Guide to Open Source Video Editing using Kdenlive

Understanding Video Projects

Here are some quick tips to working with video projects and understanding how video editing projects work.1  

Know how to manage your files: The most common question asked by beginners is "now where did we save that clip again?!" Avoid hours of frustration by learning how and where your computer stores files!

Understand "non destructive" editing:  Any changes you make to the video clips in the timeline do not affect the original clip. This remains the same on the hard drive, project tree and in the clip monitor window. So don’t worry about not being able to undo anything, you can always start again with the original clip.

Know how to find your files through the root folders: Because of non destructive editing (see above) your original video file remains on the hard drive untouched even if you delete it from your edit software. If you reimport it as you would a picture or audio file you will find the file untouched!

Save your work:  Remember to save your work regularly or risk losing it! Go to the file menu (top left) and scroll down to "save". You can then create several versions of your edit as you progress. This is handy if you want to try an edit style out which will mean doing so many moves the "undo" function will not be enough, you can always revert to the older version.

Know the difference between project files and footage clips: The video footage you capture is stored individually on the hard drive. In the software, the footage clips are held together on the timeline by the project file. This points to all the clips and tells the computer how to play them. You need both to complete your movie. (Important if you transfer your files onto another computer.)

You may also see icons indicating that you are missing files in your project files area.

Misplacing even a few files could cause havoc to the process of creating your video. It is useful to create sub-folders to organise all your media.

Hands-on: Setting up your project and managing your video files

Select File > New to start your project.

Now change the Project Folder setting in the Project Settings. Create a new folder for this project. 


To do this click on the New Folder icon to the right of the Project Folder text box. Give the folder a name which is linked to the topic and includes the following; subject, date and location. The more information you put in the name of your folder the easier it will be to find later.


Select the type of video you are working with in Video Profile.


If you are not sure then read the section video types later in this chapter or select any profile. Kdenlive can update your profile to the correct type when you add your video files to the project. 

When your project opens up it is Untitled. We should save it and give it a name.

Select File > Save As

The default setting is to save your project in the suggested Project Folder that you just set when creating. Type in the chosen name for your project into the Name box. Make the project name similar to the project folder name you have chosen.

Then click on the Save button. The name of the project should now appear in the bar at the top of the application. You can easily save the changes as you work on the project by selecting File > Save from the menu, clicking on the save button at the top of the application, or by using the Cntl + s keyboard short cut.

Adding Video Clips to your Video Project File

Place all the different kinds of files we use in the video project inside the Project Folder using a File Managing programme. In this example we will use Nautilus in Ubuntu.

Transferring your Skills: In Windows the chosen File Manager programme this would probably be the File Explorer that comes as part of the operating system, in Mac the application is Finder.

Click on the Home folder application in the Unity Dash.


You may notice that there are already some folders in your Project Folder.


Our video editing programme creates these folders and files within them for some automated processes like showing thumbnails of our video files. These are shown as proxy, thumbs and titles.

If the footage may be needed for evidence, keep as much of the original data and file structure as you can. Create a folder just for those video clips.


Copy over the video files you want to use from your camera, phone or from where ever else they are to this new folder. 

Hard drive camcorders, phones and digital cameras automatically create files names which are series of numbers and letters. It may be important to rename video files when you import them to your project to avoid duplication, giving each video file a unique name.


When you have copied the files into the new folder within the Project Folder, re-name them but make sure to keep the original file name as part of new name. The name of the original file name may be important for the legal use of you footage as evidence. Add the details of date, location, activity and, if appropriate, camera person. 

Repeat the process above to copy any still images and all audio files/music you want to use for your project inside another new folder in the Project Folder.
To keep the folder structure we will drag in the folders of clips you want to add from Nautilus file manager to the Project Tree area of your video project.

When you have imported all needed folders and files in this way or project should look something like the screenshot shown below.


  1. Edited from Credits^