Cinelerra is a video editing and compositing software package. It is designed for the Linux operating system. Its original version is produced by Heroine Virtual, there are three branches produced by the open source community. It is free software distributed under the GNU General Public License. Cinelerra also includes a video compositing engine, allowing the user to perform advanced compositing operations such as keying and mattes.

Original author(s)Adam Williams
Developer(s)Heroine Virtual
Initial releaseAugust 12, 2002 (2002-08-12)
Stable release
7.1 / January 22, 2019 (2019-01-22)
Written inC++
Operating systemLinux
TypeVideo editing software
LicenseGNU General Public License

Cinelerra was first released August 12, 2002, and was based in part on Broadcast 2000, which was withdrawn by Heroine Virtual in September 2001 [1] and archived later.[2] Cinelerra became the first 64-Bit media production application when it was re-written to conform to the AMD Opteron in June 2003 and was presented at SIGGRAPH 2004 in San Diego. This version was subsequently released by Adam Williams of Heroine Warrior, the principal developer of the original Cinelerra. Since then, there have been many releases, the latest the July 2019 Cinelerra-GG Infinity version. For an overview of releases, see the History of Cinelerra section.

Notable features

Cinelerra has a wide range of features depending on version[3] including support for high-fidelity audio and video: it processes audio using 64 bits of precision, and can work in both RGBA and YUVA color spaces, using floating-point and 16-bit integer representations, respectively. It is resolution and frame rate-independent, meaning that it can support video of any speed and size.

Cinelerra interface

Cinelerra's interface is similar to that of other Non-linear editing systems, such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, and Avid Media Composer. However, because it includes a compositing engine, it may also be likened to compositing software such as Adobe After Effects, Smoke on Linux or Shake. The user is presented with four screens:

  1. The timeline, which gives the user a time-based view of all video and audio tracks in the project, as well as keyframe data for e.g. camera movement, effects, or opacity;
  2. the viewer, which gives the user a method of "scrubbing" (manually moving the playhead forwards or backwards to locate a specific cue or word) through footage;
  3. the resource window, which presents the user with a view of all audio and video resources in the project, as well as available audio and video effects and transitions; and
  4. the compositor, which presents the user with a view of the final project as it would look when rendered. The compositor is interactive in that it allows the user to adjust the positions of video objects; it also updates in response to user input.

Cinelerra uses its own widget toolkit Guicast (the Cinelerra GUI library), not conforming to the human interface guidelines of major Linux desktops such as GNOME and KDE. This has the advantage that it looks and works the same no matter which distribution or desktop is used, and removes being dependent on a changing version of the desktop (for instance GNOME 2 / GNOME 3].

Cinelerra usage and awards

Cinelerra has gained ground among some Linux enthusiasts looking for a native video editing system. Professional use is mostly promoted by Linux Media Arts, which sells an integrated hardware and software package for video production that includes Cinelerra.

At the National Association of Broadcasters' 2004 Electronic Media Show, Cinelerra received Bob Turner's "Making the Cut" award, given to "the best and most exciting post-production products seen at the convention".[4]

A September 2017 "Video editors score sheet" compares 9 non-linear video editors, and Cinelerra-GG comes out way on top.[5]

A December 2018 article compares Cinelerra to other 7 other video editors for Linux with respect to sustainability [6]

The project is following commercial interests, aiming at offering professional support to its users. It's organized to merge all existing Cinelerra projects while also providing additional fixes and enhancements. Since early 2015, Cinelerra has had an open Git repository on Google Code for analysis and for input. The goal of Cinelerra.Org remains to develop a more professional value to the product as of 2016. Its website links to whatever the latest HV version is.

One of the developers of Cinelerra 5.0 left in 2016, continuing to work on Cinelerra 5.0, then on Cinelerra 5.1 with help from the Cinelerra-CV community.[7] This branch has received the name '-GG' in December 2016. The name was proposed by the main Cinelerra-CV developer Einar Rünkaru. The developer of 'Cinelerra-GG 5.1' has renamed his branch to 'Cinelerra-GG Infinity' in November 2018 (see below), and works on that version.


With the appearance of Cinelerra.Org in February 2014 it was unclear if Adam Williams was continuing to work on Cinelerra through Heroine Virtual or if development would continue in Cinelerra.Org. Due to no communication by Williams, this was only resolved months later, when in November 2015, Cinelerra 4.6.1 was released.[8][9]

To distinguish between all different variants of the software, the releases made by Heroine Virtual are also called Cinelerra-HV.[10]

Heroine Virtual generates a new release of Cinelerra annually, available as source code and a binary for Ubuntu. Any bugs and usability issues found and resolved by the community that are submitted to Heroine Virtual often result in no immediate response, and it is not until a new release that there is any indication that Heroine Virtual has incorporated these changes.


Developer(s)Cinelerra-CV Community
Stable release
2.3 / August 13, 2015 (2015-08-13)
Written inC++
Operating systemLinux
TypeVideo editing software
LicenseGNU General Public License

Because of both the latency in development and the distribution-specific nature of the release, a group of free and open-source software developers created their own version of Cinelerra referred to as Cinelerra-CV (where CV stands for community version).

Cinelerra-CV allows the community to contribute to an open repository where changes to the code are accessible to everyone. Mailing lists and an IRC channel exist where more experienced users and developers can provide support to less experienced users, and developers can hold technical discussions. Cinelerra-CV is also packaged for a wider range of distributions. It also has a different compilation system: system libraries are used extensively, and the autoconf/automake tools are used to configure the compilation system.

Although Cinelerra-CV may technically be called a fork, the relationship between Heroine Virtual and Cinelerra-CV is rather friendly. Heroine Virtual at times contributes to discussions on the mailing lists, and incorporates many of the changes made in the repository. Heroine Virtual posted the following message on their website describing the relationship:

Up until Cinelerra 2.1 the versioning of Cinelerra-CV followed that of Heroine Virtual. After Heroine Virtual produced a release, Cinelerra-CV examined the changes introduced by the new version and merged them into their version. CV was appended to the end of the version number to indicate the community version. (For example, after the 2.1 merger the CV version was labeled 2.1CV.) Starting with release 2.2, Cinelerra-CV uses its own versioning scheme, but still merges code from Cinelerra-HV.[12]

Following the 26th June 2019, the official web pages were taken offline and the URL redirects to the website for Cinelerra-GG. However, a single developer works on Cinelerra-CVE, a fork of Cinelerra-CV. It has its own Github page:

Lumiera rewrite

In the beginning of April 2008, the Cinelerra community announced a complete rewrite of the current community version, named as Lumiera. It was born as a rewrite of the Cinelerra codebase called Cinelerra3 but soon was separated into an independent project with its own name. There is no usable application as of March 2019. The project remains in a pre-alpha status of development with a yearly development news update Lumiera news. It has build instructions,[13] and there is a binary Debian/Ubuntu build of the development preview available.[14]

Lumiera does not use Guicast, the GUI widget library used by Cinelerra. Lumiera’s native interface will be written in GTK+, although other interfaces will be possible. Basically the GUI is a plug-in.

Cinelerra-GG Infinity

Cinelerra-GG Infinity
Developer(s)Cinelerra-GG community
Initial releaseMarch 31, 2016 (2016-03-31)
Stable release
2019-11 / November 30, 2019 (2019-11-30)
Written inC++
Operating systemLinux, FreeBSD
TypeVideo editing software
LicenseGNU General Public License, external plug-ins may differ

A separate branch of Cinelerra, Cinelerra-GG (Cin-GG) has integrated the code of Cinelerra-HV from the beginning. Its development has taken place first with the site of (Cinelerra 4.6-mod, Cinelerra 5.0), then with the site of (Cinelerra 5.0), and since March 2016 as a separate branch within (Cinelerra 5.1) with monthly releases. (see above). Since December 2018 it has its own website and was renamed from Cinelerra 5.1 to Cinelerra-GG Infinity. Cinelerra-GG is entirely gratis (no costs) and open source (mostly GNU General Public License).

Cinelerra-GG is determined to get as close as possible to what can be expected from professional level video editing software (NLE) for the Linux platform.

It has many features. They include support for recent versions of ffmpeg, Ultra HD up to 8K, two interfaces for audio plug-ins (LADSPA, and LV2 such as Calf Studio Gear), multiple denoisers and motion stabilizers, multi-camera editing, the use of proxies to lighten the workload of a computer, smart folders media filtering, 10-bit color space (10bit + H.265 requires special build), advance trim, live preview of resources, nested clips, shared tracks, group edits, rendering pre-configuration options for YouTube and the ability to save workspace layouts. It supports over 400 video/picture formats for decoding, and over 150 for encoding, including Apple ProRes, AV1, and WEBP. It has a ¨Sketcher" plug-in for free-hand drawing, supports creating HD Blu-ray, and DVDs, and some OpenCV plugins like FindObj. There is support for using a GPU for video decoding and encoding.

It supports jog-wheels ShuttlePRO V.2 and ShuttleXpress from Contour Design.

Like the other Cinelerra versions (except Lumiera) Cinelerra-GG uses its own GUI. It has 11 GUI themes to cater to user preferences.

The GG version is under active development, with a stable release at the end of every month. It is supplied as a multi user program pre-packaged for 8 different Linux distributions (Ubuntu, Debian, Arch, OpenSuse, Slackware, Fedora, Centos, Mint), and FreeBSD. When the applicable repository is added to a distribution´s update manager, the monthly updates will appear automatically. In addition, there are single-user builds for the 8 Linux distributions. All builds are available in 64 bit, for Slackware and Ubuntu 14 there are also 32 bit single user builds. The source code is available as (manual) monthly download or from the git.

In addition to the GG version´s monthly releases, it is also available in two Linux variants dedicated to multimedia : AVLinux and Bodhi Linux Media.

Cinelerra-GG communicates with it users and developers through three platforms: its forum (user oriented), a bug tracker (feature requests, bugs, roadmap), and a mailing list (developers discussions). Each monthly release has a significant number of changes resulting from discussions and exchanges of information on these platforms.

Cinelerra-GG has an actively maintained manual, the latest version of which is included in the monthly releases as PDF for off-line reference, and which is accessible from Cinelerra-GG.

The differences between the GG and other Cinelerra versions can be found in .

History of Cinelerra

Events from the original creator Heroine Virtual have been indicated with HV in front of the release number. Likewise those of the "community version" with CV, and those of the GG version with GG Infinity.

Version Release date Changes
GG Infinity 2019-10-31 The 14th monthly release of Cinelerra-GG Infinity adds scaling for HiDPI monitors, and speeds up AV1 decoding.
GG Infinity 2019-07-31 The 11th monthly release of Cinelerra-GG Infinity has significant improvements in masking.
GG Infinity 2019-05-31 The 9th monthly release of Cinelerra-GG Infinity adds GPU-accelerated encoding for some video formats.
GG Infinity 2019-04-30 The 8th monthly release of Cinelerra-GG Infinity allows GPU-accelerated decoding for some video formats.
GG Infinity 2019-01-31 The 5th monthly release of Cinelerra-GG Infinity adds support for jog-wheels ShuttlePRO V.2 and ShuttleXpress from Contour Design.
HV 7.1 2019-01-23 From the Heroine Virtual website's NEWS section:[15]
¨Exporting of H.265 video in Quicktime. Seeking for MKV/WEBM files. More bugs fixed.¨
GG Infinity 2018-09-30 First of monthly releases of the Cinelerra-GG Infinity version, this is a rolling release. See the release notes[16] which cover monthly releases since mid-2016, initially not under the GG name but as version 5.1 .
HV 7.0 2017-10-13 From the Heroine Virtual website's NEWS section:[15]
"Optimized playback of large format video. H.265 decoding. Optimized screen capturing. Spherical camera blending. Eyedropper can show the maximum value. Interpolating CR2 images always white balances."
HV 6.0 2016-11-17 From the Heroine Virtual website's NEWS section:[15]
"Updated the h264 decoding. There are no longer picons in the asset window. Motion tracking got major optimizations. Resampling effects got new interfaces. Titler can load subtitle files.¨
5.1 2016-03-31 The first of monthly releases of a branch separate from the HV, CV and .org versions. The monthly releases continue since then, but the name changes to Cinelerra-GG Infinity in September 2018.
HV 4.6.1 2015-11-09 From the Heroine Virtual website's NEWS section:[15]
¨Updated the x264 compressor library. Improved the mp3 decoding. Video scaling is now either nearest neighbor or bicubic, but never linear. Proxy editing got a start before discovering modern PCs can easily decode 4k."
CV 2.3 2015-08-13 From the Cinelerra-CV website's NEWS section:[17]
"Full UTF-8 support; Complete new overlay engine and resampler; New graphics: About panel, some icons; New plugins: GreyCStoration, C41, Bluebanana, color3way, findobject, lens; Some translations have been updated (German, Italian, French, Norwegian, Portuguese); Lots of small bugfixes; Changes in build system"
5.0 2015-07-04 releases a studio centric version of Cinelerra titled 5.0. Cinelerra is now fully integrated with FFMPEG and supports numerous 4K and 2K uncompressed cinema standards from such camera manufacturers as AJA, Blackmagic Design, and Red.
HV 4.6 2014-09-10 From the Heroine Virtual website's NEWS section:[15]
"Split pane editing. OpenGL supported on Intel HD. Titler improvements. Bugfixes.¨
HV 4.5 2013-10-25 From the Heroine Virtual website's NEWS section:[15]
"Speed curves mainly for video & in degraded quality for audio. Some control over whether automation follows edits. Ability to transfer keyframes between audio and video tracks. Motion temporaries are stored in /tmp/m and /tmp/r files. Time Avg clears the accumulator on keyframes."
HV 4.4 2012-09-07 From the Heroine Virtual website's NEWS section:[15]
¨Faster startup and responsiveness, audio oscilloscope, new bright theme, and also 3 way colour correction."
CV 2.2 2011-11-13 From the Cinelerra-CV website's NEWS section:[12]
"It includes Hermann Vosseler's Bezier Patch (bezier automation for Cinelerra-CV fades, camera and projector), improved default settings, extended audio range, support for multiline label and clips comments, autodetection of OpenGL in configure, detection of v4l2.¨
HV 4.3 2011-08-06 From the Heroine Virtual website's NEWS section:[15]
"Text to movie". Allows one to turn a script into an instant movie with live updating and seeking.
CV 2.1.5 2010-11-21 From the Cinelerra-CV website's NEWS section:[12]
¨CinelerraCV 2.1.5 is out, with SOWT audio support, other improvements and bug fixes. For more details see the release announcement."
HV 4.2 2010-10-17 From the Heroine Virtual website's NEWS section:[15]
"Mainly a bugfix & personal need release. `Edit->Align edits` feature, which aligns all the audio edits with the video. Keyframe spanning feature, where highlighting a region with keyframe generation on causes effect tweeks to span all the keyframes. All assets are now opened in subprocesses so they don't bring down the entire program when they crash. Cannot drag and drop edit clips anymore, feature removed here and future versions."
HV 4.1 2009-09-25 From the Heroine Virtual website's NEWS section:[15]
"Main feature is nested sequences. The Viewer window does not display video clips, Bug fixed in next version at the expense of another feature removed."
HV 4.0 2008-08-11 Since all versions 2.0 onward 10bit (useful for prof. Cinepaint) and 16bit RGB(A),YUV(A) have been removed and replaced with RGB YUV Float instead.
CV 2.1 2006-09-07 Merge with community SVN version. (The first use of git and a multi-person merge)
HV 2.1 2006-07-02 From the change log in the source[9] (selection):
"Multiple audio processing improvements, compositor improvements, limited DVD subtitle support, OpenGL support for compositing and many effects, motion tracking improvements."
CV 2.0 2005-09-29 Merge with community SVN version.
HV 2.0 2005-10-04 From the Heroine Virtual website's NEWS section:
"H.264 encoding and MPEG-4 audio encoding. Import MPEG video directly.¨
CV 1.2.2 2005-01-18 Merged with community CVS version.
HV 1.2.2 2005-01-10 From the change log in the source[9] (selection):
"Treshold effect, unsharp mask effect, spherical gradient, motion and rotation tracking, greyscale TIFF loading, quicktime RGBA8888 reading and writing."
CV 1.2.1 2004-08-16 Merged with community CVS version. Special enhancements were added to this version E.g. H264 Kod. Cineon used at NAB under Fedora 1,2 and BSD 5, this could handle 4k film 4096x4096 if graphics card permits. Fast frame rate in excess of 210 frames per second at 720x480 29.97, while bringing in live HD video in the timeline from a video camera. video4linux driver Zoran chip.
HV 1.2.1 2004-08-12 From the Heroine Virtual website's NEWS section:
"Quicktime 2.0.4 updated. Enter the world of floating point imaging in this release. It's not just a more accurate colorspace, it's a totally new way of thinking about color. Finally, Cinelerra is officially more stable in 64 bit mode than 32 bit mode."
HV 1.2.0 2004-05-11 From the Heroine Virtual website's NEWS section:
"Cinelerra has a massive number of small changes. Quicktime finally decodes Sorenson and compressed headers."
CV 1.1.9 2004-02-17 Merge with community CVS version.
HV 1.1.9 2004-02-11 From the Heroine Virtual website's NEWS section:
¨This is a landmark since it's probably the first time more code was submitted from the community than internally.¨
HV 1.1.8 2003-11-11 From the change log in the source[9] (selection):
"File box sorting, track nudge, more tooltips, patternless Inverse Telecine, oversampling improvements."
CV 1.1.7 2003-10-05 Merge with community CVS version.
HV 1.1.7 2003-08-11 From the change log in the source[9] (selection):
"Time stretch based on overlapping windows instead of FFT, use ffmpeg decoder for MPEG-4, freeze frame has line doubling option, importing of dvgrab and lavtools AVI files. Adaptations for 64 bit X86 CPU."
HV 1.1.6 2003-05-12 From the change log in the source[9] (selection):
"Paste silence and clipboards shifts effect keyframes properly, titler improvements, IEEE1394 improvements, allow add track anywhere in timeline, auto-scroll timeline when dragging cursor."
CV 1.1.5 2003-04-29 HV code "forked" into a community CVS version.
HV 1.1.5 2003-02-11 From the change log in the source[9] (selection):
¨Adaptive deinterlace, proper 16 bit alpha blending, more ffmpeg/MPEG-4 options¨
HV 110802 2002-11-08 This release still identified itself as version 1.1.0, but had considerable changes compared to the 2002-08-12 release, for instance LADSPA support and titler changes. Because there are 3 separate blocks of comment in the change log since the 2002-08-12 release, this is more like a version 1.1.3 .
HV 1.0.0 2002-08-12 Initial release.
HV Beta 2 2002-07-12
HV Beta 1 2002-06-10 HV's SourceForge backup files show frequent activity up since 2001-09-09 straight up to release 1.1.0 .
2000-06-15 Founding of the Cinelerra project. After numerous discussions between Adam Williams and Michael Collins about the direction of Non-Linear Editing on Linux, Williams presented the name and concept of Cinelerra to Business Partner Michael Collins in Sunnyvale, California.

See also


  1. Broadcast 2000 Removed From Public Access, Slashdot, 2011-09-10
  2. Broadcast 2000 archive
  3. "Cinelerra Feature Comparison" (PDF). Cinelerra-GG. Retrieved 2019-09-02.
  4. "The Making The Cut Awards", eNews, Primedia Business.
  5. "Video editors score sheet". Debian install notes. Retrieved 2019-09-02.
  6. Prokoudine, Alexandre. "The quest for sustainable free/libre non-linear video editors". Libre Graphics World. Retrieved 2019-09-02.
  7. Goodguy from joins Cinelerra-CV.
  8. Cinelerra-HV releases since 2009 on
  9. Cinelerra-HV releases 2002-2008 on
  10. About Cinelerra.
  11. "Cinelerra-CV fork". Heroine Warrior. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
  12. "Cinelerra-CV news archive". Cinelerra-CV community. Archived from the original on 2016-02-22. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  13. Build and install Lumiera.
  14. Lumiera Debian Depot.
  15. "Cinelerra-HV news". Heroine Warrior. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
  16. Smith, Phyllis. "Cinelerra-GG release notes" (PDF).
  17. "Cinelerra-CV news". Cinelerra-CV community. Retrieved 2019-01-31.

Further reading

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