All film makers from Bollywood to Hollywood, TV, online, training videos and all the other types of video or film making there are, need to use video editing software. But most of the professional video editing software is far too costly for most others.
If like me you like to make personal videos, perhaps you are an amateur video maker for example, that kind of software is out of my price range. But there are other great options so I have put together my top ten best free open source video editing software, for Linux, Windows and Mac.
Using one of this best open source video editing software you can take your video and boost both the effects and the video quality right up. Your YouTube posts, video blog, training visuals can get big improvements. With one of these I have turned my child’s latest holiday performance into a masterpiece for future viewing!
What is an Open Source Video Editor?
An open source video editor is one where the source code is open to people and can be customized by its users. Different people have different needs and this allows them to make changes to personalize the editor to their preferences.
It is not the case that all open source video editors are free, some are but some are not. Really the only people that might want or need one of the best free open source video editing software are those are skilled and trained or have a lot of knowledge in video editing and coding.
Pros and Cons of Using an Open Source Video Editor
- Great option for editors and developers who are more unique in their thinking
- Can make your own transitions and animations
- Can also design and make the kind of interface you prefer
- You get video editing at professional level for free in most cases
- Most come suited to the different operating systems like Linux, Windows and Mac
- Stability can be an issue in some cases
- There are still some costs when you factor in some charge for some of the essential source code
- User interfaces can be more complex and are not good for everyone
- Not for amateur users
10 Best Free Open Source Video Editing Software
Here is my top ten list.
- DaVinci Resolve
A closer look at the top ten
1. DaVinci Resolve
DaVinci Resolve is a free video editing software for Windows users. It is a good option if you need another choice other than Adobe Premiere or Avid. It is non-linear and scalable so it can be used in small scale situations all the way up to big productions.
It has color corrector techniques that are advanced and you can do a whole range of things with it, from management to color correction, creative editing and high end finishing. Its license is free.
If you are looking for a cross platform video editor that is free and open source, Shotcut could be the answer. Ffmpeg means it supports a lot of different codecs and video and audio formats. It can do almost everything you could want from a video editing tool.
One thing to watch out for though is during playback, because the hardware is not accelerated, the visual effects and multi-track compositing may be slow. It will be normal in the final watched version though.
Image formats it supports include TIFF, GIF, SVG, BMP, JPEG, PNG, TGA and also 4K resolutions and image sequences. It is easy to use and is actually a good one for newcomers to editing as well. It has plenty of features too.
For people wanting an open source video editing software that is more advanced and more suited for professional purposes, Blender is a good choice. It has a lot of handy features such as;
- Automatic skinning
- Open shading language
- 3D modeling
- Animation toolset
- Grid and bridge fill
- Fast UV Unwrapping
It is powerful software with a good community to offer support if it is needed. It is one of the more stable open source video editing software options and offers useful keyboard shortcuts, cutting and trimming features, various add-ons to personalize it and good user interface.
Lightworks is a well-regarded video editing software and has both a free version and paid version. The paid version has been used in many highly regarded movies including Road to Perdition, Heat, The King’s Speech, Wall Street, Hugo, Pulp Fiction and LA Confidential. You can try the paid version for a free 7 day trial too.
It is easy to use and multi-platform. The free version does not have all of the tools, for that you have to upgrade to version Pro. Out of its many features you will find;
- Wide container support
- Drag and drop replace editing
- Vimeo export
- Advanced multicam editing realtime
- Export and import functions
- Various effects
- Transcode on import
- Frame accurate capture tool
- Replace and fit to fill
With Lightworks you can get detailed and fast editing, share projects with others and do much more.
Halfway through my list of best open source video editing software there is Avidemux, a free software with three main tasks in mind when it was designed. Cutting, filtering and encoding.
It is multi-platform and is excellent for those three tasks. However if you want something with more complexity and features you may want to look at some of the options I have here.
Using Avidemux you get a few great tools. You can get the encoding done at a high level, put on multiple filters on various videos, apply copied effects from one video to another and put in different decoders and encoders. Some users may find the fact there is no timeline feature a problem, but others will be fine with that.
For those needing a free open source video editing software that is powerful but still easy to use LiVES is a great choice. It has a mix of non-linear editing and is very flexible.
There is a choice of multiple realtime effects, trimming and editing options and a multitrack timeline. It supports various languages so you can code your own plugins including python, perl, C and C++. Other main features you can expect include;
- Almost all video formats can be loaded and edited with mplayer
- Accurate frame cutting
- Playback is smooth at different rates
- Backup and restore
- Transitions and effects are customizable
- Variable and fixed frame rates supported
- Effects have dynamic loading
Another multi-platform free and easy to use video editing software that is full of features is OpenShot.
With the drag and drop interface it is one of the easiest to use and is good even to those new to editing videos. It is coded in Python and supports a number of different videos, image and audio formats. The kind of great features you will find include;
- Gnome integration is easy
- Video scaling, cutting, trimming and resizing
- Various video effects
- Changes in speed
- Video transitioning
- Watermarks included
- 3D titles animated
- Digital zooming
Since 2003 an open source video editor based on KDE frameworks and Qt is Kdenlive. The processing of film with this software is for the most part by the MLT Framework. It uses a lot of plugin effects for creation and sound and video processing.
It is best suited to users needing it for the basics on amateur or semiprofessional projects. It has an easy to use graphical interface. Features on this software include;
- Make custom profiles
- Mix audio, image and video formats
- Supports a variety of different types of camcorders so can import anywhere from low to high quality video formats
- Various different effect options and transitions
- Can make your own effects and transitions too
- Keyboard shortcuts you can configure
- Multitrack edition and timeline
- Choice to export to standard formats
- Tools including cropping, deleting, moving and editing video clips
- Easily add most codecs
FFmpeg is a free software suite first released in 2000, that can handle various multimedia streams and files, as well as video and audio. It is very popularly used as a way to perform basic editing, video processing, format transcoding, video scaling, and video effects.
Its name is made up of FF for ‘fast forward’ and mpeg after MPEG video standards group. It is a part of many different software media players and is a core part of YouTube and iTunes files. Its original creator was Fabrice Bellard but has been developed by a team since then.
The final best free open source video editing software but certainly not the least, is Natron. It was originally created by Gauthier and Devernay and initially released in 2014 so it is quite a modern option.
It is a node-based compositing software and a lot of its ideas and interface choices are based on other digital compositing software like Nuke, Avid Media Illusion and Blackmagic Fusion. Its name comes from a lake in Tanzania called Lake Natron. Features and tools to look forward to including;
- Transforming the image with scale, skew, rotation and position
- Keying – Chroma Keyer, PIK Keyer, Hue Keyer, Difference Keyer
- Curve editor for animation curve editing
- Rotoscoping manually with Bezier curves
- Video tracking functions
- Offer effects like color changes, image generating and geometric transforms
- Multi-view processing and stereoscopic 3D support
- Keyframes editing
- Paint – Clones, Blur, Smear, Burn, Solid, Eraser, Pencil
There are more free open source video editing software options out there, but those are my top ten picks for now.
Video editing itself has become quite a popular topic because it has become so popular to make your own videos, post on YouTube and other platforms, and people are wanting to be able to edit their work and not pay for the software.
However it is a fact that video editing when done well is not easy. It takes skill and certain understanding and knowledge.
If you can use one of this software to make great quality videos now is the time to shine and show off your skills! Free editing options allow you a chance to hone your skills.
If you need more features though you may need to look at one of the paid options out there. Turn this into something that generates an income and you can cover the costs of the software.
There are more options in general for software for Macs and Windows than for Linux. Linux is growing but it is still behind the other two. If you are willing to branch out from software that is cross platform there are more options to consider.
What suits one user will not necessarily be right for another. Your skill, knowledge, hardware and experience are a large factor in which is the best free open source video editing software.