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Linux Video Editing Apps

by Tom Moccia | December 3, 2010December 3, 2010 2:00 pm PST

With the popularity and affordability of consumer grade HD camcorders more people are venturing out and immersing themselves in the art of video. I have used iMovie for the last three years and have been pretty happy with the results. In many discussions with friends that implement Linux they have verbalized the frustration with finding a quality video editor for their operating system of choice. Dabbling in Linux myself, and wanting to help out friends, I started my search and have found three solid solutions.

Avidemux, OpenShot and PiTiVi are all solid choices and are built around ease of use. All three work well with the majority of video formats – including the often hard to handle AVCHD – and the learning curve is gentle. None of them have full featured toolsets like the Final Cut suite, so I would put them on par with iMovie.

Avidemux supports many file types such as AVI, MPEG, MP4, and ASF by implementing a multitude of codecs. Most of the ease of use for Avidemux comes from the ability to manipulate audio and video sources separately, known as “decomposing”, thus giving the user greater flexibility in manipulating data. The scripting system is provided by linuxthe Spidermonkey Javascript engine which also adds to the seamless ease of use. The interface is clean and has a large viewing area and simplified pulldowns allow the user to choose between audio and video portions of the clip. Output is handled with the same multitude of formats and is a very convenient feature as you can save a film as a project after encoding.

OpenShot Video Editor is non-linear and would probably be of benefit to you if you did not have to work in multiple platforms. OpenShot makes the often arduous tasks of combining multiple video clips, audio clips, and images into a single project that you can output to many different formats such as AVI, MP4 and M4V.

The user interface has three basic components, but many I have talked to say they are a bit counter intuitive. The first is a tray at the bottom of the screen with tools for zooming, adding additional tracks, place markers as well as the standard trim, resize and combine clips buttons. In my opinion the two best features in OpenShot are the multiple timeline support and image sequencing, but then again these are for more advanced video editing. Multiple timelines  allow you to work with footage in layers while image sequencing imports images as a filename or exports as a series of images.

Finally, PiTiVi is a movie editor that has a lot of features buried in the menu system, but when you find them it really takes off. The interface is very simple, almost more so than iMovie and keeps the palate very clean. You will find the learning curve is a bit steeper than the previous two options, but again you will be hard pressed to find incompatible formats. As mentioned earlier the main window is pretty sparse with visible features although a simple grab and drag let’s the user customize how the real estate is utilized. PiTiVi is feature rich and if you don’t mind the exploration of features and learning curve you will be able to manipulate your projects more extensively with this program than the other two.

Based on these three video editing programs there are very capable contenders to video editing on the Linux platform, it’s just a matter of searching them out cutting down the learning curve. It seems this is the issue many Linux users have so I suggest joining a forum with an active user base to alleviate some of the frustration that may ensue.


Tom Moccia

Tom Moccia is a native of Stamford, Connecticut and moved his family west in 2000 and now calls Stockton, California home with his wife and two...

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