NLE Video Editors

Robin takes a look at six Linux video nonlinear editing (NLE) sofware packages: Broadcast 2000, Crow, Kino, LVE, MainActor and Trinity.

Linux Video Editor (LVE) developer Gerhard Monzel says, “The intended purpose was cutting MPEGs and to encode to (S)VCDs.” Monzel works at SAP as systems administrator in St. Ingbert, Germany. The LVE documentation is all in German. “LVE is based on some freeware libraries: libmpeg3 to seek and decode MPEG and libsdl as base of my GUI”, says Monzel. “The rest is self-made.” He says many MPEG formats are supported (MPEG-1 and MPEG-2) including VOB and IFO, but not DVB. His GUI design was influenced by Pinnacle Studio MP10.

LVE is a German-made MPEG editor intended for making (S)VCDs.

LVE is cuts-only—no effects and no titles. Note that whether the source material is PAL or NTSC, the output is always PAL. NTSC sources must be processed with sox to correct the framerate changing the audio pitch. LVE has no install procedure. The tarball must be extracted in the root directory:

cd /
tar xvfz /install/public/nle/lve/
ls /usr/local/lve/bin
  bbainfo  bbinfo   bbvinfo  ffmpeg_lve
  gensmart  lmp  mplex  toolame
  bbdmux   bbmplex  encode   genmpg
  gensvcd   lve  qdir
chmod 666 /usr/local/lve/lib/SystemFont.bmp

MainActor is the only closed-source application we looked at. We installed it from RPM using Alien, following much the same procedure as with Broadcast 2000.

MainActor is a shareware editor with Linux and Windows versions.

MainActor can title (2-D and 3-D text) and edit movies. It offers video transitions and audio effects. The evaluation version writes “MainActor” on your video until you purchase a registered copy. MainActor includes the following programs: maseq (NLE), mave (animation converter), macap (V4L MJPEG capture) and lmatool (console video file converter). The documentation is in /usr/share/doc/Packages/MainActor.


Trinity editor and maintainer Chris Hardy says it has rudimentary MPEG and audio support. Trinity can understand sequences of image frame files, too. “The source code hasn't been touched in two years”, says Hardy. “I haven't heard from the developer in a while and the project has been in limbo.” The GUI is one thing Hardy likes about Trinity.

Trinity is in search of a developer to lead and rename this project.

There were several minor compilation errors that we fixed while building Trinity 0.5 and one serious one. We sent the corrections to Hardy. Because of a conflict with a commercial product, Trinity must be renamed, and Hardy would like a developer interested in working on an NLE to join the project so it can go forward.


Computers present a great advantage in editing movies because they can easily edit out of sequence or remove or add a scene—that's why it's called nonlinear editing. Nonlinear editors are used to edit video sequences to create television shows and motion pictures.

In examining Broadcast 2000, Crow, Kino, LVE, MainActor and Trinity, we've looked at some of the video tools available in Linux, but hardly all of them. FFmpeg, GAnSO, Gnonlin, Jahshaka, Linux Video Studio, matterial, mpgtx, mpegcut and SAMPEG-2 present more choices.

Jahshaka, a special effects compositor, has both Linux and Windows versions based on OpenGL.

Two commercial (expensive) tools that we will be evaluating in the future are Nothing Real Shake and Silicon Grail RAYZ. These are used to add special effects to many Hollywood motion pictures. There is just one major open-source tool that is used in major motion pictures and that is Film GIMP, used in Harry Potter, Cats & Dogs, Lord of the Rings and more. We'll take a look at Film GIMP next time.



Robin Rowe ( is a partner in, a technology company that creates internet and broadcast video applications. He has written for Dr. Dobb's Journal, the C++ Report, the C/C++ Users Journal and Data Based Advisor.



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The best one

forrestcupp's picture

You left out the best one of all: Cinelerra.
It can do anything you can imagine, if you can get it installed.

Re: GFX: NLE Video Editors

Anonymous's picture

Never in my life have I been as mad at the proprietary actions that Apple has pinned on Microsoft for so many years than now. It seems that Apple, our "innocent" company has decided to buy out any and all of good linux cinema software today. If you don't believe me, look at Apple Shake, and also Silicon Grail's Rayz. This wouldn't be so bad with the exception that I rely on many of those applications and use LINUX as my ONLY platform. I am so unbelievably mad that I could just kill!!!

Now I have to spend countless tens of thousands of dollars re-outfitting my VFX studio with new Apple (eww) computers.

Thank God Apple can't take away the price tag of linux, as well as the stability needed to make great render farms!

Signed -

John C. Beck

Re: GFX: NLE Video Editors

Anonymous's picture

umm... why not spend significantly less funding open source development of a new app? There are lots of support libraries out there already, like gstreamer, etc. Filmgimp/Cinepaint is available, and being developed. Add the features you need to open source. No point complaining about the lack of open source, and then buying proprietary junk.

Re: GFX: NLE Video Editors

Anonymous's picture

Because not all production studios have coders on hand to produce apps that could perform those kinds of functions. In that case, hiring the coders to do the work would end up being far more costly and time consuming than switching to an already existing set of apps.