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Well it is not a completely idiotic thought. If you can remember back to editing in the early nineties, there were only two NLEs on the block, Lightworks and Avid. Everybody knows the Avid story, but could Lightworks be coming back to change the market again? Links, opinion and a video tour of the GUI after the break.

You cannot beat free and that is exactly what Lightworks is, you can go and download the beta right now. OK there are few charges but we will come on to those later. If you have never heard of Lightworks before, here is a bit of history.

Lightworks-controllerAcademy® and Emmy® award-winning Lightworks was introduced in 1989 as the first and most advanced professional editing system on the market. Its intuitive controls, real-time synchronization, and multi-camera ingest and editing features still remain unmatched by top industry players. Lightworks was most-recently used by editor Chris Gill on the highly-anticipated Neil Marshall thriller, Centurion, as well as multi Oscar-winning editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, on the acclaimed Martin Scorsese thriller, Shutter Island.

What most people will remember about the Lightworks system is the Steenbeck style controller which made it very popular with film editors. Oh yes there's also a desktop shark that you used to 'kill' bins too.

Lightworks however has had a pretty bumpy life. It was bought by Tektronix in 1999, who effectively killed it when they tried to shoe horn it into news room systems. It then got bought by Gee Broadcast in 2004 and then again by EditShare in 2009.

The guys at EditShare have taken the leap and decided that it's their goal to make Lightworks Open Source. By the looks of the GUI they have already spent money on bringing the editor up to a good level before releasing the source code. Ongoing development of an NLE is a costly business so passing it into the hands of keen code writers is a way that hopefully this product can compete with the three big A's.


So why is this a danger to FCP?  Well think about getting a fully featured NLE for nothing; why spend a thousand dollars when this will happily cut most things thrown at it. Although Lightworks at the moment is Windows only, Linux and OSX is scheduled for late 2011. So a free cross platform non-linear editor that is under constant development, sounds fantastic if they can build up a core of users that will give it enough critical mass to be a player in the market.


So I think this is well worth keeping an eye on to see how it develops. I've taken the liberty of copying the features just so that you can see how advanced it is. Support is already there for R3D material and 3D work. Remember I said about charges? Looking at the spec sheet indicates that for Lightworks to be compatible with some codecs such as ProRes for example, there will be a charge. How much we don't know, but we will be watching this space very closely. In the meantime, take a look at this tour of the app from film-tv-video.de.

Download the Beta Link removed

Official beta websiteEditShare Website



  • Resolution, format and codec independent timeline
  • Edit at 23.976, true 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 50, or 60 fps
  • Advanced Multicam editing with unlimited sources
  • Source/Record three-point editing
  • Insert and Overwrite editing
  • Replace, fit to fill, backfill
  • Drag-and-drop replace editing
  • Extend and Split edits
  • A/V Sync indicators on timeline
  • Single-click re-sync of whole timeline
  • Multi-colored markers for edits and clips
  • Matchframe for clips and subclips


  • Ripple
  • Roll
  • Slip and Slide
  • Remove and Delete
  • Asymmetric, multitrack trimming
  • Dynamic trimming during playback
  • JKL trimming
  • Trim window
  • Timeline trimming
  • Keyboard and numeric moving and trimming
  • Close Gap


  • Third Party Plugin Support
  • Alpha Channel Matte Transitions
  • Global Transitions adds effects between In and Out points
  • Real-time effects in SD, HD and 2K
  • Speed Tool for varispeed changes
  • Keyframe graphs
  • Transitions, effects, and filters included
  • Unlimited effects user templates
  • Copy and paste effect attributes to multiple clips
  • Effects layers with node-based compositing tool
  • Bezier curves with movable motion paths
  • Numeric control and keyframe capabilities


  • Real-time, hardware accurate video vectorscopes and waveform monitors
  • Multitrack Audio Mixer with full bus routing and multiple mixes
  • Keyboard and user interface customization tool with templates for Avid and FCP keyboard mappings
  • On-screen console controls
  • Voice Over tool for adding narration directly to timeline
  • Multi-split screen Viewer for original shot comparison
  • Shot Sync - sync two sources for playback comparison
  • Customisable BITC timecode and film footage overlays in Viewer

Colour Correction

  • Real time Primary color correctors
  • Real time Secondary color correctors
  • Image control filters


  • Subframe audio keyframing
  • Real-time audio adjustments during playback
  • OMF audio export with pan and volume levels
  • Real-time, software-based audio normalization
  • Onscreen multitrack mixing console
  • External Mackie control surface support
  • Real time fader automation
  • Real-time audio filters and effects
  • Mixed bit-rates and samples on timeline
  • Audio level meters per track
  • Pan controls
  • Mute and solo controls
  • Pre and Post Audio waveform display with realtime update


  • Full-screen, real-time SD, HD, and 2K preview on single or secondary display
  • Multiple timelines open simultaneously
  • Unlimited undo levels
  • Unlimited video and FX tracks
  • User preferences that can be moved from system to system
  • Customizable keyboard and user interface buttons
  • Customizable real-time effects settings
  • Customizable render settings
  • Customizable layouts
  • Customizable track layouts
  • Full Unicode support


  • Import RED media and DPX image sequences directly
  • Include timecode and keycode in the same list
  • Support for 35mm 3-perf, 35mm 4-perf, and 16mm-20 and mixed film formats
  • View feet and frames in edit
  • View keycode and ink number overlays on video
  • 24-fps EDL import and export
  • 24-fps EDL conversion to and from 29.97 fps
  • Import ALE, FLX, and CSV files
  • Track key numbers, ink numbers, video and audio timecode
  • Output Cut list, Change list, Optical list, Pull list, Dupe list, Audio EDL

Media Management

  • Media management tools for moving, copying, and consolidating media at edit or project level
  • Powerful search capabilities
  • Rename Clips to match media and vice versa
  • Maintain master clips across multiple projects
  • Clip colors in edit (match by source, reel or timecode)
  • Custom comment fields
  • Automatic reconnect to high-resolution media
  • EDL and AAF import and export for metadata exchange
  • Instant Save – no need to save project
  • Batch export

3rd Party Support

  • Inscriber Titlemotion
  • Boris
  • Combustion
  • After Effects
  • Premiere Plugins
  • Digital Fusion
  • Sapphire

I/O Support

  • MXF Op1a, MXF OpAtom, Quicktime and AVI
  • DV25, DVCPRO 25, DVCPRO 50, and DVCPRO HD
  • MPEG-2 I-Frame SD and HD
  • Uncompressed SD and HD at 8 bit and 10 bit
  • Avid DNxHD*
  • Apple ProRes*
  • AVC-Intra*
  • RED R3D*
  • DPX 10 bit* and 16 bit*
  • Sony IMX
  • Sony XDCAM HD*
  • Sony XDCAM EX*
  • Sony XDCAM HD422*
  • Panasonic P2
  • Image Import and Export as stills or sequences (DPX, BMP, TARGA, JPEG, GIF, PSD, TIFF, DPX, JPEG2000, PICT, QT Image, SGI, and PNG)
  • Export presets for Apple TV, iPhone, iPod
  • Broadcast Wave Format with drop and non-drop frame timecode options
  • Import and Export OMF I and OMF II
  • Import and Export AAF
  • MDA support for Edit While Capture with Geevs servers
  • Telecine 29.97i to 24p pulldown removal
  • 30fps and 25fps import to 24fps project
  • Frame-accurate capture tool with support for batch, clip, and on-the-fly capturing
  • Frame-accurate insert and assemble edit-to-tape
  • Serial device control (RS-422, RS-232)
  • FireWire device control
* available separately at extra cost

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