5 Best Open Source Video Editors for Small Business

Friday Mar 8th 2013 by Carla Schroder
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You don’t have to spend a mint to produce high-quality training and promotional videos for your small business. Just use one of these open source video editing programs.

In 5 Top Linux Computer Vendors for Small Business and 3 Open-Source Point-of-Sale Systems for Small Business, I discussed the Linux operating system as a reliable, secure alternative to computers running Microsoft Windows, and we profiled some of the best Linux vendors and support options.

In this article, I take a look at some of the excellent Linux video-creation and video-editing software, from easy to Hollywood extravaganza. Before we go any further I must share my Number One Pro Video Tip: Shoot your videos from a tripod. Please, for the love of humanity and for the comfort of your viewers.

Now that I've got that off my chest, let's get on with your open source video software options.

Open Source Video Editors for Small Business

1. OpenShot

The OpenShot video editor is a superior choice for the beginning videographer. It is easy to learn, and fully-featured with a well-chosen feature set that may make it the only video editor you'll ever need.

OpenShot lets you combine still images, audio tracks, and movie clips. It supports all the usual effects such as pans and fades, subtitles and captions, and scrolling titles and credits. It comes with a truckload of special effects such as black-and-white, sepia, glow, distortions, color effects, and old film appearance, and you can animate a group of still images.

OpenShot open source video editing software

Figure 1: If you're new to making videos, the easy-to-learn OpenShot is a great choice.

OpenShot exports to a wide variety of formats and quality levels, including HD and Blu-Ray, and it can export directly to your YouTube or Vimeo account. You can also slow down or speed up clips.

Consult the documentation to learn all about it, though it's so well-designed I doubt you'll be reaching for the manual all that often. It runs only on Linux, and the nice OpenShot developers offer a free live DVD image. It includes a complete Linux operating system and OpenShot, so you can easily try it without installing it.

Download the image, burn it to a blank DVD, boot it up and give it a whirl.

Price, support, platform: Free of cost, community support, Linux.

2. Kdenlive

The next step up is Kdenlive, a professional-level video editor with nearly the ease-of-use of OpenShot, but with many more capabilities. It supports tethered shooting from any Firewire-connected video camera, which is a great way to keep your old DV or HDV camera (DV and HDV record to tape) in service.

Of course, you can also use lower-end camcorders that rely on compact Flash storage; simply connect the camera to a computer via USB to copy the files over, and then edit. You can also record your computer desktop and make screencasts, which is a great way to make training videos for new software, and you can capture from any video media connected to your computer, such as a DVD or video player.

Kdenlive open source video editing software for small business

Figure 2: Kdenlive offers  loads of features without being overly complicated.

Kdenlive includes a clip monitor, record monitor, and project monitor, which let you preview everything you're doing in real time. Just like OpenShot, you can mix pretty much any video or audio media, and Kdenlive provides tools for organizing your projects and syncing audio and video tracks.

You can export video files to whatever format and quality level you want, such as TV, DVD, mobile devices, Web, Blu-Ray and high-definition. The second-to-last step any video editor takes is to render your project into its final form, which takes a few minutes, and Kdenlive allows you to continue working while it's rendering.

Kdenlive has a raft of other useful features such as notes, creative effects, scripting support, and creating custom profiles. The Kdenlive community have created a big batch of shared profiles, and you can preview and download these with a couple of clicks. You can also download project profiles and cool title templates.

Price, support, platform: Free of cost, community support, Linux and Mac.

More Open Source Video Editors for Small Business

3. LiVES

LiVES is the video editor with the funny name. The name is a recursive acronym, which is a form of wordplay much beloved by certain open source developers. LiVES stands for "LiVES Video Editing System." Regardless of whether you appreciate the wordplay, it's an impressive video editor, though it takes some getting used to as it has a different workflow than OpenShot and Kdenlive.

LiVES open source video editing software for small business

Figure 3: LiVES offers two working modes; one with a simplified interface and the other that's full featured.

At installation LiVES runs a system check to make sure that your computer has everything it needs installed. The program runs in two modes: Clip mode, which is the simplified interface, or Multitrack mode, which exposes all of LiVES' features.

LiVES supports the usual multitrack mixing and editing features found in most video editors, plus useful extras: Multiple monitors, multiple language support, MIDI synchronization (for incorporating audio from electronic keyboards and other synthesizers), and novel feature called VJ support. VJ is "video jockey." This is mixing clips, applying effects and variable play rates in real time.

Other noteworthy features include subtitle removal, rotation and resizing video clips, Firewire and TV card support, a lot of good audio editing features and excellent crash recovery. If you enjoy being creative and having a lot of unusual features to play with, then give LiVES a try.

Price, support, platform: Free of cost, community support, Linux and Mac.

4. Avidemux

Looking for a basic video editor?  Avidemux is for cutting out the unwanted bits of an existing video, and for converting to other formats and quality levels. For example, suppose you have a promotional video that runs too long. You can use Avidemux to trim it to size, and then convert it to a high-quality format for local presentations and a lower-quality format for Internet streaming.

Price, support, platform: Free of cost, community support, Linux, Mac, Windows.

5. Cinelerra

I have to mention Cinelerra, or else Linux video fans will scold me. It's a powerhouse video creator with professional features and support for very high-quality processing levels.

It's a pain to install, and it requires a higher-end video card with 3D acceleration and a stout computer. Don't even try it on less than a quad-core CPU with a minimum of 4GB of memory, on a 64-bit operating system. In these modern times, that describes an average PC made in the last couple of years. If you're hip to floating point, algorithms, histograms and the finer points of manipulating video, then you will love Cinelerra.

Price, support, platform: Free of cost and commercial editions, Linux.

Bonus Open Source Video Tool: DeVeDe

DeVeDe is not a video editor, but rather a simple program to put your movies on DVDs. In the fun world of computer-based video production, such obvious things as making your own movie DVDs is often overlooked, and it's harder than it needs to be. DeVeDe makes it almost as easy as it should be.

Price, support, platform: Free of cost, community support, Linux.

Carla Schroder is the author of The Book of Audacity, Linux Cookbook, Linux Networking Cookbook,and hundreds of Linux how-to articles. She's the former managing editor of Linux Planet and Linux Today.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!
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