Video editing on Linux has improved immeasurably over the past few years. Where once you might be compelled to save your clips to a portable hard disk drive and edit them in Windows or on a Mac, these days things are a lot simpler.
A selection of good quality open source video editing tools are now available to Linux users. These might be tracked down and installed manually, or come bundled with a creative-focused Linux distribution. But which is the right video editing application for you?
Let’s take a look at what’s on offer.
(Note that while there are more than seven video editors for Linux, we’re focusing on the ones that are free and open source.)
First: What Should a Video Editor Do?
When we look for a video editor, we probably have a few aims in mind. Perhaps a clip needs trimming, or a portion removed. Perhaps that same clip needs reordering in a timeline.
Additionally, you may have soundtrack requirements, or wish to introduce captions and other text-based graphics. Many applications do all of this, and more. If you’re looking for transitions, video effects, and even composite effects, consider one of these seven video editors.
Released in 2016, this second total rewrite of OpenShot offers a far superior user interface. In short, this means a usable timeline, but you’ll also find a bundle of excellent transitions, and features. Backed by a Kickstarter appeal, OpenShot 2.0 can be installed from the website or via a PPA.
Capable of handling audio, video and stills, OpenShot 2.0 is as comfortable making movies and editing YouTube videos as it is compiling images into a Ken Burns-style slideshow. Following the release of OpenShot 2.0 in 2016, we produced a simple tutorial to help you get started. This showcases some of the features you can expect from this video editing suite.
OpenShot 2 is also available for macOS and Windows.
Available 2002, KDE’s Kdenlive is regularly updated, so you can be sure that you’re using a good quality video editing suite. Part of the official KDE project, Kdenlive is also available for BSD (as well as Windows), and supports all the usual video formats.
Offering a wealth of features (multi-track timeline editing, unlimited video and audio tracks, (customizable) effects and transitions, keyboard shortcuts, masking, blue-screen, and support for 16:9, 4:3, PAL and NTSC, as well as various HD standards, Kdenlive should be one of your first options when looking for a competent video editing tool.
Back in 2011 we declared Kdenlive the most stable video editor on Linux. While this is no longer true (there are now many contenders for that title!), if you’re working on a video editing project, Kdenlive is certainly worth considering.
Originally known as PiTiVi, this video editor has been revised several times since its initial 2004 release. Developed to integrate into the GNOME desktop environment, Pitivi is considered to be at a similar level of completion and competence as Kdenlive.
However, while the features are similar, the attitude is different. In short, Pitivi’s developers declare that they are serving the community:
“We believe in allowing everyone on the planet to express themselves through film-making, with tools that they can own and improve.”
Lofty ambitions, albeit ones that are backed by stable features and a clean UI. With all of the usual timeline and editing functions, Pitivi also offers over 70 industry-standard transitions, and 100-plus video and audio effects. Oh, and there is also a professional attitude to audio. Pitivi includes tools to help you correctly balance audio and match it to whatever footage you’re using.
Developed by Heroine Virtual and first released in 2002, Cinelerra, nevertheless enjoys regular updates. You’ll find a wealth of features within, including support for high-fidelity audio and video. Visually, Cinelerra is closer to Adobe Premiere Pro than any of the other video editing suites listed here. However, with a built-in compositing engine, feature-wise it is on a level with Adobe After Effects.
As the website claims:
“The tools which are freely provided here from the Founder of Cinelerra are more than the great Orson Welles had when he commenced his career as a filmmaker.”
Although in fairness, they’re also more than he had when he ended his career. So, if you’re looking for a video editing tool with composite effect support, Cinelerra should be your first stop.
The little-known LiVES video editing suite dates back to 2002, and its lead developer is Gabriel Finch, a video artist and international VJ. A non-linear video editing application, LiVES offers some unusual features, such as remote network access, and streaming to and from other copies of the software on the same network.
Well-defined APIs enable the use of plugins for effects, video playback and decoder/encoders. The software itself offers two main interfaces, a clip editor, and a multi-track window where the clips can be positioned. The clip editor is primarily to prepare the clips before adding them into the multitrack timeline.
High definition formats are included in the wide selection of export types (50+).
Launched in 2009, Flowblade is a “fast, precise, stable” non-linear video editor, which offers support for 146 formats, 78 video codecs and 58 audio codecs. Initially focusing on stable editing (cuts, trims, etc.), more recent releases have extended these features into an advanced timeline workflow.
One of the great features in Flowblade is the “magnetic timeline”, in which placed clips “snap” into place, which aids the process of adding and moving clips. Meanwhile, powerful tools enable you to combine and mix images and audio, with color correction and audio modification available to produce the desired mood.
In short, Flowblade is yet another top video editor application for Linux.
Available for macOS, BSD and Windows in addition to Linux, Avidemux is another non-linear video editor, with a focus on simplicity. This means that if all you want from your video editor is cutting, encoding and filtering, you should be able to achieve your aims quickly. Avidemux can, for example, be used to crop adverts from TV shows you’ve recorded on a DVR. Encoding can be used to change the video format, much like one of VLC’s core features.
Various filters, meanwhile, can be used. These aren’t just visual filters; they’re more of a collection of pre-set features that can be used to attain particular results, such as color correction, cropping, etc. You’ll need to re-encode the clip once filters have been applied.
If you want advanced editing options, look at the other six choices in this list.
7 Great Video Editors – Which is Your Favorite?
It’s amazing to consider that so many good-quality, open source video editing suites are available on Linux. (Don’t forget, other options are available that do not have open source aims!)
We’ve looked at seven options, but which is your favorite? Have you tried one of these video editors and been left disappointed? Do you use a different tool? Tell us in the comments.