $ box if they don't want to pay for the software. 

    And we do certainly approve of the Humble Bundle setup, which was one of the things to inspire us to produce this kind of initiative for good causes, so I'm glad that you're making that association. We are proud to be a Pay what you want initiative that gives you the option to pay absolutely nothing if that's what you can afford. 

    Edit: I see you've added a further paragraph on the dark mode so I will add: We are dedicated to our users and in every instance focus on being transparent, fair and good. There are no nefarious intentions here, but rather that there are (as there always have been) features/add-ons that can be added to Express that are considered to be Pro-level. We've determined that the dark mode is our Pro version, but we've also made it an accessible price should people want it. As mentioned before, users of v13.1 and earlier will retain this for free too, as well as continuing to get our consistent updates which add new and incredible features to the Express software regularly (all of which require development and resource costs to the company).

    I do appreciate your thoughts on this and we will consider all of this feedback going forward! Thank you. 

  • triforcefxtriforcefx United StatesModerator, Website User Posts: 1,120 Moderator


    I think the pay what you want model is a great idea, and I’d probably use it myself if I was still using Express.

    I do agree that the PWYW interface  could use some small tweaks, but that’s to be expected with a massive overhaul. I think a link or button that essentially says “I don’t want these amazing extras, just take me to the free download” would be helpful for people- like me when I first became a HitFilm user;) - who can’t pay just yet. This could go underneath the slider or below the 3 tiers.

    In the short term, it might stop some people from paying who might have otherwise paid (perhaps falsely believing they have to pay to use Express at all), BUT in the long term, it will stop people from completely turning away from the software and never having the chance to become a paid user because they quit, thinking they have to pay for something that was supposed to be free.

    (It’s all about people understanding the options they have before making a decision. Think of all the people who have bought Pro before trying Express or the Pro demo, only to find out that their computer won’t run it, then they get mad at us and demand a refund. If they had understood their options, they wouldn’t need to go through that painful process, and they could still be a customer in the future)

    Once again, I’m super excited about the PWYW model, I just think it needs a few small tweaks to make it perfect!

  • DataDesignDataDesign Website User Posts: 459 Enthusiast
    edited January 2020

     +1 @Triforcefx

    Great idea.

    One tiny thought. Think about placing  the little green "FREE" symbol you use on this screen below by the "HitFilm Express" selection, to the left of the price slider. Might make it a little clearer. But honestly, you just can't please everyone, ever. :-)

    HF Forever! I have 3 versions of PRO and 3 of Express. Need to download the latest HFE now.

  • triforcefxtriforcefx United StatesModerator, Website User Posts: 1,120 Moderator

    @Stargazer54 Comments like the one above are when I wish I had your powers.

  • Stargazer54Stargazer54 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,866 Ambassador

    @triforcefx Comment removed.  But I understand the frustration.  I installed HFE so I was current and didn't even know about the white screen because mine defaulted to grey since I already had it installed.  But new users will get the light screen.

    The way I understand it is if you were a previous user of HFE you are "grandfathered" in with the grey interface.  It is just new users that will experience the light screen by default.  However that can be remedied at minimal cost if they so choose. And proceeds go to a good cause.  https://fxhome.com/hitfilm-express/pwyw

    But $9 to get the light interface monkey off your back is not a big thing since you also get Edit, Color and VFX starter packs along with it. 

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0 Enthusiast
    edited January 2020

    Certainly controversial, and I didn't mean to spin something up. I don't intend to create any drama. But I just can't fathom that something like this actually exists. If they want to charge €9, open XML imports so people can create and share their own. Locking something as common in todays UI world, is frankly ridiculous. I really, really hope to see this be changed, and we'll all pretend it never happened, and move on.

  • XVFXVF Website User Posts: 1

    instead of making HFE's interface lighter, why make pro's interface darker aka give it a blackout theme that makes the all background and whatnot pure black?  Either that or give it custom themes.  Honestly seems like a much better solution to the "Pro looks too much like Express" problem than forcing Express to be blinding to work with.

    also,  i don't have the option to toggle the light theme even though i've been an express user for a while, who do i go to for this to be corrected? if i should make this it's own discussion i will

  • Stargazer54Stargazer54 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,866 Ambassador

    @XVF If you had a previously licensed version of HFE then you should still be able to get back to the dark grey colors.  Go to File, Options, Interface - Theme drop down and select Dark Mode.

    FYI moderators are not FXHome staff so this is merely as I understand the situation at the moment and could stand corrected.  If this does not work for you I would suggest contacting FXHome support for an official answer.

  • TheBenNorrisTheBenNorris Staff Administrator, Website User, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 1,664 Staff

    I just want to mention, as someone who assisted with the addition of the new theming, that it was not as easy as it seems to be believed by some people. A lot of work and testing went into the addition of the light theme, and no doubt a lot more of work will go into future development based on feedback from users. We are hearing the feedback about the light theme, PWYW model and other changes and are taking it on board.

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0 Enthusiast

    @KirstieT I will comment on this one last time to at least explain in a better way what i mean by the graphics. Im not saying youre not allowed to make money or make packs seem like good purchases is bad.

    Basically in a nutshell, the way that layout speaks to people is a bit towards the forced side. The discounted packs are already in the spotlight.

    The little smiley character on the slider is basically saying its not happy with even the €9 pledge. 

    It Is crying on 0

    It is neutral on 9

    It is smiling on 21

    It is loving you on 38

    Its these small things that made me react the way i did. Why is it crying on 0 when Express is marketed as a free program where you want to get as many people onboard as possible, who then become potential customers for packs. Charity is included, and maybe the idea was that not supporting charity is why its crying, but its the little things. 

    Its a great model, but in my opinion it wasnt ready to be released. Maybe om completely alone in thinking that, but i just wanted to share and post 1 last message on this subject.

  • lintellintel Website User Posts: 1

    @KirstieT I own Hitfilm 2017 and i don't see any setting in interface that lets me change my theme? 

  • TheBenNorrisTheBenNorris Staff Administrator, Website User, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 1,664 Staff

    @lintel the light theme is new to HitFilm 14. If you want that (and other new features) I recommend you update.

  • Gregory_SmithGregory_Smith Website User Posts: 2


    I didn't have Hitfilm prior to this, so I do not have the dark theme. Even with my monitor's brightness on the lowest setting it strains my eyes. I will have to refrain from using this software unless I need a certain feature it has, unfortunately. I didn't download this software to use daily, I just need it occasionally, and I'd rather not pay to do so. I don't need any of the other things you get when paying. 

  • KirstieTKirstieT Staff Administrator, Moderator, Website User Posts: 1,064 Staff

    @CNK Thanks for your last message - I understand your feedback and we will be taking it into account with the new version of the page as we are working to improve every time. 

    @Gregory_Smith I am very sorry to hear that the light theme strains your eyes and you feel unable to use it. We will listen out for feedback from other users to see whether this issue comes up more than once, to the point where people feel unable to use it. 

  • ChiemeriaJikaChiemeriaJika Website User Posts: 1

    Just read this whole thread... I came across it from googling "how to change hitfilm to night-mode/dark-mode." Thought I'll share my thought process. I wanted to try the software out because a friend uses it and likes it (he has a dark mode I don't know if he paid), I used DaVinci prior (is basically dark-themed not true dark-mode for both free/nonfree) but it isn't good for making videos quickly. Also, I wanted to try something new. Honestly, the way @CNK explained it was completely right.. The paywalled interface light and dark really is a turn off; its enough to just uninstall even though I just downloaded it today. It may seem like a weird little thing but that's how I feel and im guessing that how most new people may feel. (New to this software not editing). Honestly, I don't care if you change how it works in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter. hitfilm may have had no malice with the choice but it does seem like you removed something typical and asked people to play nine dollars for it. I probably would have paid the nine bucks anyway (it's just nine bucks way cheaper than sony or Davinci im not sure if the features are similar) I don't know why but feeling somewhat coerce to is lame... But if it gets you more paper I can't hold you   That's it.. sorry it's long thought it might be useful. I'll probably use it for a couple of videos then uninstall once I need to make longer videos. 

    TL:DR I agree with @CNK and I think my experience matches his example/explanation  

  • triforcefxtriforcefx United StatesModerator, Website User Posts: 1,120 Moderator

    @ChiemeriaJika @Gregory_Smith

    If you need a Dark theme, simply use the previous version, 13.1. As it only had a dark theme, dark is all you'll get. https://fxhome.com/software-install/hitfilm-express/2019-09-30

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0 Enthusiast

    @triforcefx HF 14 received major updates to workflow and compatibility updates as well. And over time, the gap will only continue to increase, and when HF 15 drops, are people supposed to follow this advise? I feel like it's counter-intuitive.


  • triforcefxtriforcefx United StatesModerator, Website User Posts: 1,120 Moderator

    @CNK Indeed, it's not ideal. But for now, if you have only recently downloaded Express and don't want to pay, this is the only option currently available if you need a dark theme. 

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0 Enthusiast

    @triforcefx It's fair, can't really tell people anything different, but I also think saying this adds to the frustration some people have with this change. It's been a few days now, and I think it's just as bad now as it was then. Realistically they're losing customers and damaging their reputation.

  • jacksonmacdjacksonmacd Website User Posts: 6 Just Starting Out

    My $0.02 as a completely amateur, home user...  I already had HFE when 14 was released and was somewhat confused by the pay-what-you-want interface. Eventually figured out what it was offering and chose the $19 level which is REALLY unusual for me as I often stay with the free offerings. However, I felt that the HF authors deserved to be rewarded for a great product. To find that it came with the light theme was a bonus for me since I've never been a fan of the dark interface. 

  • CedricBonnierCedricBonnier Staff Administrator, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 1,192 Staff

    Putting aside the marketing aspect of the Dark/Light themes in HitFilm, us developers have put in a lot of work to add the Light mode. We've tweaked the colours, updated all the icons so that things are readable in the light mode, added the ability to switch between the two themes, etc.

    From reading your comments it sounds like light mode is completely unusable which I struggle to understand why. Both Windows and Mac have traditionally have Light modes and only very recently have we gained the option to choose a darker interface. Most websites also use a light background.

    What is making Light theme in Express unusable to you? If you have suggestions of things to change then by all means, do let us know. Or is it simply that you think that Dark mode should be free?

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0 Enthusiast
    edited January 2020


    I prefer the light theme, even though i think its shades are too light overall.

    However, an important thing to note is that people that use >60 Hz monitors are probably getting flashbanged. Brightness is generally 200/250 cd/m2 even when set to 0 in the OSD, its nowhere near a calibrated monitor typically used which are targetting 80-100 cd/m2, otherwise all you get is an accurate colour graph - not accurate colour. Thats twice as low as our typical monitors which i assume people are using, and three times as high when utilised in full brightness, in contrast to what you might be using. I dont think a large part of people are in bright office type environments, so light modes in general not just HitFilm, will strain eyes and become a foundation for headaches. Dark has the advantage of being neutral for the most part, since dark grey and light grey elements blend really well together, reduce overall brightness, lower monitors processing on blue light, flicker becomes more manageble (PWM). I dont know the science behind why it works on websites, but it certainly doesnt in apps. Dark mode is really popular.

    Another issue which is the main one that i got from this, is that dark mode deserves to be free, not behind €9 for new users past HF 14 launch. Its the idea that its paid only which the thread creator and others kindly point out. :)


This discussion has been closed.