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Quick Start Guide
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Importing Your Footage

When you first open Lightworks, you will see your project screen.

Importing Footage into Lightworks

Here you can start a new project or manage your old ones. Click on the create a new project button, give it a name, and then click create.

Create a new project in lightworks

Now that you’ve created your project, Lightworks will open up into your workspace.

The first thing you need to do is bring some assets into your project. For that, you need your libraries panel down on the left. To navigate your own assets, click local files.

Find your video footage in Lightworks

Up comes a folder tree with your possible storage locations. Navigate to the folders where you have the clips you want to edit. You can import your footage directly from here using the dropdown folder tree, or you can double click into the folder. Either way, you will interact with the individual clips in the same way. You can click on a single clip, hold either CMD (Mac) or CTRL (PC) and click on multiple clips, hold SHIFT and click your first and last clip to batch select, or hold CMD (Mac) or CTRL (PC) and hit A to select all. 

Once you’ve made your selection, click import. Your footage has now been imported into your project and is ready to use.  

You can always get back to your footage easily by clicking clips, up on the top left. 

Finding Your Footage in Lightworks

Use the toggle view button to switch between the list or grid view, depending on your preference. 

Toggle between list and tile view in lightworks

To bring in assets stored in different locations, simply repeat this process and navigate to that location.

Now your assets are successfully imported, you’re ready to start editing.  

Editing Your Video

To get started with editing your footage, you can click and drag your first clip down from your assets panel onto the timeline.

Editing in LightworksEditing in Lightworks

If you hit the space bar, it will play the timeline in your main preview window.

Editing in Lightworks

Hit space again to stop. This clip is longer than you want, so you need to cut it down. There are a couple of ways to do this. Option 1 is to hover your mouse over either end of the clip until a bracket appears. 

Editing in Lightworks

Click and hold the bracket and you can then drag the end of the clip along to shorten it. To do this at the start of the clip, you click, hold, and drag the clip into the playhead to shorten it. If you want to lengthen the clip again, it’s a very similar method, but this time you want to hover over until you get the double bracket, then click, hold and drag.

Editing in Lightworks

If anything goes wrong you can always hit CMD (Mac) or CTRL (PC) and Z to undo your previous action. 

Another way to cut your clip is to find the point where you’d like the cut to happen by dragging your playhead along. To get really precise you can use the left and right keys on your keyboard to step forward or backwards in individual frames. Once you find the spot you want, you can now hit the C button on your keyboard to cut the clip in two. You can then click on the bit you don’t want and hit delete to get rid of it.

Editing in Lightworks

At this point, you want to add a second clip. you could drag one down to the timeline like before, or you can use the preview panel to essentially pre-edit the clip a little. Double click on the clip to bring up the preview, and look for where you want the clip to start. Once you find the right place, you can press the I key on your keyboard to mark an in-point. 

Editing in Lightworks

From your in point, you can just play this clip and hit stop when you’re happy. This will select the footage from your in point to where you stopped and is called mark and park. 

Mark and Park in Lightworks

Whatever method you use to bring the clip into our timeline at this stage, it will only use what is between the in-point and the point where you stopped. Alternatively to mark and park, you can manually set an out-point by dragging the play head to wherever you want it after the in-point, and then pressing the O key on your keyboard.

Now you’ve selected which bit of the footage you want,  you have 3 methods for getting this to the timeline. For option 1 you can drag and drop, as you did before. For option 2 you can hit the replace button, and the new footage will replace anything after the playhead. 

Editing in Lightworks

Third and finally, you can use the insert button to drop the clip in by splitting the first clip into 2 on either side of the new footage. 

Editing in Lightworks

I know that I want the new clip to drop in just after they ride off, so I will scrub my playhead along, and then click insert. 

If you have any gaps between your footage or the start or end of the timeline, you have two options. Number 1, you can click and drag with your mouse to select some or all of your footage and then simply drag it to where you want it to be. 

Number 2, you can right-click on the timeline, and then click ‘close gap’ to remove the space.

Editing in Lightworks

Editing Your Audio

You may have noticed there is an audio workspace at the top, but that is for more advanced audio editing. If you’re just getting started with audio, stay in the edit workspace for now. 

Editing Audio in Lightworks

Audio on the timeline interacts in the same way as footage in terms of cutting, placing on the timeline, and the rest. 

(If you haven’t watched or read our editing footage guide, you can find it here.) 

As a general rule of thumb, to be able to interact with audio-specific tools in the edit workspace, you will need to hold down the shift key on your keyboard. 

While holding shift, there are a few things you can do. The first is to raise or lower the volume of an individual clip. You simply click and hold on to the white bar that appears while holding shift.

Editing Audio in Lightworks

You can drag it up to make the clip louder, or drag it downwards to lower the volume for the whole clip. You can see the waveform of the clip, which is a visual representation of the soundwaves of the audio, going up or down to represent this change. 

Editing Audio in Lightworks

There may be times where you want to make one or several parts of the clip louder or quieter without affecting the whole clip. To do this, you simply click without holding wherever you like on the white line and this creates something called a keyframe. 

Editing Audio in Lightworks

A keyframe sets a specific point on your clip you can adjust, but rather than affecting the entire clip you will just affect that keyframe. If you have another keyframe afterwards, then a form of transition will be created between the two.

For example, if you had two keyframes as pictured here:

Editing Audio in Lightworks

And dragged one up to increase the volume, like this:

Editing Audio in Lightworks

You can create as many keyframes as you’d like. If you click, hold, and drag a keyframe, you can see how it affects things, visually represented by the waveform. 

Editing Audio in LightworksEditing Audio in Lightworks

If you drag this first one up, the audio will start louder, but then decrease in volume from the first keyframe to the second. If you click to add a third keyframe and drag that down, you can see from the waveform that the clip now starts loud, decreases from the 1st to the 2nd keyframe, and then increases again between the 2nd and the third.

You can add as many keyframes as you like, and also remove them by clicking on the keyframe and hitting delete or backspace. 

Another way of interacting with your audio is to fade your clips in and fade out. While still holding shift on the keyboard, simply click and hold on this corner segment.

Editing Audio in Lightworks

With the mouse, and drag it along for as long as you would like the fade to last. 

If you drag this along a little bit it creates quite a short fade.

Editing Audio in Lightworks

If you drag it along much further, it will generate a longer fade. 

Editing Audio in Lightworks

Fading out works in the same way on the right-hand side of the clip. 

Most footage will come with some form of audio attached. You don’t have to just work with the audio associated with your footage though. You can include some additional audio, such as music, on the secondary track. 

Editing Audio in Lightworks

You can even replace the original audio completely if you’d like. You clear this audio by holding either the OPTION key on a mac or the ALT key on a PC, clicking on your audio clip, and hitting delete or backspace.

Colour and VFX

To get started, click on the VFX panel at the top. 

VFX in Lightworks

That’s going to open up a nice big preview window for you to work with, as well as your effects menu on the left-hand side. 

You’ve got 4 options to choose from up at the top. The Plus symbol is where you can choose an effect to add, and the settings menu is where you can control that effect. Graphs and routing are more advanced and will be covered in future guides. 

VFX in Lightworks

Start clicking through your effects options and you’ll see a lot available to you. Way too many effects to cover in one guide. Our best piece of advice would be to set up a test project, and just have a play around. Apply different effects to your footage and mess with the settings to get a feel for what they do. As always, CMD (Mac) or CTRL (PC) + the Z button is your friend, as it will undo your previous actions. 

For now, we’ll go through a few different effects so you can get a feel for how they work. First, click on our clip, and then click on Settings, and you can see you have a colour correction effect activated by default. 

VFX in Lightworks

There are a few different tabs here where you can go pretty in-depth with your colour work, but for now just stay in the main tab. In the 3 boxes at the top, you can control the lightness or darkness and also the colour of the shadows - aka the darker parts of your image. To the far right, you can do the same for your highlights, aka the brighter parts of your image. In the middle, you can control the midtones, which is everything in between the other two. 

So, if you wanted a horror film sort of look, for example, we could drag our colour selector for the shadows and midtones into the mid-blue-green sort of range, and then make our shadows a bit darker. 

VFX in LightworksVFX in Lightworks

Below that, you have a number of sliders that will affect the look of your footage. Saturation will increase or decrease the intensity of the colours present. Gamma will brighten or darken the midtones while leaving the shadows and highlights relatively intact. Contrast is the difference between the lighter and darker parts of your image. Brightness lightens or darkens everything, including the shadows and highlights. Finally, gain will lighten or darken just the whites of the image.

VFX in Lightworks

By default, these effects will be applied to the whole clip. You can use keyframes to affect different parts of the clip, much like we did with our audio editing. 

If you click the stopwatch button, that will turn keyframes on for us, and we can then control them down the bottom. 

VFX in LightworksVFX in Lightworks

Set your Saturation to 100% - maximum saturation - and add a keyframe near the start by hitting the plus symbol here, and you can see that’s added a new keyframe for us. 

Move your playhead along, and set saturation to -100% - no colour at all. Because you’ve changed something from the first keyframe it will automatically add a second keyframe for you.

So, now if you scrub back to the start and hit play, you’ll see that as the clip plays, it fades from 100% saturation to no saturation between our two keyframes.

That’s how you work with colour so next, let’s look at how you work with a non-colour based effect. It’s very similar, so shouldn’t be too difficult. 

We’ll add a blurry effect to your clip. Hit the plus sign, go to the stylize tab where my blur effect is stored, and drag that down onto my clip. 

VFX in Lightworks

That will then helpfully take us into the settings tab. By default the blur is set to 10%, which is already quite blurry.

VFX in LIghtworks

Move your play head towards the end of your clip, and click the stopwatch next to the blur effect to turn on keyframes, and this will set your first one for you at the current blurriness, which is 10%. 

Drag your playhead back to the start, and change the blurriness to 0%, which will generate a keyframe for you.

If you play that now, you can see your clip goes from in focus and colour, to black and white and very blurry due to the colour and blur effect keyframes we’ve placed on the clip.

The last thing we’ll look at in this guide is adding some text for a title. Head back to the effect select tab. Go to text. Choose title, and here we are again in our settings tab. 

VFX in LIghtworks

You can do all sorts here, and most of it is fairly self-explanatory. First, we’ll type our title into the text box. 

VFX in LIghtworks

You can change our font, make it bold or italics, all the usual sort of text stuff. You can change the size, and then reposition our text to where you want it by dragging the X and Y axis sliders along.

VFX in Lightworks

If you play this back now, you can see through some basic effects work you’ve taken this clip and have turned it into a title card. 

There’s pretty much infinite things you achieve by playing around with effects, so as I said near the start, I think your best bet is to set up a test project, bring in some footage, and just get stuck into playing around with them and seeing what works for you. 

Exporting Your Video

Once you’ve finished editing your video, it’s time to export it and get it out there in the world. The first thing to do is right-click anywhere on your timeline, and find the export option. 

Timeline Menu

This will open up a menu with a few different options. For now, while you learn the basics, ignore everything except media files and web video platforms. For this video, we’re going to focus just on exporting our media files, but it’s worth noting that you can use the youtube and vimeo options under web video platforms to export directly to your channel if you’ve linked it up to Lightworks. 

To export your file, you simply choose which media type we’d like to use. If you’re using the free version of Lightworks, you will only have h.264/MP4 available to you. MP4 is probably the most common video format available and will work with just about anything you’d like to do with your finished video, so if you’re unsure of which format to use then it’s usually a safe bet. 

Once you’ve selected your format, your export menu will open. Again, as we’re just starting out, we can ignore a lot of the options available to us here.

Export Menu

The main one you need to pay attention to is size/rate. On the free version of Lightworks you will only have 720p available to you as an option. On the pro version of Lightworks you have a few more to choose from. For full HD you need to select 1080p. 720p is technically HD, but below the standard of most modern screens. 

All you need to do is name your file, choose the location on your computer where you want to save it, and hit start. The export process begins. 

Footage exporting

There was a time when this was a great opportunity to go make a drink or have a break, but unfortunately, Lightworks is lightning fast so your export will be done far too quickly for that. 

Now that’s done, navigate to the folder on your computer where you’ve saved your finished video, and enjoy the results of your hard work.