Seven video editing programs for Linux

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The commercial version of the Lightworks editing program has played a role in the production of well known films such as The King's Speech and Pulp Fiction . A free version of Lightworks is also available from EditShare.

You can download Lightworks Free free of charge, but you must register with EditShare after starting the program. The free version only produces videos in MPEG4 format. Also, some functions are missing right from the start, including support for 3D videos and team-editing functions.

Lightworks Pro has a complete set of functions you can purchase for around EUR338. Alternatively, you can choose a rental payment option of EUR20 per month. An annual subscription costs EUR135. Regardless of the choice of payment, the pro version is always activated via the Internet.

The manufacturer offers the Linux version as a DEB package for Ubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu as of version 14.04, and Linux Mint 17. Beginning with version 20 of Fedora, the software is offered as an RPM package. For proprietary graphics card drivers, Lightworks strongly recommends Nvidia or AMD. Problems can occur during video processing when using free drivers.

Lightworks takes up the entire screen when it starts (Figure 5). You can minimize the main window. Lightworks remembers the visual arrangement of the subwindows as part of a saved project. Editing functions can be activated through one of the following: using small symbols found along the edges of the window, via the context menu invoked by pressing the right mouse button, or using keyboard shortcuts. You can enlarge the elements of the user interface in the basic settings, permitting operations on high-definition monitors.

Figure 5: Lightworks users must juggle numerous windows, even when working on smaller projects.

Lightworks lets you group loaded clips into bins. Filters can be created and added only to those clips displaying specified characteristics. This lets you maintain an overview even when numerous film snippets are involved. Lightworks opens a clip in a separate preview window, letting you perform editing operations with just a few mouse clicks. The results can then be moved to one of several time lines that Lightworks can manage. Time lines can be nested, so you can put together a film out of several sequences. You can scale the tracks in the time line for easy editing on a high-definition monitor. Lightworks offers many cutting tools, including tools allowing you to retroactively move or roll the cut points.

Lightworks also stands out for its extensive color correction. You can work in an HSV model and also fade in vectorscope and waveform representations to check on results. The effects that come from the manufacturer will satisfy even the professional film editor. Along with the standard effects, such as color correction, the program also offers split screen and bluebox effects. Keyframes are used for modifying the settings for effects over time. A suitable effect is used to generate titles. Two additional effects handle screen credits that run either horizontally or vertically across the image.

A special view lets you interconnect several effects. Each effect will appear as a small box with input and output ports, which are then connected together via virtual cables. If desired, Lightworks can easily merge scenes shot with multiple cameras via the multi-cam feature.


LiVES [6] is primarily intended for video jockeys and video artists, who produce their videos during the course of an event. As a result, LiVES assigns effects and clips to individual keys. A simple press on a key suffices to invoke a film or apply an effect. Lives lets you use a keyboard, joystick, or Midi controller as a control device. Moreover, the program can stream clips over a network to other LiVES installations and record the video produced during an event.

Almost as an afterthought, LiVES works as a typical editing program. The clip editor shown in Figure 6 lets you first cut individual film clips and then apply effects. Afterward, you can switch into multi-track mode to assemble the edited clips into a complete movie. Although the version of LiVES offered in the Ubuntu 15.10 software center crashed multiple times during testing, the package offered by the Packman repository for openSUSE Leap functioned perfectly.

Figure 6: The LiVES user interface is extremely cluttered and cumbersome to use.

LiVES imports files from the hard drive. It also digitalizes videos from webcams and analog TV cards, records DVDs, and downloads clips from YouTube. However, LiVES converts each of the videos it loads into a series of PNG images. Converting the videos to PNGs makes it easier to apply effects when using the video for an event, but the video occupies considerably more space on the hard disk. A one-minute video in standard definition takes up almost 1.6GB. After about one hour of trying, we interrupted the import of 10 seconds of a commercially available AVCHD video. During the load process, LiVES completely consumed all CPU time for the test computer. With other video formats, the program occasionally displayed distorted images.

LiVES lets you control playback using keyboard shortcuts, buttons in the main menu, and in the Play menu. To cut a clip, move the white bars together and mark the area for removal. This process could hardly be more complicated. As a result, frame-perfect cuts are possible only with extremely short clips.

The upper left area of the multi track mode displays a small preview. All of the available effects sit to the right of the preview area, along with a list of imported videos. Arrange these imported videos using drag and drop on the time line in the lower area of the window.

Cross-fades are very difficult to create. After marking the correct track, you must specify the area for the cross-fade to occur, which is done by joining a gray bar above the time line in a suitable fashion. Then, a cross-fade effect is moved to the time line. This causes a settings window for the effect to open. Heights for the tracks on the timeline should not be modified; otherwise, they turn into narrow bands on high-definition monitors.

The effects come from the Frei0r collection, which should please the intended target group because of the availability of drastic distortion effects like the whirlpool. The title generator looks like the console for a space ship. Slider bars are used to set the length, position, and color for the text you wish to display.

To output the film you create, first convert it into an individual clip, then switch back into the clip editor and export from there. The scope of functions that LiVES offers can be expanded via a plugin interface.

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