The brainchild of programmer Jonathan Thomas, OpenShot has garnered a large and enthusiastic following for many reasons, one being Thomas's responsiveness to user feedback.

To my mind, OpenShot is a video editor that strikes just the right balance between features and complexity. I formerly used Apple's iMovie HD video editor, but felt betrayed when iMovie 08 came out. (iMovie 08 completely redesigned the earlier iMovie interface, removing many features in the process.) OpenShot is what iMovie 08 should have been. OpenShot is under active development, and while strong already, will become even stronger in the coming months. That's the beauty of open source. The forward momentum of a software program is unconnected from any corporate goals. When you use open-source software, you're not a cog in someone else's wheel. You are the wheel.

Listen to what video producer Neil Chappell has to say about OpenShot: "Before OpenShot burst onto the scene, video editing in Linux was really missing an easy to use, full-featured editor that could save and convert to nearly any format and had a decent set of transitions. Yes KDEnlive has been around for a good while and is up there with the best of them in the proprietary world, even if it is a little buggy, but it is simply too complex for a lot of people to use. Now with this latest version of OpenShot, there are animated titles to use with the help of Blender, even more transitions and effects and it is a simple point and click editor that anyone can use and get great results from. I use it for my YouTube video screencasts as it is quick and easy for me to use and does the job for me in the format that YouTube likes in the presets." Keep an eye on Neil's YouTube channel if you'd like to stay informed about OpenShot and other Linux topics.

Another OpenShot fan is Harvey Alférez, technology lecturer at Montemorelos University in Mexico. Harvey says, "OpenShot is a video editor which my students can use to easily translate their ideas into creative videos. I have used other FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) video editors, but OpenShot is the most user friendly and offers the best learning curve." Harvey has a doctorate in computer science. He knows a thing or two about computers.

One of the best things about OpenShot is that it integrates well with two other fabulous open-source programs: the Inkscape vector-editing program and the Blender 3D animation program. OpenShot uses Inkscape for advanced titling (although the built-in titles in OpenShot are very nice, too.) OpenShot uses Blender for 3D titles. Note: You'll need a very recent version of Blender on your computer to do 3D titles (version 2.5 or later).

Just for kicks, I tried importing some public-domain graphics from OpenClipArt into OpenShot, and these SVG graphics imported beautifully into an additional video track in OpenShot. This is one reason why forward-thinking school districts - I'm thinking here of the Los Altos School District in California - can straightforwardly incorporate OpenShot into their digital design curriculum.

Here's the icing on the cake: OpenShot can easily produce Blu-ray videos (and do so on DVD media), making it suitable for near-professional video production work. As an experiment, I asked Verity and Gersom de Koning-Tan to send me their Scarborough Fair video in uncompressed format.

They used DropBox to send me a 330MB AVI file. I don't have a DVD burner on my Linux laptop, so I transferred this file to my MacBook and used Roxio Toast 11 to burn a Blu-ray disc. (I needed to use iSkySoft Video Converter on this AVI file to create an H.264 file for Toast 11.) This Blu-ray disc, burned on a standard DVD disc, played beautifully in the Blu-ray player in the auditorium at my place of work, the City of Takoma Park, Maryland, Community Center. I sent a copy of this Blu-ray disc (in PAL Blu-ray format) to Gersom and Verity, in the Netherlands, and they tell me it played beautifully on a Blu-ray player at a friend's house over there.

Few people know that you can create Blu-ray discs on regular DVD blank media, with the only drawback being the duration of the video. You can probably fit only about 12 to 15 minutes of Blu-ray video on a DVD disc. I learned about creating Blu-ray on DVDs from Becky Waring's excellent article, Create Your Own Blu-Ray Video Discs.

By now you might be wondering about Jonathan Thomas, the very smart programmer who created OpenShot. This recent interview gives some nice background information.

NEXT: downloading and installing OpenShot >>