We were most impressed with Shotcut when we last checked out the free cross-platform video editing software, capable of running on Windows, Mac, and Linux. You can read our original Shotcut review for the full scoop.
As a free video editor, there’s never any financial commitment when upgrading. Only a decision based on whether or not the new features are worth it. So, let’s take a look at what’s new in Shotcut.
Same old interface
Let’s start with what hasn’t changed, which is the user interface. It’s still pretty spartan, and if you’re unfamiliar with it, it will take you a few minutes to find your way around and realize how to even start getting some work done.
This is a failing that was present when we last explored this software. Either this is not high on the priority list, or the developers are just happy with the look they went for.
Still, this is a minor gripe, as a bit of poking around will help you discover the ins and outs of what you can do with this video editor, and how versatile the interface actually is.
For instance, you have six different interfaces, like audio effects and video effects, which you can toggle using the small menu top right of the screen: choose Logging, Editing, FX, Color, Audio, and Player to access them, and their titles are self explanatory. You can also configure the look and its windows however you please.
One of the great advantages of this software is that improvements are introduced and bugs are squashed on a frequent basis: since November 2020, over a dozen updates were released (the version number is actually its release date), and the number of tweaks to existing features are too numerous to mention here, but all of it is listed in Shotcut’s News page.
Such a list shows that if a bug is discovered, it won’t take too long before it’s squished, although that might lead to other bugs, and the process never stops. But, to be fair, that is the fate of all software out there.
The main point here is that existing features are improved and problems are resolved on a regular basis – one of the major advantages of open source software.
In order to take advantage of the latest OSs, while balancing limited resources, Shotcut has to limit its compatibility with older versions. The latest release works with Windows 7 and above, Mac OS 10.12, or a 64-bit Linux with at least glibc 2.27.
Mac users will be happy to learn that Shotcut can run natively on the new Macs that are powered by Apple Silicon.
New editing additions
As you should expect by now, there have been numerous new features added to this software.
Some of the ones we took a shine to include support for AV1, an open, royalty-free video coding format, although working with it will slow down your computer (this is normal, we’re being assured).
Time and keyframes
One new addition we quite liked is Time Remapping. It’s implemented well and is really easy to use.
If you wish to alter a clip whose format isn’t compatible with this new feature, you get a popup window informing you of this, offering you the option of converting it to a format that will work. You then open up the keyframe window, altering the curve at will to speed up, slow down, stop, and even reverse time.
We wouldn’t see any frame blending occurring, so you might notice a staggering effect if the clip is slowed down too much as opposed to smooth motion. However, that’s the only drawback we could find to this fun new capability.
Speaking of keyframes, this functionality has been expanded to many filters, including Mask, allowing you to alter them over time, making them so much more useful.
Markers are a convenient way of keeping track of a complex edit, or if you’re working in tandem with other editors. You can add markers to remind yourself to add something at a specific point, or to make sure you replace a clip at a later stage for instance, and Shotcut has now added this to the timeline.
You still can’t add it to individual clips, but it’s a step in the right direction. What’s more, you have the ability of altering a marker’s color, stretch them out to give them a range, and edit them to add a more useful name other than ‘Marker n’.
One nice recent improvement includes the ability of exporting markers as a text file, which you can then copy and paste onto your Youtube description, allowing you to create chapters in seconds. A nice time-saver.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though.
The most recent addition is known as Voiceover. As its name implies it should allow you to record an audio track straight from Shotcut, which you’ll then be able to trim and position perfectly to match your visuals.
Except we couldn’t get it to work on the Mac we were using to test this software on. Every time we tried to activate it, Shotcut would crash, over and over again.
From what we understand of the implementation, it feels a little convoluted. But we’d choose convoluted over crashes any day.
User friendliness doesn’t exactly spring to mind when thinking of Shotcut, but everything you need to cut a video is there, and it shouldn’t take you long to get to grips with the interface.
Many of the new features are very welcome additions, with support for more codecs, and running natively on Apple’s newest chips being a definite plus. Sure, one feature we tried failed miserably for us, but for a free software that gets updated constantly, this isn’t actually that bad. Everything else we experimented with worked as advertised, and it may not take long for that glitch to be fixed in a future revision.
If you’re on the lookout for a feature-rich video editor with no financial outlay, you can do a heck of a lot worse than Shotcut. Go download it now. You might be pleasantly surprised.