Thursday, March 4, 2010

Linux Video Editing with Openshot

In an earlier post I spoke of different pieces of software I had been using to rip my DVDs to media files, never content to just leave things as they are I took to piecing bits and chunks of various episode clips together. I tried a few different Linux video editors including Kino (a KDE staple), PiTiVi (to be included by default in Ubuntu 10.04), and Cinelerra. After playing with all of these for a short while I still was not satisfied with that these where the best pieces of FOSS software for Linux video editing. I was right, I soon came across one of the newest contenders to the world of Linux Video editing:

Openshot is a non-linear video editor for the Linux operating system. It is designed to be easy to use, but powerful at the same time. I feel its only fair I should mention that I do not have any professional experience editing video/audio with any form of software, I am simply your average person looking for Openshot aims to be:

An easy tool anyone can use for piecing together audio and video.

I'd like to start by going over the GUI and since I believe a picture is worth a thousand words I'm going to start with a screen shot:

Openshot's GUI is broken down into three main sections. At the bottom of the screen is a tray area where all of your project's tracks are stored. There is a slider for zooming in and out so you can get either more precision with the section you are trying to edit or see a more of your work at once. There are six different tools button at the top of the tracks section, they allow you to add additional tracks, place markers, rearrange, trim, resize, or snap clips together.

The second section of the Openshot GUI is the preview window. As you click through the different sections of your presentation an image of whatever part you have selected appears in the preview window. The preview screen also allows for the live playback of what you have put together thus far. I had the video aspect of the preview window lock up on me a couple of times during my use with Openshot however clicking to a different part of the presentation and clicking back quickly got things back on track.

The final section of the Openshot GUI has three different tabs in it. The top most displays any media you may have imported to use in your presentation (movie clips, pictures, audio tracks, ect). Just below this tab is one that offers a variety of transition effects, there are around thirty to choose from so a good selection to say the least. The third and final tab is effects/overlays you can apply to videos and images, there are around thirty of these as well and they range from a black and white effect to a fun "wave" blur.

Openshot allows for the saving of project files while you are putting together a lengthy project and once you are done with your presentation Openshot supports the exporting to a variety of different media types, including avi, mp4, m4v, iPod, and many others (depending on what media libraries you have installed on your system).

Is Openshot perfect? No it is not, but then what piece of software is? All in all I think Openshot is a fantastic tool and as of Ubuntu 10.04 it will be included in the default repositories for the world's most popular desktop Linux distribution. Running a non-Ubuntu based Linux distro? Not a problem. So long as you have python 2.6 and all of Openshot's other dependencies installed on your system the Openshot developers have a created a very sleek python installer script that makes it as easy to install as running python install as super user.

Did I miss something you like about Openshot? Maybe there is something you don't like that I failed to mention? Or finally perhaps is there another Linux video editing tool I have yet to discover you would care to share a link to?

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. Honestly I am not user of Linux. That's why I don't bother much about be update with it but I felt this was something really exciting to know about Linux. I was wondering to explore video of it and going to ask you but you have already given the link. I am just going to explore the video. Good post.

  2. Or finally perhaps is there another Linux video editing tool I have yet to discover you would care to share a link to?

    Try Kdenlive. It has more features and as user friendly if not more. You can get it here Kdenlive

    or if running K/Ubuntu just use

    sudo aptitude install kdenlive

  3. Or how about taking a look at LiVES, with even more features.

    or just

    sudo aptitude install lives

  4. Meanwhile Linux users wanting an easy way to click and install programs that aren't in their repositories are still left in the cold when there are no DEB packages for them.

    But yes, OpenShot is pretty good.