NLE Video Editors

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

In alphabetical order, we evaluate Broadcast 2000, Crow, Kino, LVE, MainActor and Trinity. Except for MainActor, all are open-source software. Especially intriguing are Kino, a highly regarded DV editor that just released a new version, and LVE, a little-known German-made MPEG editor.

Broadcast 2000

Broadcast 2000 has been removed by the developer from its main web site, making some think that it is no longer exists, but video systems integrator Linux Media Arts (LMA) still offers it. LMA President Mike Collins says, “We want to continue development of Broadcast 2000, both as a free, open-source project and as bundled commercial software with provided support.” Collins says he is trying to arrange putting Broadcast 2000 on, but until then, anyone may contact him directly about downloading it. Broadcast 2000 is available as an RPM or a source tarball.

The Broadcast 2000 video editor, based on QuickTime, offers many advanced features including effects using the GIMP.

Broadcast 2000 was featured in the January 2001 issue of Linux Journal [see Adam Williams' article “Moviemaking on a Linux Box? No Way!”]. Our installation is a little different because our distribution isn't Red Hat, but Debian. Let's convert the Red Hat-compatible RPM into a Debian deb (Listing 1).

Listing 1. Converting the Red Hat-Compatible RPM into a Debian deb

Alien works well at converting RPM archives into deb format, but it doesn't find shared libraries that are in nonstandard locations (note the warning from Alien that it can't find You will need to remember that after installing the deb with dpkg. Once Broadcast 2000 is installed, search for the lost DLL and add its directory path to your Then run ldconfig to update the runtime linker settings. Otherwise, the program won't run because it won't be able to find its shared libraries.

Broadcast 2000 record formats include WAV, PCM, QuickTime and JPEG image sequence. The supported QuickTime (MOV) types are JPEG photo, motion JPEG A, PNG, PNG with alpha, uncompressed RGB, uncompressed RGBA, YUV 4:2:0 planar and YUV 4:2:2 packed. That's a lot of formats, but they aren't as compatible with other tools and operating systems as you might expect.


Crow is a project by Eric Fry in Australia. Although only an alpha version, we still were curious to try Crow. It is only available for download via the CVS version control system.

Crow's developer says it is too incomplete to use, but we learned a lot about configuring and compiling alpha projects in the process of building it.

Our Linux box is on a Windows network behind a Windows firewall with Cox cable modem. We would have to configure our firewall to pass CVS. Using Telnet we checked that we could reach CVS port 2401 manually. We then created a 2401 TCP wrapper in WinGate on our SOHO firewall machine (named gap). Our TCP wrapper was set to point to

Attempting a CVS login from my Linux box (tbird) failed—something about .cvspass not being configured correctly on that machine. However, we were able to do a CVS checkout. That was all we actually needed.

cvs -z3 -d:pserver:anonymous@gap:/cvsroot/crow co crow

If we hadn't been drilling through our firewall, the CVS command would have specified rather than gap.

Crow objected that it had the wrong libtool ltconfig version, but we fixed that with libtoolize:

libtoolize --force

No dice—the Crow make failed because an include file couldn't find gtk/gtk.h. The Makefiles didn't have the paths configured in a generic way to point to the GTK++ GUI headers, and our GTK++ files were installed in a different directory. This called for a little autoconf surgery. We added GNOME_INIT to so it would emit the GTK_CFLAGS and GTK_LIBS variables. Then we substituted those variables, e.g., $(GTK_CFLAGS), in 14 different files used by Crow. After regenerating the configure file, Crow built. Bingo, we got it!

ulimit -c unlimited
We didn't do a make install of Crow because the INSTALL file had warned us not to. We set ulimit to be able to generate core files if we had a crash. And, when we ran Crow it immediately crashed with a segmentation fault. Let's debug that using the gdb debugger:
gdb app/.libs/lt-crow core
> bt
Because ./app/crow is a script, we had to figure out the actual name of the executable to load in gdb. Running a backtrace (bt) to examine the function stack didn't do us any good at this point because there was no debug information in our build. We first would have to rebuild with debug enabled:
make clean
make -e ?CC=gcc -g?
Now we could load gdb again and see the relevant call stack and source code. That immediately revealed that the crash was due to a null pointer variable dir in app/plug_in.c on line 275. We simply inserted a line there to return from the function before using the variable if it was 0:
if(!dir) return 0;
Crow is very much an alpha and too incomplete for use. Fry says that his files on are an old version and that he is planning to rewrite it. He wants to talk with others interested in designing an editing application for Linux from the ground up. “I'd like to have a fully featured editor capable of doing real-world editing tasks like 3:2 pull-down, EDL output database clip management and HD playback”, says Fry.



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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.

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