Guide to Open Source Video Editing using Kdenlive

Installing Support for Different Video Files

Learning about the different types of digital video and audio files is much harder than it should be because of the many different variations, combinations and technology types. When starting a project for the first time in video editing software we are asked about the kind of video and audio we are working with in order to make the default profile in the Project Settings.

Check the settings on your camera or camcorder or look online to find out what format to choose. In our example video editing software Kdenlive, if we select the wrong setting, when we import our first file it will let us know if the file doesn't match the profile chosen in settings. 


If you are working with footage from more than one source and it is in different formats, you should pick highest quality settings of the different videos you have. Kdenlive should convert them to work inside the project.

Here are some of the different terms that you may come across:

DV or HD: DV footage is likely to come from older video cameras with miniDV tapes. Video clips from more modern high definition camcorders are likely to be in a format called AVCHD.

Pal vs NTSC:  NTSC is commonly used in the Americas and PAL used just about everywhere else.

Fps: Fps (frames per second) is an import part of your video project too. It defines how many still images are captured second of your video to create the moving image. Most footage is shot at around 25-50fps.

Interlaced or Progressive: The letters I and P are used to indicate the difference of two kinds of video Interlaced and Progressive. Progressive, which captures more data less frequently, is better than interlaced, which captures less data more frequently.

Codecs: If we look at the properties of the files that we import by right clicking them in Project Tree and selecting Properties. 


We can see there are many different codecs used inside container files. To give an example H.264 codec is often used in mp4, 3gp or AVCHD containers.  

Generally, Kdenlive is good at accepting most kinds of video files. If you do have problems have a look at the hands on for installing different codecs and the troubleshooting chapter.

Transferring your skills: . Recent versions of commercial video editing software usually do a good job of keeping up with new video formats. However, if you have an unusual video type or if you are using older versions of software then you may need to use an external programme to convert your video files to more common formats. This is called transcoding.

Hands On: Installing support for video and audio file types

You can install support for additional file types in Kdenlive. This process normally involves the following steps.

  • encounter an error when trying to work with a video file
  • researching the error message to find out what is missing / wrong
  • following steps to install support for new codecs or to change configuration

As an example we will install support various codecs including h264, xvid, mp3 and pcm_s16le audio which are sometimes not installed by default. And as a specific example we we try to export to a DVAVI file (useful for archiving and transporting to other systems. 

If we try to Render to a DV AVI we may get the following error.


Enter this error into a search engine to find out what you need to do to install the codecs you are missing.  In this case, we enter the error message "Unsupported audio codec: pcm_s16le".

We are likely to find a post which asks us to check if we have the relevant codecs installed on our system. It may ask us to run the config wizard in Kdenlive to check if the codecs are listed.

It may suggest we install livbavcodec-extra-53 from the command line. This contains some very useful codecs needed to export files to different formats.

We would then run the Config Wizard again, to pick up the new codecs. You should see the following codecs listed on the available codecs screen. 

  • libmp3lame
  • libxvid4
  • libx264 

Extra Troubleshooting: For some codecs this doesn't work. In the case of there is an extra error and we need to edit a configuration file.  As a workaround you can edit manually the kdenliverc file in your home directory (in a hidden folder)


At the end of the file there is a section called [unmanaged], add pcm_s16le to the audiocodecs line. Then launch kdenlive, the error about pcm_16le should disappear.

If you later run the config wizard again, it will erase the changes to the kdevliverc file.