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Lightworks Video Editor Open Sourced


Lightworks, a professional non-linear video editor, is now available as open source. Their website hasn't been fully updated yet, so I can't say under exactly *which* license is has been released. Lightworks is Windows-only at the moment.

From the website:

The Lightworks Open Source Project starts here...

Back in April 2010,we announced our plans to take Lightworks open source and the first stage in doing that was to make the application freely available. So we are very pleased to reach this first stage and offer a free download of the most intuitive and advanced editor available. Lightworks is an Academy and Emmy award winning professional-grade editor with over 20 years of history in the film and broadcast industry. Having cut hundreds of films such as Pulp Fiction, The Departed, Centurion and Shutter Island, it includes a full feature set of editorial tools, from advanced trimming and media management, through to stereoscopic support and realtime effects including multiple secondary colour correctors. Lightworks has an advanced effects pipeline, utilizing the power of your GPU. And with support for up to 2K workflows with realtime effects, it is the most advanced editing application available.

There have been many reports of this over the past few months, but I decided to hold off publication until it really happened.


About the Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. Its good that really cool software is getting open source

    But when i went to big features list i just found out that * marked are available at separate cost i couldn't figure out what does that mean is it not contradicting open source?

  2. It's not open-sourced, just free as in beer..

    They say they are working on mac and Linux versions. The feature-list is very impressive, it even has stereo support! Along with (apparently) one of the best user interfaces in the business, non-linear history, etc. etc. Brilliant stuff. If only they'd send me my activation email already :)

  3. I cannot wait to try it out. They said that they will be porting Lightworks to OSX and Linux but don't expect it until at least this time next year.

  4. I'm also waiting for the activation email anxiously. Dang.

    But yeah seems like its a sweet program. I'm not a big fan of the video editor in Blender so this is probably exactly what I need. Yeehaw.

  5. @kABHIr

    A program can be open-source and still have features that aren't free. I remember there was someone who released a version of GIMP that you had to pay for, but with it you got an extra plugin for making fire or something. Anyway, what they're doing is like if someone decided to sell a blender add-on: the program still is open source and works without the addon, but the add-on gives you extra features not present in the open-source version.

    At least that's my take on it.

  6. I had a hard time registering, but finally was able to and downloaded the beta. So far, I've had about an hour playing with LightWorks. I don't think the website was ready for the beta.

    My first impression? Blah.

    I've used FCP, Premiere and etc off and on for years. LightWorks feels completely alien - even more so than the Blender NLE did at first. Blender's NLE starting making sense as I learned how to use Blender generally. With LightWorks, it feels like I'm just totally missing something to do even the basics. Maybe it's more akin to Avid or old school film editing, rather than digital media.

    There seems to be good tech behind it and the UI does have some very interesting elements. After I see the community feedback, I'll decide to invest time to figure it out or not. If it really goes open source, then I'll probably be much more interested in following it's development.

    - nXain

  7. @A saurus1: Actually, people sell Blender all the time. Check E-Bay.

    It looks like they're drawing a line between the qualities you'd expect from a hobbyists' Vimeo account and a small indy company that does things like try to make a profit.

  8. Regarding registration: you can use to bypass that.

    But, it doesn't seems to run for me on Win7, even after installing the matrox codec... Anyone getting the same result?

  9. Installed it on a Windows 7 Machine.
    When the app is starting, it quits without any error message... :(
    Anyone with this problem?

  10. I got my copy. Seems to crash on initialization (just before loading the UI) on my one Windows box, though. That machine is a bit old, though, so there are good chances that I'm doing something wrong. Will research further.

  11. @Start Problems:
    search for the file "ntcardvt.exe" and execute this one...
    For me, it looks very good, but this isnt a Beta. Its an Alpha Version! It crashes on Preview of Imported Files, it fails on Recording Video, it crashes if you click on any imported Object, It crashes randomly without anything done in it... If they just had released the last stable Version :-(

  12. This news is incomplete and dodgy.
    I registered with fake name and downloaded but I just can't click on lightworks_10.0_public_beta.exe.
    There is no source. Maybe it is trojan or whatever. How do I know?

  13. Windows7x64... after some initial troubles and crashes it runs ok and looks complex but after a few minutes I found how to edit and add some effects: looks great. But... the big BUT... apparently it´s not OpenSource but Freeware Beta (Indigo strategy?)

    a.- The license is not OpenSource: read the license when install it

    Customer may:
    1) Use the Program on a single machine at any one time;
    2) Copy the Program for archival or backup purposes, provided that no more than one (1) such copy is permitted to exist at any one time.

    Each copy of the Program made by Customer must include a reproduction of any copyright notice appearing in or on the copy of the Program as received by Editshare EMEA.

    Customer may not:
    1) Use the Program on more than one machine at any one time.
    2) Transfer the Program to any person or organization outside of Customer or the corporation of which Customer is a part without the prior written consent of Editshare EMEA.
    3) Export or re-export, directly or indirectly, the Program, any associated documentation, or the direct product thereof, to any country to which such export or re-export is restricted by law.
    4) Reverse engineer, disassemble, decompile or other wise reduce the Program to a human-perceivable form.
    5) Modify, network, rent, lease, loan, distribute or create derivative works based on the Program; or
    6) Copy the documentation accompanying the Program.

    For Programs designed to reside on a single machine and support one or more additional machines, either locally or remotely, without permitting the Program to be transferred to an additional machine for local execution, the additional machines shall be considered within the definition of "single machine." For Programs permitting the Program to be transferred to an
    additional machine for local execution, a separate license shall be required for each such machine with which the Program may be used.

    Title to the Program and all copies thereof, but not the media on which the Program or copies may reside, shall be and remain with Editshare EMEA or others from whom Editshare EMEA has obtained licensing rights . Customer shall pay when due all property taxes that may now or hereafter be imposed, levied or assessed with respect to the possession or use of the Program
    or this license and shall file all reports required in connection with such taxes.

    EditShare EMEA shall have the right to use the Name, Logo and Address of Customer, and/or trademarks associated with Customer's productions edited on, or in conjunction with, EditShare EMEA products, without further notice to Customer, solely to identify Customer as a user of EditShare EMEA products.


    The license granted herein is effective upon acceptance by Customer, and shall remain in effect until terminated as provided herein. Customer may terminate the license at any time upon written notice to Editshare EMEA. The license may be terminated by Editshare EMEA or any third party from whom Editshare EMEA may have obtained a respective licensing right if Customer fails to comply with any term or condition and such failure is not remedied within thirty (30) days after notice thereof from Editshare EMEA or such third party. Upon termination by either party, Customer shall return to Editshare EMEA, or destroy, the Program and all associated documentation, together with all copies in any form.

    Editshare EMEA and its associated companies retain all ownership rights to its products, hardware, computer programs and documentation. Use of an Editshare EMEA product is governed by the license agreement supplied with the sale contract.

    b.- even more weird for an ¨Open Source Software¨: at closing it shows the message ¨UNREGISTERED¨ and it ask for install a license file.

    c.- No source code available

  14. Sounds like vapor-ware to me... "Free" public-beta, no source, no Mac/Linux version... At least open-source some part to prove that you're gonna follow through with your promise...
    Anyways, we'd have it run faster on linux then their team ever could.

  15. Hello,

    From their forum's Admin - it looks like their website lost the registration emails, (as of an hour and a half ago) you may have to try again.

    take care

  16. Ohh! This is totally alienic and without reading the whole manual it won't be much useful.

    Also if I run it right ater install on my XP by clicking on the created icon, it always failed silently. Then I run the "ntcardvt.exe" as advised above and created a project and then icon launching start to work. :-o

    I'm looking forward to explore it more... :)

  17. I've now squeezed about 3 or 4 hours in on LightWorks (reading large parts of the manual the the official forum postings). My verdict at this moment is that the launch largely a flop. The software is very, very buggy, dated in concepts and difficult to use compared to pretty much every other NLE. At best, it's an Alpha build with good intentions.

    Going full open source is the only way to save this application. My understanding is the developers do not have the resources to take it somewhere and have legal issues delaying the project going open source. When / if the source code is given to the community, I think it's likely the community will create new projects based on the core functionality, but I really don't ever see a competitive LightWorks being developed. The assumed business plan for EditShare looks highly questionable - i.e., it can't be successful without a very robust product driving paid-plugins.

    For those of you curious, LightWorks isn't even in the same ballpark as FCP or Premiere, much less the consumer level NLEs. While it may have a power list of features, it's a hot mess of UI and workflow that makes no sense for people that have not edited film with a razor blade (yes, I have done that way back). The feature list itself isn't all that useful for actually creating videos or being creative (although it does seem to support the hardware and conceptual workflow).

    Maybe by the 11.0 release, it'll be worth taking a look at again, especially if EditShare actually releases the code and lets the community rebuild it - faster, better, stronger. Otherwise, it seems to be just a novelty.

    - nXain

  18. Only works if installed to "C:\Program Files" not "C:\Program Files (x86)"
    Hope this helps most people with 64 bit machines.
    (Still having trouble with the codec though. So far will not work with any video file I tried. :(
    Maybe this will be fixed soon.)

  19. it doesn't even work for me.
    I'm running windows 7 ult 64 bit.
    please help i really want to test this baby out

    **i downloaded that codec thing that they stated on the website

  20. This isn't open source. Open source means "I am releasing this program to the internet and people can do with as see fit so long as my name and the original information is included" (Legally Its far, far more complicated than that, but it boils down to just about that in most cases). Requiring registration to download and not providing source code means it isn't open source.

  21. Interface design look better than Sony Vegas but it's not easy.
    How can I drag and drop footage to time-line and hide A shark?

  22. A previous comment mentioned searching your machine for ntcardvt.exe if Lightworks refuses to start and quits without error. I can report that following through with this will solve your problem.

  23. The reason for the weird license / no source code as well as a good reason for the various stability issues is PROBABLY because they have had to remove code or dependencies that were not compatible with whatever OSS license they want to go with, so have had to rewrite code or replace one library for another, etc. The reason there's no code out yet is likely due to the fact that they haven't gotten rid of all the licensed code / libraries yet.

    I'm gonna try it out over the weekend. I don't expect much in terms of stability and I doubt it's usable in any 'real' projects, but I'm really excited about this project. Aside from Blender, there's really no decent free (beer) video editing tools out there. There are a few projects that can do stuff, but almost all of them are missing major features and buggy as hell. This app is going to fill a huge huge gap and make it that much easier and cheaper to produce films on a micro budget.

  24. Javontay McElroy on

    I tried to download it. For windows vista. But when I was finished, I tried to open it and it just closed by itself! Can someone upload a video tutorial on how to download it!!!

  25. N.A recommended to run "ntcardvt.exe" and the program started, however it didn't close properly, I guess the recommendation was N.A being 'emperical' :) and not N.A being one of the developers...
    I haven't given it enough time to really conclude anything, but did get the feel the UI provide the user the keyhole not the door...

  26. so far I prefer Sony Vegas. I really don't jive well with the concept of bins.
    It seems I misunderstood the concept of resolution independent, etc - I typically don't work with typical 'broadcast' resolutions/frame sizes. The ability to not have control outside of NTSC/HD/PAL frame sizes is a big downer for me.

    I did have to open the program with ntcardvt.exe as explained above.
    Running on Vista x64, and it is installed in Program Files(x86) - no problem there.
    I'll try it again once it's at RTM or equivalent non-beta/alpha stage.
    Good luck.

  27. Installed it on Win 7 32bit, and it messed up something on my system (probably graphic card driver), so when I boot into windows, after few seconds I get BSOD. Went into safe mode, deinstalled everything, but still the same problem, I'll probably have to reinstall windows.

    Doesn't have to be the rule, but if you have ati radeon hd 2600 xt, be careful.

    Luckily, I have Ubuntu installed, so I can write this...

  28. Oh yea, one more thing, I see some people are interested. I tried to run the program in short time between the boot of system and BSOD, it displayed splash screen and loading sequence, and then just quit with no "explanation". I installed matrox drivers.

  29. As a past Lightworks user, its user interface is totally different to anything current. However it was also the fastest edit system I've ever used - especially with the custom controller.

    But this release is something else. It may be described by Editshare as a public beta, but it's closer to alpha than beta in my opinion. It won't run "out of the box" on 64-bit W7, and the install notes give no clue as to how to fix this problem. And apparently when it does run, quite routine operations can crash it.

    My advice? Wait until the next release.

  30. We'll see how this pans out. I'm still optimistic, but not as optimistic as I was before today.

    I've gotten it to run on Windows 7, but I haven't managed to import (or "ingest") any video content. Everything i've tried to import has been unrecognized or unsupported. I haven't tried too much, but looking at the Lightworks Forum it seems a lot of people are having trouble getting anything into it at all. Personally, I don't mind if the workflow is "non standard" or "strange". So is Blender's. You get used to the software you work with. But core functionality (e.g. importing media) is something you can't come up short on. This is why I deleted Jahshaka from my hard drive years ago and never looked back.

    I'm pretty concerned about this "open source" thing. Right now it's clearly not at all remotely open source. So either they're planning to open source it, or they are using the term "open source" to somehow hype it and drive traffic. I hope the former. I think their bugs and porting problems/delays would be helped a lot by opening the code. The fact that they are already announcing that Mac OS and Linux ports will be available at the end of 2011 makes it sound like they aren't planning to open source it by then though. Some of the wording in their press release is also a bit ambiguous and dodgy.

    Anybody managed to edit anything yet?

  31. I can't edit it, so the first paragraph above should read "As a past Lightworks user, I can understand those who find its user interface arcane. It is totally different to any current NLE. However it was also the fastest edit system I’ve ever used – especially with the custom controller."

  32. The so-called "beta" LightWorks release is indeed a TOTAL DISASTER! It is full of bugs, crashes without warning and is basically unusable. Whoever caused it to be released it in this tragic state is an idiot (probably some 'marketing' person, not the devs).

    Makes me realise just how clever / talented / brilliant our Blender devs are!

  33. may be i'm optimistic... i hope they'll fix the bugs and that they will release the open source...
    anyway i don't love cinelerra, so i think that a lot of people will work here...

  34. Actually, we already have a terrific open-source video editor - Blender! I used to use Sony Vegas, but when I upgraded my machines, it stopped working. All the updates and downloads and even a purchased upgrade failed to get it to work again. So I went to the Blender Video Sequence Editor and never looked back! And unlike Vegas, you are not limited to only 4 layers (channels) of video and audio. Plus the Blender VSE outputs in all the formats that Sony would not let me do - like HD. (I used the $100 version)

    I now use the VSE exclusively for all my Blender projects and am very happy with it.

    Okay, there ARE a few features and things that I wish the VSE had. Maybe it's time for the Blender gurus to start upgrading the VSE to be even better than it already is.

    It would not take a whole lot of tinkering to get it to equal or exceed this LightWorks editor, or heck, even the big guys!

    (Eventually, I would like to see the Blender VSE be able to work with stereo 3D too. Perhaps the next Blender movie project should be in Stereo 3D??? Hmmm....)

    How about we start a list of features and improvements that we would like to see in the Blender VSE?

  35. I was beta tester for light works when they made open source. It was running well with my windows machine. No problem faced. Now to see how this final version is.. It has great features for film editors like generating cut list, film perforations, color grading tools which rivals avid too. But it takes time to translate everything to a normal pc from what lightworks used to work with dedicated machines.

  36. TrailsOfHoffman on

    On the forum it is mentioned that their effects system is based on D3D. There will be information soon about how to make custom effects for Lightworks using HLSL and .fx files. I'm not an expert on Open Source licensing, but I guess using D3D will not make it very portable or Open Source ...

  37. Not working on 64-bit Windows 7? I'm running 64-bit Enterprise (equivalent to Ultimate) on my laptop and it runs fine. I didn't install the Matrox codecs, so I should probably not complain about the rather lowgrade video decoding.

    It didn't install an icon, but I found it in Program Files (x86) easily enough. Just not feeling very stable/useful (and I'm well used to After Effects and Premiere, not to mention Blender since 2.37...difficult interfaces don't scare me much...

    I'll be interested to see where they go with it.

  38. Considering the state of this software, it is far from being usable as a general editing tool.
    Its limited format handling (i/o) and the obivious need for a pretty specific system setup will probably work when sold as a complete editing solution, pre-installed on a machine built according to the software's requirements.
    The installation of some kind of system drivers and error messages like "...This problem is often resolved by restarting the machine. Would you like to restart now?" further suggest that it's better not used on anything else but a separate computer...

  39. BSOD here too! I'm also dual-booting with Ubuntu, but I think it's outrageous that a piece of software can hurt a system so badly! My WINXP was working flawlessly and now getting it to the point where I had it will take me quite some time!
    Has anyone found a way to fix it without formatting/reinstalling windows?
    I also booted in safe mode, uninstalled Lightworks and the matrox codecs, and then cleaned the registry off of any traces of them but still no luck :(

  40. First patch is up, fixing a couple of critical issues. Still - this seems to be a high-risk beta, so be warned:

    >Apologies to all those who have experienced the application exiting straight away running up for the first time (in particular users of Windows 7 64-bit).

    patch_10.exe (now available) addresses this problem and we have taken the opportunity to include a few other fixes as well:

    > The toolbox should remain in its correct position when the main Lightworks window is resized.

    > The close/minimise icons are visible when the Windows task-bar is right-aligned on the desktop.

    > "Only show metadata" on import - option removed

    > When importing media, if any files are unimportable we now leave the window on the screen so you can see which files did not import

    > Lightworks not running up when Matrox hardware is installed - fixed.

  41. Now that it's patched, I can actually start it up, and the interface is beautiful, but it apparently can't import .MTS yet. Woe is me. I shall have to test it with something other than home video later. ;)

  42. Yeah...great.. a patch... and what about our windows xps becoming totally useless with that bsod? Does this patch fix that as well?
    These guys should better develop antivirus software and liberate lightworks as the virus that totally wrecks your OS... Only they... have the cure.......

    Argghhhhh, long formatting weekend ahead.... to make things worse, my ubuntu dual boot will go nuts as well, so it's also Linux -formatting time! Is Ubuntu 11 out yet?

  43. To anyone reading this comment... don't bother downloading this thing.

    This is one of the most awful pieces of software I have ever used. Because ot this thing, I'm going to have to completely reinstall my Windows 7 hosts. Screw this software, and I can guarantee you, neither myself nor any of my business partners will be investing in this software in any capacity.

    We'll stick with Cinelerra and Avid, thankyouverymuch.


  44. Amateurish marketing strategy to leave-out or postpone import of native .MTS That's where the potential growth area of the market is right now. Lose them and stagnate. The numbers turned away during this critical first impressions period might be pivotal.

    Meanwhile, Adobe's 'Organizer' will be the principal lever in their favour. Lightworks' file and clip handling much too busy.

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