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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.

Editing Tests

As in my Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve review previously in this series, I did a basic edit in Premiere Pro and then I took the clips that I used and the music and attempted to replicate that in Lightworks and see how easy or hard it was to do it. I also tried to determine if there were any ways I could have made it easier by using a different NLE.

I took all my clips of music into Lightworks, and I organized everything just like I had in Premiere Pro, and then I pulled up my Premiere Pro sequence on the second monitor, replicated exactly what I had done there, and it was pretty easy. Again, it was a painful learning process getting used to those new keyboard shortcuts and getting used to this control surface, figuring out when to use it and when to stay on the keyboard or mouse. But once I got fluid with the Lightworks workflow, I got into a rhythm and things went pretty well.

You can see me walk through the edits I did starting at the 8:07 mark in the video that accompanies the article.

One thing I struggled with in Lightworks was how to easily move the edges of clips. Sometimes I would have an in and out point set and then I would put that clip on my timeline, but it would be slightly off because all of my cuts are right on a beat of the music, and so I would try to scrub something a little bit to the left or right and it would move too much or I would move everything. I was having a hard time figuring that out, but eventually I realized that in order to easily nudge clips or slide things, I needed to single-click between clips. That allows you to go into a slip or slide mode, which moves both clips together. Single-clicking again will bring you back out of that into a normal mode where you would just adjust one clip by itself.

Working in the VFX Panel

Next, let’s have a look at the VFX panel (Figure 7). There are multiple ways to get to the effects within Lightworks. You access it in Flexible mode a little bit differently than you can do in Fixed mode, which is good and bad. It’s good because it gives you more options. It’s bad because it can make it confusing to the user because they’re not sure where things might be in any given interface, so there’s not as much consistency.

You can see my demo of working in the VFX panel in Fixed mopde beginning at the 10:25 mark in the walkthrough video that accompanies this article. In the demo I apply color adjustments to an individual clip. To apply the same effect (and the same adjustments) to multiple clips in Premiere Pro, I would go to that effect, copy it, and then select other clips and then paste it onto them. You cannot do that in Lightworks, so the way I applied all of it was to a track above the entire thing, which is similar to Adjustment Layers in Premiere Pro.

When I finally figured out that I could apply it over everything, it was actually a huge time saver, over even the way I did it in Premiere Pro, so that was a huge boost to me. I didn’t need to make any changes to the audio because it was just a music track, but if I wanted to, I could also apply FX to multiple audio tracks in a similar way to the way I did it with the video.

In addition to this color correction FX track that I have here, I also applied 3D LUTZ to the clips individually to give the video a more cinematic look. After I had added a transition at the front and end and faded the audio, I was ready to move onto the last step.

Editing the Audio Track

My audio track for this project is very simple. It’s one music track, with no natural sound at all. All I had to do was remove the audio I had from my video clips, apply my music, and then just check a few things and make sure I did have any blown-out levels. If I had wanted to, I could have come to the audio track to remove any sort of noise that I didn’t need, or to improve any vocals that I had on the audio track.

Exporting a Sequence

Now that the edits are done, it’s time to export the sequence. We’ll return to Flexible view for that. To export a sequence, go to the toolbar (Figure 10) and choose the icon near the bottom that allows you to choose the settings that you want for your file. My source data is going to be the same as my export, which is 1080p, 24 fps (Figure 13, below).

Figure 13. Choosing Export settings

I don’t have any stereo data, so I don’t need to worry about that. I do want to keep the stereo audio from my music track. The sample rate and sample size will be the same and I want the audio to be embedded, but it does give you the option to export that separately, so your video track will be silent and you have a way file that is actually separate from that. Then you can choose the region, which in Premiere Pro or Adobe Media Encoder would be like choosing Sequence In and Out for the entire sequence. Then you can select the destination, name the file, and you’re ready to export.

Export formats are somewhat limited in Lightworks, but it has the main ones that I typically use on a day-to-day basis: MP4, MOV files, and several presets for social media channels like YouTube and Vimeo are very handy and the ones that I go to most of the time.

Start brings up a background activity monitor (Figure 14, below), which shows you the progress of your encode. After the encoding is complete, Lightworks will bring up a log showing you that it was successful. There you can simply click a link to open your file.

Figure 14. This export background activity monitor.

That’s a look at EditShare's Lightworks from the perspective of a Premiere Pro editor. If you’d like to use Lightworks, you can download it for free from EditShare’s website. If you want to buy a console and use it with your software, you’ll need to purchase a Pro License.

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