Three strikes with Ubuntu video editors.

I honestly thought that the hardest part of editing video on my Linux Mint computer would be capturing the video footage to my hard drive. Turns out I was wrong. Very wrong.

The problem may well be that my all-in-one Lenovo isn’t quite up to the task of rendering video and audio edits in real time; you could also make a fairly compelling case that I barely know what I’m doing. The fact is, I really, really wanted to tell you how easy it is to edit and render video with Ubuntu Linux, but I’m not sure I can — at least not yet.

Here’s how I got on with three popular video editors…

OpenShot

OpenShot seemed at first glance like the Linux equivalent to iMovie — an earlier version, I mean; iMovie’s latest interface is a lot like Kino’s, in that I don’t really understand it at all.

In my brief testing OpenShot suffered from two minor issues:

  1. It crashed constantly;
  2. It wouldn’t save any of my edits before it went down.

In retrospect I think the app might have been busy rendering audio waveforms (something I noticed the next candidate doing), but there was no visual indication of any critical processes going on. Ever.

Stee-rike one…

PiTiVi 0.13.3

I had a much better experience with PiTiVi, and can see why it’s now the default video editor in Ubuntu Lucid. The interface is more towards that of Final Cut Pro, without the extra clutter. And the export options for audio and video alike are simply staggering.

Unfortunately it’s currently a cuts-only product.

Yup, you read correctly — there are, at present, no available transitions beyond straight cuts. PiTiVi is designed to have such basic functionality added via plug-ins, but nobody seems to have written any yet.

Stee-rike two…

Open Movie Editor

In desperation I turned to Open Movie Editor, knowing full well that it was abandonware (the author ceased active development on it late last year). I figured that if it was still the bundled editing app in Ubuntu Studio that it must be doing something right.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get the audio in any of my imported clips to play back,  let alone get any of the fancy transitions to work.

Stee-rike three!

I’m down but not out, as there are at least three more Linux video editors but a download away:

Kdenlive seems to be fairly highly regarded but requires the additional installation of Qt libraries on my GNOME desktop. I  guess I can deal, so long as it works.

LiVES is really a video tool for DJs, isn’t it? I’m willing to give it a go anyway, unless someone tells me not to.

Cinelerra honestly scares me. The steep learning curve is one thing, but what I’m really worried about is that installing it will break my delicate sound setup and I won’t be able to figure out how to fix it.

I’m not giving up on this challenge just yet; look for part two of this continuing saga soon. In the meantime if you care to help me out with some sage advice please do so in the comments below.

25 Responses to “Three strikes with Ubuntu video editors.”


  • You should definitely install Kdenlive, it’s by far the best video editor for Linux. Heck I would even like to see it on Windows when I’m forced to use it.

  • You should definitely install Kdenlive, it’s by far the best video editor for Linux. Heck I would even like to see it on Windows when I’m forced to use it.

  • “…but what I’m really worried about is that installing it will break my delicate sound setup and I won’t be able to figure out how to fix it.”

    Man! I know a certain professor who goes by the name Google and has never let me down when all hope is lost. When I am about to embark on such delicate journeys, I back up (which you did recently) and bam. Try out all the new tricks.

    I think Lives will get the work done, trust me!

  • “…but what I’m really worried about is that installing it will break my delicate sound setup and I won’t be able to figure out how to fix it.”

    Man! I know a certain professor who goes by the name Google and has never let me down when all hope is lost. When I am about to embark on such delicate journeys, I back up (which you did recently) and bam. Try out all the new tricks.

    I think Lives will get the work done, trust me!

  • I know a lot about non-linear editing and linux, but cinelerra was very good to me. Just start reading the forums about it, there are several distros of linux and cinelerra that make it real easy.

    The sound setup will be the most annoying thing though, for sure. You just have to wrap your mind around what is going on instead of blindly following console commands from a forum.

  • I know a lot about non-linear editing and linux, but cinelerra was very good to me. Just start reading the forums about it, there are several distros of linux and cinelerra that make it real easy.

    The sound setup will be the most annoying thing though, for sure. You just have to wrap your mind around what is going on instead of blindly following console commands from a forum.

  • Open Movie Editor is the one I wanted to use most; however, after rendering my videos I noticed white vertical lines cutting into the black areas of the picture. If I can remedy that issue I’d stick with it.

    You might also consider Kino, Avidemux, Jahshaka. I haven’t tried Jahshaka yet.

    My general experience with video editors in Linux is similar to yours. I haven’t quite found the right one. In the meantime, I’m editing my ContourHD footage on YouTube. YouTube’s editor doesn’t have transition effects yet, but it’s very simple to use.

  • Open Movie Editor is the one I wanted to use most; however, after rendering my videos I noticed white vertical lines cutting into the black areas of the picture. If I can remedy that issue I’d stick with it.

    You might also consider Kino, Avidemux, Jahshaka. I haven’t tried Jahshaka yet.

    My general experience with video editors in Linux is similar to yours. I haven’t quite found the right one. In the meantime, I’m editing my ContourHD footage on YouTube. YouTube’s editor doesn’t have transition effects yet, but it’s very simple to use.

  • I also recommend Kdenlive. I’ve been using it for about a month and aside from a few quirks, it’s really solid. also, when it crashes (c’mon, you know it will, they all do) it has an auto-recover. So far i haven’t lost anything, very reassuring.

    Look on YouTube for the tutorials “Intro to Kdenlive” by Jordan, the guy from TWIL (This Week In Linux News), he has a lot of really useful and easy to use info. He even answered my emails asking for some special help.

    I have a friend who’s just gotten into ubuntu from Windows, he was using Sony Vegas and says Kdenlive has a lot of features SV doesn’t. Not bad for free.

    Good Luck!

  • I also recommend Kdenlive. I’ve been using it for about a month and aside from a few quirks, it’s really solid. also, when it crashes (c’mon, you know it will, they all do) it has an auto-recover. So far i haven’t lost anything, very reassuring.

    Look on YouTube for the tutorials “Intro to Kdenlive” by Jordan, the guy from TWIL (This Week In Linux News), he has a lot of really useful and easy to use info. He even answered my emails asking for some special help.

    I have a friend who’s just gotten into ubuntu from Windows, he was using Sony Vegas and says Kdenlive has a lot of features SV doesn’t. Not bad for free.

    Good Luck!

  • Wow, I really hope OpenShot gets fixed for Mint. I’ve had no such issues with my installation on Debian Testing, with OpenShot pulled from Sid.

    Maybe I have some magical combination of versions. I wish you a bug fix and better luck in the future.

    kdenlive is very nice, as well. I recommend it. If you don’t run it, qt/kde libraries won’t ever be run, and the memory can be reclaimed, though I’ve noticed ksyscoca staying around…

  • Wow, I really hope OpenShot gets fixed for Mint. I’ve had no such issues with my installation on Debian Testing, with OpenShot pulled from Sid.

    Maybe I have some magical combination of versions. I wish you a bug fix and better luck in the future.

    kdenlive is very nice, as well. I recommend it. If you don’t run it, qt/kde libraries won’t ever be run, and the memory can be reclaimed, though I’ve noticed ksyscoca staying around…

  • Thanks to all for the very helpful comments. 8-)

    I will definitely try out Kdenlive… I’ve also been informed on reddit that a later version of PiTiVi can do basic fades.

  • Thanks to all for the very helpful comments. 8-)

    I will definitely try out Kdenlive… I’ve also been informed on reddit that a later version of PiTiVi can do basic fades.

  • Recently I put together my first video in kdenlive (without any prior non-linear video editing experience) and it was a breeze. Well, as long as it didn’t crash on me, but repetitive pressing of ctrl+s managed to help me :-) (used ver 0.7.7). But when it gets more stable it’s just a great app.

    + ? Lots of options, easy to use, fast
    – ? unstable, wouldn’t let me render my video to theora (xvid and h264 worked alright)

  • Recently I put together my first video in kdenlive (without any prior non-linear video editing experience) and it was a breeze. Well, as long as it didn’t crash on me, but repetitive pressing of ctrl+s managed to help me :-) (used ver 0.7.7). But when it gets more stable it’s just a great app.

    + ? Lots of options, easy to use, fast
    – ? unstable, wouldn’t let me render my video to theora (xvid and h264 worked alright)

  • For a real challenge you could try Blender’s Video Sequence Editor. It takes a little while to figure it out, but once that’s done I’ve always found it very stable.

    For cross fades, in either Open Movie Editor or PiTiVi you could insert a black image, like this:

    “o create a fade out to black, and in for the next clip, a black image must be added to the timeline between existing clips. The two existing clips then crossfade to the black image. The length of the fade is determined by the amount of clip overlap and the length of the black “image”. A little clunky, but it works well.”

    http://stream0.org/2008/01/open-movie-editor-surprisingly.html

  • For a real challenge you could try Blender’s Video Sequence Editor. It takes a little while to figure it out, but once that’s done I’ve always found it very stable.

    For cross fades, in either Open Movie Editor or PiTiVi you could insert a black image, like this:

    “o create a fade out to black, and in for the next clip, a black image must be added to the timeline between existing clips. The two existing clips then crossfade to the black image. The length of the fade is determined by the amount of clip overlap and the length of the black “image”. A little clunky, but it works well.”

    http://stream0.org/2008/01/open-movie-editor-surprisingly.html

  • I also recommend KDEnlive! And hey, put all of KDE on the system while your at it! :D

  • I also recommend KDEnlive! And hey, put all of KDE on the system while your at it! :D

  • I am also interested in Video editing, as I’m working on some personal projects in that area, but none of the Linux solutions seemed right; as you are validating with this article…

    Kdenlive looks interesting, but I’ve not had a chance to learn it, perhaps when you try it you can also post your impressions? Because I’m sadly doing all my video editing in Windoze *yuck*

  • I am also interested in Video editing, as I’m working on some personal projects in that area, but none of the Linux solutions seemed right; as you are validating with this article…

    Kdenlive looks interesting, but I’ve not had a chance to learn it, perhaps when you try it you can also post your impressions? Because I’m sadly doing all my video editing in Windoze *yuck*

  • Open Shot works fine if its installed from its ppa, so does KDENLIVE. I use lest ffmpeg, x264 compiled for my PC and never ever run into any issues that you are describing here.

  • Both were installed from their respective PPAs, actually.

    With so many different computers, distros and other variables can you really speak on behalf of all Linux users with such confidence?

    Glad the apps work for you, anyway.

  • I understand your grief. I thought the great white hope would be open shot myself but i to was wrong. I’ve tried everything Linux had to offer or should say open source until i installed kdenlive. Its by far the best I’ve ever seen some along. Openshot uses blender now and if you do not know how to use blender forget openshot. I’ve watched openshots development and its creator since inception and the creator takes for granted all Linux users know how to use blender like the back of there hand. Kdenlive will treat you just fine.

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