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Testing OpenShot Video EditorTesting OpenShot Video Editor

Christopher Tozzi

January 14, 2010

3 Min Read
Testing OpenShot Video Editor

When Lucid Lynx ships in April, it will come with a video editor installed by default, which will be a first for Ubuntu. With this in mind, I decided to test drive OpenShot, an open-source, nonlinear editor that reached its 1.0 release very recently.

Currently, Ubuntu developers are planning to ship Ubuntu 10.04 with PiTiVi, a different editor. I wouldn’t bet any money on this decision changing before April, but I’ve read good things about OpenShot and thought it would be worth a try, even if won’t be included in Lucid by default.

I should also make clear that I’m no video-editing professional. The extent of my work in this realm has mostly been limited to stringing clips together in Windows Movie Maker back when I was still using XP.

The last time I tried editing videos in Linux, which was a couple years ago, I used Cinelerra, an extremely powerful application that’s a bit more complicated than the average user needs or wants. It took me hours to figure out how to do very basic stuff.

All this is to say that in testing OpenShot, I was looking for an intuitive, simple editor that would allow me to perform basic tasks without having to read through lots of documentation.

OpenShot on Ubuntu

For the most part, that’s what I found. It took only about fifteen minutes for me to master the basics of OpenShot, which offers an intuitive, well organized interface:

OpenShot screenshot

OpenShot screenshot

Video clips are easy to string together, and adding transitions and effects is as simple as a drag-and-drop. Creating titles is also not difficult, although it took me a few minutes to realize that the tool for doing so is under the “Project” menu in the main toolbar.

In terms of stability and performance, OpenShot was solid for me. Even on my netbook, which is no CPU or GPU powerhouse, it was very responsive.

On the downside, some aspects of OpenShot’s interface could be improved. It’s well designed overall, but the video preview section was confusing because it was less than obvious that the play button both started and paused video playback.

On another interface note, only three tracks are visible at once under the timeline section of the application, and I couldn’t find a way to zoom out in order to bring others into view.

OpenShot also doesn’t appear to be up to the task of heavy-duty video editing. It works great for normal users like me whose needs are limited to stringing clips together and adding some titles and effects, but people interested in professional-quality productions will need to look elsewhere, as OpenShot doesn’t offer many advanced features.

That’s not necessarily a weakness, however. There’s nothing wrong with focusing on perfecting basic functionality instead of trying to make an application that caters to both amateurs and professionals at the same time, which is not always possible.

Overall, OpenShot is a highly usable and stable application for basic video editing. I’ve yet to try PiTiVi to see how it measures up, but hope to do so in the near future.

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About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Contributing Editor

Christopher Tozzi started covering the channel for The VAR Guy on a freelance basis in 2008, with an emphasis on open source, Linux, virtualization, SDN, containers, data storage and related topics. He also teaches history at a major university in Washington, D.C. He occasionally combines these interests by writing about the history of software. His book on this topic, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” is forthcoming with MIT Press.

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