FOSSPicks

FOSSPicks

Article from Issue 223/2019
Author(s):

If there's one thing writing FOSSPicks has taught Graham, it's that there are as many ways to install and build a package as there are to cook an egg.

Video Editor

Kdenlive 19.04

Kdenlive is one of those applications that catches you by surprise. One minute it seems little more than a quick Qt-built GUI wrapped around some command-line tools to concatenate video files, and the next minute it's spending months on hiatus being rewritten and refactored into something that can genuinely start to compete with Final Cut Pro on macOS. This is what's happening with Kdenlive; you'll find the all new version in the KDE Applications 19.04 release. To be fair, it already was the best open source video editor available, barring perhaps Blender if you needed absolute power and had the patience to master its idiosyncratic user interface.

Many who have perhaps not used Kdenlive for a while won't realize that it now includes some rather advanced features. One, for example, allows you to use low quality copies of a clip as proxies for edits you want to make. This saves CPU and storage resources and is perfect for our 8K future. There's also a brilliant Title Editor toolbar that enables you to create 2D text frames without having to resort to an external package. This important function is always overlooked in open source video editors, as they often focus on performance and clip editing. However, adding titles is equally important. You only have to look at the most popular YouTube videos to see how words, spacing, shadows, gradients, and images are spliced into video segments to create a professional and snappy video. Dropping an alpha-blended Gimp text render doesn't really cut it, unless you're creating a video about Gimp. Kdenlive has done all this for some time, which has perhaps been our only criticism: It was difficult to see where new developments were taking the project.

All this has changed with 19.04, because it's where users will finally get their hands (or mice) on the results of a significant refactor and redesign, especially to the time line. For everyone that remembers KDE's refactor between the KDE 3 and KDE 4 releases, this likely inspires feelings of intense trepidation – it took years for KDE to regain the same functionality and trust it had in the KDE 3 era as features, applications, and paradigms were wantonly dropped in the name of progress and reinventing the wheel. There is an element of this in the refactoring of Kdenlive. Stability is still an issue, and some menus no longer offer the same options they did previously. As an example, there are currently no curves in the keyframe transitions. However, these elements are hugely outweighed by new features, such as the default audio split, easier monitor viewing, and a lovely user interface that allows almost every element to be dragged and rescaled, including tabs. With this update, Kdenlive remains not just an excellent open source video editor, but one that's excellent regardless of whether it's open or proprietary or how the project is developed.

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