It appears that Windows and macOS users get it easy when it comes to editing videos. Windows users get Windows Movie Maker and macOS has iMovie. Both tools are available for users of these platforms to learn the basics of video editing, and offer some advanced features too. The results can be seen across the web, from Facebook to YouTube, and beyond.
But what is available for Linux users? One strong choice is OpenShot 2.0, a complete rewrite of the original OpenShot video editor. Available for Windows and macOS as well as Linux, OpenShot 2.0 is on course to become the most popular video editor Linux. It’s also really easy to use, while offering some polished, professional-looking features.
Come with me as I take you through the process of editing together a straightforward home movie in OpenShot 2.0. And as it’s cross platform, you’ll find this useful regardless of which operating system you use!
A Brief History of OpenShot
First released in 2008, the original OpenShot garnered a sizable body of users, but wasn’t quite offering anything considerably different to other Linux video editors. Following a Kickstarter appeal in 2013, OpenShot 2.0 was unveiled. This revision aims to offer a more consistent collection of features than the eclectic options available from its competitors.
Download and Install OpenShot 2.0
You can get your copy of OpenShot from www.openshot.org/download. Here you’ll find direct and BitTorrent downloads (did you know that BitTorrent is legal?) for all three desktop platforms. Of course, if you want the Linux version, you can get it via your package manager, after adding a ppa repository.
In Ubuntu, you can do this with:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:openshot.developers/ppa sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install openshot-qt
You’ll find the installed OpenShot 2.0 in Menu > Applications; you can also install via the command line:
Get Started: Import Your Clips
You should have some suitable video clips prepared already. Import these by clicking the green + symbol along the toolbar. This will open a dialogue box for you to select the files you wish to import. Most common video, audio and image files can be imported (OpenShot 2.0 handles slideshows, including the Ken Burns effect), but if you run into problems, you can always use media conversion software.
Once you’re done, click Open and wait a few moments as the files are imported.
After reviewing the clips, you should set the video profile. This will determine the output quality of the finished project. Via the Choose profile dialogue, you’ll find the option to go as high as 1080i at 60 fps or as low QVGA at 15 fps.
If your video is already of low quality (perhaps captured from an old device) then using a high definition output format is a waste of time. Stick to an output that corresponds with the quality of your source material.
Before proceeding, Save and give your project a name. You might also configure autosave, which you’ll find in Edit > Preferences > Autosave. By default, it is set to a three-minute interval.
Manipulate the Timeline
As with all good video editors, OpenShot 2.0 utilizes a timeline system, upon which you drag and drop your videos, audio, and images, dragging them into the correct position. You might use a single track, or multiple tracks, depending on the complexity of your editing project.
Clips can be dragged between tracks, too, and the timeline itself can be navigated via small toolbar above it. Here, you’ll find controls to add a track, and to toggle snapping. This latter option makes it easier to position clips. You can also zoom in and out of the timeline for precision editing, and add marks.
Each clip carries various metadata that can be checked by right-clicking and selecting Properties. Useful data like volume and duration can be found here.
With your timeline organized, it’s time to play through the video. You haven’t made any edits as yet, but this will give you the chance to view the project and use the marking tool to highlight where you’ll make the changes. The Video Preview window features the usual collection of tools, so skipping back and forth through the preview should be straightforward. When you identify a clip that you don’t need, right-click and select Remove clip.
Trim and Split Your Clips
It’s extremely rare for the video you add to your project to be in the perfect state for use in the finished edit. As such, you’ll need to split and trim your clips into shape.
To trim a clip — so it begins and ends at the right place — hover the pointer over the beginning or end of the clip. Which end of the clip you select determines what will be trimmed by the two-headed arrow that appears. Simply drag the edge of the clip to trim it down, keeping an eye on the preview window to observe the new start or end position.
If you have multiple useful shots on the same imported video clip, but want to include some other footage in between these, then you’ll need to split the clip. To do this, right-click the clip and select Project Files > Video view, and select Split clip. From here, drag the slider to the beginning of the desired section of footage, and click Start. Repeat this action to determine the end of the clip, and click End. When you’re done, name the clip and select Create.
You can also quickly lose a portion of a clip with the Slice function. This works by positioning the play-head (the red line on the timeline) and right-clicking the clip, selecting Slice Clip. Here, you have the option to keep footage to the right or the left of the play-head. Slice is best used for culling large chunks of footage — use Split to fine-tune the clip length.
Transitions and Fades
With your video taking shape, you’ll find adding fades and other transitions between scenes helps to shape your production. Fades can be introduced by right-clicking the clip in question. For instance, to fade in at the start of a clip, select Fade > Start of clip > Fade in. To fade in at the beginning and end, choose Fade > Entire clip.
Transitions — wipes and other ornate mixes between two clips — can also be added. Simple place two clips together on the timeline, and drag a transition into place, using the triangles in the transition box as a guide to positioning.
Check Your Volume and Export
Before you export your clip, you might want to investigate some of the visual effects available in OpenShot 2.0, such as blurs, and color saturation. These can be added to the timeline much in the same way as transitions.
When you finally come to exporting, however, make sure the volume is consistent across the project. Volumes can be set by right-clicking and selecting a volume level; audio can also be completely dropped from the clip. This is useful if you have recorded the audio separately, or are planning to add a soundtrack.
To export, save, then head to File > Export Video. Click Export, then select the profile you want to use, then a target location and filename. Advanced export options are also available. When you’re done, click Export Video.
You’ve just created your first basic video edit in OpenShot 2.0 on Linux. How did you find it? Perhaps you prefer an alternative? Tell us about it in the comments!