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Review: EditShare Lightworks

In this latest installment of our series on alternative NLEs from the perspective of a Premiere Pro editor, we'll look at EditShare's Lightworks, an NLE as noteworthy for its unique hardware as for the software itself.

Flexible View Editing With Multiple Screens

Let’s take a quick look at how the Flexible layout option works. To me, the biggest advantage of Flexible view is being able to move the panels wherever I want to within the frame of Lightworks. Being able to move your panels wherever you want is also Flexible view’s biggest downside--things get sloppy really quickly. There’s not really a great way to just clean these up.

It does have some snapping, but it’s very easy, as you open different files and viewers for things, to get cluttered on top of each other. One way to prevent that is to enable it to spill over to the second screen.

Lightworks does recommend that you use two screens that are at the same resolution. I didn’t have such a setup for this review. I found that if I moved the window on my laptop and stretched it across to my external monitor, I could not make the window on the higher-resolution external monitor go all the way to the top and the bottom. It limited it to only being a straight line across, so I ended up with a letterbox effect across here. Not a deal-breaker, but it is something to keep in mind, that using two screens with this software is going to be a little different than you’re used to because with Premiere Pro, you can grab a panel and move it anywhere you’d like to without having to worry about screen-size differences.

As you can see in the lower-left corner in Figure 9 (below), the red shark, which is the company’s mascot for Lightworks, offers hints from time to time on how to use the software better. These are easily toggled on and off in the preferences or with the green dot shown in Figure 9, but it’s helpful to have these when you’re getting learning an application. Whenever you use a certain command, the shark will appear and offer a relevant hint that may help you in what you’re trying to do.

Figure 9. The shark mascot pops up to offer helpful hints from time to time.

On the left you have a toolbar with fairly self-explanatory icons (Figure 10, below). Here you can create a sequence or go to your project browser. You also have an export option which, in Premiere Pro terminology, would be Export Media or opening Adobe Media Encoder. Lightworks does not use a separate application for any functions; it’s all built into the NLE.

Figure 10. Toolbar icons

Rooms

Another nice thing about Flexible view is Rooms. In Figure 11 (below), you can see I have a drop-down and two rooms set up.

Figure 11. Rooms

Rooms are like workspaces in Premiere Pro. You can have a preset arrangement of different panels and quickly switch among them by just clicking that drop-down button and going to whichever room you’d like to work in. That’s a nice workaround if you don’t have an easy-to-use, two-screen view. You can flip back and forth and have a full screen of your timeline.

Fixed View’s Four-Screen Workflow

For now, let’s go back to the fixed view and walk through the four screens. The first screen in Lightworks is LOG (Figure 5). It’s very straightforward. Anyone who’s logged footage before on an NLE will know what to do here. You’re basically pulling in files from storage somewhere and putting them into bins. You can sort things, you can change the metadata, you can read the timecode, you can preview all the files here. This is where you go to begin your edit to get your files in order.

Following the workflow of a typical project, next you’d move to the EDIT screen (Figure 6). Editing should also fairly self-explanatory to editors familiar with Premiere Pro.

There are some differences in functions. For one, I had trouble learning the keyboard shortcuts because some of the shortcuts seemed kind of unusual and I also found that just to find them, I actually had to go back to the main screen, go to the settings, and then go to the keyboard shortcuts. In order to find anything, I had to search the list shown in Figure 12 (below), and if I didn't know what I was searching for, I had to go through a huge list to find what I was looking for. That was fairly inefficient, but once I mastered the keyboard shortcuts that I really use a lot, I was OK from there on out.

Figure 12. Sorting through the list of keyboard shortcuts

Using the EditShare Control Surface

To me, one of the most satisfying things about the EditShare control surface is the ability to scrub through a track and hear the audio at varying speeds. I know it’s gimmicky, and I know it’s kind of meaningless because scrubbing is scrubbing, but I just like the old-school feel of being able to hear that as if I’m scrubbing an actual tape.

The control panel has a jog wheel that lets you carefully scrub frame by frame, and then you have larger one for adjusting play speed. It scrubs up to several times, but then it will go silent once you get into the higher speeds.

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