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.

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.
Voice Changer is relatively easy to install and set up. Once installed simply change you default microphone to the installed AV…

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

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 works as both a male or female pre teen), eleven hair style bases, with thirteen hair additions for further variation.

T…

Review: CrazyTalk Animator 3 vs Moho Studio Pro 12

Reallusion's CrazyTalk Animator 3 or Smith Micro's Moho Studio Pro 12. Which of these 2D animation applications is right for you?

Regular readers of this blog will know I'm a strong supporter, and fairly proficient user of CrazyTalk Animator since version 1. It's a great piece of software for producing 2D animations from purchased content quickly and, with version 3, is easier than ever to create animations from your own art.

Lesser known is that I first purchased Moho Studio Pro 12 (then known as Anime Studio Pro 9) back in October of 2012 and have been upgrading it to the latest version ever since because I believed in it as an application for creating great 2D animation to TV quality standard. As such, it's a much more complex application than CTA3 that I only got around to learning properly late last year. I'm still in the process of blogging my progress.

Despite this I feel I've learned enough of Moho to compare it to CTA3 to help you determine which …

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

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 action' movie that uses CGI to create almost anything in a scene that wasn't there dur…

Should You Buy or Upgrade to MOHO 13? *Spoiler* Yes. Yes You Should!

Smith Micro released MOHO 13, their all in one, 2D animation studio, this week. The question is should you buy or upgrade to the latest version? Obviously I've already spoiled this in the title, so the actual question is why do I think you should buy or upgrade?

To be clear, I'm only talking about MOHO 13 Pro. If you're considering MOHO 13 Debut be aware that you're missing out on some of the new features, and a lot of existing features that are only available in the Pro version. Debut is fine if the budget doesn't stretch to Pro, but, if you never want to be disappointed about not having a feature, it's Pro or nothing!

The other thing I need to be transparent about is I'm not, by any stretch, a frequent MOHO user/animator. However I took the time to learn MOHO 12 Pro fairly extensively, blogging about my process and sorting out 104 free MOHO training videos into a logical viewing order in the process. I think I have more than enough insight to let you kno…

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.

Tomb Raider to Tears of Steel: 3D Animation with Blender

3D animation (of the polygon and texture map kind not the 3D glasses kind) is something I've wanted to get into ever since I saw the cut scenes created for the original Tomb Raider game back in 1996.

I've embeded the opening cut scene to the first level of the game below. It looks quite primitive now but back then it was very cinematic for a game cut scene. It was the closest thing I'd seen to the possibility of making movies with strong characters directly on a home computer.

The problem was that I never could afford a computer powerful enough to run the software 3D animation programs require. The system I had at the time could just barely run the Tomb Raider game in low resolution mode.



Seemingly, every time I was able to buy a more powerful system, 3D animation software had progressed and required a system more powerful to run it. Because of this I eventually gave up on 3D animation as something that was accessible to me.

Fast forward to the September 2012 release of t…