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Video Editing on Linux

I’m no professional when it comes to editing videos, although I’ve learned a lot in a short space of time out of necessity. Whether I’m playing an indie title that grabs my attention, or the latest iteration of our popular GeekOut Plays Stonekeep series, I have learned very quickly that the videos that I get from raw recordings aren’t enough. This is where video editing comes in – In this article, I discuss video editing on Linux.


Regulars of GeekOut will be well aware that I do not use Windows at home – Why? Because I don’t really need to. Ubuntu does more than enough for me, even allowing me to play many Windows games by running it through WINE. Whilst this is all well and good, there’s a few things that Ubuntu isn’t so hot for. Take the humble sound drivers for one, something that Ubuntu seems to struggle to contain between ALSA and PulseAudio… But that’s an issue for another day. Another struggle on the free operating system is finding decent video editing software.

Thankfully Kdenlive exists and it’s not that bad. In fact, it has a lot of features that I never expected from free software; from basic transition features, to full scale effects being added into your created videos. In this article, I discuss how easy Kdenlive is to use, along with a sort of quick show of how I edited the last video I made.

The above video on 1001 Spikes was released just yesterday; a video I had a lot of fun making. At 27 deaths, this meant I needed 27 title slides as a minimum, along with another one for when I said “COINS!”, another one for the beginning of the episode, asking how many times I would die, another one at the end of the episode summarising the number of deaths, another one for — Do you get the picture now? That’s a lot of editing, of which I managed to do the whole thing in about 65-70 minutes. When you consider this is only on a 10 minute long video, the Stonekeep videos I record at an hour at a time. I then edit them down as required and this can take anywhere between 65-120 minutes for one 10 minute video. Think about that for a second: 120 minutes for what seems to be relatively simple stuff. Two hours of my time for a 10-15 minute video?

Why do we do it? Ultimately, it’s the same as why anyone does any form of media. It’s entertainment. If my two hours means that someone out there gets a laugh, or can just relax to what I’m making, then I think I’ve done my job correctly. As a quick guide, here’s how I put together this video:


When you first boot up Kdenlive, you’re greeted with one of the most hallow, empty looking screens you’ll ever see. It’s all alone. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful… Ahem, that’s enough about me staring out of windows for a moment and let’s look at Kdenlive properly. You’ll see there’s the big black square in the middle to right hand side: that’s the preview screen. You can see what’s happening and make the required adjustments to your video from there. On the left hand side of that, see the white area? That’s where you put all of the files associated with the video.

At the bottom, you’ll see what is basically a traditional video editing time line. On here, you’ll be able to see the time line of the video down to the individual frame. But you’ll see there’s 5 separate tracks to put clips in, but you can add or remove those as you see fit. This means, you can have as much as you want (within certain limits of course). The top three tracks are for video, the bottom two are for audio.

If this pops up, select the profile that applies to your project

If this pops up, select the profile that applies to your project

Once you add some files in, you can drag them into the time line at the bottom.


You see the red line going down the clip in the time line? That’s the marker to show you where you are in the clip at the moment of time on the preview pane. You can also see on the bottom right hand corner of the preview pane, there’s a while timer box. In there, you can keep track of the time you’re at. If you want smooth animations, then you will need to study frame by frame when events happen on your screen.

If you’re wondering how I get the words to overlay on the screen, I use a composite transition with a ‘title screen’. This basically means that I will be just simply writing something and positioning it on a screen. This is then overloaded over the top of the video. In the case of the 1001 Spikes video, I didn’t do any voice overs, but if I did, then I’d have simply put it in the Audio 1 track.

Example of a Title Screen

Example of a Title Screen

By the end of making this video, over 30 of these individual screens were made up. Different fonts were used, different sizes, different colour variations – different amount of frames per screen. As you can imagine, this is where the time goes. This was a very quick look at making a video on Kdenlive, but if you want to see more, perhaps some time soon I’ll record me editing a video of Stonekeep, so you can see what sort of extra work goes into those, as those are a little bit longer.

Thanks for sticking around, have you ever done video editing before..? If so, what is the application you used? Have you ever used Linux for editing? Let us know in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.


6 responses

  1. Nice guide! Would love to see one on free video editors for Windows!

    Also, reporting on the XSplit video editor. Limited to cutting up and splicing videos together.


    February 2, 2016 at 9:18 am

    • Who knows, perhaps I could knock one together for FOSS video editors on Windows at some point :)

      Liked by 1 person

      February 2, 2016 at 9:21 am

      • That would be cool. Or pick your favourite and do a small tutorial :)


        February 2, 2016 at 9:58 am

      • Always a possibility. I might look into that for next month :)

        Liked by 1 person

        February 2, 2016 at 10:15 am

  2. Pingback: GeekOut Plays Stonekeep: Episodes 39-41 in progress | GeekOut South-West

  3. Pingback: Video Editing as a Profession | GeekOut South-West

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