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Lightworks, a NLE developed by real editors

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After over a year as a public beta, the new Lightworks V. 11 is now finally ready with the free release version, which is really a real public test. Lightworks is one of the oldest editor suites in the film industry, 2nd only to Avid in top feature film edits for VFX etc.

So what's different about this new version 11? It's designed as a broadcast/film NLE, and it's fast and unencumbered by streamlining. The timeline is the cleanest there is, with fast, uncluttered timeline that is GPU accelerated realtime support for more codecs/formats than other NLEs in native form, editing up to 5k resolution.

As it is designed by professional editors for professionals, there is even "archaic" tape/telecine film support, for the "working stiffs". The features are listed here and here. I've used it for on and off over the years and it is very capable. The new version is also very fast but because only the Windoze version is available, I've not used it as much. The Mac OS X version is upcoming.

 

Now the free version isn't realtime and requires transcoding. There are also MANY issues that have yet to be resolved. The list of known issues is here. It is not for the beginner but it can be a very powerful and easy tool to learn. It is definitely geared toward professionals but I think there are many features that will benefit those who are technically inclined. It isn't a do-all like Adobe CS6 nor is it for slow machines. It demands the fastest machines with the fastest GPU (which supports DirectX 9 but it also supports OPEN CL and CUDA) as a work station.

 

Best of all, the Pro version is only US$60 or £40 right now. Download the free version here.

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It's a specific NLE developed as open source software. For $60 to get an NLE which can share and edit assets in a network, control VFX. A very specific piece of software for a specialized group. And once it's mature, it'll be an asset for small production companies who can't afford to lay out on many software licenses for the same software to be operating on each workstation. I like it but it's definitely not a finished product, which is why Open source software is always so cheap! :)

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A few months ago I thought I'd try Lightworks...only to find that it does not support AVCHD files in the MTS container (i.e. GH2). It only supports AVCHD videos natively in the QuickTime container (MOV, MP4). The only way to import AVCHD MTS files into Lightworks is to transcode/convert (e.g. with VirtualDub). I'll stay with EDIUS...:)

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The only way to import AVCHD MTS files into Lightworks is to transcode/convert (e.g. with VirtualDub). I'll stay with EDIUS... :D

 

Same music here music.gif

Once you are used to throw your files at the timeline there's no way to go back to transcoding era. :)

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I like it but it's definitely not a finished product, which is why Open source software is always so cheap! :)

 

Absolutely wrong. Without open source software you would not be able to write you message here. 95% of the Internet IT infrastructure is based on open source software.

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Lightwork claims to have AVCHD .mts file support in a new update coming "soon". I don't think it's a priority for them because they cater to a smaller market first. And many of these editors still want .mov support first because they use Canon, like in the Avengers etc etc.

 

M43, I may have given up computer science after 1st year of college, but I could swear that open source software is publicly developed, hence it's usually free or very cheap like Lightworks or Mozilla. And being a open source developmental software, it's almost always a work in progress for bugs, features and stability.

If you think that's absolutely wrong, I'll take being wrong in your books. :)

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Lightwork claims to have. Mts file support in a new update coming "soon".

 

M43, I may have given up computer science after 1st year of college, but I could swear that open source software is publicly developed, hence it's usually free or very cheap like Lightworks or Mozilla. And being a open source developmental software, it's almost always a work in progress for bugs, features and stability.

 

So you don't use Firefox or Chrome? Or you feel they are buggy or incomplete? The fact that a product is incomplete or buggy has nothing to do with open source. it's true the contrary: it happens that a lot of paid products are incomplete and buggy. Customers are threated as guinea pigs or, if you prefer, beta testers.

 

By the way Wetpixel web site is running on Apache/2.2.3 (CentOS) which happen to be a full open source server. :)

 

http://uptime.netcraft.com/up/graph?site=wetpixel.com

 

If you think that's absolutely wrong, I'll take being wrong in your books. smile.gif

 

I can live with it.

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Here is the known issue list. I'm very sure there are even more UNKNOWN issues. If you use any of the formats/features not supported, it's quite obvious it's not the software for you!

 

Limitations and Known Problems (Lightworks v11)

 AVCHD files that contain AC-3 audio will not import with audio. This is due to licensing restrictions that are under investigation

 You will not be able to export a Quicktime Movie from a shot/sequence that contains native H.264 MOV files

 Potential crash browsing import directories without Quicktime installed

 Large uncompressed Blackmagic SD files will not play correctly

 If your system is not fast enough or does not have enough memory, the captures using MXO2 will stop with a "dropped-frame" message

 If the drives you are recording to are not fast enough the captures using MXO2 will stop with a "dropped-frame" message

 You will need to set "Stop record if label break" to "No" for successful recording using a Firewire deck

 You will need to set "Stop record if label missing" to "No" for successful recording using a Firewire deck

 DV recordings may have a black frame at the end of the recorded clip

 Potential memory leak playing very large AVID DNxHD edits

 You will not be able to export a Quicktime Movie without audio

 Audio monitor delay setting will not be accounted for during export

 Cannot record HDV through Firewire

 DNxHD 10bit encode is not possible

 Potential crash importing WMV files which is under investigation

 Make sure any other applications are closed before attempting to install Lightworks

 Video track can turn red after removing certain FX

 Performance issues working with H.264 files natively. This will be resolved in the update shortly

 XDCAM EX Quicktime files will not play correctly

 Error during startup when Matrox MTX utils installed "error copying Matrox DSX driver" Please turn off UAC in Windows

 Image on viewers and SDI output may look very poor on old ATI graphics card when set to 10-bit precision

 SHIFT clicking a tile into a viewer has currently been disabled. You can now double left click tiles into existing viewers

 XDCAM HD files may show pixelation on the viewer when dragging the timeline marker through them quickly

 PCM Audio on IMX XDCAM samples is pink noise

 .VOB files appear as "Sound" only on the import panel, but yet import with picture. Performance will be slow

 Image quality on playback may be poor when project card set to NTSC Fields

 No transcode options for MTS 1080p 60fps files

 Blu-ray VC1 export does not generate a valid file. It imports back as Sound only

 Audio on exported AVCHD files cannot be played by Windows Media Player it is just mute

 Firewire decks MUST be switched off after recording

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So you don't use Firefox or Chrome? Or you feel they are buggy or incomplete? The fact that a product is incomplete or buggy has nothing to do with open source. it's true the contrary: it happens that a lot of paid products are incomplete and buggy. Customers are threated as guinea pigs or, if you prefer, beta testers.

 

 

Ah ok, I see where you are coming from. So you took my facetious statement too literally and assumed I was making a statement about Open Source software in general. I can see where you have misinterpreted my sentence. I'll try to be more obvious in my facetiousness and put more emoticons to emphasize such lines next time.

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Same music here music.gif

Once you are used to throw your files at the timeline there's no way to go back to transcoding era. :)

 

Most of the time, transcoding is a simple part of the process; not a problem. For MTS files, Clipwrap does a fine job.

I am not familiar with Lightworks but I know of no NLE that doesn't have its bugs and problems or wish lists for those that use them.

 

Steve

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Most of the time, transcoding is a simple part of the process; not a problem.

 

I think the point M43user is making is that universal native file support is as much an upgrade to transcoding as transcoding is an upgrade to capturing from tape. Once you don't have to do it, you realize how much time the new method saves you, and using the old method starts to seem like a problem because of its relative inefficiency.

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Absolutely Blaise. Real time, native editing is where it's at.

While Lightworks is far from perfect, it does support many formats on the universal timeline. The nice thing about underwater clips from AVCHD .MTS files is that audio isn't as important, unless a person is shooting for audio with a rebreather or on a line for sound pickups, all with a hydrophone.

It does bring up a point about what we are paying for with Lightworks. AC3 audio is left out now because of the licensing issue. If they don't deal with that, the "Hollywood Strength Editor for Everyone" is going to be a bit longer! But then again, many professionals use external recorders for sound. The multicam sync on Lightworks is much more intuitive than FCX or Adobe CS6.

Many of the formats that need transcoding for the free version are included in the Pro version, because the $60 pays for the licensing fees of each format agency. It's another $65 for DNxHD support. There isn't any other NLE with such breadth of support and performance for $125.

Yes for more complicated compositing/titling/transition work etc, software like Boris Red is needed. The philosophy behind Lightworks is simplicity and efficiency. Although the Open Source software is trying to encourage people to switch, I think because of the developmental nature of this particular company, too many people will want packaged NLEs for it to be mainstream. I hope I'm wrong though.

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Most of the time, transcoding is a simple part of the process; not a problem. For MTS files, Clipwrap does a fine job.

I am not familiar with Lightworks but I know of no NLE that doesn't have its bugs and problems or wish lists for those that use them.

 

Steve

 

Trans-coding might be getting easier...but it is still one more extra time consuming procedure in the workflow. Also, a couple years back when I had no option but to trans-code I found that no matter how good the "intermediate", it was still messing with the original clip (unless completely uncompressed, but that's unrealistic).

 

Working with the original (even hacked HBR mts) on the EDIUS timeline is now amazingly efficient...and preserves all of the original information of the mts file. This is particularly helpful when mixing different file types and frame rates on the timeline.

 

I've watched EDIUS develop over the last several years. Any software, open source or commercial, will have it's bugs and issues...but I think EDIUS is a good example of a relatively small company that is innovative, improves exponentially and wants to show that the biggest players are not necessarily the most responsive to users needs.

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George, nothing wrong with editing in uncompressed, unless you don't have a fast server that goes 200MB/s. :)

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I think the point M43user is making is that universal native file support is as much an upgrade to transcoding as transcoding is an upgrade to capturing from tape. Once you don't have to do it, you realize how much time the new method saves you, and using the old method starts to seem like a problem because of its relative inefficiency.

 

Got it :)

 

Maybe professionals, consider transcoding as part of their job. Me too at workplace I do several annoying tasks every day which unfortunately are part of my job so that's it! On the other hand all quality/time saving improvements to my workflow are welcome!

 

Regarding video editing I am nothing more than a novice which enjoys editing his private week-end clips. When I arrive at home with my sd cards I want to be operative asap. Edius was one of the first (maybe the first) NLE supporting avchd realtime import and editing on the timeline; furthermore is fast and lightweight. My pc has a usb-3 port so to speed up the import process I bought a usb-3 card reader. Once I seat in front of my computer in less than five minutes I can start playing with my clips: It's priceless for my needs. The downside is the price $. So a Breath of fresh air from a OS NLE is welcome.

 

I Gave a look at Lightworks in february. It has the numbers and really good chances to become a top NLE but for the moment (despite of being OS or not) is still a really young product. Maybe in a year or less could a viable alternative for an amateur editor like me. I hope it will be full documented at that time.

Despite of the features implemented in a NLE I find very important the adoption rate and the user base of a product. Often a large community makes the difference: you find plenty of docs, tutorials, books, forum. This is my actual concern about Edius: except the GV forum and luckily a good Italian forum, you are pretty on your own. Grass Valley gave up to be mainstream. They aim to serve a professional user base as large tv channels and it's really a mistery how pros learn and exchange informations :)

 

[polemic mode on]

Regarding the evergreen debate on A Vs B on this forum I often find some replies a little bit misleading. Someone says: "this is a good device" and someone else replies "yes but this is better". Sadly later discovering that it cost twice or more. If I list all the beautiful features of my Smart I do not expect a reply like "nice car but there is a Mercedes SLK roadster which is undoubtedly better"... This way of argument resemble to me like the straw man argument/Aunt Sally

 

In layman terms: there is always something better and comparing everything to the very best of it's category shrink an open forum like this to a flat best of the best ranking.

 

Furthermore most of the times we forget that creativity and personal taste is the most valuable swiss knife in our bag, not a FS700 or Scarlet.

[polemic mode off]

 

Ciao ciao from Rome, approx 30°C here today :)

Edited by M43user

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M43, you are correct about the potential of Lightworks. I'll add that one also has to look at the project/intention/target of use. Products should be used as tools for the job. For example, if a camera can only do 24fps or 29.97fps, and the shot requires 120fps, then it doesn't matter how good the 24fps looks, the camera can't do the job. This sort of applies to everything.

So while the equipment doesn't conceptualize and actually shoot, it allows the user to fully capture the intended visual idea. And often that means knowing what is out there and being knowledgeable about it. And that's what forums are for: information gathering. I suggest people try version 11 first, you'll be surprised how much has changed from 10.x.

 

As a titbit of interest, Lightworks as a mainstream everyday NLE is young, but the history of the software is quite old and many professionals have been using it to edit feature films for years. I mean they are now at Version 11. Even Avid MC is only at 6 and FC is at X.

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