Video Editing

Blender does much more than 3D modeling and animation. For example, its 'compositor' allows all kinds of Photoshop-like effects to be applied and the a text editor allows you to write notes or run scripts. The Video Sequence Editor (VSE), the subject of this page, allows you to import video and work on it with some of functionality of dedicated video editors such as Sony Vegas, Windows Live Movie Maker or Premiere Elements. However, if all you want to do is video editing then you should use a dedicated editor because it will have less of the distracting complexity of Blender and because it will be easier to work with and may offer additional functions. Use the Blender video editor when you need to do simple video editing work within a blender project or if you want a video editor which is free but more powerful than Windows Live Movie Maker.

The trick is to switch the 3D window into a Video Sequence Editor window (not a Movie Clip Editor window), then

  1. Before you import the movie, set the frame rate (in frames per second or fps) in the rendering panel to match the movie to be imported. Also in the rendering panel you should set the dimensions to match the dimensions of the original footage, set the percentage scale to 100%, set the desired output format such DivX, and set the desired location for the rendered movie.
  2. Choose Add (at the BOTTOM of the window)>Movie and import the movie, being sure to set the 'start frame' value to 1. If your movie has sound that that will be imported into a separate track - the green strip is the sound and the blue strip is the video. It doesn't much matter which tracks the movie is placed in - using tracks 1 and 2 would be sensible. If you set the frame rate correctly then the sound strip (if there is one) should have the same length as the video strip. If the frame rate was set wrongly then I think the audio strip will have the correct duration in the editor but the video strip duration will be wrong(?)
  3. If you failed to set the start frame value to 1 before importing the movie then move the strip(s) now in the usual way, using the G key, until the first frame is in frame 1. The strips should move together since they are probably both selected. Selected strips show white text. You can use other standard techniques such as scrolling the mouse wheel to zoom or Shift+Middle Mouse button drag to pan.
  4. Note the length of the video strip (indicated after the name of the strip) and set the end value to match this in the timeline window.
  1. Don't try to play your movie yet because you won't see it playing. The easiest way to make the movie visible is to set the sequencer view type to 'both' by clicking this button in the header of the video sequence editor window header. You can drag the border between the sequencer area and the preview area to make the preview bigger. Press the Home key while he mouse is over the preview window to fit the preview to the window.
  2. Now you play your movie by clicking the Play button in the timeline window or by doing Alt+A while the mouse is over the timeline window or the video sequence editor window. When the movie is paused (Alt+A) you can also use the arrow keys to step backwards and forwards through the frames (make sure the mouse is over the Video Sequence Editor window or the timeline window). You can also left-click to place the playhead or you can drag ('scrub') the playhead back and forth by dragging in either window.

Now you are ready to start editing your movie by, for example,

  • shortening (trimming) strips
  • joining two strips together
  • cutting a strip to separate it into two strips
  • adjusting the volume of a sound strip
  • applying other effects such as the green screen effect

Note that the one movie-related operation you cannot do in the Video Sequence Editor window is tracking(camera tracking and object tracking). That is done in a different Blender editor window, the Movie Clip Editor window.

Trimming strips

  1. Select the start or end markers (triangles) of both the video strip and the sound strip by right clicking (shift-right click to select the second strip marker). When start or end marker triangles are selected they become white.
  2. Trim the strips by pressing G and moving the markers in towards the middle of the strip.
  3. If you trimmed the start of the strip(s) then you should move the shortened strip(s) so that the first used frame is in frame 1.
  4. Don't forget to adjust the 'end' value in the timeline.
  5. Another way to trim strips is to cut (separate) a strip into two parts and then delete the unwanted part. Cutting is explained later.

Joining two clips together

By a 'clip', I mean the video strip and its corresponding audio strip.

  1. Import (add) another movie clip that has the same dimensions and frame rate as the first. As you import, set the 'Start frame' value to 1 as before and set the 'Channel' value to two higher than the highest-numbered track that is already in use. For example, if you have already used tracks 1 and 2 then set the Channel to 4 so that there is no conflict when the new sound and video strips are created (in tracks 3 and 4). (I am assuming that you are importing clips with audio.)
  2. Once the clip (two strips, if you have audio) has been imported without conflict you can move (G) the selected clip (two strips) just after the original clip (which should be in tracks 1 and 2). If you accidently overlap them (which Blender will indicate by giving a red outline) then Blender will automatically move the strip so that they do not overlap.
  3. Don't forget to adjust the 'end' value in the timeline.

Cut a strip to separate it into two strips

  1. Select the strip(s) you want to cut
  2. Left-click to place the playhead on the frame at which you wish to cut.
  3. Press K to do a ('soft') cut.

Adjusting the volume of a sound strip

  1. When a sound strip is selected and the properties panel is visible (press 'N') then the properties panel will include a 'Sound' section in which the volume of the strip can be adjusted.

Applying other effects

Other effects can be achieved by choosing Add>Effect Strip while a video (not audio) strip is selected. Effect strips include Alpha Over, Add, Multiply, Cross, Color, Speed Control. An effect strip will be added above the video strip that it will affect. For all effects, use the Strip Properties panel (press 'N' to see it) to control the effects strip; each effect has different controls, but they can all be set in the Properties panel. To learn more about effect strips and other advanced editing techniques check out these good video tutorials:

  • This YouTube video gives a good 15 minute introduction to the VSE including how to set the render settings.
  • This 17 minute Vimeo video shows how to add music and do fade-in and fade-out using the VSE but does not use any video footage:
  • Here's a 20 minute YouTube tutorial from Gottfried Hofmann.

Rendering the finished movie

Don't forget that when you have finished your movie editing you will want to render the finished movie by clicking the 'Animation' button in the render panel or pressing Ctrl+F12. Rendering the movie may take a long time...