We’re constantly looking around for new tricks to make our Chromebooks even more capable than they’ve already become over the past couple of years. Every day, there are fewer use-cases where a Windows or Mac device is a necessity and we truly believe that Chrome OS will eventually offer comparable alternatives to that narrowing space. If there is one product, in particular, that Chrome OS will need to figure out, it’s video editing. Sure, there are great online products like WeVideo for lightweight projects and you can even find some pretty good video editing platforms in the Google Play Store but what we’re talking about is serious, high-octane editing that’s worthy of a Hollywood studio. (Well, a low-budget studio maybe.)
All of that being said, I may have just stumbled upon a solution that could be a capable alternative for users wanting to have a set of professional video editing tools on a Chromebook. With every update to the Canary channel of Chrome OS, I spend quite a bit of time trying to install Linux apps that previously didn’t work on a Chromebook. Just last week, I wasted most of my morning hacking my way through installing Black Magic’s Davinci Resolve editor. After finally getting all of the pieces in place, the powerful editor simply wouldn’t start up but given the fact that it relies heavily on a powerful GPU, I wasn’t that surprised.
Now, I’ve tried a variety of Linux-compatible video editors and have even succeeded in getting some to install and run on Chrome OS. However, most of them had serious glitches, difficulties exporting or just flat out crashed randomly as resources were chewed up. Not to be deterred, I continue to hunt for an application that will run will on Chrome OS and offer a legitimate video editing experience for users that don’t need the best of the best but want something more than Movie Maker. Today, I found that solution and it’s completely FREE!
If you’ve ever researched free non-linear video editors or perhaps went hunting for an alternative to software like Final Cut or Adobe Premiere, you’ve probably stumbled upon a list that includes apps such as Lightworks, OpenShot, Hitfilm Express, Davinci Resolve and Kdenlive. I’ve installed Kdenlive via Crostini Linux and actually gotten it to work but it’s rough and I mean rough. OpenShot works but it doesn’t have many of the fine-tuning tools you’ll find in more robust editors. One other app that makes a lot of top-five lists is Shotcut. The free video editor hosts an impressive list of features and capabilities that make it a suitable alternative for a lot of users.
- Video compositing across video tracks
- HTML5 (sans audio and video) as video source and filters
- 3-way (shadows, mids, highlights) color wheels for color correction and grading
- Eye dropper tool to pick neutral color for white balancing
- Fade in/out audio and fade video from and to black with easy-to-use fader controls on timeline
- Video wipe transitions:
- bar, barn door, box, clock (radial), diagonal, iris, matrix, and custom gradient image
- Track compositing/blending modes:
- None, Over, Add, Saturate, Multiply, Screen, Overlay, Darken, Dodge, Burn, Hard Light, Soft Light, Difference, Exclusion, HSL Hue, HSL Saturation, HSL Color, HSL Luminosity.
- Video Filters
- Speed effect for audio/video clips
- Reverse a clip
- Video scopes: Histogram, RGB Parade, RGB Waveform, Waveform, Vectorscope and Zoom
- Title Templates for the Text: HTML filter
- Audio scopes: loudness, peak meter, waveform, spectrum analyzer
- Volume control
- Audio filters
- Audio mixing across all tracks
- Fade in and out audio and fade video from and to black with easy-to-use fader controls on timeline
- Cross-fade audio and video dissolve transitions easily by overlapping shots on the same track of the timeline
- JACK transport sync
- Tone generator
- Stereo, mono, and 5.1 surround
- See all of Shotcut’s features here.
Before we go any further, let me say that I am in no way a video editing guru. As a matter of fact, I know about as little as a person can about the subject. Thankfully, we have our own resident A/V master in Joe Humphrey. After getting Shotcut installed, Joe spent a few minutes navigating the dashboard only to pleasantly surprised at how many features the freeware offers. He was so impressed that we are going to take a stab at producing a video entirely with Shotcut just to see how well it performs. Now, let’s get down to business and take a look at how you can install this powerful video editor.
I attempted to install Shotcut using the Snap store as well as via the
add-apt-repository method but unfortunately, neither of those paths was successful. Then, I came across the downloads page for Shotcut and saw that there is an Appimage version of the software. Appimages don’t install in the traditional sense. Instead, you make the Appimage executable and it pulls the necessary resources from the image file itself. Since the Appimage contains everything the application needs, executing and starting Shotcut can be done with just two commands in the Crostini Terminal.
First, you will want to head over to the Shotcut download page and grab the Linux Appimage. Then, I moved the Appimage to the Linux folder in the Files App. Now, you need to open the Linux terminal so we can make Shotcut executable. You can find the Terminal in your app drawer if you have Linux enabled on your Chromebook. Next, copy and paste the following command into the terminal. (You can paste to the terminal by using a two-finger click anywhere inside the terminal after copying text.)
chmod +x ./Shotcut-191231.glibc2.14-x86_64.AppImage
There won’t be any output when you execute this command. Instead, the terminal will return to the bash prompt. It should look like the image below.
The Appimage should be executable at this point. You can start Shotcut by dropping this command into the terminal.
Now you have a fully-functional non-linear video editor on your Chromebook. The default folder for files and projects will be your Linux folder but you can share your Downloads folder to Shotcut by right-clicking the folder in the Files App and selecting “Share with Linux.” Then, when you want to open a file in your Downloads, you can click “Open File” in Shotcut and select Computer. From there, click on the hard drive icon and select the “mnt” folder. You should be able to click through ChromeOS>MyFiles>Downloads and see all of your local storage. For you super-users, you can also share your Google Drive and it will mount as a folder in Linux as well.
For those of you who have been looking for a viable solution for video editing on Chrome OS, Shotcut is a very good option. The bigger picture here points to what Chromebooks could soon be capable of once more powerful GPUs find their way to Chrome OS. Theoretically, if developers decide to pursue it, external GPUs could be utilized by Crostini and then, the sky’s the limit for what kind of apps could be used on our simple, little Chromebooks. I’ll be testing out more editors this week as well as other Linux apps. If there’s something specific you’d like me to try, just drop a comment below or hit us up on Twitter and I’ll give it a whirl.
About Gabriel Brangers
Lover of all things coffee. Foodie for life. Passionate drummer, hobby guitar player, Web designer and proud Army Veteran. I have come to drink coffee and tell the world of all things Chrome. “Whatever you do, Carpe the heck out of that Diem” – Roman poet, Horace. Slightly paraphrased.