You may be all too familiar with video editing software like Adobe Premiere, Da Vinci Resolve, or iMovie. These are not only popular video editors but also powerful ones that are meant for simple to professional quality edits alike.
If you don’t already know these software are called closed-source programs and yes, there’s another category to them called open-source software. We’ll discuss more about the two but in the meantime, this article will be all about open source video editors as we discuss the most popular ones and help you decide which one you can go for.
Cool, right? Let’s get to it.
Just what are open source software?
Open source software are around us and oftentimes, we just don’t know that we are already taking advantage of what they bring. We utilize them on our computer regularly and we just don’t know and we only have these awesome programmers or developers to thank.
Open source software are programs that come with their code under a license and that the copyright owner grants whoever uses them to use, change, study, and even distribute the said software for whatever purpose it may serve. To give you some perspective, it’s a community of developers sharing all of these programs with each other.
What are examples of open source software you may ask? Well, to name a few, we have Mozilla Firefox a widely-used web browser, VLC media player, Open Office, and the Android operating system itself that smartphones use.
And since we now have established what an open source software is then you may have already figured out what an open source video editor is all about as well. These are video editing tools that can be modified via their code and you may program them to fit your preferences for a better experience.
Take note, that it won’t be as straightforward or the most user-friendly tool as if you use something like Filmora or Movavi. You need to have some knowledge of programming itself to work on these software. So gauge your abilities and take a peek at the ones we researched so you may find what best suits your style.
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1. OpenShot (Best Overall)
Let’s start with the most user-friendly open source video editor there is, well, at least based on popular opinion. This simple and free software is available for multiple platforms namely, Mac, Windows, and Linux and that’s why it’s a favorite by many. You can produce videos with this software without watermark in it.
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OpenShot is designed to be quick and easy to learn but of all as powerful as video editors come. It’s an award winning software too so it’s got the credentials to back up all of their claims. Simply put, if you’re looking to start making high-quality videos with an open source program this should be a great place to start your journey.
With OpenShot, you may add unlimited tracks or as many layers as you want or need to for your project. That includes both audio and video tracks so you can really get creative with it. Also, you’ll have tons of title templates to choose from or you can make your own.
It’s got the inherent drag and drop feature to your timeline functionality as the simplest video editors do so you can work on your project fast and easily. It will let you cut or trim your videos in the simplest ways too.
And also, what we like about this software is its video effects engine to adjust important elements like brightness, hue, gamma, greyscale, or chroma key. You may also play around with transitions, time control, and animation to level-up your output efficiently.
Perhaps OpenShot aside from being a user-friendly open source video editor is known for all the animation features that it’s got. So if you’re looking to animate some of your clips, then this is the software for you.
Editing your audio waveform or apply effects like slow-motion or time effects are also possible with OpenShot. We also like the fact that it’s available in over 70 languages. Its simple interface is its bread and butter and why it’s so popular, adored, and utilized by many.
Of course, OpenShot is not a perfect software and it’s got some of the usual issues like sometimes it’s laggy, exports your final video slowly, or does not open right away. But these issues are common to all open source softwares and at least it doesn’t have a significant major flaw.
Definitely one of the best in the field of open source video editors and so if you’re a beginner and like the fact that it can be used across all operating systems, then this is for you.
2. Shotcut (Best Overall)
Shotcut is another very popular open source video editor that we think you should really check out. It’s also a cross-platform software and so you can use it on Mac, Windows, and Linux. If OpenShot takes pride in its user-friendliness, Shotcut takes pride in the fact that it’s one powerful engine.
And, we’re going to tell you upfront that Shotcut does have almost all of the features that OpenShot offers and more. Let’s start with how wide the video and audio formats that it can support. You can also bet that it’s got a wide array of codecs that it will accept too.
That’s all thanks to the FFmpeg library that works behind this software. You can have multi-format timelines, frame rates, and resolutions within your project if you want to. What users also say about Shotcut is that while it appears really simple on the surface if you look at its interface, it’s actually a very complex software as you utilize it.
That means that it’s pretty versatile and will accommodate novice and professional video editors alike. The level of features that you may unlock on this software will be based on your knowledge of it. I guess you may list that down as either a pro or a con.
You can go for as high as 4K resolution with this software and go with a frame rate of 60fps. Of course, the output would still be based on your raw files’ compatibility with your chosen setting. Don’t worry, ShotCut will help you determine what’s best for your project.
ShotCut is also quite powerful in terms of its device and transport capabilities. This means that the ShotCut supports a multitude of hardware when it comes to capturing both audio and video.
As far as its interface goes it’s got dockable as well as undockable panels. You will have everything that you need on its main panel with media properties, search options, playlist, filter panel, encoding panel, history, jobs queue, and melted server. You will also have drag and drop capability from your file manager.
ShotCut is the more powerful engine and has a wide array of tools onboard making it more versatile. But there’s a little bit of a learning curve to it for sure.
3. Kdenlive (Best for Linux)
From here on out the open source video editors that we are going to discuss can get a bit complicated thus being less user-friendly. But that’s not any reason for you not to try them as you will learn a lot about them. And, we’re pretty sure that most of you open source enthusiasts will enjoy them.
Kdenlive is also a very popular choice. The name stands for KDE non-linear video editor. There was an old version for Mac and also some beta versions for Windows but this open source software is mostly utilized in Linux operating systems.
This is also one powerful video editor with a simplistic nature to it. It also works on a wide array of video and audio formats so it’s pretty versatile in that regard. The interface is quite straightforward to understand and it features tools that will let you manipulate your video and audio tracks with ease.
And oh, you can also do edits on multi-tracks or in batch mode and the software supports an unlimited amount of video and audio tracks. Also, when it comes to transitions and effects choices Kdenlive has got a lot of them. Distortions, rotations, color adjustments, you name it.
Not just on video too and also on audio tracks. You may phase or pitch shift your audio, equalize, add some reverb effects on it, and many more. Kdelive is also known for its fast export or rendering capability and that even professional video editors appreciate its robustness.
Unfortunately, if you’re an avid Windows user then you probably won’t have access to it. Another thing that you need to know about Kdenlive is that it does not support multiple frame rates in your video.
4. Lightworks (Best Overall)
Perhaps one of the “OGs” of open source video editing softwares, Lightworks can handle small projects to even larger film projects. Needless to say, it’s a professional-grade video editor and it’s for FREE!
Looking to do some post-production for your short film? Lightworks will help you with that. It’s packed not only with features but advanced tools that will take your project to the next level.
Well, Lightworks works on all operating systems. It’s got a wide array of native formats that it supports from NLE, Quicktime, MXF, and AVI containers and you may import natively without a need for any transcoding. That’s from ProRes, H.264, HD 422 / XDCAM EX, you name it.
It’s got a dedicated web export and it runs at almost optimum speed every time so importing, rendering, or exporting your work won’t stall. Lightworks also employs one of the best trimming tools in the field so your output will look stunning.
You will also have access to multi-camera editing as well as powerful and real-time effects with additional in-built presets. That would be color correction capabilities, blurs, mattes, or masks, and about 100 effects choices.
Visual effects? No worries, Lightworks can handle that too with additional text effects as well. The interface itself is customizable so make it look friendlier if the initial setup is too overwhelming. Lightworks supports Blackmagic, Matrox, and AJA I/O equipment.
This open source video editor is clearly for pros but it doesn’t mean you can’t try it if you’re just starting. There will be some learning curve though for sure.
5. Blender (Best for Mac)
As if we’re going to leave Blender out of our list. While it’s not the most user-friendly on our list, we can’t just leave it out for the unique features that it offers the budding video editor.
We’re not going to go through all of that discussion about standard video editing features either anymore but we’re going straight to what Blender is widely-known for.
Blender, other than being one of the best open source video editing tools there is, is also one superb graphic design software. You can create animated videos, video games, 3D applications, and also add visual effects to your projects with it.
Blender is utilized for modeling, rendering, and motion tracking among all of its many functions. It’s also capable of letting you create complex videos due to the multiple slots it’s got for audio and video clips.
It can be overwhelming or even confusing at first but the time you will dedicate to it will soon be a worthy investment. Blender is also available on all operating systems and with this software, you’ll have a full-blown professional-grade suite for 3D creation for FREE.
6. Avimedux (Best for Windows)
Looking for simple and quick edits on your work? Well, let’s put a hold on overly complicated software, and since we’ve delved deeper into open sourcing then get to know Avimedux. Available across all platforms and no doubt one of the simplest if not the simplest software in the mix.
Things are simple but effective with Avimedux. Import, cut, filter, and encode, you’re done! It actually supports a wide array of formats from MP4, ASF, other MPEG files, AVI, and DVD. It also employs a wide array of your favorite codecs. So it’s easy to use and versatile.
Again, Avimedux is not for complicated video projects so it won’t do if you’re looking to do a full-blown edit for your film.
7. Flowblade (Best for Linux)
Another one of those open source video editors that you see in the mix with Shotcut or OpenShot is Flowblade. But unfortunately for the software, it’s only for Linux users. Nevertheless, it’s got a few things to offer that might be worth checking out.
Flowblade is relatively powerful with all its features and tools but at the same time stay lightweight. The program has multi-functionality and is quite stable which means it won’t crash as much as the others (looking at you Shotcut).
You may consider it an underdog but it gets the job done. It’s got all of the usual video editor features like transitions, effects, titles, and drag-n-drop capabilities but its smooth playback is one that we like the most.
Bottom line, Flowblade is one of the best open source video editors for your film projects. It’s a one stop shop, from cutting to color adjustments. You’d appreciate it for sure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you name a few more open source video editors that are worth checking out?
Sure, there are a few more that we like to name. You may try, Vicutter, Lives, Natron, Pitivi, Cinelerra, and VirtualDub.
So what are the major advantages of premium video editing software over these open source programs?
We can say that stability is what paid software offers that can’t be an assurance with open source video editors. Well, most of what we listed are stable but with these kinds of software you can’t expect them to have constant updates or would be bug free.
Paid programs just come more complete, always up to date, and have customer support.