We were most impressed with Shotcut when we last checked out the free cross-platform version video editing software, suitable for Windows, Mac and Linux. You can read our original Shotcut review for the full scoop.
As a free video editor, there are never any financial obligations when upgrading. Just a decision based on whether the new features are worth it or not. So let’s take a look at what’s new in Shotcut.
Same old interface
Let’s start with what hasn’t changed, which is the user interface. It’s still pretty spartan, and if you’re unfamiliar with it, it’ll take you a few minutes to find your way around and realize how to even get some work done.
This is a shortcoming that was present when we last explored this software. Either this isn’t high on the priority list, or the developers are just happy with the look they went for.
Still, this is a minor complaint, as a little poking around will help you discover the ins and outs of what you can do with this video editor and how versatile the interface really is.
For example, you have six different interfaces, such as audio effects and video effects, which you can toggle using the small menu at the top right of the screen: choose Logging, Editing, FX, Color, Audio, and Player to access them, and their titles speak for themselves. You can also configure the appearance and windows to your liking.
One of the great advantages of this software is that improvements are regularly introduced and bugs are squashed: more than a dozen updates have been released since November 2020 (the version number is actually the release date) and the number of tweaks to existing features is too numerous to mention. to mention here, but everything is listed in Shotcut’s News page†
Such a list shows that if a bug is discovered, it won’t take long to squash it, although that can lead to other bugs, and the process never stops. But to be honest, that’s the fate of all software out there.
The key point here is to improve existing features and fix issues on a regular basis – one of the great benefits of open source software.
To take advantage of the latest operating systems while balancing resource constraints, Shotcut needs to limit compatibility with older versions. The latest release works with Windows 7 and above, Mac OS 10.12 or a 64-bit Linux with at least glibc 2.27.
Mac users will be happy to hear that Shotcut can run natively on the new Macs powered by Apple Silicon.
New Editing Additions
As you might expect by now, many new features have been added to this software.
We googled some of them to include support for AV1, an open, royalty-free video encoding format, although working with it will slow down your computer (this is normal, we’re sure).
Time and keyframes
A new addition that we really liked is Time Remapping. It is well implemented and is really easy to use.
If you want to change a clip whose format is not compatible with this new feature, you will see a pop-up window informing you about this and offering you the option to convert it to a format that will work. Then open the keyframe window and change the curve at will to speed up, slow down, stop, and even reverse time.
We wouldn’t see any frame blending, so you might notice a dizzying effect if the clip is slowed down too much as opposed to smooth motion. However, that’s the only downside we could find with this fun new capability.
Speaking of keyframes, this functionality has been extended to many filters including Mask so you can change them over time making them so much more useful.
Markups are a useful way to keep track of a complex edit, or if you’re collaborating with other editors. You can add markers to remind yourself to add something at a certain point, or to make sure you replace a clip at a later stage, for example, and Shotcut has now added this to the timeline.
You still can’t add it to individual clips, but it’s a step in the right direction. Plus, you have the option to change the color of a marker, stretch them to give them a range, and edit them to add a more useful name than ‘Marker n’.
A nice recent improvement is the ability to export highlights as a text file, which you can then copy and paste into your YouTube description so you can create chapters in seconds. A nice time saver.
Voice over failed
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though.
The most recent addition is the Voice-over. As the name implies, it should allow you to record an audio track directly from Shotcut, which you can then crop and position perfectly to suit your footage.
Only we couldn’t get it to work on the Mac we tested this software on. Every time we tried to activate it, Shotcut crashed, over and over.
From what we understand of the implementation, it feels a bit complicated. But we would prefer complicated over crashes every day.
User-friendliness doesn’t exactly come to mind when you think of Shotcut, but everything you need to cut a video is there, and it shouldn’t take you long to get the hang of the interface.
Many of the new features are very welcome additions, with support for more codecs, and running natively on Apple’s latest chips is a definite plus. Sure, one feature we tried failed miserably for us, but for free software that’s constantly updated, this isn’t too bad. Everything else we experimented with worked as advertised, and it shouldn’t be long before that glitch is fixed in a future review.
If you’re looking for a feature-rich video editor with no financial outlay, you could do a lot worse than Shotcut. Go download it now. You might be pleasantly surprised.