Guide to Open Source Video Editing using Kdenlive

Single Track Editing

This chapter gives you an introduction to the core areas, tools and processes of video editing software.

Overview of the Work Areas

The three basic areas of a video editor are;

  1. Resources Area

  2. Monitor Area
  3. Timeline

Resources Area & Project Tree

This primary display in this area is called Project Tree. It lists all the files that are in your project. The other tabs in this section, Effects List, Effects Stack and Transition, are dealt with in other chapters.

Monitor Area: Clip Monitor and Project Monitor

Clip Monitor: Once you have added your clips to the Project Tree you can review them in your Clip Monitor. This is the primary place to chose which parts of your original footage you wish to put into your new video.

Project monitor: The project monitor is where you review the clips in your Timeline. This sequence will eventually constitute your new video. It is near the clip monitor and has similar controls, for example, Play, Pause, Rewind and Forward

Timeline: Audio and Video Tracks

The Timeline is the where you arrange your clips to create your new video. The numbers along the top show how long your video is in seconds. The far left left shows 00:00:00:00. This is the very start of your video.

The Timeline is divided into Video tracks and Audio tracks organised one on top of another. In this chapter we will only be using the top track - Video 1.

Transferring your Skills:
Other video editing software, for example, WMM,  Premiere / FCP use slightly different terminology for these areas and tools, however, their functions are similar. Project Bin is often used instead of Project Tree. 

Useful tools for editing

There are some useful tools to help you edit quickly. In Kdenlive, you can find these tools along the tool-bar at the bottom of the editor window.

The Selection tool (the cursor arrow) allows you to select and move individual clips about on your Timeline. This is the default tool.

The Razor tool (shaped like scissors) allows you to quickly cut a clip: for example, you could remove an area or to divide the clip into several parts. You can also achieve this by right clicking on the clip and selecting Cut Clip.

The Spacer tool (the right facing arrow) allows you to move groups of clips together along the Timeline. This may be useful if you want move to make space for a new clip or to remove a space in your Timeline.

Transferring your Skills: While the tools differ by application, they do have similarities. The selection tool, razor tool, and spacer tool are particularly common.

Hands On: Create a Single Track Video

In this task you will create a single track video from three video interviews. You need to use at least two sound bites from each interview. You will also see how the video flows from one part of your editor to the next during an edit. Clips move from the Project Tree to the Clip Monitor, then to the Timeline and the Project Monitor

Setting up

Firstly, make sure all original video files are in the same folder.

Now open your video editor, and click File > New to make a new Project: make sure you set your Project folder to be the same as where your video files are.

Now you need to import your clips into your project. You can do this by dragging them from your Project File and dropping them into the Project Tree.

Next, save your project file: click File > Save As and choose a suitable name. This is different to setting the Project Folder: you can have many Project files, many different edits, in the same Project folder.

Make a new clip

You are now ready to edit. First, you need to make a new clip from your source material. Click on the first clip in your Project Tree and it will appear in the Clip Monitor


Review the footage using the Play / Pause button, or by pressing the space-bar.


Use the Forward and Rewind buttons too, or l and j on your keyboard to the same effect.

Underneath the video is a small black triangle: this is the Playing Head which shows us which part of the clip we are watching. You can skip ahead/seek, by dragging the Playing Head left or right.

To select a zone from your clip to use in your new video, you must choose an in point and an out point (start and finish). To do this, click the bracket buttons to Set zone start or Set zone end.

You can also use keyboard short-cuts to the same effect: i for in point and o for out-point. The zone you have selected should now be highlighted in green.

To add this selection into the Timeline (which makes a new clip) click on the video in your Clip Monitor and drag it onto your Timeline. You can also use the keyboard short-cut v.

Drag your clip to far left of your Timeline (the beginning) and look for the playing head, a vertical line with an arrow at the top: this shows you which part of the Timeline you are watching. If the playing head is not already at the beginning of your Timeline, click on the triangle and drag it to the far left till it is at 00:00:00:00.

Preview your new clip

You view the Timeline in the Project Monitor: this is in the Monitor area with the Clip Monitor: click on the Project Monitor Tab if it is not already selected. 


Click the play button: you will see the playing head moving from left to right. As your Timeline plays you will see your new clip playing in the Project Monitor.

Adjust your clip

If your new clip is not quite the right length, you can change it by dragging the edge of the clip left or right.

For very fine adjustments, double click on the clip and adjust the clip more precisely.


Add at least 5 more new clips to your Timeline by repeating the create, review and adjust process. Try to select brief, high-impact sentences ("sound-bites"). This will help you to practice precise timings.


Now you have created several new clips, rearrange them by dragging them into a different order. Use your mouse, and the selection/spacer tools. Make sure you remove gaps by pushing the clips together.

Preview different arrangements in the Project Monitor until you are happy with your video.

Tip: Try editing using only keyboard shortcuts: this can also be a good exercise for teaching simple editing techniques.