Video editing tutorials

Here we introduce three free options for editing video: one robust professional program with a comprehensive free option (Lightworks), one open-source option available for multiple operating systems (Shotcut), and YouTube’s own browser-based video editing tool (YouTube Editor).

The most recent generations of smartphones have the ability to capture high-quality video, but have only limited capacity to edit that material. As with photo manipulation software, there are a number of premium options for video editing, but over the last few years a handful of functional free programs have been released. Depending on your needs, and the time available to teach yourself the software, you will be able to find a program that will allow you to package your footage in order to share it with your audience.

If you are not shooting your own video, these programs will let you take images created using last week’s photo editing software, and create a video slideshow.

As with last week’s photo editing options, user-created tutorials are available for specific tips and techniques for more advanced or curious users.


Lightworks is a professional-grade video editor that is available for free. (Lightworks was used to edit The Wolf of Wall Street and other major films.) Buying a license for the full version will allow you to export a wider range of video formats, but the free version has all the same features and functionality, and will export files supported by YouTube. On its website, Lightworks offers a long list of its own video tutorials.

To learn more about Lightworks, this is a text-based tutorial that includes large animated gifs to show specific commands.

This is a comprehensive video tutorial introduction to Lightworks:

Shotcut is a free, open source video editor for Windows, Linux, and Mac. As with GIMP, its interface is not as polished as commercial options, but it enables the same kind of outputs.

A quick overview of Shotcut, enough to get your started if you’re already familiar with video editing:

A more in-depth look at Shotcut:

YouTube Editor

This lightweight browser-based video editing tool is hosted on YouTube itself, and allows users to upload their own media and package it into a video for direct upload to YouTube. This utility allows for adding titles and transitions, and offers a selection of music to use as a soundtrack (presumably, to forestall rights violations from users uploading other artists’ music). Standalone video editing software will allow for more subtlety and control over the video, but YouTube Editor offers basic functionality without having to download extra software.

This is a comprehensive, though unscripted, walkthrough of the various features offered in the YouTube Editor:

This tutorial offers a detailed view of trimming and splitting video using the YouTube Editor:

This tutorial shows how to use YouTube Editor to make a video slideshow: