"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." (Robert A. Heinlein)

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Video editing on Linux: Lightworks

I often use my desktop computer for editing family videos even if I do this at a very amateur level. Wile I mostly produce “animated slide-show” videos, every now and then I adventure into the “real” video editing field. Until now I used OpenShot: I appreciate mostly its clean and easy to use user interface. Unfortunately, with my current desktop configuration, OpenShot appears to e quite unstable crashing without any clue especially before video preview.
I so decided to explore the panorama of available Linux video editing in order to find a proper replacement to OpenShot
Lightworks is one of the video editing software that received many positive reviews among many blogs I visited so I decided to give it a try.


Lightworks is a closed source software, both a free and a payment version are available, but limitations on the free version don't prevent you from a amateur level use. I so downloaded the “.deb” installation package and installed it by just double-clicking on the installation file.


When you download Lightworks you are asked to log-in or register to Lightworks site. Registration, which is free, is not mandatory to download the file but it is mandatory to activate and start the program.

Once I registered I received, as usual, a confirmation mail with an activation link and after clicking on the activation link the registration completed and I've been able to start the program.

First impressions

Lightworks opens with a full-screen interface:

on the left side a small dock-bar provide access to the phases of the video editing process, thought Importing and editing and of course exporting are the only I really needed until now. The user interface is highly configurable and different windows arrangements can be set-up, Lightworks calls then “rooms”. There even is a shark figure providing program hints. It can be turned off if it reminds you too much Microsoft Office assistant.
Lightworks offer a big variety effects and transitions, they are handled trough a powerful mechanism that allow to define effect parameters at certain movie “key-frames” and let the program to handle parameter transition in a smooth way.
Exporting is limited, in the free version, to low definition video. It isn't a problem to me since I don't own, yet, any high definition device.


Lightworks looks a highly professional tool. It isn't a free software but that's not the problem. The point is: “do I really need it?”. Lightworks, even in its free version, is definitively an overkill to edit family videos. My videos rarely contains more than cross-fading and some titles, and they don't need any more affects. Effects mustn't become the video protagonists. So I'll probably look for something simpler and faster to use.