Tutorials >
Here's a video editor that can pack a punch. Cinelerra is an exceptional video/audio workstation with professional tools and output abilities, and it's awesomely stable on Debian.. A film maker for Linux to replace all others - and certainly for more advanced users, but it's not too technical to make use of, even for beginners.

See how it scored on my video editor testing page here video editor review/score sheet
The score is approaching 60 points (a point for each good feature), leaving others, including blender, well behind.

Refere to my Netinstall Step2 page for how to install.

cinelerra documentation

I recommend you download the pdf user manual and check out all the other resources - search "cinelerra gg" and "cinelerra video editor" on Youtube for some good video tutorials (not all in English)

Visit the learn how section of the Cinelerra forum

older tutorials

What's different

Main Keys

The manual lists the keyboard shortcuts quite well, here I just list the main keys.

Left/Right moves the timeline along X/C/V cut/copy/paste (X also splits an edit if no area selected)
Alt-Left/Alt-Right move insert point to prev/next edit (cut point) del remove selected (leaves no space)
Home/End move to timeline start/end M mute selected (remove and leave space)
Ctrl-Left/Ctrl-Right go to prev/next label E toggle drag-drop/cut-paste modes
Down/Up/Shift-scroll zoom in/out (also scroll button on zoom factor, lower left) L toggle label
F fit all/selection to display [ and ] toggle in/out points
Shift-Home/Shift-End highlight from insert point to start/end A select all
Shift-Ctrl-Left/Shift-Ctrl-Right highlight from insert point to prev/next label, or to played from/paused point Z/Shift-Z undo/redo
Shift-LMB on label/in-out point highlight from label/in-out point to insert point Shift-R render
Space play/pause S save project
Ctrl-Space play area between in/out points T/Shift-T add new audio/video track
Ctrl-L set loopback play (whole timeline or selected) Tab/Shift-Tab toggle Arm track with mouse over track/toggle arm all other tracks

Playback direction and speed is controlled with the number pad.
one frame slow mo normal speed fast mo
backward > 4 5 6 +
forward > 1 2 3 Enter

Pressing Ctrl with any of the playback keys and the time betwen in/out points will be played.

These shortcuts have been added to main keyboard but they are useless for the Colemak layout.

There are no shortcut settings in Preferences, but the keys available are pretty good, especially on a 105 keys layout.

My Tips

Inserting media to the project

hit O, locate your source files, select the ones you need, then select the insert strategy, either:
With media loaded in the resource window, you can

Align Audio with Video

Some cameras make a complete mess of things, recording the audio of clips a few frames linger than the video and when you join thirty clips on the timeline the disjoint becomes enlarged as you progress resulting in some bad dislocations that take pains to set right - or you could spend hours cutting all the ends off the audio clips to keep it in sync with mouths and hammers!
But here's an automatic tool that does the whole timeline in one click! Good work Good Guy! I wonder if this function was added after my request on the mailing list?

Patchbay controls

To the left of each track is the patchbay where certain controls are found.
-click and drag a button from one patchbay to another it applies to the other.
-Shift-click on a button it applies to all tracks.
-Tab with mouse over track toggles that track armed
-Shift-Tab toggles only that track armed

Timeline appearance

Jumping about on the timeline

Selecting edits and areas - Cut and Paste Mode


Moving edits - Drag and Drop Mode

Create a group of edits

Cutting on the TImeline

What happens if you are playing the video on the timeline with an In-point set that disappears off the left because the timeline is moving along, and you reach a point to set the Out-point and then you remove that section?
The point which was Out-point will shoot off the visual space to the left and...
-if you pressed X or del while still playing, the cursor point will still be infront of you but at a totally different place in the clips.
-if you paused play before cutting/removing, the cursor point will have shot off with the Out-point off to the left.
So to get back to that point which was cut, you may need to do Ctrl-scroll-down, or if its really far off, Alt-Left

removing gaps

Transforming edit ends

when you move the mouse pointer to the edge of an edit an arrow appears, click on this and drag the end left or right. The mouse button you use decides what the dragging does.

by default, mouse buttons Left, middle, Right (1,2,3) do the following:

Snapping edit ends

This method is used for cutting the front or end of edits off.
Three new functions in CinGG that make this work much faster:

Inter-view Mode

Here is a very useful tool, enabling you to see where a source file or clip has been used on the timeline...


Loopback play


Fading video

still another method: drag a video transition onto the end of the edit and make sure there is no video after the edit end and no video on tracks above. The video will transition to black! Nice!

this can be done for fade in, and also audio fades.

Fading audio

note: the overlay band for audio fade by default is set to normal level at base of track, which means you can't achieve reduced audio or silence until you adjust that base level...

Speed auto

Easily make changes to media playback using the speed auto band
  • under View menu, check Speed - if the speed line does not appear, set to Speed and adjust range to be shown, e.g. 0.005 to 5.125 which will allow speediing up five times, or set negative to 0 to enable slowing down
  • set a keyframe and then drag the speed line up to create fast-motion, or down fo slow-motion - the edit wiiil adjust its length to reflect the time used by the new speed
  • then you might want to ajust audio in the same way - or leave it normal.

    Make clips from edited material on the timeline

    • select an area on the timeline
    • press the "To clip" button or hit 'I' and the selected part of edits will copy to the Clip resource window
    • also you can right-click in Clips and click Paste clip
    • you can copy/paste clips to the timeline, or a new timeline window
    • if you right-click on a clip and then click Nest to Media, it will be found in media, from there it will insert onto timeline with just one vid and one audio track, regardless if clip made from many tracks
    • you can also copy a selection from the timeline/compositor and then paste it into another timeline
    • to copy a clip made in one instance over to another, right-click on the clip in resources > View in new window or drag to Viewer, set In-point at the start (Out-point will be automatically set to end), press C, open new instance, press V on timeline

    Nesting sequences

    You can import project xml files (EDLs) into any other project, whereby you can compile lots of individual editing sessions into a bigger work, without all their sometimes complex tracks and plugins cluttering up the whole timeline.
    • open media and select xml of project to import
    • then choose either load strategy of create new resources only, to add as clips to resources window
    • or EDL strategy of Nested, to insert directly to the timeline

    Open EDL

    When you import project xml files (edit decision lists /EDLs) into a new project, you can adjust the plugins already applied to the imported project - that is now a clip in the master project. If you just pile the clips onto the timeline you won't see the plugins that the original pre-import projects had attached to their media on the timeline.
    • In resources window, rightclick on a clip that was imported from xml, then select Open EDL
    • the clip is focused and you can make changes to its plugins
    • when done, look at the top right corner for a number -usually 1- and click on that to close the clip's EDL and return to master project timeline
    • the clip icon disappears from the resource window while its EDL is open (logicaly because now the resource window shows you what is in the opened EDL, not the main EDL)
    • However, if you add a clip to the timeline, opening its EDL and making changes to plugins will not affect the timeline content you must either: - Open the EDL before adding the clip to the timeline, make adjustments, close the EDL then add in to timeline - first NEST the clip to MEDIA and add it from there to the timeline. When nested it becomes a main project asset and media is reflected on the timeline.
    • an imported project xml may itself have imported and nested projects! So when you Open EDL on a nested clip, in the media window you will see if it has previous nested clips - then those too can be opened with Open EDL (and the number at top right will jump to 2, and clicking on it returns you to 1 - the numbker 2 means 2-layer open EDL)

    Use proxy clips

    This can be a very useful thing, especially with very large video dimensions and/or low powered CPUs - but even a 16 core Ryzen 3700X at 4.2GHz will keep motoring just with playing back video in the compositor
    • Settings > Proxy settings
    • check the Use scaler option and set 1/2, keep mpeg, set to 1000000 or even 500000 if it's bearable (depends on detail needed in editing)
    • check Auto proxy and hit the Tick
    • during edits you can disable proxies, via a P or S button at top right, to see better detail at times
    • Before render, reset scale to full size in Proxy settings


    • Hit Shift-R to open render dialogue, then set target file
    • File format: for h264 encoding, select FFmpeg/mp4
    • click on the wrench icons by audio/video and set the bitrate: a= 192000, v= 2000000 (i.e. 2Mbps) etc
    • To render to a quality format for storage, you can try OGG TheoraVorbis/ogg (or FFmpeg/ogg) with a constant bitrate or quality (7 or 8) - but it's slow as it doesn't cpu multithread 100% (50fps 25M mpegts, @q8, 4min movie took 28min).
    • you can enter a name for this render setting and save as preset (though your last setting will be stored)
    • insert strategy: insert nothing
    • note: if you open new media onto the timeline and replace existing, the render will terminate

    Batch Rendering

    You can render one project in different formats, just add it to list multiple times, or multiple projects in same or any format.
    • Open File > Batch Render
    • Set output file and format, and the project EDL (xml file) and hit New to add to the batch queue
    • when a job is highlighted in the list, its format or output name can be set
    • a project must have an active region for rendering - selection, I/O region, or the insert point should be placed before the content!
    • Run them from the Batch Render window or hit Save Jobs to save a batch list (but job does not match session?)
    • close Cin and render from the command line.. run `cin -r batchjob.xml`
    • command line render will abort if an output file already exists

    Some effects that are very handy

    Attaching plugins/effects

    • Simply drag an effect from resources to the video or audio track or right-click on a track and attach effect
    • the effect will be applied to only a single edit, a selected area or I/O points
    • drag the effect to the patchbay for it to apply to the entire track - but first remove I/O points
    • when attaching effects, they will stack up under the edits
    • resize an effect on the timeline by dragging its ends - and to prevent other effects to moving along too hold Shift when dragging to make only that effect move and no others to be affected.
    • to move the effect, switch to drag mide with E and click drag
    • if there is no space on the effect bar to move the effect into (it will probably jump to space at the end if you try fit it into a small space), just drag a hew effect down to an edit and it will extend the stack of effects, then move theeffect into empty space on the lower bar just created.

    Video transitions

    • drag a transition from the Resource window onto a join between two edits, A and B: hovering over the start of edit B will show a box over the join on which to drop it
    • Right click on the transition effect icon at the edit join to set the duration or drag the duration bar
    • note: the transition between edits will begin at start of edit B, which means preferably there is some time left of 1st edit that will show in part during the transition - if there is no more of source media after end of edit A end then edit A picture will freeze during the transition!
    • the transition may not look very good played realtime in the timeline but it should be good once rendered - you can set in/out points to render that part to run a test first.

    note: if you have applied an effect such as colour-correction to edit A and the effect is not attached (not wanted) on edit B, you will run into a small problem with a video transition.. do you stop the effect at end of A (and then visible edit A suddenely returns to pre-effect picture during the transition) or do you extend it to the end of the transition (and then edit B gets coated with edit A effect for the duration of the transition, which is bad)?

    Answer: what you need to do in this case, is add a video track above and drag edit A onto it, then drag-extend the effect attached to edit A to the end of the transition - the effect will then not alter edit B picture!

    Colour correction

    Cinelerra offers some outstanding tools for control of colour output, but mastering them might take you some time!
    • blue banana: in controls check Combine and Mask Selection, check Filter Active, then check which control is needed: hue, saturation, value (from the middle controls - not sure how the top controls affect the middle ones)
    • dragging the pointers apart increases the control range, then moving the dot point along adjusts the control
    • brightness/contrast: set values in the Preset window
    • color 3 way: probably easier tool to use for saturation control, just increase Saturation control and leave the color adjustment alone, increase Midtone and Highlight values to increase brightness
    • color balance: adjust cyan, magenta and yellow levels - for example if a camera made bad WB and the picture is tinted blue etc
    • gradient: to set a coloured light effect.. linear: adjust angle, inner radius zero, reduce outer radius a little, set inner and outer colours.. radial: move the radial center off the picture on X or Y axis and also reduce outer radius
    • histogram: drag the three pointers to set pre, mid and end of curve - to adjust brightness and shadows
    • histogram: control the histogram curve with points -move the left arrow to affect blacks, right arrow for whites, middle for mid-tones.
    • hue saturation: easily increase colour or reduce to b/w picture

    Keyframe an effect

    easily set keyframes in effects to alter the parameters through time..
    • Add an effect to the timeline and turn on auto keyframing
    • then click in the timeline at the start of it click the glass icon - set what you need, e.g. slight contrast
    • set the insert point halfway along the effect and then increase the contrast a little, then set the contrast higher at the end
    • each adjustment will set a new keyframe (visible on the effect with a key -the sharp end of the key at the keyframe point) and they can be dragged along - how sweet!
    • if you click drag to extend an effect, the left button will drag all other keyframes along, including fades and all, also the keyframes on the effect will moves
    • if you click with middle button you will control just the one effect (though you can set what the mouse buttons do in Settings)
    • to adjust a certain keyframe, right click on it >> Show Plugin Settings or just left click on it if settings is open
    • render a short in-out segment to test ow the effect will look on the finished film - as the effect may appear less harsh viewed from the composer window

    Rotate video

    • the effect you need is obviously called "Rotate" - you either set it to the entire track with right click >> Attach effect, or you can drag it from Resources to the edit or selection
    • click on the glass icon to set the degree of rotation

    but, rotating a video (e.g. 16:9 aspect ratio 90 degrees) will crop top and bottom (as obviously 1920 pix wide can't rotate and stand up in 1080 pix high - its top and bottom won't fit in), so you can either attach the "Scale" effect (above the rotate effect, to scale the video width down to the new height dimension before rotation).
    • attach the scale effect and then right click on it >> Move up to set it above Rotate
    • Scale: just click on the glass, click on "Constrain ratio" then use mouse scroll button to raise the value to something less than 1.

    OR, after applying rotation, click on the "Adjust camera automation" button in the compositor window, and the Shift-left-click-drag to resize the video so that as much as you need fits onto the canvas (and turn off key-framing first!).

    Scaling down video

    To produce video with smaller dimensions than the source, you need to set the format dimensions and then add a video effect to the entire timeline.
    • Open format settings with Shift-F and set the canvas size to the scaled down dimensions - sets format of output video when rendered
    • then right click on the timeline >> Attach effect >> Scale, click OK (or open Video effects in the resource window and find Scale, drag it to an edit, the selected area, or the patch bay if i/o are not set).
    • Then click on the glass icon button on the effect and set the dimensions or scale.
    • you can also use Auto Scale effect and then Right click >> Presets and click and enter new values

    But even EASIER.. after setting canvas size, click the "Adjust camera automation" button in the compositor window, and the Shift-left-click-drag to resize the video (but make sure you turn off key-framing first!).

    Note: if you set the output format to a smaller scale than the source media, the project will be cropped. This might be a valid technique, say, if your media is in 3K or 4K and output is 2K (1080p), but it may not be suitable for the entire track as detail such as faces could be lost.

    Image overlays

    this is easy as resizing/positioning in the compositor window with only one track armed -so that an overlying track is positioned over the full-size track underneath
    • arm only the track you want to resize as an overlay with Shift-Tab on the track (disarms all other tracks)
    • show the Compositor window and click on Projector tool
    • with insert point at the start of the track or start point of the edit that will overlay, click drag the projector box to the overlay position and Shift-click and drag to resize it
    • if you move along some time in the edit or track and change the projector position/size then you will create a new keyframe and the video position will jump when played - so make sure that only one keyframe (ie postion set at start and no keyframes added) is active for the duration of the overlaid picture

    Projector animation

    This technique will create a movement and transform shrink/grow of the video picture across or around the screen - you are advised to look at the good Heroine manual first! (find/copy it after install at /usr/share/cin/doc/cinelerra.html)
    • In the Compositor, turn on auto keyframes, select Projector tool, then drag the frame a tiny amount to create first keyframe (the point to start the picture movement/shrink) - without that keyframe to start the movement a slow linear change will be applied right from the start of the timeline to your first projector change - not so happy :(
    • further along the time in the Compositor, drag the projector frame to a new position where you want it to reach at that time and resize it with Shift-click drag if necessary - and repeat for as many changes of transformation/direction you need
    • for example, you want the picture to wipe off to the top right and shrink into an inch size (the following edit could then grow out of the same position and you get a disappearing/appearing transition)
    • or perhaps you want different pictures or still pics to move across the screen from all directions
    • or you could have a picture shrink to half size and bounce around the screen and then bounce back to full size
    • turning on auto-keyframing first before making the change to projector position is important as it will create progressive changes (you can have either smooth or linear) from one keyframe to the next
    • The projector changes will show on the video track as X and Y axis and Z (Z is the shrinkage or zoom)
    • Increase track depth by bottom "Height of tracks" to see whats happening with your keyframes on those axis bands... but moving them on the tracks is too complex, you can just about remove them and that's all... you need to work in the Compositor to make sensible changes.
    • Click on Show Tool info button to get full control,
    • turn off auto keyframing after the work is done witht he projector, as other wise when you make new keyframes on a track it will adjust automatically from the last keyframe, instead of from the point you click.

    Warping video

    • Lens adjust Radius, Center X and Y to create a book page flip effect and use auto keyframing with projector to have the picture flip into view

    Note that the Show Tool button can hide tool windows and if they don't pop up its because you pressed this before while it was open.

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