Awaiting the Official Release of Lightworks, a $60 PC-Based Non-Linear Editor

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Lightworks for Windows

EditShare's PC-based non-linear editor Lightworks comes out of beta on May 28, 2012.


Has Apple’s shift to Final Cut Pro X, and the dissatisfaction of a legion of editors, created a market opening for PC-based nonlinear editing systems?

PCs are demonstrably less expensive than Macs with the same computing power, and programs such as Premiere, Sony Vegas and Avid have already made their appeal to editors on a budget.

In about a week or so, on May 28, 2012, a new competitor enters the market. And at a price that’s hard to beat.

Lightworks for Windows, which will have a free version and a $60 “Pro” version, will be released to great anticipation.

Filmmaker Chris Jones noted, “Using it feels very logical, like editing film back in the day. Plus it has all the bells and whistles of many new digital tools. It is a professional tool, not a semi pro or domestic tool that has been dressed up. So expect to invest time in learning how to use it.

Lightworks is not new in itself. It began in 1989 as OLE, then went through a variety of owners before EditShare acquired it in 2009. Lightworks has been used to edit narrative films such as The King’s Speech and Hugo. EditShare’s plans to develop the product as open source did not materialize, but the beta was made free to download. It’s now been downloaded by 250,000 users.

The official release boasts support for AVCHD, H.264, AVC-Intra, ProRes, RED R3D, DPX, XDCam HD 50, XDCam EX, DVD and BluRay. Paired with a 64-bit PC, it creates a perfectly serviceable setup for nearly all the kinds of editing a documentary filmmaker would need. (One disappointment for Mac users is that while EditShare is working on a Mac version of Lightworks, there’s no definitive release in sight.)

Features of the system are here.

The Pro version will support the DNxHD codec and such features as file sharing, a titling system and stereoscopic editing for 3D filmmaking. The Pro version also includes the codecs.

Lightworks offers a $140 dedicated keyboard, but users can import their FCP or Avid preferences so they don’t have to re-learn their way around the workflow.

While the comments out on the web from beta users are favorable, and the program seems to be quite fast on the latest generation of PCs, we’ll know more in the coming months. It seems unlikely anyone who is seriously going to use the program isn’t going to fork out the $60. It’s more than likely that the free download will serve as a proving ground for a lot of editors looking to see what it’s got.

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Edward J. Delaney
Edward J. Delaney
Edward J. Delaney is a journalist, author, filmmaker and editor of DocumentaryTech, an online project that explores documentary filmmaking techniques and technology.
  • david shapton

    Thanks for the mention, Edward. I work for Editshare and just wanted to clarify that the codecs you mention APART from DNxHD are included in the $60 per year price. Unfortunately we have to charge extra for the Avid codec because they would not fit easily into our per-year way of doing things – but it’s a one-off payment. The other thing is that you said it’s unlikely anyone seriously using the program will fork out $60. Did you actually mean the opposite? And yes, of course people will use the free version to try it out. What we’re finding from our research is that anyone who’s going to make serious use of the program will pay for it. Thanks again for the coverage.

  • Documentarytech


    Thanks for clarity and a flat-out correction. Yes, I absolutely intended to say anyone serious about Lightworks is unlikely NOT to spend the $60, so we’ll get that squared away.
    As for codecs, again, thanks for enlightening further. But to make sure I’m clear, does the free version allow for a purchase of a specific codec – for example, if I had the free version could I only buy the XDcam codec at a price point lower than $60? Just curious.
    Good luck with the release. I’d sent an email to Editshare asking for an interview on this; no response. I’d love to talk directly in a month or two as a follow-up.


    • david shapton


      Apart from the DNxHD you can’t buy individual codecs. The admin overhead would just be too much for too little return and the reality is that we’d probably have to charge as much for the individual ones as we do for all of them. The way we’ve bundled them does genuinely give the best value all round, we think.

      Sorry you didn’t get a response to your interview request. Lightworks is primarily developed and managed in the UK, although we have some developers in Boston, Mass. I’m based in the UK.

      If you DM me on Twitter, I’ll make sure you have my contact details and we’ll set something up for you.



  • EditShare Lightworks

    Hello from another EditShare person! I’m just seeing your article now, and David has already pointed out the main things I’d suggest.

    I’m curious who you emailed here, and apologize for that being overlooked.  I’m one of the people that handle the emails that come in to our sales@… & info@… addresses, but I don’t recall seeing your name in the inbox.

    In any case, if you’re in the Boston area, EditShare’s offices are just around the corner from WGBH, so we could possibly even meet in person & give a Lightworks demo for you.

    • Documentarytech

       Hi Chris,

      Just saw this. I’ve forwarded my original request to you(5/8) via the sales at email address.I definitely would like to connect and hear more as the launch happens.


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