OpenShot in action
OpenShot uses a tools-based user interface like a photo editor, which is odd if you're used to context dependent interfaces in other video editors, but it's worth getting used to. I'd rather have the most frequently used actions depend upon clicks on relevant parts of the clips (click the clip's edges to resize for example
) rather than having to whizz around selecting different tools all the time, but you can't have everything
It would be handy if a double-click on a clip brought up the properties, rather than the less useful clip preview - but then OpenShot doesn't show you what the clip contains in the timeline like some editors do
If you apply an effect to a clip, a star appears - and clicking that bring up the useful properties dialog. Maybe we could always have a star on each clip, a hollow star if no effects are applied yet, to allow the easy access to the clip properties?
Also, applying a transition is really unintuitive at first, you may eventually figure out on your own how to arrange two clips on two tracks and drag a transition onto the space between them - but it's certainly not going to give you any clues! More tooltips would help, if they could explain how to use features.
Sometimes, as with all too many software efforts (mine too if I'm honest), the developer is too well versed in how it works to realise how confusing it can be to a newcomer - so it feels like you're expected to do a little studying first or guess how it works. Still, at least it DOES work - and something as complex as video editing is never going to be trivial, is it?
The one thing I really wish the developer(s?) would do is make sure each right-click menu would actually have a key-binding for each option. Some do, some don't. It's so much faster to edit using the keyboard and mouse together, rather than just the mouse. I know that it is a tedious programming chore to add these basics rather than the fun stuff of adding new features, but usability really does benefit from the work.
Fast and Capable?
MOV movie files (MJPEG) from digital stills cameras edit smoothly in OpenShot on a modern PC, even HD size (720 lines). It's not quite so good for me with AVCHD Lite clips (MTS files containing 264 video)
from my Panasonic camera, as the complex container format makes it struggle somewhat. The clips play OK in OpenShot and can be edited successfully, but 'scrubbing' - moving the play position manually around the clip - results in staggered playback in the preview window and choppy results during transitions.
I usually have to (even in Windows video editors)
convert to AVI files containg the same 264 video in a more ordered format (sometimes 'de-shaking' the footage during the conversion) in order to have clips that work well in editing. These AVI files play a little better than the original MTS files in OpenShot's timeline on USB Puppy - but not as smoothly as the simple (but larger & less compressed) MJPEG video format.
Overall I'm rather happy with OpenShot 1.3 for now. This is the first time I've had success in a Linux or Windows video editor with MTS clips, being able to join them together, edit reasonably well without crashing, and save the final movie montage still in HD at the right frame rate. Other video editors like the XP version of Windows Movie Maker or VideoPad have their own advantages and disadvantages in certain areas, but no one editor ever has it all in one perfect package. You have to settle for whatever fits your needs best. Sometimes titles are much easier to work with, sometimes the timeline basics are easier, sometimes there is more control of the audio waveform volume envelope. But sometimes you can only work with WMV files, sometimes it doesn't work with MTS files, sometimes it's a buggy editor that crashes, sometimes what you think is an unlimited trial version starts nagging about registration and payment for an upgrade, you just can't win! In contrast, Open Source projects are just a wonderful gift from the generous developers, usually with phenomenal amounts of help available online compared to commercial software.
I have followed OpenShot since the early days when it was just a few announcements on Mr J.T.'s blog, and I had faith that he sounded like he knew what he was doing. I'm glad to report that my belief in his capabilities and aims was well founded and that progress has been very impressive. There's not much I can do to help OpenShot's development, so this tutorial is my way of thanking all the developers that brought us to this point (Linux in general and OpenShot)
by trying to encourage more users to give it a try and join the community surrounding the project. The more the merrier.
I await even more development with hopeful anticipation, but for now, v1.3 seems stable and will be perfectly usable for many users. Go on, try it!
I'm sure that's all the help you'll need for now - give it a try if you want a free video editor that's going places, still being actively developed at a fast pace - it's not hard to get it running - you really can do it!