Skip to main content

Shotcut - Free Open Source Video Editor for Windows, Mac, and Linux

Shotcut Open Source Video Editor.
Shotcut Open Source Video Editor.
I've been on the hunt for a while now for the best, free, open source, video editing application out there. In Shotcut, by Meltytech, which has versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux, I think I may have found a real front runner.

This won't be a feature filled review, rather it will be my first impressions after having used Shotcut on a few of my YouTube videos so far.

One of my key criteria for a video editor is the ability to import any video format directly into the project. This may seem like an odd focus initially but having convert video to something your video editor can use is annoyingly time consuming, and it creates a new generation of footage, potentially with a loss in quality if you don't really know much about video format specs (that's this guy right here!).

Shotcut will happily work with my OBS recordings (.FLV), and .MOV, .MP4 files that I get from two different cameras. Not only that but Shotcut doesn't hold me up making lower quality versions of my footage to speed up the editing process. It just works directly with the native files. (If you're interested Shotcut can also handle 4K video files as well).

The Editor Window. Shotcut has advanced features like color grading.
The Editor Window. Shotcut has advanced
features like color grading.

My other main criteria is does the editor feel like it's getting in the way of what I want to do with my edits. Typically that happens most with video editors when it comes to adding titles and other graphics (looking at you MOVAVI). It's all very well having preset title animations that you just add your own text to but sometimes I want to make my own from scratch and still be able to edit the text in the video editor.

Shotcut gives me more control with creating my own titles and doesn't have a dedicated text track that always remains on top of every other track (again looking at you MOVAVI). Tracks are either video or audio, the way it should be.

That said, my first impression of Shotcut was, I didn't like it. It looks like other video editors I've used but it doesn't work quite the same at all. There's no nice visual tab with icons showing you all the various transitions, and video/audio filters. Instead you'll be scrolling through a lot of lists with no nice previews to check you're selecting the right thing.

However, once you run through a few of the basic tutorials, linked under the Help menu, you start to get a feel for how Shotcut does things. For the most part it's a really good workflow with quite a few advanced features like color grading and motion graphics animation.


Unfortunately there are a couple of things I don't like that are almost enough to be deal breakers.

The first is, I don't like how Shotcut handles scene transitions. Like most video editors, you simply overlap the start of one clip with the end of the previous one to create a transition. Unlike other editors I've used, Shotcut snips the length of the transition into its own clip. Which is fine until you decide you want your transition to last longer or shorter, or you want to chop a bit more off the ends of each clip for a tighter edit.

In every scenario (except for if you've just added the transition and you can undo straight away) you'll have to delete the transition clip, extend out your original clips, and overlap them again. It would be better if you could adjust the transition length just by moving the clips, and get rid of the transition by removing the overlap through dragging the clips apart (or even some other method. My main issue is that the ends of the clips are cut to create a transition clip that is no longer attached to the original clip).

That's a problem if you're transitioning into a title screen and, at a point further on in the edit, you decide to change the title (or correct spelling perhaps). Your transition retains the old clip, while the actual clip is updated. Thus you have to rebuild the transition clip from scratch too. Somewhat annoying.

My other issue is the convoluted process needed just to record a narration track directly into the timeline as you watch the project so far in playback. Most video editors I've used have a dedicated button or menu item for this often used function - you know, you've got your final edit done, and now you want to talk over the clips, being prompted visually by them as they play through.

Shotcut doesn't have any such thing and, if it wasn't for a very handy video tutorial, I guarantee you would never work out how to do it just by clicking around to see what things do. I actually find it easier just to fire up dedicated audio software to record my narration in as I'm watching the playback, then import my narration into Shotcut.


I really hope they do add in a dedicated feature for recording narration in future revisions because watching a video tutorial every time I want to do a narration is frustrating (that's why I use external audio software to do narration).
 
Beyond those two main issues, there have been a few minor things here and there, which are more about me being unfamiliar with the software than Shotcut itself.

While the free tutorials are perfectly fine to get you started there is also a complete paid video course you can take for US$29.00 that'll really get you up to speed (I haven't taken it as yet but if you really want to get your head around Shotcut it seems worth considering).

I don't consider myself to be a great filmmaker or editor at all. I've done some courses in both but I'm very much path of least resistance to get the results I need. Shotcut has been that for me. It gives me some advanced features and freedom that other home consumer video editors lack while giving me a lot of scope to really do more if I ever start to take filmmaking a lot more seriously (some of the features it has I've never even heard of and have no idea what they do!).

If you are looking for a full function video editor but don't have the budget for a paid app, or you don't like the so called 'free' editors that are actually limited versions of a more powerful editor they're hoping you'll pay the upgrade for, then Shotcut may be the video editor for you.

It will be a little confusing at first but if you take the time to go through the free video tutorials you'll be rewarded with a video editor that is, in many ways, more feature packed than some of the paid apps on the market.


Related Udemy Affiliate links



Comments

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Popular posts from this blog

Voice All Your Own Animated Characters with Voice Changer

Voice Changer by AVSoft is real time voice manipulation software that can be used for a wide range of purposes including (according to their website); Voice-over and voice dubbing for audio/video clips, presentations, narrations, voice messages, voice mails, E-greeting cards, broadcasting, etc.; mimic the voice of any person, create animal sounds, change/replace/remove voices in songs, videos,etc. I bought it for the specific purpose of changing my own voice, to extend my vocal range, for voicing characters in my own animations. I was fortunate enough to get this software at a significant discount that made it difficult to refuse, given that I'd never tried it, or even heard of it before. I'm not sure if I would have bought it at the full price given that much of what it can do (for my needs) can also be done with the freeware audio program, Audacity . AV Voice Changer Interface. Voice Changer is relatively easy to install and set up. Once installed simply

Make Disney/Pixar Style Characters with Reallusion's Character Creator and Toon Figure Bases

The Extraordinary Tourist Classic Coat outfit created using Reallusion's Toon Designer for CC3. I've talked before how I've wanted to get into 3D Disney/Pixar style character animation since I first saw the animated cutscenes for the very first Tomb Raider game back in 1996. It's why I initially bought Reallusion's iClone 3D studio app as soon as I could afford a computer that would run it. But then Reallusion released their 3D Character Creator (CC) for iClone and I wanted to create my characters with that (and I did try with Bat Storm ). But the focus of CC was realism, even with ToKoMotion's stylised body morphs . Now with Reallusion's Cartoon Designer bundle for CC3 which features two packs, Toon Figures , and Toon Hair , designing Disney/Pixar style 3D characters just got a whole lot quicker. The two packs are the bare essentials for creating Toon style characters. Five body morphs (2 male, 2 female, and one adolescent body morph that w

Voicemod - Free and Easy to Use Voice Changer/Modulator Application

Voicemod is a real time voice changer app. A common problem for hobbyist animators is finding people to voice characters. Friends are often called in to our no budget productions because they're friends and they're usually happy to help. However friends aren't always available and/or willing, and hiring voice actors can be expensive if you're making a lot of short animations just for fun. In desperation you start voicing all your own characters but quickly realize your vocal range extends to only about three different voices. This is where  Voicemod  may help. Voicemod is a free dedicated, real time voice modifying app for Windows (other OS's are in the works). It has a very simple interface that makes it easy to alter the sound of your voice to any saved voice profile with a single click. It also makes it very easy to modify any profile or even create your own voice modifications from scratch. Before I go further, while Voicemod is free you are limited

Blender 2.8 Amazes with 2D Animation Features. Might Be the All-in-One Animation Studio for You

Hero - still from a 2D animated short created in Blender 2.8 with Grease Pencil. There are a number of animation apps that like to promote themselves as the one tool for all your animation needs and, while many are certainly very powerful, I think Blender 2.8 , released earlier this year, may be the closest yet. If you're not familiar with Blender it's been almost the go to tool, since at least 2002, for anyone wanting to learn 3D animation on a budget - and nothing is easier on the budget than completely free. With the release of 2.8 not only is Blender a complete 3D animation tool, it's now also a complete 2D animation tool. That's right you can use it to create 2D, hand drawn animation, motion graphics, and bone rigged 2D characters. As well, it has plugins that can give 3D animation that 2D look. Hence my suggestion that Blender 2.8 is truly the one tool for all your animation needs (because Blender is also very capable at VFX - think of any 'live acti

Review: Headshot Plugin for Reallusion's Character Creator 3

Headshot for CC3. Quite possibly the best 3D Avatar I've made of myself in any 3D application. Creating a realistic 3D human avatar is a whole lot easier with Reallusion's new Headshot Plugin for Character Creator 3. The plugin is an AI powered extension that can generate 3D digital humans from one photo. Which sounds like an amazing proposition but, in practice, if you're trying to achieve a specific likeness to an actual person, Headshot will give you an excellent base to work from. Headshot has two modes, Auto and Pro. Auto Mode Auto is well worth a try if you have an ideal photo of a front facing person that is properly lit and posed to Headshot's optimum requirements. It's also the only mode that will take a crack at generating a hair model. I grabbed an image of Harrison Ford, dragged it into Headshot without changing any of the default settings (other than specifying 'male' and selecting an 'old male' setting) and this is what I

Learn Moho Pro 12 Free Using SmithMicro's Own 104 Video Tutorials Sorted into a Logical Order of Progression

So you've bought Smith Micro's Moho Pro 12 along with the Moho, 10 hour, 104 Video Tutorials Add On pack so you can get learning right away... only you can't. For whatever reason, the video tutorials aren't sorted into any logical order of progression making them hard to follow. Yeah, I've been there, only I've done what Smith Micro should have done and sorted all the video tutorials into a logical order of natural progression for you. That is, each tutorial builds upon what you learned in previous videos and you won't suddenly come up against some feature you've never used before, unless that feature is what the video tutorial is about.

Artbreeder - Using AI created Character and Background Content in your Animations

A selection of User/AI generated images from Artbreeder. If you're looking for an endless supply of 2D character and background images for your animations then Artbreeder , an online Artificial Intelligence (AI) that generates image mash-ups you can tweak as much as you like, could be the ultimate content library. What is Artbreeder? Artbreeder is free to use though there are various paid plans, that give you additional features, such as higher resolution download images or more settings to play with. All images created on the site are Public Domain (CC0 License) and can be used in commercial projects. Using Artbreeder's online app you can generate head shot portraits, full body characters, landscapes, and other scenes simply by choosing two or more existing images to mash together then, using a series of sliders, to select which traits from each image you wish to lean toward in the final image. Photo Comparison - Top is my original uploaded photo. Bottom is Artbreeder's ap