The easiest answer is perhaps the lack of commercial applications for desktop Linux, even for a popular distribution like Ubuntu. There is no shortage of quality desktop apps like LibreOffice, Firefox, GIMP and VLC – even Minecraft runs perfectly well with OpenJDK Java – but when it comes to multimedia creation, Linux desktop distributions still left behind. With no Photoshop, After Effects, Ableton Live, or Premiere Pro for Linux, we have to turn to alternatives. For image editing, GIMP and Inkscape have Linux pretty well covered, while Bitwig and Ardour meet most Linux audio editing needs. Thus, here follows my review of a few readily available Linux video editing software (I tested them on an up-to-date Ubuntu 18.04 LTS 64-bit system.) This list is not in order from best to worse or vice-verca. As I completed the test for one Linux video editing software, I wrote it down and ranked it based on my experiences.
The ubiquitous Kdenlive strikes again. It has been around for years and is used by many people. I tried to use it a few months ago, but it was completely unusable. It often didn’t start, and when it did, it crashed and refused to export properly. However, for this article, I installed the latest version from the Kdenlive PPA and tried it out. Things have changed. Oh my, how things have changed.
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The developers have also added some high-quality video and audio filters and effects aimed at professionals. Unfortunately, this software is not entirely free as it comes in two versions: Lightworks Free and Lightworks Pro. The difference between them is that the latter supports different video formats, while the former does not. Lightworks is available for Windows and Mac OSX as well.
Avidemux is a free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks. It supports many file types, including AVI, DVD compatible MPEG files, MP4 and ASF, using a variety of codecs. Tasks can be automated using projects, job queue and powerful scripting capabilities. Avidemux is available for Linux, BSD, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows under the GNU GPL license.
If I was willing to continue using commercial ransomeware, what I would be doing right about now would be switching to Apple, because apple video editing does everything you need and it works. Every time over the last few years I’ve asked anyone who has made their own professional looking video what software they used, the answer is ALWAYS Apple. I know somebody who mailed all of his original home movies (we’re talking film here) to Europe so a relative using Apple could make them into DVDs. But Apple’s too busy turning into big brother for my liking, so if I have to start over, I’m migrating to Linux. There is no point in struggling to learn something new and even get good at it only to have control of your work wrested from you by corporate controls.
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Using Linux does not mean that you can’t have high-quality software on your system. Apart from the video mentioned above editors, there are tons of other software available in the market for Linux. Some of them are aimed at professionals (just like Lightworks, DaVinci Resolve, and Blender), while others cater to the requirements of beginners (similar to Shotcut and VidCutter). Moreover, you will also be able to easily download and install video editors on your Linux system, as most of them are already available on the app store.
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The developers of the Pitivi editor believe that a video editor should be flexible, and efficient. Users can choose from simple views, to a complex mode that allows experienced users to make finer edits to their project. Users get access to “hundreds of animated effects, transitions and filters”, great looking audio waveforms in the project timeline, and a timeline that supports lots of different video and audio codecs.
I make short films, the last one was 30 minutes long, and I used Premiere Pro for it. Premiere was very buggy for me, I don’t know if this is the case for everyone, probably not. I tried (well, let’s say I’ve installed them and looked at them) a few video editors, including Cinelerra, Kdenlive. I found Cinelerra’s interface really ugly (controls, icons…) while Kdenlive seems very clean and functional. I didn’t tried them with real projects, but I’ll try to. But I just can’t imagine Cinelerra is a good software, seeing his ugliness :)
I’ve had good luck with Lives. I’ve been able to accomplish things with it that I couldn’t figure out how to do with the others. My main use of video is for web sites. I’ve even created a video sequence from a JPEG still which I then manipulated with Lives tools and output as an animated GIF. I further tune the size of the animation in GIMP which allowed me adjust the the frame rate on a per frame basis.
Nevertheless, when you find the elusive, easy to use video editing software that has the features I mention, that doesn't crash, or at least when it does crash recovers files the user was working on, that doesn't need constant tweaking using the shell, that has reasonable, non obfuscated documentation in understandable english, please let me know. I will buy you a beer and the software without hesitation.
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