Guide to Open Source Video Editing using Kdenlive

About this Guide

Video cameras, computers and video-capable mobile phones are now available to a much wider audience than at any previous time. However, editing your video may be a bigger challenge. Some groups get around this by employing a film maker and editor. If this is not possible, a dedicated volunteer (maybe you) can to learn how to edit video using this guide, other freely available resources and some time to experiment and improve. 

Video as a tool for change

This guide is aimed at anyone who wants to know how to get a message across using video. You want to tell the world or maybe just a targeted audience about your story. You may be a community or political group with a strong sense of purpose, or an individual seeking to communicate with a larger audience. You may want to tell a news story, document a particular event or make a music video to raise awareness of a situation.1 

This guide is funded by Internews Europe. The focus of the guide emerged from the first gathering of the video4change / V4C network. One of the aims of the gathering was to map and create resources on using video for change.

What this guide covers and what it does not

This guide does not aim to be a complete video making manual. However, in covering how to use video editing software we can not help but cover some of the techniques and tricks of film making in the process. Video editing can help to establish context for video footage, to structure a story and add atmosphere to your clips. 

Also we cover only briefly motivations for creating your video, how to upload and finding your audience. This guide is part of a set of wider resources on video. Where we are unable to cover a topic in detail we aim to link to other resources. To find these resources have a look at the What Next? and Introduction to Video Editing chapters. 

As this guide is written with an aim to be translated into different languages, we have chosen not to include download-able video resources and ready-made video projects to work with. However, we recognise that it would be helpful include these resources in a future edition.

This guide has been designed as a learning resource. If you are teaching yourself you can work through the chapters in linear order. Follow the Hands On parts of the guide to learn the skills and techniques you need to edit a video. You may notice that there are three main sections to this guide: Introduction, Getting Started and Taking it Further. To reinforce learning there are elements of the process of video editing that are repeated in each section. We aim to bring more depth and understanding each time we revisit a subject. 

If you are a teacher have a look at the What Next? chapter for more information about using this guide as a teaching resource.

Which video editing software should I use? 

There are many factors to take into account when you are choosing software for video editing. This guide uses the Free Software editor Kdenlive which we recommend for teaching and making short films. We recognise that groups and trainers do not always have full control over the resources they are required to use. We often have to be adaptable and pragmatic in the way we approach learning and teaching video editing and film making skills. Because of this, this guide to editing video is designed to provide an overview of the techniques of editing video footage regardless of the software used.

The knowledge that we share can be transferred to the use of other editing applications. We aim to use terminology that is shared between different applications and working methods that can also be replicated. Where it is appropriate we have included sections called Transferring your skills which give more information about mapping what you have learned onto other software including Windows Movie Maker, Premiere and Final Cut Pro.

About the writing of this guide

This book is written by Mick Fuzz and Anna Morris from FLOSS Manuals with guidance and feedback from the wider v4c network especially Jaime Fraire and Steve Wyshywaniuk. 

For the screenshots of this guide we have used video resources on Info Activism made available by Tactical Tech Collective under a creative commons licence.2  Many thanks to them for this great resource.

We would like to keep this guide alive and to encourage you to help us to improve it. If you have suggestions, please make contact with us via the FLOSS Manuals Community. The FLOSS Manuals is community made up of technical writers and educators using, teaching and writing about Free Software.  You can make contact via their public mailing list3  or via the contact page. 4   

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