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Making Movies in Linux with Kdenlive

Video Editing With Kdenlive

May 13, 2010

I've been avoiding video editing for years. I've seen a couple of tutorials that always made it look too complicated.

But recently, at a model airplane fun fly, I shot a lot of short video clips with my digital camera. I needed a way to combine the good parts into a video I could put on the web. I tried a few of the video editing apps available for Linux looking for something that was easy for a first-timer to use, and settled on kdenlive. I was amazed how easy it was to use, even for a first-timer. Turns out there was no need to be afraid of video editing!

Use the latest version

The most important part of getting started with kdenlive is: Use the latest version, 0.7.7.1 or later.

I started out with 0.7.5 since that's what comes in Ubuntu Karmic. 0.7.5 has a bug that will eventually corrupt your video project. It's possible to recover from that (by editing an XML file) but it's not easy. Don't risk it -- use 0.7.7.1 from the beginning.

If your distro doesn't have a package that new (Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid has the latest), get one from the Download link at kdenlive.org. They have packages for many major distros -- for Ubuntu 9.10, all I had to do was

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:sunab/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install kdenlive
Of course, they also offer the source code if you want to build it yourself.

When you first start up, you'll be asked for a default video profile. I'll be making mostly web videos, and picked VGA (640x480). If you want to target DVDs or other formats, you may want a different profile.

Pick your first clip

Your first task is to pick some clips. Kdenlive can read video files in just about any format, from your digital camera, real video camera or whatever. Use the Project->Add Clip menu to choose your first file.

<em>First clip</em>
First clip

You can see your video in the Clip Monitor area (Figure 1). You have all the usual buttons you'd find in a video player -- play/pause, fast-forward/rewind, and buttons to step forward or backward one frame at a time. You can also drag the slider to anywhere in the movie.

Once you've decided which part of the video you want to use, the leftmost two buttons come into play. Go to your intended start point and click Set zone start; then go to the end point and use Set zone end.

When you've set start and end points, drag from the Clip Monitor preview area into the timeline (Figure 2).

<em>Drag to timeline</em>
Drag to timeline


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