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Lightworks Quick Start Guide

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Starting Lightworks
1. Windows: Double-click the Lightworks desktop icon.
Linux and Mac: Single left-click on the Lightworks desktop icon.

2. The Lightworks application opens in the Project Browser view.
3. The first time you start Lightworks, the Project Browser displays a grid of blank tiles.
4. Existing Lightworks projects display as tiles with a title in the tile header and, optionally, a small preview or thumbnail of a media item from the project.

Creating a New Project
Importing Local Files into a Project
A Lightworks project is used to organise all your media, it holds all the information about assets including clips, subclips and sequences. Once a project is created, it never needs saving, this is because Lightworks is saving your project every few seconds to make sure you never lose any of your work, for whatever reason. You will not find a ‘Save’ or ‘Save as…’ within Lightworks, because it is simply not required.

The Lightworks ‘Projects’ folder can be found in the default location below:
The Lightworks Project folder location can be changed with an active Lightworks Pro License.

Windows: C:UsersPublicDocumentsLightworks
macOS: /Users/USER ACCOUNT/Lightworks/
Linux: /Home/USER ACCOUNT/Lightworks/

Media is not stored in the project folder; video files are Stored in the ‘Material’ folder and the audio files are stored in the ‘Sound’ folder. These folders can be found in the default location below:

Windows: C:UsersPublicDocumentsLightworksMedia
macOS: /Users/USER ACCOUNT/Lightworks/Media
Linux: /Home/USER ACCOUNT/Lightworks/Media

Additional media locations can be added on the Media tab of the Project Card. A project can contain tens of thousands of individual assets, all of which can be recalled very quickly when searching.
Importing Local Files into a Project
1. Make sure you have the Edit or Log tab selected.
2. Click on Local Files option under ‘Libraries’.
3. Click on the Places dropdown arrow to navigate to the drive and folder you require.
4. Select the import method from the drop down list. The options are:
Create Link: Keeps the imported file in its original location and format so you can work with the file natively. This is useful if you have already copied the media to a local/network drive that is not going to removed or disconnected.
Copy Local: Copies the file into the ‘Material’ and ‘Sound’ folder, without transcoding. This allows the drive containing the original media to be disconnected and reused, without affecting the project.
Transcode: Copies the file into the ‘Material’ and ‘Sound’ folder, transcoding it to the chosen Type/Compression this is useful for improving the speed/responsiveness during editing.

5. Click on a clip to select it for import to your project or hold down the Shift or Ctrl key (CMD key on macOS) to select multiple clips and click the ‘Import’ button.

On importing the clips, the Content Manager auto switches to the Bin or Filter containing the clips you imported. 

6. Double clicking a clip will load it into the source viewer. This has not imported the clip into the project, it simply allows you to play the clip in a larger viewer. A clip will need to be imported into a project in order to edit it together with other clips.
a) The clip can be imported by clicking the ‘Not imported’ text at the top of the viewer
b) Click ‘Yes’ on the panel that opens to import the clip into the project.
Creating a New Project
1. Click on the ‘Create a new project’ link.
2. When the dialog box opens:
a) Type a name for your project in the Name text box.
b) Optional: Define custom Asset or Marker Metadata.
c) Optional: Add notes relevant to your project.
d) Click Create.
3. A new, empty project is created and opens with the Log tab selected.
Creating a New Project
4. A tooltip displays, prompting you to import local files.
5. The next step is to get media into the project you want to edit together, by importing media from a device or hard drive.
Content Manager
Browsing the Content Manager
The content manager is where you can find all the assets contained under the ‘Project Contents’ heading on the left-hand side. This is split into several sections: Filters, Bins and Libraries.

Filters: These are active filters that will always show you the content that matches the name of the Filter. They are updated automatically and remain active the entire time and are a quick way of finding content in smaller projects. These will all be empty and inactive in newly created projects.

Bins: These are very useful for managing lots of assets in larger projects. They are manually created and named and only show content that was manually placed within them. Multiple Bins can be grouped together in a Group.

Libraries: This is where you bring content into a project. Content can be imported from local hard drives, network drives and third-party media stock providers such as Audio Network, Amazing Music Tracks and Pond5.

When selecting a Filter, Bin or Library, the contents within will show in the section on the right, this is where you will see assets (Clips, Audio, Images, etc) the view can be changed to show just the thumbnail images as tiles (Tiles view) or it can be switched to show a thumbnail image and information about the assets (List view).
Browsing the Content Manager
1. Make sure the Log tab is selected.
2. Select the ‘Clips’ Filter displayed under Filters in the Content List panel.
3. Results display in the main window.
4. Step backwards and forwards through Content List items by clicking the Browse buttons.
5. Toggle between Tile and List views by clicking the View button. The Content Manager has two main display modes:
Tile View: Clips and Sequences display as thumbnails
List View: Clips and Sequences display in a list format with relevant metadata and a smaller thumbnail to aid identification.
Lightworks Flexible Layout
Resources and Support
Experienced Lightworks users will find that the new layout is quite restrictive and not conducive for long form editing. The Flexible layout allows users to define exactly where they want tools, panels, viewers etc. This layout allows for items to be laid over the top of others and allows users to switch between rooms. The Shark is useful for quickly removing open panels/viewers and clearing the workspace.

1. On the Project Browser, click on the Cogs icon located in the top right hand corner and, from the menu that opens, under User Interface select: Project layout > Flexible.
Lightworks Flexible Layout
2. When you open a project, the desktop opens to the Flexible layout.
Lightworks Flexible Layout
3. To return to standard view, click on the Cogs icon in the Project Browser and, from the menu that opens, select Project layout > Fixed.


If you experience an issue with your Lightworks installation, or something isn't working as expected, visit our FAQ page. If you do not find an answer to your question, you can refer to the Lightworks forum.

The Status window provides useful information for troubleshooting issues with Lightworks. You may be asked to open this when contacting the forums.

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