Can Shotcut Cut a LAMPG Video?

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

I hear Mac users have it easy when it comes time to edit their Look At Me Play Guitar videos – their free iMovie application handles trimming heads and tails, syncing external audio, and rendering high quality video. Until recently those of us in PC land have either opened our wallets, struggled with the Microsoft offering, or struggled with some open source alternatives.

Lately, though, things have changed a bit. For folks with a big hardware budget and a willingness to learn, DaVinci Resolve is available as a free download. Hitfilm Express is also available for free. And good old Shotcut has either gotten more solid, or I’ve finally absorbed enough to avoid crashing.

Since my hardware won’t handle Resolve and Hitfilm is strongly oriented toward special effects, I’ve been putting together a test video using Shotcut.

What Works for Me

Shotcut starts up ready to go to work, and I get started by dragging my audio and video files from a File Explorer window into the Shotcut playlist panel. One of the tutorial videos I watched suggested that I should use the playlist as a media bin. Be prepared for Shotcut to take some time to ingest a file and don’t panic if nothing seems to be happening.

One of the things that has helped me get a handle on Shotcut was to enlarge the timeline area by pulling up the drag handle in the middle of the screen. Another trick is to zoom out on the timeline so that the whole clip is visible.

When I drag a clip from the playlist to the timeline area Shotcut creates a new track in the timeline. But when I drag the second clip, in this case the audio track, it appends to the first track even if I’m dragging to the empty space below the first track. My solution has been to use the right click menu to create an audio track, then dragging the audio clip from the playlist panel to this new track.

With a good clap resulting in an obvious spike on both the camera audio and the secondary audio waveforms it’s easy to drag the clips into sync. Once I get the spikes near each other I position the cursor near one of the spikes and use the timeline zoom to get a closer view so I can fine tune the placement. A quick listen makes it obvious – if there’s only one sharp clap we have sync. Any smeared sound or echo or double clap means we need to tweak a bit.

With the two tracks in sync I mute the audio on the camera track. Then I trim the beginning and end of the two clips, drag them both to the start of the timeline, and export my edited clip.

Here’s a video demonstrating this workflow. I’m bringing together a 4K video I shot with my Lumix LX100 and a WAV audio file from my Zoom H6. The subject is one chorus of our old standby, Salomila.

And here’s the video that resulted from that tutorial/demo:

What’s Currently Missing

I’m really pleased with the speed and export quality of Shotcut. Once I learned to enlarge the timeline area and zoom out on the timeline to see the whole picture, I haven’t had any unexpected issues (tech talk for crashing). And the more I’ve explored the features the more impressed I’ve been. There’s a nice selection of audio effects like EQ, compression, and reverb that might be helpful for our LAMPG videos.

With all the happy discoveries, I’m still having trouble figuring out a simple way to overlay titles in my videos. I’ve come up with a couple of techniques, but I’m surprised at the need for workarounds. Perhaps I’m missing something in the program’s capabilities.

But the big reason I won’t be switching to Shotcut as my regular Non Linear Editor is the lack of one critical feature. The feature lacking in Shotcut is keyframing. This is the ability to set a parameter at one point in the video, set a different value of that parameter later in the video, and have the program make a smooth change from one to the other. A simple example would be the position of a title moving from the bottom to the top of the screen. Without keyframing these kinds of simple effects are difficult or impossible. Not every parameter is keyframable in every NLE, but it’s the mark of a powerful tool when keyframing is widely implemented in the editing and effects tools. Even REAPER has parameter automation for its video filter.

So I’m sticking with Edius for my video editing, but I’ll be keeping an eye on Shotcut. They publish a menu of planned enhancements, and keyframing is at the top of that list. I’ll be very interested to see what Shotcut can do with that addition.

A Little More on Shotcut

I’ve been thinking about doing a little more in the way of Shotcut tutorials, and the first thing I thought of was titling. After trimming heads and tails and syncing external audio, adding a title or two is usually the next thing I want to do to a video.

I started out to do a bit of research on titling in Shotcut, but when I came across this video: Shotcut Text Title – Basic & Advanced Tutorial I realized that Tux Designer has covered things brilliantly. He demonstrates a number of different titling techniques very clearly and goes from the simplest to the most powerful in easy stages. So rather than try to create a tutorial I’ll simply point you to his.

This entry was posted on Sunday, August 6th, 2017 at 10:16 pm and is filed under Tutorials, Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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    About the Blog

      Howdy, my name is Fran Guidry and this is my Homebrewed Music blog.

      I play Hawaiian slack key guitar and recorded my solo acoustic CD at home. Most of the recording information I find on the internet seems focused on bands, drums, multitracking, and so on but my main focus is recording solo acoustic guitar. Lately I’ve been enjoying video recording along with audio, so that shows up in the blog as well.

      I’m also a guitar nut. I love big ones and little ones, handmades and factory guitars, cheap ones and expensive ones. So I’ll be sharing the fun of exploring guitars as well, along with the challenges of amplifying acoustic guitars for live performance.



      My recording philosophy is pragmatic, skeptical, not super critical. After all, the performance is by far the most important component of a track, and every aspect of any recording is a matter of taste.

      But I do like to know “about stuff.” Back in hifi days I learned about double blind testing. I learned that we humans can easily hear differences that don’t really exist. The more I’ve learned about our human auditory system, the more I’m skeptical of what people say they hear, especially if they claim that a particular microphone or preamp or cable has some magical property.

      I’ve only been recording since 2001, and when I started I found the usual places on the internet. I sought advice and accepted it, thought I would improve my recordings by using more expensive equipment. It didn’t work.

      Two things that did seem to lead to better recordings were experience and room treatment. Getting an appealing sound is the combination of many small details, and learning those details only comes from experience. Amd the sound of the recording space is obviously a big factor.

      I’ve only recorded seriously using digital technology, but I remember trying to record rehearsals and gigs back in analog days. I don’t have any nostalgia for analog recording and playback systems at all. I think even low end digital systems can capture marvelous recordings. So when I look at gear, I look for good specs: low noise, broad flat frequency response, wide dynamic range, low distortion. I’m not interested in colorful components, mics and preamps with a sound, I want the sound to be the sound of my guitar.

      But the last word is that I’m just learning and I hope you find something useful in my posts.