Kdenlive multicam editing workflow

Kdenlive is a free open source video editor for GNU/Linux and FreeBSD.  It’s among my favorite editors for Linux and one of the many open source apps I use often.

Kdenlive doesn’t quite have the multicam editing capabilities that Premiere Pro has, but I’ve worked out a system to help edit multiple camera angles without losing my mind.  Often I forget these methods if  I haven’t used them in awhile, so I thought I’d share them here.

There is no dedicated mode to edit multiple synchronized clips like Premiere, but there are a few features which help enormously.  Admittedly, I haven’t used Premiere Pro in years, but I remember it  being pretty difficult to work in multicam mode anyways.

There are two main techniques I use when multicam editing.  Audio alignment and split view.

Audio Alignment

Since version 0.9 Kdenlive has had an automatic audio alignment feature. It’s very simple to use, although I’ve had some problems with it being inaccurate on longer clips.  This might have more to do with the audio sources being placed to far from each other in a crowded venue (thus they differed from each other too much).

To use it, simply right click your source clip(audio or video track), and click Set Audio Reference.

Next, right click the clip you want to align and click Align Audio to Reference.

Screenshot of Kdenlive

If you are doing any kind of multi-camera shoot it’s always good to use a clap board or at least clap in front of all the cameras a couple times at the beginning of your recording.  If the automatic audio alignment doesn’t work it will still be easy to align the clip starting points up by the claps.

Split view

Now comes a very simple method for viewing multiple video tracks at the same time.  No need to use any effects or compositing tricks, just use the Split view feature on the project monitor.

Make sure you are on the Project Monitor (view->Project Monitor if yours is off), right click and select split view.

Split view screenshot - Kdenlive

You may need to use proxy clips to be able to watch the clips smoothly.

From here, I’ll usually play it through and note which sections of each clip I like-either on paper or using Kdenlive markers-and then start cutting.

In the end, it’s really a pretty simple method, but I always seem to forget about Split view.

Kdenlive screenshot of split view
Example of 4 clip editing with split view.
  • Alastair Gilfillan

    Audio-alignment and the Split-view are both brilliant features but once you need to do your cuts, it’s still a pain in Kdenlive.

    Blender’s Multi-Cam Selector allows you to select (and record) which angle to use during playback just by hitting the track number on your keyboard (e.g. 1-4). It creates a proxy layer/effect so you don’t have to cut up your source clips in the timeline.

    http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:2.6/Manual/Sequencer/Effects#Multicam_Selector

    This split workflow does actually save me time in the long run and Blender re-uses my Kdenlive proxy files…a slight bonus.

    • I agree, cutting is still a pain.
      Thanks for the Blender tip! I spent a couple weeks learning modeling and animation in Blender and I think I barely scratched the surface of Blender’s features. I’ll have to dive into the sequence editor and check it out.

      • Alastair Gilfillan

        The Video Sequence Editor is definitely easier to come to terms with than other Blender features. Attached are screenshoots of a Blender/Kdenlive multi-camera concert video project for a friend’s band – the perfect use-case for sub-second edits which are way too tiresome for non-proxy cuts/edits. Like all 3D-modelling packages, Blender’s workspace/view flexibility is far beyond that of other industries’ applications so I saved a Blender “Screen Layout” akin to video-editing software with the 3 constituent sources (top row) and the compos(it)ed output at the bottom-right.

        As far as fitting into my Kdenlive workflow:
        * Blender can accept the same proxy clips (lower-quality) that Kdenlive generates for quick “scrubbing”.
        * I’m also hacking together some sort of EDL-style inter-operability so that one can import/export their project timeline back and forth between these (and other EDL-supporting) non-liner editors.
        * Be mindful that different frame-rates might cause audio-synchronisation issues. I just use avidemux to avoid that, while Kdenlive et al. handle such differences more gracefully.

        Best of luck with the “Multicam Selector”! I’m a long-time user of Autodesk Maya/3DS Max for 3D work but somehow *always* walk away empty-handed and frustrated from Blender! :[

        **Edit:** The screenshot-comparison acts as a reminder to whomever wrote Kdenlive’s “Split View” but never got around to finishing its logical, next-step application! :v

  • ‘Align Audio to Reference’ has just saved me a ton of work. Thank you!

  • Is there a scripting capability in Kdenlive? If so, couldn’t some talented soul write a script that lets you click on the view you want to switch to at a particular point in the sequence, once the clips are synchronized? Actually, scratch that, since I don’t know what hooks would be needed in the code, but this is how Premiere Pro CS5 does it. You just watch the clip go, and click on the one you want when you want it. The program then makes the necessary cuts for you, keeping track of what you selected and where it was in the sequence that you selected it. It’s brilliant, and it might not be that difficult to add in Kdenlive.