Video Editing on Linux Just Got Better With PiTiVi

Danny Stieben 15-04-2014

Linux has long lacked a good video editor, but that is no longer a problem. There are a few different video editors available for the operating system, ranging from simple home user editors to highly professional editors.


PiTiVi, a video editor that has historically been in the “simple home user” category, has gained several features since its early days. So what has changed, and where is it headed? Let’s take a look.


When you first launch PiTiVi, you’ll be presented with a welcome dialog that asks you whether you want to start a new project or open a recent project. If you choose to start a new project, you can set some initial parameters such as the resolution, aspect ratio, frame rate, audio channels and sample rate, and the metadata information.

From here, you can import the video and audio clips that you’d like to work with, and manipulate them in the timeline at the bottom.

PiTiVI supports all formats that GStreamer does so long as the necessary plugins are installed. If you run sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras in a terminal on Ubuntu, or make sure that the RPMFusion repo is enabled on Fedora, this should not be an issue.

You also have a few buttons in the bottom left: split clip at playhead, delete selected clip, group and ungroup clips (so you can move multiple clips exactly as they are), align based on the soundtrack, and gapless mode so clips move to fill any gaps.

Besides these basic manipulative tasks, you can apply a massive amount of effects onto clips. This is what you’ll want to be using if you’re doing anything more than the most basic of edits.

At time of writing, there are 128 different effects, including gamma correction, shagadelic, gdkpixbuf overlay (where you can place an image on top of a video), crop, flip and rotate, and much more.

The developers are trying to get the video editor to professional levels by adding more effects, but this is already a great start.

Once you’re done editing, you can render the final video to any format that you’d like, again thanks to the GStreamer framework. Besides choosing the format, you can also configure some advanced settings, such as multipass mode.

Compared to Kdenlive, OpenShot, and Lightworks

I think PiTiVi has gotten very close to its closest competitor, Kdenlive Kdenlive – A Stable & Versatile Free Cross-Platform Video Editor [Linux, Mac & Live CD] Kdenlive is a free and cross-platform video editor that will probably mean more to your average Linux user than Windows or Mac types. If you're searching for a decent, all-in-one solution for editing video on... Read More . The only thing where Kdenlive still excels is that its effects are more configurable, and it includes a few more professional-level effects like Chroma Key, which allows you to use green screens. Otherwise, the two video editors are pretty similar in features and interface.

That’s good news considering that the Kdenlive project has been silent for over a year now; however, there was a new bulletin from the project very recently, so hopefully we’ll see some new releases from them.

PiTiVi has also managed to catch up to OpenShot, another home-oriented video editor, quite a bit, but there are still a few extra things that OpenShot includes. For example, you can make 3D animated titles, perform artistic panning over an image, scrolling credits, and effects such as Chroma Key. However, the interfaces between the two are very similar, which means switching between them should be easy.

PiTiVi is still a very large distance away from Lightworks, which is a full-fledged professional video editor that has been used in numerous Oscar-winning film productions. Lightworks used to be Windows-only, but made the move to Linux recently.

Features that are in Lightworks include a color-coded timeline, configurable presets, multicam support, support for various extra formats (ProRes, Avid DNxHD, AVC-Intra, DVCPRO HD, RED R3D, DPX, and more), and a real-time waveform and vectorscope. As you might expect, there isn’t anything PiTiVi can brag about that Lightworks doesn’t have. The downside to Lightworks is that you’ll pay $280 to get it, whereas PiTiVi will always be completely free.


You can get the absolute latest version from this PPA for Ubuntu [No Longer Available] (if you’re not sure what a PPA is, here’s an explanation What Is An Ubuntu PPA & Why Would I Want To Use One? [Technology Explained] Read More ), or by borrowing from Rawhide if you use Fedora Be On The Bleeding Edge of Linux with Fedora Rawhide Don't wait around to try the latest versions of software – try Fedora Rawhide instead. Read More . In other words, just run these commands:

  • Ubuntusudo add-apt-repository ppa:gstreamer-developers/ppa && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install pitivi -y
    • If you get an error saying that a package named “python-matplotlib” is missing, be sure that the “universe” repo is enabled in your Software & Updates settings.
  • Fedorasudo yum install pitivi --enablerepo=rawhide
    • If the above command for Fedora didn’t work, run sudo yum install fedora-release-rawhide and then try again.

Fundraising Towards Supremacy

As I’ve already mentioned, PiTiVi has recently been getting more attention from its developers. The ultimate goal now is to turn PiTiVi from a basic home editor into something that professionals can use — or at least into a much higher quality home product.

To help achieve this goal, the primary developers have started a fundraising campaign so that they can work on PiTiVi full time. Of the €35,000 goal, they’ve already raised over €17,000. People obviously think that the progress that’s been made is enough proof that the goal is actually obtainable.

A completed fundraiser should bring more improvements to the video editor, including but not limited to more effects such as animated titles and Chroma Key.


I’m very excited to see how far PiTiVi comes, especially if the developers hit their funding goal. PiTiVi should already be useful enough for a good portion of home users, but it isn’t quite at “professional” levels yet. In any case, it’s worth trying out and checking up on regularly to see what else has been added.

If you’re interested in an example video that was edited with PiTiVi, you can find it here.

What have you used to perform video editing on Linux? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Spaldam
    October 5, 2016 at 2:11 am

    Is this article out of date? I get an error of:

    Cannot add PPA: 'ppa:~gstreamer-developers/ubuntu/ppa'.
    The team named '~gstreamer-developers' has no PPA named 'ubuntu/ppa'

  2. Alex
    May 2, 2014 at 12:33 am

    "A completed fundraiser should bring more improvements to the video editor, including but not limited to more effects such as animated titles and Chroma Key."

    A completed fundraiser brings a very stable app, not more features - see "work package one" [Broken URL Removed]

  3. FBachofner
    April 24, 2014 at 6:59 am

    Lightworks actually has a free version. The free version has limits on export formats, limits folders where you can save your projects and some other restrictions, but it is still impressive.

    The $280 you mention is a conventional software purchase. There are also $80 (annual) and $8 (monthly) subscription prices.

    Lightworks is also the only program on this list which is truly multiplatform (they are working on the Mac betas right now and it already exists for Linux and Windows).

  4. terry
    April 17, 2014 at 12:32 am

    Thanks for the update. Since the release of Lightworks I had stopped following the progress of the others. Time to reaquaint myself.

  5. jasray
    April 16, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks for the program and command line parameters. Installed on Linux Mint 16 without any problems. Sort of baffling that there aren't more comments--does it signify anything with regard to the use of Linux rather than Windows.