The Layout

When you first open Cinelerra, you will be presented with 4 windows. Two large square ones at the top, one long rectangular one underneath and a smaller square one.

You will notice that each window has its own name at the top. There should be:

The Compositor

This window is to show what your final movie will look like.

The Viewer

This window enables you to see and control your original movie clips.

The Program

This is where you compile your movie and shows the chosen video clips as blocks of space in a 'timeline'. You can add effects and transitions in this window. It also contains all the drop down menus that enable you to do things like save, and render.

The Resources

This window will contain all your original video from which to choose what to edit. It contains two sections. The left hand section contains a list of options that the right section will show. Media is where your clips will be placed.

If for any reason any box is missing you can open it through a drop-down Window menu within the Program window.

Options and Preferences.

Before you start, it is important that you make sure the preferences of Cinelerra are set.

Under the Settings drop-down menu, select Format, and a new window will appear.

You need to make sure that the Frame rate, is set to 25, the Width is 720 and the Height is 576. This is the correct settings for Pal video- the format used in Britain.

To Get Video Files into Cinelerra

Under the File menu, select Load Files, and then find your original video files wherever you have saved them on your hard drive. It is important that under the Insertion Strategy box you select Create new resources only. This means that you will only create new files inside your Resources window. The other options are good for very simple editing but this option gives you more control!

Now you will notice that new icons of your video clips have appeared in your Resources window.

To Edit

Double click on one of your video icons in the Resources window. This will appear in the Viewer window. You will notice that the title of the Window has now changed from The Viewer to the name of your file. You can now play your clip in this window and decide which part you would like to use. Here you have a few choices. You can use the controller with the mouse to play and stop your clip, with the buttons either side of the stop button to move one frame in either direction. You can also drag the ball along the timeline by simply clicking and holding it.

Once you know what part of the clip you want to use, you need to add an In point and an Out point. These are the buttons that look like square brackets [ and ] . To add the in point, simply get the video to right place and click the in point button [ and you will see an icon appear on your timeline. Do the same for where you want you clip to end but use the out point button].

If you do not wish to alter your original clips, you can drag and drop the icons from the resource window to the program window. You can cut and adjust the clips in the program window however this is temperamental and you have less direct control over what you are doing- at least I have!

To get this clip into your Program window where you can edit it = all you have to do is click the splice button.

Your clip will now appear in your Program window. You will also see that the image of the video appears in the compositor widow. These two window are linked. The compositor show the actual video where as the program window shows a block representing the length in time of the clip. The important thing in is window is the playhead. This is the line that marks at what point the video is playing. If you move this line you will see that the video moves along in the compositor window. This line is important as it will be the point at which the next clip will be inserted. You need to make sure this is at the end of you first clip before inserting another clip.

To use another clip, double click on the clip you want in the resource window and it will appear in the viewer window and you can follow the same process.

If you want to use the same clip, just change the in point and the out point.

Effects and Filters

Once your clips are in the program window you can then add effects, fade between the clips and change elements of the video.

Most of this you will find in the resources window. If you click on the video transitions you will see a set of icons appear in the right handExport section of the resources window. Transitions are effects that change between your clips. To add these on you simply drag and drop onto the start or end of your clip and the icon will attach itself to your clip. To fine tune these you can right click on the icon and specify the length of the transition.


This refers to the amount of video or audio you wish to compile together in the program window. With this you can overlay video so you can see both mixed together in your final movie.

To add another track, right click on the existing track and select the add track option. An empty track will appear above the existing one. Whatever video you put on top will be what you see in your final movie, unless you adjust it to overlay your video track.

To do this, click on the arrow next to the track and an extra icon will appear below.

If you click on this icon a drop-down menu will appear will a list of overlay options- each one has a slightly different effect- try them out!


Once you have finished editing, you need save this as self contained movie to be able to play it outside of Cinelerra. To do this you need to render it and the Render option is under the File drop-down menu.

First of all, and this is one of the quirks of the program, you must specify exactly what you want it to render. You must make sure the playhead ( the line that indicates where you are in the video) is at the very beginning of your movie. Also you must put an in point and an out point at the beginning and the end of your movie respectively. Once this is done it should, in theory all works fine!

Select the render option.

It will ask you to select a file to render to... this means what you want to name your file as and where you want to put it. If you click on the magnifying glass you can select where in your files you want it to go and then type in a file name.

Under File format select the Quicktime for Linux option from the drop-down menu.

This is the only option I have managed to get to work so far!

The next options ask about the compression and format you want to save this as.

Tick the option Render Video tracks

If you have audio you must also tick the Render audio tracks box.

Next to these options is an icon of a spanner. Click this and it will allow you to choose what format you want to save as.

Under the Insertion strategy you must select Create new resources only. This will create a separate file outside of your existing project. When you click OK it will seem like nothing is happening, but if you look at the bottom of the Program window you will see a scale with a percentage that will tell you how long it will take.

Beware. The more you do and the more you change your video with effects the longer it will take to render! Video uses large file sizes so you must be careful what you do or you will end up with large files all over the place!

The large file sizes of digital video often mean we have to use a compressor to cut these sizes down for presenting the media on formats such as the internet or on dvd or cd. This has led to many people developing many different types of compression, many of which are not compatible.

See Video codecs for more information.

Good Luck!!!

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