Lightworks is a professional video editing and re-mastering software that has been in circulation since the early 90s. It has been used by notable editors to help produce Emmy- and Oscar-award-winning movies, feature films and TV shows like Hugo (Martin Scorsese), The King’s Speech, the Departed, Pulp Fiction, Mission Impossible, Batman and Braveheart. Until recently, Lightworks was only available for the Windows platform. However, after more than 3 years in the beta phase, a stable version of Lightworks was released for the Linux platform in January of this year. It is completely free to use (the basic version, at least) and has a lot of features to offer to an amateur as well as a professional editor.
Downloading and Installing Lightworks
You can download Lightworks for Linux from the official website. You’ll have to create an account (free of charge) before you can use the software. You can download a deb file or rpm file – whatever’s convenient for you. The file size is not very big (considering all that it can do!), so it won’t take you long to download and install it.
There are plans to make Lightworks fully open source in the near future! We’re so looking forward to it!
The free version only supports a basic resolution of 720p, and only exports to the MPEG-4 format. You need to buy the professional version for additional codecs and access to all formats ($7.99 a month, $79.99 a year or full purchase $279.99).
Lightworks supports a wide range of native formats, like DVCAM / DVCPRO 25 (AVI, MOV and MXF), XDCAM HD, Blu-ray (VC1, H.264 and MPEG-2 HD 422) and DVD (MTS, M2TS and MPG). You can check this list for all the supported formats.
You can multitask well with the software. For example, you can edit a video file and export a file at the same time – without having to pause. Lightworks is compatible with all the major input/output hardware manufacturers, like AJA, Matrox and Blackmagic.
Lightworks supports a cool multi-editing feature which lets you create synchronized clips with ease, even if you use two or more cameras for your film. There is an Auto Edit feature that can save hours of your time. Like any standard video editing software, Lightworks supports trimming. However, the Lightworks team has streamlined the process, making it very fast and easy.
Available in multiple languages, Lightworks has a fully customizable interface (you can import templates to change the look of the interface), and you can set shortcuts for your frequently performed tasks. You can also create macros to speed up your work.
Lightworks has a unique collaboration feature. It’s possible for a bunch of editors to work on the same project at the same time, in real time. It’s possible to control who has read/write access, of course.
You don’t need to save your project when you’re using the software. Your project is automatically saved to a database. In case the software crashes (which doesn’t happen all that often, according to users), you don’t lose any of your work.
Lightworks, at the moment, runs on both Windows and Linux. The beta version of Lightworks for Mac is coming soon in June 2014.
Before Getting Lightworks
You will need a very good rig to run Lightworks. According to the vendor, you need an Intel i7 chipset, 3 GB of RAM, two or more screens, a good graphics card with DirectX 9 support, a sound card and a separate system drive and media drive. A good graphics card (NVIDIA or ATI) will help accelerate video processing, so it’s recommended that you get at least a mid-range graphics card for the best results. Because professional grade video editing typically involves dealing with terabytes of data, you will also benefit from 4GB of RAM or more.
If you’re familiar with the Windows version of Lightworks, you’ll find it easy to get used to the Linux version, as they are very similar. However, if you’ve never used the software before, it may take a while to get used it – even the basics. The software comes with a mandatory steep learning curve. The official tutorial videos on the Lightworks website are quite helpful and cover a wide variety of topics. There are also the forums and support team for help.
Bottom line – if you’re looking for professional grade video editing software for Linux, look no further than Lightworks!