Getting Started with PiTiVi

The PiTiVi video editor is an intuitive video editor for creating your next masterpiece.

All editing in PiTiVi takes place in the timeline. Fortunately, editing in PiTiVi is incredibly simple, and you really need to know how to use only one main tool: the cutter.

Video editing is all about cutting video into different pieces and putting them next to each other to tell a story. To perform a cut in PiTiVi, place the playhead where you want the cut to happen (by clicking on the ruler), and click the scissors icon on the toolbar. The clip splits in half, and you can click on each clip to move it around. Now, if you move your mouse to the edge of one of the clips, the cursor changes, and you can shorten and lengthen the clip to taste. To get your cut at just the right place, you may want to use the ruler to zoom in and out of the timeline and resize until the clip is just right. If you get tired of constantly toggling the play button in the previewer to start and stop playback, use the spacebar as a shortcut for toggling playback.

One of the wonderful aspects of video editing is that it is so simple to perform, but the impact that is delivered lies in how you organize the clips, the timing between cuts, how those cuts line up with music and more. Each of these skills fundamentally boils down to cutting, trimming, moving and viewing the results in the previewer.

Swapping Out Audio

While editing, you may want to get rid of some of the audio and replace it with other audio, such as if you want a series of fast cuts to music. You do this by splitting the audio from the video in a given clip and deleting the audio part. By default, your two clips are two different units and when you drag them, the video and audio are stuck together in each clip. To split the audio from the video in a given clip, first click on the clip on the timeline (it will turn a little darker to indicate that you selected it), and then click the far-right button on the toolbar (the button has an icon with two blocks and an up-and-down arrow). Clicking this icon unsticks the video and audio from the selected clip. Now, click the audio clip and only that will be selected. Delete this by clicking the red circle icon on the toolbar and only the audio clip will vanish, leaving the video present. If you now play back the video at that point in the timeline, you will hear no audio but see the video.

Now, import an audio file into the source list, and drag that to the timeline where the audio you just deleted was. You now have video over an entirely different audio track. Play with cutting the video into lots of different pieces, resizing them and placing them next to each other over the audio. Before you know it, you will have lots of fast-changing clips with your new audio soundtrack.

Performing Fades

When you add any clip to the timeline, a horizontal red line is drawn over the duration of the clip. This is the fade line. With it, you can control where audio fades (on the audio track) or video fades (on the video track). An audio fade is where you smoothly adjust the volume of the clip from one level to another. As an example, at the end of a video you may want to fade your audio to silence. On the video track, the fade line lets you control how you fade from video to black. In the same example, at the end of a project, you could use this line to fade the video to black slowly.

Using the fade line is simple. Double-click at the point you want a fade to happen, and a small handle appears on the fade line. Now, click the handle and move it to adjust the fade. On the volume track, the higher the red line the louder the volume, and on the video track, the higher the red line the more video is visible instead of black. Next, click another part of a fade line and the red line connects the dots. This is how you do fades: add two points on a line and adjust their settings, and PiTiVi performs the fade for you. As an example, add a fade handle a little bit before the end of a video and one right at the end. Move the far-right handle to the bottom and the far-left one to the top, and the clip will fade out at the end.

One final note about fades is that they are tied to a clip and not part of the wider timeline. As such, if you add a fade to a clip and then move the clip around, the fade moves too. This makes it really simple to perform fades and then reorganize the clips in your project later.

Figure 3. Performing fades is simple in PiTiVi.