Friday 12 May 2017

Looking for a Linux Video Editor?

I'm a bit of a sucker when it comes to video editors.

Although I don't do a great deal of video work (except during the bird box season) if I stumble across a video editor, I have to install it.

And so it was a couple of days ago when I discovered Shotcut.

Shotcut is a free, open source cross-platform app, so if you happen to be stuck with a dreadful Windows computer or some kind of Apple monstrosity, it could still be the one for you. Checkout the download page.

Shotcut is not in the Lubuntu repository, but it is one of these self contained applications that you just download, uncompress, and then run from wherever. For Linux, you do need a 64bit computer with at least 4GB RAM.

install on Lubuntu

After downloading the file and extracting its contents I created a hidden folder, ending up with a structure something like this: /home/steve/.shotcut/

I heavily edited the provided Shotcut.desktop configuration file until it looked like this:-

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Video Editor

...and then I saved it in: /usr/share/applications

So now "Shotcut" appears in my Lubuntu application menu system under the "Sound & Video" section.

basic workflow

As an old Avidemux user, I have had to learn a few things in order to get this new editor to play nice with me. There are plenty of good video tutorials on line (although many are based upon earlier versions of Shotcut, with slightly different layouts) so I'm only going to list basic details of my Shotcut workflow;

Start Shotcut and click on the Playlist icon: you add video and audio clips via the Playlist. I tend to drag files from the Lubuntu file manager straight into the playlist.

Drag the video clip from the playlist to the timeline. This automatically creates a video track and adds your video to it.

Use the Split At Playhead tool (to the left of the horseshoe magnet icon) to make simple edits.

Save As a new project: projects are saved in .mlt files. I change the name of this file each time I save (e.g. thisProject1.mlt, thisProject2.mlt...) so if I mess things up (as I frequently do) I can roll back.   Please remember that a project does not contain your video, only instructions.

Click the Export icon to open the encoding dialog to save your video: initially select a suitable stock profile. I then select Custom and save this setup using a friendly name.

If this profile proves to be useful, this will be used as my default when exporting video.


I seemed to have a few problems during the first few hours of using Shotcut. Some of my .avi files have been problematic with some media players and other editors like Avidemx.

The following may or may not be of any use, but here it is;
I installed a few files like: mpeg2dec, mpeg3-utils, ligmpeg3-2 & mencoder.

I ran this command in a terminal to fix problems on some of these troublesome AVI files:-

mencoder -forceidx -oac copy -ovc copy original.avi -o fixedOriginal.avi

Adding extra video and audio tracks is very easy. On my first project I was able to include video from a selection of files, and add a background music track and vary the volume during different sections of the video.

Image files (like jpegs, pngs & so on) can also be added. There is also an Export Frame feature which enables you to create a 'pause' in the action by adding the same frame back into the video clip.

There are a bunch of useful filters to alter video brightness/contrast, rotate images and fade in/out audio & video.

First impressions are good  ...I like it!

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