7 Editing (intro)


Editing comprises both the time domain and the track domain. Since the timeline consists of a stack of tracks, you need to worry about how to create and sort tracks in addition to what time certain media appears on a track.

In the time domain, Cinelerra offers many ways to approach the editing process. The three main methods are two screen editing, drag and drop editing, and cut and paste editing.

There are several concepts Cinelerra uses when editing which apply to all the methods.

The timeline is where all editing decisions are represented. This is a stack of tracks in the center of the main window. It can be scrolled up, down, left and right with the scrollbars on the right and bottom of it. It can also be scrolled up and down with a mouse wheel, left and right with a mouse wheel and the <CTRL> key.

The active region is the range of time which is affected by editing commands on the timeline. The active region is determined first by the presence of in/out points in the timeline. If those do not exist the highlighted region is used. If no highlighted region exists the insertion point is used as the start of the active region. Some commands treat all the space to the right of the insertion point as active while others treat the active length as 0 if no end point for the active region is defined.

Finally, editing decisions never affect source material. This is non destructive editing and it became popular with audio because it was much faster than if you had to copy all the media affected by an edit. Editing only affects pointers to source material, so if you want to have a media file at the end of your editing session which represents the editing decisions, you need to render it. See section Rendering files. See section Saving project files.

See section Editing Media shortcuts, for information about the editing controls keyboard shortcuts.

7.1 The patchbay Enabling different features on different tracks
7.2 Nudging tracks Shift entire tracks horizontally
7.3 Panning audio tracks Changing the audio output channels
7.4 Automatic audio track panning Panning audio tracks to common speaker arrangements
7.5 Standard audio mappings Making audio panning that works on other players.
7.6 Manipulating tracks Moving whole tracks around
7.7 Two screen editing Using two video windows to edit
7.8 Drag and drop editing Dragging objects to edit
7.9 Cut and paste editing Editing media like text
7.10 Trimming Changing edit boundaries

7.1 The patchbay


On the left of the timeline is a region affectionately known as the patchbay. The patchbay enables features specific to each track.

All tracks have a text area for naming the track.

All tracks have an expander expandpatch_checked.png for viewing more options on the patchbay and for viewing the effects represented on the track. Click on the expander to expand or collapse the patchbay and the track. If it is pointing sideways, the track is collapsed. If it is pointing down, the track is expanded. Existing effects appear below the media for the track.

All tracks have the following row of toggles for several features.

Track attributes

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If the toggle is colored, the feature is enabled. If the toggle is the background color of most of the windows, it is disabled. Click on the toggle to enable or disable the feature. Several mouse operations speed up the configuration of several tracks at a time.

Click on an attribute and drag the cursor across adjacent tracks to copy the same attribute to those tracks.

Hold down <SHIFT> while clicking a track’s attribute to enable the attribute in the current track and toggle the attribute in all the other tracks.

Hold down <SHIFT> while clicking an attribute. Click until all the tracks except the selected one are disabled. Then drag the cursor over the adjacent track to enable the attribute in the adjacent track.

The attributes affect the output of the track:

  • Play track
    Determines whether the track is rendered or not. If it is off, the track is not rendered. For example if you turn it off in all the video tracks, the rendered media file will have only audio tracks. However, if the track is chained to any other tracks by a shared track effect, the other tracks perform all the effects in this shared track, regardless of play status of the shared track that in this particular case affects the media output but not fade and effects. See section Realtime effect types.
  • Arm track
    Determines whether the track is armed or not. Only the armed tracks are affected by editing operations. Make sure you have enough armed destination tracks when you paste or splice material or some tracks in the material will get left out.
    In addition to restricting editing operations, the armed tracks in combination with the active region determine where material is inserted when loading files. If the files are loaded with one of the insertion strategies which do not delete the existing project, the armed tracks will be used as destination tracks.
    Press <TAB> while the cursor is anywhere over a track to toggle the track arming status.
    Press SHIFT-TAB while the cursor is over a track to toggle the arming status of every other track.
  • Gang fader
    Causes the fader to track the movement of whatever other fader you are adjusting by dragging either the fader or the curve on the track. It doesn’t affect the editing made with menu controls. A fader is only ganged if the arm track is also on. This is normally used to adjust audio levels on all the tracks simultaneously. Gang also causes Nudge parameters to synchronize across all the ganged tracks.
  • Draw media
    Determines if picons or waveforms are drawn on the asset in the track. By default, some file formats load with this off while other file formats load with it on. This depends on whether the file format takes a long time to draw on the timeline. Merely set it to on if you want to see picons for any file format.
  • Mute track
    Causes the output to be thrown away once the track is completely rendered. This happens whether or not play track is on. For example if you mute all the video tracks, the rendered media file will have a blank video track. Mute track is represented on the timeline with a blue line. Go to View -> Mute to make it show. It is a keyframable attribute, but Mute track keyframing is a toggle and it has, unlike curves, only two values: on or off. If a track is part of a shared track effect, the output of the track with the shared track effect is overlaid on the final output even though it is routed back to another track (the shared track). Mute track is used to keep the track with the shared track effect from overlapping the output of the source track (the shared track) where the shared track effect is not present. See section Realtime effect types.
  • Fader
    Fade values are represented on the timeline with a white curve that is keyframable. All tracks have a fader, but the units of each fader depend on whether it is audio or video.
    Audio fade values are in dB. They represent relative levels, where 0 is the unaltered original sound level, -40 is silence, -80 the minimum value set by default. You can move fader and keyframes down to -80 but the parameter’s curve won’t go below -40. For your convenience you can set a different fade range with the curve zoom. See section The zoom panel. Audio faders’ main purpose is to "fade out" sound or to lower the sound level smoothly to silence, or "fade in" to make sounds appear gradually instead of suddenly.
    Video fade values are the percentage of opacity of the image in normal overlay mode, the percentage of the layer that is mixed into the render pipeline in the other overlay modes. See section Overlay modes.
    Click and drag the fader to fade the track in and out. If it is ganged to other tracks of the same media type, with the arm option enabled, the other faders should follow. Hold down <SHIFT> and drag a fader to center it on the original source value (0 for audio, 100 for video).

7.2 Nudging tracks


Each track has a nudge textbox in its patchbay. You may have to expand the track to see it. These are views of the patchbays when expanded.

Pan and nudge for an audio track

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Overlay mode and nudge for a video track

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The nudge value is the amount the track is shifted left or right during playback. The track is not displayed shifted on the timeline, but it is shifted when it is played back. This is useful for synchronizing audio with video, creating fake stereo, or compensating for an effect which shifts time, all without tampering with any edits.

Merely enter the amount of time to shift to instantly shift the track. Negative numbers make the track play later. Positive numbers make the track play sooner. The nudge units are either seconds or the native units for the track (frames or samples). Select the units by right clicking on the nudge textbox and using the context sensitive menu.

Nudge settings are ganged with the Gang faders toggle and the Arm track toggle.

Use the mouse wheel over the nudge textbox to increment and decrement it.

7.3 Panning audio tracks


Audio tracks have a panning box in their patchbays. A patchbay may have to be expanded to see the panning box. The panning box is shown here.

Pan and nudge for an audio track

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Position the pointer in the panning box and click/drag to reposition the audio output among the speaker arrangement. The loudness of each speaker is printed on the relative icon during the dragging operation. The panning box uses a special algorithm to try to allow audio to be focused through one speaker or branched between the nearest speakers when more than 2 speakers are used.

7.4 Automatic audio track panning


Several convenience functions are provided for automatically setting the panning to several common standards. They are listed in the Audio menu. These functions only affect armed audio tracks. They are:

  • Audio->Map 1:1
    This maps every track to its own channel and wraps around when all the channels are allocated. It is most useful for making 2 tracks with 2 channels map to stereo and for making 6 tracks with 6 channels map to a 6 channel soundcard.
  • Audio->Map 5.1:2
    This maps 6 tracks to 2 channels. The project should have 2 channels when using this function. Go to Settings->Format to set the output channels to 2. This is most useful for down-mixing 5.1 audio to stereo.
See section Audio attributes.

7.5 Standard audio mappings


Although Cinelerra lets you map any audio track to any speaker, there are standard mappings you should use to ensure the media can be played back elsewhere. Also, most audio encoders require the audio tracks to be mapped to standard speaker numbers or they will not work.

In the channel position widget See section Audio attributes, the channels are numbered to correspond to the output tracks they are rendered to. For stereo, the source of channel 1 needs to be the left track and the source of channel 2 needs to be the right track.

For 5.1 surround sound, the sources of the 6 channels need to be in the order of center, front left, front right, back left, back right, low frequency effects. If the right tracks are not mapped to the right speakers, most audio encoders will not encode the right information if they encode anything at all. The low frequency effects track specifically can not store high frequencies in most cases.

7.6 Manipulating tracks


Tracks in Cinelerra either contain audio or video. There is no special designation for tracks other than the type of media they contain. When you create a new project, it contains three default tracks: one video track and two audio tracks. You can still add and delete tracks from the menus. The Tracks menu contains a number of options for dealing with multiple tracks simultaneously. Each track itself has a popup menu which affects one track.
See section The track popup menu.

Operations in the Tracks menu affect only tracks which are armed.

  • Move tracks up and Move tracks down shift all the armed tracks up or down the stack.
  • Delete tracks deletes the armed tracks.
  • Delete last track deletes the last track, whether it is armed or not. Holding down the <d> key quickly deletes all the tracks.
  • Concatenate tracks is more complicated. This operation copies all the assets of every disarmed but playable track and concatenates it by pasting those assets at the end of the first set of armed tracks. They are pasted one after the other, keeping the same order they have on the stack. If there are two armed tracks followed by two disarmed tracks, the concatenate operation copies the assets of the two disarmed tracks and pastes them after the assets of the two armed tracks. If there are three disarmed tracks instead, the assets of two tracks are pasted after the assets of the armed tracks and the assets of the third track are pasted at the end of the first armed track. The destination track wraps around until all the disarmed tracks are concatenated. Disarmed tracks that are not playable are not concatenated.
Finally, you will want to create new tracks. The Audio and Video menus each contain an option to add a track of their specific type. In the case of audio, the new track is put on the bottom of the timeline and the output channel of the audio track is incremented by one. In the case of video, the new track is put on the top of the timeline. This way, video has a natural compositing order. New video tracks are overlaid on top of old tracks.

7.7 Two screen editing


This is the fastest way to construct a program out of movie files. The idea consists of viewing a movie file in one window and viewing the program in another window. Subsections of the movie file are defined in the viewer window and transferred to the end of the program in the program window.

The way to begin a two screen editing session is to load some resources. In File->Load files… load some movies with the insertion mode Create new resources only. You want the timeline to stay unchanged while new resources are brought in. Go to the Resource Window and select the Media folder. The newly loaded resources should appear. Double click on a resource or drag it from the media side of the window over the Viewer window.

There should be enough armed tracks on the timeline to put the subsections of source material that you want (usually one video track and two audio tracks). If there are not, create new tracks or arm more tracks.

In the viewer window, define a clip out of your movie file:

  • Set the starting point with the in_point_button.png In point button.
  • Seek to the ending point of the clip you want to use.
  • Set the ending point with the out_point_button.png Out point button.

The two points should now appear on the timebar and define a clip.
There are several things you can do with the clip now:

  • Splice
    splice_button.png Inserts the selected area in the timeline after the insertion point.
    After the splice has taken effect, the insertion point moves to the end of the edit ready to be used as the next splice location. This way you can continuously build up the program by splicing.
    If an in point or an out point exists on the timeline the clip is inserted after the in point or after the out point.
    If both in and out points are set on the timeline, the clip is inserted after the in point.
    If there are edits after your chosen splice location on the timeline, they will be pushed to the right.
  • Overwrite
    overwrite_button.png Overwrites the region of the timeline after the insertion point with the clip.
    If an in point or an out point exists on the timeline the clip is overwritten after the in point or after the out point. If both in and out points are set on the timeline, the clip is inserted after the in point.
    If a region is highlighted or both in and out points exist they limit the region of the overwriting and the clip may therefore be shortened. This is so clever that it is worth the following detailed description.
    TIP: To overwrite exactly on a precise region of the timeline:
    • - Arm only tracks to change.
    • - Define the destination region on the timeline with [ and ].
    • - Define the clip you want to use in the viewer with [ and ].
    • - Overwrite from Viewer to the timeline.
      If the destination region is shorter than the clip defined in the viewer, the portion of the clip longer than the destination region won’t be inserted. On the timeline the following edits won’t move.
      Beware: If the destination region is longer than the clip defined in the viewer, the destination region will shrink. On the timeline the following edits will move to the left.
  • Create a clip
    toclip_button.png Generates a new clip for the resource window containing the affected region but does not change the timeline. Every clip has a title and a description. These are optional.
  • Copy
    See section Cut and paste editing, it behaves the same.
Two screen editing can be done purely by keyboard shortcuts. When you move the mouse pointer over any button a tooltip should appear, showing what key is bound to that button. In the Viewer window, the number pad keys control the transport and the <[> <]> <v> keys perform in/out points and splicing.

7.8 Drag and drop editing


Drag and drop editing is a quick and simple way of working in Cinelerra, using only the mouse. The basic idea is to create a bunch of clips, then drag them in order into the timeline building a prototype film that you can watch on the compositor. If after watching it, you wish to re-arrange your clips, set effects, add transition or insert/delete material, just drag and drop them on the timeline.

  1. Load some files using File->Load files….
  2. Set the insertion mode to Create new resources only. This loads the files into the Resource Window.
  3. Create some video and audio tracks on the timeline using the Video and Audio menus.
  4. Open the Media folder in the resource window.
  5. Make sure the necessary tracks are armed and drag a media file from the resource window to the timeline. If the media has video, drag it onto a video track. If the media is pure audio, drag it onto an audio track. If the media is a still image, drag it onto a video track.


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Cinelerra fills out the audio and video tracks below the dragging cursor with data from the file. This affects what tracks you should create initially and which track to drag the media onto.
To drag and drop a file on the Program window, you need to create on the timeline the same set of tracks of your media file.
A common camcorder file has a set of one video track and two audio tracks. In this case you will need one video track and two audio tracks and the media should be dragged over the first video track.
If the media has audio only you will need one audio track on the timeline for every audio track in the media and the media should be dragged over the first audio track.
If the media is a still image, you will need a video track only.

When you drag your chosen media from the media folder to the timeline, your mouse pointer will drag a thumbnail and, once over the timeline, the outline of a white rectangle, as big as the edit you are going to have.
Drag the media to the desired position of an empty track of the timeline and drop it.
If there are other edits on that track, when you move the white outline over an edit, you will see a bow tie symbol >< appearing at edit boundaries. If you drop the media there, the new edit will start from the edit boundary indicated by the center of the bow tie ><.

Since the mouse pointer is in the middle of the white outline, when this rectangle is bigger than the visible part of the timeline, it is quite cumbersome to precisely insert it. (This will likely happen for long media). Lengthening the duration visible in the timeline by changing the sample zoom in the zoom panel will reduce the size of the white rectangle, making a precise insertion possible.

You can also drag multiple files from the resource window. When dropped in the timeline they are concatenated.
The way of selecting multiple files to drag changes depending on if the resources are displayed as text or as icons. To change the display mode right click inside the media list and select either Display icons or Display text.
When displaying text in the resource window <CTRL-clicking> on media files selects additional files one at a time; <SHIFT-clicking> on media files extends the number of highlighted selections.
When displaying icons in the resource window <SHIFT-clicking> or <CTRL-clicking> selects media files one at a time; drawing a box around the files selects contiguous files.

In addition to dragging media files, if you create clips and open the clip folder you can drag clips on the timeline.

In the timeline there is further dragging functionality. Dragging edits around the timeline allows you to sort music playlists, sort movie scenes, and give better NAB demos but not much else. To enable the dragging functionality of the timeline, select the arrow toggle arrow.png on the control bar.

Arm a track with various scenes.


Original track with three scenes.

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Go to scene #3, click and drag it to the middle.


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When you drop scene #3 scene #2 shifts to the right

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This is how the finished sequence looks.

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If more than one track is armed, Cinelerra will drag any edits which start on the same position as the edit the mouse pointer is currently over. In other words, you can drag and drop a group of edits. Cinelerra recognises as a group the edits of different armed tracks that have aligned beginnings, regardless of whether they have the same source or aligned ends.

When you drag and drop edits within the timeline:
If you drop an edit when bow ties >< are shown, that edit will be cut and pasted starting at the edit boundary indicated by the centre of the bow tie ><. Following edits on the same track will move.
If you drop an edit when there are no bow ties >< shown, the original edit will be muted and pasted where you dropped it. No edits will move. A silence will appear in place of the original edit.
If you have more armed tracks on the timeline than in the asset you are dragging, only the following edits of the tracks affected by the drag and drop operation will move to the right. This will cause loss of synchronization. To restore it, disarm the tracks affected by the drag and drop operation, highlight the just dropped edit and paste silence over it (Edit -> Paste Silence).

In Drag and Drop editing mode you can’t drag and drop labels. They will be always locked to the timebar, even with the Edit labels option enabled. Still, with the Edit labels option enabled, if a selected area of a resource is spliced from the Viewer to the timeline in a position before labels, these labels will be pushed to the right for the length of the selected area.

With in/out points you can perform Cut and Paste operations in Drag and Drop mode as well as in Cut and Paste mode. Go to the Edit Menu to view the list and the keyboard shortcuts.

7.9 Cut and paste editing


This is the traditional method of editing in audio editors.
In the case of Cinelerra, you can copy edits in the same track, copy from different tracks in the same instance, start a second instance of Cinelerra and copy from one instance to the other or load a media file into the Viewer and copy from there.

Load some files onto the timeline. To perform cut and paste editing select the manual_images_intl/ibeam i-beam toggle. Select a region of the timeline by click dragging on it and select the manual_images_intl/cut cut button to cut it. Move the insertion point to another point in the timeline and select the manual_images_intl/paste paste button. Assuming no in/out points are defined on the timeline this performs a cut and paste operation.

If in/out points are defined, the insertion point and highlighted region are overridden by the in/out points for clipboard operations. Thus, with in/out points you can perform cut and paste in drag and drop mode as well as cut and paste mode.

Most editing operations are listed in the Edit Menu. Some of them have a button on the program control toolbar and a keyboard shortcut.

  • Cut x - Delete the selected area and hold it on the clipboard for future pasting.
  • Copy c - Copy the selected area and hold it on the clipboard for future pasting.
  • Paste v - Paste the material held in the clipboard
  • **Clear Del - Clear the selected area. If the insertion point is over an edit boundary and the edits on each side of the edit boundary are the same resource, the edits are combined into one edit comprised by the resource. The start of this one edit is the start of the first edit and the end of this one edit is the end of the second edit. This either results in the edit expanding or shrinking.
  • Paste Silence Shift+Space - Paste blank audio/video for the length of the selected area. Following edits will be pushed to the right.
  • Mute Region m - Overwrite blank audio/video on the selected area. Following edits don’t move.
  • Trim Selection - Delete everything but the selected region
  • Select All a - Select the whole timeline


Other editing operations:

  • Copy&Mute cm - Mute the selected area and hold it on the clipboard for future pasting.
  • Overwrite - To perform overwriting within the timeline paste on a selected region (highlighted or between in/out points). The selected region will be overwritten. If the clip pasted from the clipboard is shorter than the selected region, the selected region will be shrunk. Following edits will move. If the clip pasted from the clipboard is longer than the selected region, the selected region will be overwritten with the first part of the clip and the remaining part of the clip will be written after the overwriting. Following edits will move. Alternatively, overwrite from the Viewer. See section Two screen editing.
  • Concatenate - Go to Tracks -> Concatenate tracks. This operation copies all the assets of every disarmed but playable track and concatenates it by pasting those assets at the end of the first set of armed tracks. They are pasted one after the other, keeping the same order they have on the stack. See section Manipulating tracks.
  • Split - Cinelerra can’t spit an edit in two. To insert a transition in the middle of an edit delete a single frame. To insert a clip in the middle of an edit splice from the Viewer. See section Two screen editing.


In Cut and Paste editing mode you can edit labels as well. By enabling Edit labels in the Settings Menu, or by disabling the Lock labels from moving button on the Program Control Tool Bar labels will be cut, copied or pasted along with the selected regions of the armed tracks.

When editing audio, it is customary to cut from one part of a waveform into the same part of another waveform. The start and stop points of the cut are identical in each waveform and might be offset slightly, while the wave data is different. It would be very hard to highlight one waveform to cut it and highlight the second waveform to paste it without changing the relative start and stop positions.
One option for simplifying this is to open a second copy of Cinelerra, cutting and pasting to transport media between the two copies. This way two highlighted regions can exist simultaneously.
Another option is to set in/out points for the source region of the source waveform and set labels for the destination region of the destination waveform. Perform a cut, clear the in/out points, select the region between the labels, and perform a paste.

7.10 Trimming


With some edits on the timeline it is possible to do trimming. By trimming you shrink or grow the edit boundaries by dragging them. In drag and drop mode or cut and paste mode, move the cursor over an edit boundary until it changes shape. The cursor will either be an expand left or an expand right. If the cursor is an expand left, the dragging operation affects the beginning of the edit. If the cursor is an expand right, the dragging operation affects the end of the edit.

When you click on an edit boundary to start dragging, the mouse button number determines which dragging behavior is going to be followed. 3 possible behaviors are bound to mouse buttons in the interface preferences.
See section Interface.

The effect of each drag operation not only depends on the behavior button but whether the beginning or end of the edit is being dragged. When you release the mouse button, the trimming operation is performed.

In a Drag all following edits operation, the beginning of the edit either cuts data from the edit if you move it forward or pastes new data from before the edit if you move it backward. The end of the edit pastes data into the edit if you move it forward or cuts data from the end of the edit if you move it backward. All the edits thereafter shift. Finally, if you drag the end of the edit past the start of the edit, the edit is deleted.

In a Drag only one edit operation, the behavior is the same when you drag the beginning or end of an edit. The only difference is none of the other edits in the track shift. Instead, anything adjacent to the current edit expands or shrinks to fill gaps left by the drag operation.

In a Drag source only operation, nothing is cut or pasted. If you move the beginning or end of the edit forward, the source reference in the edit shifts forward. If you move the beginning or end of the edit backward, the source reference shifts backward. The edit remains in the same spot in the timeline but the source shifts.

For all file formats besides still images, the extent of the trimming operation is clamped to the source file length. Attempting to drag the start of the edit beyond the start of the source clamps it to the source start.

In all trimming operations, all edits which start on the same position as the cursor when the drag operation begins are affected. Unarm tracks to prevent edits from being affected.

Most effects in Cinelerra can be figured out just by using them and tweaking. Here are brief descriptions of effects which you might not utilize fully by mere experimentation.