#185 - Editor Rant

5 minute read

Motto: This is a Column for Me, Not so much You

Like I said in the motto, this is a rant... and it's a rant that's very "inside baseball", as they say. Feel free to read it, or skip it, either way. I warn you about this because I can't think of a single reader this Column applies to. If you want the gist of things, I'll include a TL;DR at the end.

I have made videos on and off the past 10+ years now. I'm definitely not an expert video maker, but I think I'm at least "decent". I've managed to do generally everything I've tried to do when it comes to editing. As of last month, I had experience with 7 different editors.

As of yesterday, that number is 12.

My transition over to Linux has been admittedly painful at times, but I've managed to work through everything... except for video editing. I cannot find a video editor that suits my purposes.


When I made the jump to Linux, this was my plan. It's a very legitimate editor, used in the television and movies. Lightworks was used to edit "The King's Speech", "The Departed", "Pulp Fiction", "Braveheart", and many other things you've heard of and seen. It's been on this earth nearly as long as I have. So I felt like it was a fairly safe bet... Until I started using it.

I've tried writing this next section in a concise way 3 times now, so I'm just going to use bullet points instead.

Lightworks behaves completely differently than what I'm used to.
It was designed to make heavy, almost exclusive use of the keyboard, increasing the learning curve substantially.
Opting to use the mouse almost feels like punishment. It doesn't do what you'd expect.
Performing very VERY basic tasks has required tutorial videos and text documentation.
I have 99 Google searches including the term "Lightworks"... including these:
"Lightworks audio transitions"
"Lightworks transitions"
"Lightworks fade to black"
"Lightworks adding text"
"Lightworks remove audio clips"
"Lightworks learning curve"
"Lightworks 120 fps"
"Lightworks multiple frame rates"
"Lightworks speed up a clip"
"Lightworks import mp3"
"Lightworks import formats"
"Lightworks keyboard shortcuts"
"Lightworks glossary"
... and about 85 others that are some variant of "how do I do this, why isn't this working, help, tutorial, and/or what is going ON???
The "delete" key closes the project. It doesn't DELETE.
Slightly more advanced features, like changing global audio level for a track, I'm not even close to figuring out.
Lightworks expects all video clips to have the same framerate. It plays 60 fps material at 50% speed. They can be sped up, but it's a manual process.
It does NOT accept 120 fps video (much of my GoPro stuff)
It randomly wouldn't import one mp3 file, while importing a different one that has all the same attributes so far as I can tell.
Drag and drop works as you'd expect only about 50% of the time.
You have to open a menu for everything.
The menus are huge and give equal weight to things I feel like you'd need to touch constantly and things you'd only touch once per dozen projects.

In general, Lightworks expects a certain workflow. That workflow require substantial learning and pre-planning to accomplish. If you don't operate it exactly like it wants to be operated, well then tough luck.


Going from Lightworks to OpenShot is like trading out a computer for an abacus. The interface is simple, to put it lightly. The feature set is (intentionally) limited. Keyboard shortcuts seem almost non-existent. I don't believe OpenShot is nearly capable of everything I want. OpenShot is very much the complete opposite of Lightworks in every way... which is bad.


Pitivi is the youngest entry into the field of editors I tried. It look somewhat promising at first... then it started causing system hangups. Even when it was working it had some fairly excessive lag issues. My system is not at all "top of the line", but it ran every other editor just fine. Also I had some issues inserting titles into the video.


See my comments for OpenShot. Ctrl+c, Ctrl+v.


Kdenlive is the dumbest name of any editor I tried, and that annoys me more than it should. Beyond that, though, I thought I had solved my problem. Eveything looked the way it should. Everything behaved liked I expected. I was able to put the first 4 clips of "My 25th Year" on the timeline and cut them together how I want in under 15 minutes. It was the light at the end of the tunnel...

Then the bugs started. I tried moving a clip that slid out of place temporarily... and it stuck. It wouldn't go. The interface just kept telling me it was unable to move the clip. So I tried deleting and re-adding the clip... but it wouldn't delete. The same interface just kept telling me it was unable to delete the clip. It was like the editor was HAL 9000 and it fell in love with a portion of the song "Keeping Warm" residing ~5 minutes into the project.

I deleted the project and started over. Same thing happened with a different clip.

I Googled it. Found out it's a known bug. No solution.


Why is this so difficult?

TL;DR - Linux video editors suck. Learning the one I thought was going to be good is like learning a foreign language... a foreign language with horrible yet strict grammar rules.

Again, this Column didn't lend itself to a natural picture, so here's one from left field:
The bird in our plant (from two Columns ago) had some babies.

Top 5: Possible Solutions I'll Explore
5. Try the unstable version of Kdenlive 4. Try out "Cinelerra", which is just another Linux-based video editor. 3. Give up. Reinstall Windows. Use it only for video editing. 2. Learn to play ball with Lightworks. Accept its limitations and let it boss me around. 1. Give up. Buy a Macbook or something. I don't want to go back to Windows.

“Let's make a club for people who own Nalgenes, Timbuk2 bags, Streamlight pen lights, Leathermans, Glocks, and G Shock watches”
- Myself, to my collective group of friends that also own all of the above -