Seven video editing programs for Linux

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Shotcut [7] developers release new versions of the software right on time every month. At the time I wrote this article, version 16.01 was the most recent version (Figure 7). The developers offer a precompiled version of Shotcut on their homepage. You can download the archive for Linux, decompress it, and then start the shotcut script in the directory.

Figure 7: The main window.

Shotcut uses MLT to process videos in the background. It can also utilize the graphics card for processing; however, the developers report that this feature is still experimental. Shotcut starts up with a window that is practically empty. As soon as the user opens a video, Shotcut plays it, acting much like a video player. Two white triangles that sit on the ends of a time line are the only indication of the video editing functionality of the program. Moving the triangles cuts the beginning and end of a clip. With this method, it is very difficult to make precision cuts.

The view menu option lets you display tabs on the left-hand side of the window. These tabs have additional tools, including a group of effects referred to as filters in Shotcut. Filters always apply to the finished clip currently opened. As a rule, these filters offer few options. Moreover, the filters are difficult to adjust because of the small size of the slider bar. Nonetheless, Shotcut displays the effects in the preview. If necessary, the user can save settings already applied as a template and later quickly call the template to apply the effects to another video.

If effects have already been applied to a clip, you can add the clip to the playback list. Shotcut plays the list starting from top to bottom, thereby playing a completed movie. To retroactively edit a clip from the playback list, open the clip in the preview by clicking on the hamburger symbol, and then click on Open as a clip . This process is somewhat cumbersome.

An alternative to the playback list is to start with an empty time line. As soon as a video is moved onto the line, Shotcut automatically creates an accompanying track. Any additional tracks must be explicitly added by the user. The clips latch onto important points like the time needle or the end of another clip. The height of the track cannot change, only the time resolution.

Trimming a clip involves using the mouse to move the ends of the clip onto the timeline. However, you are flying blind during this task because the preview only shows the position of the time needle. Shotcut currently has just one cutting tool; it separates the clip that has been marked at the point at which the time needle is positioned. You can simulate cross-fades with the help of the Video fade out filter and Video fade in .

To export the film after editing, open the suitable tab and select one of the numerous templates. Professional film editors can perform additional fine-tuning. If desired, Shotcut can stream the video to a "Melted" server, which refers to the Melted video server. This industrial-strength media player for television broadcasting is the original use case and application for the MLT framework.


In spite of similarities in operating concepts and user interfaces, the video editing programs described in this article are intended for specific user groups with different backgrounds and demands.

Beginners and those users who occasionally produce films should take a look at Shotcut and Flowblade. Shotcut deserves special attention for a user interface that the developers have reduced to the essentials and that only displays tools if explicitly requested. Users who want to do more than assemble clips one after another must reckon with cumbersome operation on both Shotcut and Flowblade.

Cinelerra, Kdenlive, and Lightworks are clearly intended for advanced users and professionals. Cinelerra comes across as outmoded, but users who can handle the somewhat awkward operation are rewarded with a broad range of functions that make even compositings possible. Kdenlive has also grown into a function monster over the years. However, it still cannot compete with Adobe Premiere Pro. In spite of some clumsy controls, Kdenlive does offer keyboard shortcuts – most of which work well.

Lightworks Free is actually a test version for its fee-based counterpart. You can only use Lightworks Free for producing videos because export functions come with the Lightworks Pro package. Even experienced film editors will need some time to accustom themselves to the free version. However, professionals will find that Lightworks Pro is a solid and well-made tool.

Kino is primarily intended for beginning film editors who want to post-process old videos in DV format. Even though Kino development has stopped the Kino video editor continues to run without a hitch. LiVES is probably best suited to artists, provided they do not get discouraged by the extremely confusing controls.

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