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hpr3717 :: Video editing with Shotcut on a low end PC

In this episode I explain how I use the shotcut video editor to edit video on a low end PC.

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Hosted by MrX on 2022-11-01 is flagged as Clean and is released under a CC-BY-SA license.
workflow, tips, video, editing, application. (Be the first).

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Duration: 00:11:35


Shotcut video editor website

Useful Shortcut keys for the Shotcut video editor

C = copy
V = paste
A = duplicate
X = ripple delete
Ctrl + X = ripple delete but send to clipboard
S = split

Tip not covered in my Podcast

Splits are not fixed and can be adjusted. Once you've split up clips and put them in the right order on the timeline you can still adjust the cut point even though you previously split the clip because the clip is referenced to the original file in the playlist.


Hello and welcome Hacker Public Radio audience my name is Mr X welcome to this podcast. As per usual I'd like to start by thanking the people at HPR for making this podcast possible. HPR is a Community led podcast provided by the community for the community that means you can contribute to. The HPR team have gone to great deal of effort to simplify and streamline the process of providing podcasts. There are many ways to record an episode these days using phones tablets PCs and alike. The hardest barrier is sending in your first show. Don't get too hung up about quality, it's more important just to send something in. The sound quality of some of my early shows wasn't very good. If I can do it anyone can and you might just get hooked in the process.

Well it's been almost a year since I've sent in a show. Looking at the HPR site my last episode was back in November 2021. I suspect like many others life has become more complicated and I find I have much less spare time and because I have much less spare time I have much less time to pursue my hobbies and because of this I have less to speak about and because of this I have less time to record what I've been doing and it all turns into to vicious circle. Fortunately I recently had some time off work and had a lovely holiday. During the holiday I ended up recording some video which I decided I wanted to edit. I've done some video editing in the past using various video editing packages. The best and most recent of which is shotcut.

Specific details and equipment

Video resolution 1920 x 1080, Codec h264 mpeg-4, Frame rate 30 frames per second.

Computer Dell Optiplex 780. Fitted with 4 GB of internal RAM and onboard video graphics card.

Shotcut version 22.06.23 Shotcut is a free open-source cross-platform video editor licenced under the GNU general public licence version 3.0

This episode will only cover basic shotcut video editing techniques. Shotcut contains many advanced features and effects that will not be covered in this episode. A lot of the workflow I’ll share with you today is intended to get around limitations imposed by my low spec PC

I'll try my best to cover the video editing process in this podcast using words alone; however I am conscious that an accompanying video would make it easier to follow along.

Shotcut workflow

Start by creating a folder to hold all the required media files. Audio tracks and sound effects can be added to this folder later. Make sure all your video files are using the same frame rate in my case 30 frames per second.

Open each video file in VLC one at a time going through each video file looking for the best portions of video. Make a note of where the best portions of the video are by writing down the start and end points in minutes and seconds.

I do this because the interface of VLC is more responsive than shortcut and the resolution of displayed video is far greater than the preview in shortcut. This makes it quicker and easier to find the best portions of video.

Open shortcut and make sure the new project is set to the same frames per second as the media files you're working with, in my case 30 frames per second. You can check the frame rate of your project by looking at the selected video mode in the new projects window. If you select automatic it will ensure the project resolution and frame rate automatically match that of your media files.

Start by adding all the video files to the playlist, this can be done in a number of ways for example it can be done by clicking on the open file button in the top toolbar or within the open files menu. Alternatively you can drag and drop files into the playlist. I find this to be the easiest way to add media files to a project. Once this is done save your project.

Drag the first file from the Playlist to the timeline making sure that the start of the video starts at 0 seconds.

Click on the timeline in the position where the first start point of interest is needed. Use the S key to split the video at this point. Don't worry about being too accurate as this can be moved at a later stage.

Repeat this process for the end point of interest.

Repeat this again for all the other sections of start and end points of interest.

Remove the unwanted sections of video by clicking on a section then hitting the delete key. This will remove the unwanted section leaving an empty space behind.

Once all the unwanted sections are removed click on the sections of video and pull them to the left to close the gaps up. I find it useful to leave some space between the good sections of video as it makes it easier to see where splits are and makes it easier later on to rearrange the order of the individual clips.

Check the start and end points of the remaining sections of video to see that the start and end points stop in the correct place. You can do this by clicking the play button on the preview window. The video start and end points can be adjusted by dragging the section left or right in in the timeline section; this is where leaving spaces Between each section of video can be handy as it allows for fine tuning.

Add a new blank video track to the timeline to hold the next video. Note this wasn't required when adding the first video track but it is needed for each subsequent track. A video track can be added by right clicking on an empty portion of the timeline and selecting add video track. Alternatively use the ctrl + I key.

Drag your second video from the playlist onto the newly created blank video track in the timeline. As before make sure that the start of the video starts at 0 seconds.

Before previewing any section of the second video track click the small eye shaped hide icon in the left section of the first video track labelled output. This will prevent previewing both video tracks at the same time.

Repeat the process above of chopping the second video track into sections using the S key to split the video up. Remove the unwanted sections. Finally adjust the start and end points of the remaining sections.

Repeat the steps above to add the remaining video files one at a time from the playlist to the timeline.

When complete you end up with separate video tracks in the timeline each containing good sections of video.

At this stage I can't be too specific about how to continue as there are a number of different options depending on your particular Project. You can for example start by combining the good sections of video into one video track by dragging them from one track to another then add if required an audio track or you can add the audio track first and then try to sync things up to the audio track moving bits and pieces of video into one video track remembering to hide the unwanted sections of video by clicking on the small hide eye icons. Don't do too much editing without saving the project. If you get a message about low memory save the project then reopen it.

To export the final video click on the export button in the toolbar. I pick the default option, this creates an H.264/AAC MP4 file suitable for most users and purposes. You can check the frame rate is the same as your original media files by clicking on the advanced tab. Click the export file button and give it a file name. It may take some time to create the export file. This will be dependent on the speed of your computer and the length and resolution of your project.

While Shotcut is far from perfect on my puny PC it is surprisingly usable and stable and is the best option I’ve found so far.

Finally here are some general shotcut tips I have when doing video editing on a puny PC with limited ram, slow processor and built in graphics card such as mine.

General Tips when working with a low powered PC

Close all open applications leaving only shortcut open this helps with RAM usage

Shortcut is surprisingly stable with a feeble PC such as mine. I would still recommend saving your project regularly as it is quick and very easy to do.

If you get a message about running out of RAM then try not to do too much more editing before saving the project. Once saved close shotcut and then reopen it. The longer your project is and the higher your project resolution the more RAM you will need.

When you are about to export your final video save the project close shortcut reopen shotcut and immediately export your project as any previous editing may be taking up precious ram.

Be patient when clicking on the timeline to repositioned the play head. Always wait for the preview window to update. This can sometimes take a few seconds.

When trying to sync video to audio you need to zoom in in quite a long way before getting an audio preview. When doing this and moving the play head you'll get a choppy version of the audio with this it is still perfectly possible to find the beat of the music allowing you to sync your video to the music. If this doesn't seem to work for you then try zooming in closer.

Ok that's about it for this podcast. Hope it wasn't too boring and it made some sense. If you want to contact me I can be contacted at mrxathpr at googlemail.

Thank you and goodbye.


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