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

Popular posts from this blog

Featured Animator: Christian Haynes - 'Zack In Time' An Original, Independent, Animated Series on the Rise

Christian Haynes - Zack In Time.  If you've ever wanted to create an animated TV series staring your own original characters and stories then Los Angeles based writer, director, and animator, Christian Haynes is taking those next steps of putting together a team, developing a pitch/trailer for their series, Zack In Time. Featuring professional studio quality animation, they hope the show will get picked up by an animation studio for an official series. The path he and his team are taking is one you could easily follow as they deal with real life commitments, and building a following on Instagram and Tik-Tok showcasing their work behind the scenes. TET: Tell me a little about yourself. Who you are, and why you started animating? My name is Christian Haynes and I've loved animation ever since I was a kid. I would constantly be drawing cartoon characters from TV shows and movies and making my own little homemade comic strips.  As I got older, I became a lot more interested in st

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

Create 2D Animated Characters with 3D Character Creator Tools and Artistic Filters

3D CC3 TET Character, based on my Oppa Doll Avatar, used as the base for a 2D CA4 character. One of my favorite things to do is to create characters with any type of Avatar/Character creator app. In fact the first test I usually try with these tools is, can I make an avatar of me (or at least my The Extraordinary Tourist persona). Previously I've used 2D character creators like Oppa Doll as a source of artwork for some characters I've made for Reallusion's Cartoon Animator 4 animation studio but 2D character creators are limited to... well 2D. 3D Character Creators While you may think 3D character creators have no place in creating characters for 2D animation there are quite a number of advantages including: No drawing skills required. Render characters in any style. Use an art filter or even hand trace into line art. Need to animate the character in a specific pose or angle? Render out an image of the character in the required angle and animate it in 2D. Quicker to crea

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

Creating a G3-360 Head From a Single Photo in Reallusion's Cartoon Animator

Source Photo from Generated Photos . Ever since Reallusion introduced the G3-360 Character Head into Cartoon Animator 4 I've wanted to see if their 360 Head Creator tool could be used to create an animated head using a photo. Part of the reason I've never given this a shot, until now, is that I just assumed it would be difficult, and require a lot of photo editing to blend out the sprite edges. It turns out, creating a photographic G3-360 head is not that much more difficult than creating a cartoon head, and can be done using a single photographic image using my own G3-360 head rigging system . While this article isn't intended to be a full tutorial, I'll run through the basic steps of how I achieved my photographic G3-360 head, shown in the comparison below, of a Cartoon Animator Morph-based head on the left, and my G3-360 head on the right. Pros and Cons Cartoon Animator's morph-based head system is ideal for animating photographic faces. It uses a semi 3D wire me

Plask - Free, Brower Based, Motion Capture Using Only a Webcam

Plask lets you motion capture full body movement with only a webcam. Companies that produce 2D and 3D animation software seem to be very focused on using motion capture right now to speed up the animation process.  Unfortunately full body motion capture equipment, while very effective, is still quite expensive for someone like me who doesn't have a budget for such equipment. So, when I heard about Plask , a free, browser based, app that can capture full body motion capture data from an imported video or webcam, it was only natural that I would want to give it a try. I was hopeful that I would be able to use it with my Reallusion apps, iClone7 or Cartoon Animator 4 , both of which support motion capture data in their workflows. Plask's creators claim their app is easy to learn, while I generally would agree, it took me a while to locate their video tutorials.  For some reason they're listed under the 'Help' section of the manual. I would highly recommend they be put

How to Create Caricature Faces From Photos Using Krita - Tutorial by TET

I was looking around online for an app that can 'cartoonify' a photo of a person, kind of hoping for a 'one click' solution. There are a few out there but none worth highlighting. Then I came across a video tutorial by Pixivu for Cartoonifying faces in Photoshop and wondered if I could do something similar in the free, open source drawing app, Krita ? While Krita isn't quite as elegant as Photoshop it does have some comparable features that make it very easy to create cartoon caricature faces from photos that you could use as illustrations or in your animations. They're particularly useful for using as Morph Based character heads in Cartoon Animator 4 (as shown below). Example Caricature Faces use as morph character heads in Cartoon Animator 4. While the actual steps to create heads like those shown above (and, yes, that character on the right is based on a photo of me that I snapped on my webcam) is not something you're just going to stumble across yourse