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Free Video Editing Tools: Editing Basics

Overview of free, open source, video editing tools OpenShot and ShotCut. Introduction to glitch art using the free, open source tool Avidemux

OpenShot Basics

If you've used other programs like iMovie or Adobe Premiere, then the interface for OpenShot should be familiar. When you first launch the program, it will open a new project, like this:


Let's take a look at the different pieces of the interface.

Screenshot of Timeline in OpenShot


The Timeline is where you will cut and assemble your video clips. Each Track works a lot like layers in Photoshop or GIMP; clips placed on higher tracks will cover up video on lower tracks. This is important to remember when you start working with Chroma Key / Green Screens or Picture-in-Picture. To trim videos, select the cut tool and then click where you want to cut. If you have several small clips or you need to be very accurate with a cut, you can zoom in with Zoom tool.


Screenshot of Properties from OpenShotWhen a clip is selected in the Timeline, the Properties panel will display various variables Things like rotation, cropping, and other settings.

Project FilesScreenshot of Project Files in OpenShot

As you add files to your project, the originals will be kept in the Project Files panel. To work with new videos, drag them from the Project Files panel onto the Timeline.

The Project File panel is also were you access Transitions and Effects. Click on the tab to select either Transitions or Effects. To apply an Effect, drag it onto the clip that you want to apply it to. To apply a Transition, drag it between the two clips you want the transition to occur.

Screenshot of Video Preview in OpenShot

Video Preview

As you edit your video, you will see a preview of the final product in the Video Preview panel.

Adding File to the Project

Screenshot with diagrams of adding files to OpenShot

To add files to the project, click the green plus at the top of the window, then navigate to the file. After you have selected the file, it should appear in the Project Files tab. From there, drag the file onto a track in the timeline.

Trimming Video


To trim or splice video, select the Razor Tool (the icon of a pair of scissors) in the Timeline Panel.

OpenShot is a little different in that you can't place the Razor Tool directly over the playhead, which can make it hard to edit. Instead, you can use the Add Marker tool to make a marker at the playhead that you can then use to cut with the Razor Tool.