Cinelerra for Grandma
Basic HOWTOs for very beginners
Cinelerra in 30'
Preparing media
Adjusting settings
Loading media
First editing
Second editing
Colour correction
Making animations
Making a DVD
Anamorphic video
Proxy editing
Donate to my short film at
NOTE: This website is alive and growing.
Table of Contents



Animations are made frame by frame. Every file is a single image file. It can be a photo or a computer graphic image. Most common formats are JPEG and PNG.


Several frames are grouped into a scene. A scene is an image sequence. The recommended format for scenes is image list.


Scenes are edited and combined into a final movie. This final movie is a video file. Often animated movies have non standard framerate and resolution.

What is an image list?

Cinelerra can load several images at once. Just select them in the File→Load files… dialog by clicking on the first image and SHIFT click on the last one. Select Replace current project and concatenate tracks as Insertion strategy.
The images will be imported on the timeline as a serie of edits one frame long. That makes editing nearly impossible.


For better results scenes can be loaded in cinelerra as image lists.
A list is a single text file that represents a series of several images.

A list file looks just like this:

 #Image sequence format to be loaded into Cinelerra/Broadcast2000
 12 #FPS
 1520 #Width
 1152 #Height
 #Now the paths to the images

This list can be loaded in Cinelerra in place of a sequence of images.
The list loaded in Cinelerra will appear on the timeline as a single video clip.


A list can be edited like a normal video edit.

How to create an imagelist

There are many ways to create imagelists from the images you already have, enough for all needs and tastes.

Using the GUI

Cinelerra can create imagelists. She creates a copy of the images so this method is recommended only if you have to move your pictures anyway (e.g. downloading them from your SD card. To know the process in details see the next How to load the image sequence from your SD card as a list in Cinelerra.

A nice and easy external tool for creating imagelists is IMG2LIST, a GUI application written by Claudio "Malefico" Andaur. For usage instructions see IMG2LIST homepage. For installation see the HOWTO below How to install IMG2LIST.

More tools available at

Using the command line

You can use mkframelist, that supports every file format, EXR included. It autodetects image size and format. Optionally, framerate, size and format can be set. For installation see the HOWTO below How to install mkframelist.

Here is an example of usage.

Enter the folder scene:

cd scene

Create the list:

mkframelist -r 15 'scene'/*.jpg > scene.list


  • scene is the folder containing all (and only) the frames of the scene in JPG format.

  • -r is the option to set the framerate (default is 12).

  • scene.list is the output list to be loaded in Cinelerra.

How to load the image sequence from your SD card as a list in Cinelerra

When you do stop-motion animations you create one serie of photos for every scene. It’s very common to use digital cameras that record pictures on SD card.

Probably your photos do not have the very resolution your video is going to have (standard video resolution are 720x576 for PAL and 720x480 for NTSC). Often the viewer of the cameras are not so accurate and you may discover the table has been shot too. Don’t worry: Cinelerra is a good tool for animators. You can adjust resolution and position, rotate or flip images, choose the best framerate, correct the colour, import pictures from the card onto your disk.

Load the image sequence

  • Insert your SD card in an USB card reader.

  • Once you plag the USB reader in you will be automatically asked if you would like to import the photos from your photo card. Select Ignore to refuse the import operation.

  • Launch a new instance of Cinelerra.

  • Go to Settings → Preferences → Recording.

  • Make sure the Import images with a duration of … seconds option, at the bottom of the window, is disabled. Your pictures will be imported 1 frame long.

  • Go to File → New - Video.

  • Change the settings as follow, selecting from the dropdown menu or directly entering the values in the text field.

    Presets: User defined
    Tracks: 0
    Tracks: 1
    Framerate: enter the framerate you want the scene to have. For simple projects 12 fps is quite common.
    Canvas size: 720x576 (for PAL) or 720x480 (for NTSC)
    Aspect ratio: Check Auto aspect ratio
    Color model: YUV-8bit for JPEG images
                 RGB-8 bit for PNG or TIFF images
    Interlace mode: Not Interlaced.
  • Go to File → Load Files…

  • Enter /media/ in the upper text field. In the main field select disk (or any other name that defines your card).

  • Browse your folders till you find the images you want to import.

  • Click on the first image of the list to select it.

  • Click on the last image of the list while holding the SHIFT key down to select all the images in between.

  • Select Replace current project and concatenate tracks as insertion strategy.

  • Click on the green tick symbol to load the pictures directly on the timeline.

The sequence will appear on the timeline as an ugly serie of thin gray hairlines. In the Media tab of the Resources window you can see listed all the single images.

Preview the scene

You can preview the scene using the transport controls of the Program window or the controls of the Compositor window.

Very likely your scene will be played back too slow or some frames will be dropped, giving a non fluid motion effect.
To preview the scene at the right speed, with the smooth and continuous movement it will have after rendering, enable Background Rendering. See How to use Background Rendering.

Adjust the spatial parameters of the scene

Very likely the resolution played back will be wrong. The size of the images in the Compositor will be too small or so big that only a portion of it will be visible. To adjust the size of the output use the Camera Zoom.
Enable it by clicking on the forth button in the vertical button bar of the Compositor. A green outline will appear.

In the Compositor drag the image upwards while holding the SHIFT key down to zoom out.
Drag the image downwards while holding the SHIFT key down to zoom in.

You can also adjust the position of the image by simply dragging it around. + You can reset camera operations by right clicking the image and selecting Reset Camera from the popup menu.

If you need to rotate the images of your sequence you can apply the Rotate Video Effect. Similarly you can flip the image with the Flip Video Effect. You can apply a lot of effects. You can even do some colour correction to the sequence of images.

Create and load the list

When you are happy with all the parameters of the sequence, create a folder at destination for the scene to import.

  • Go to File → Render to open the Render dialog.

  • Select the name of the scene. Extension will be written automatically. Make sure the scene filename is preceeded by the absolute path to the location you want to save the files to. I recommend you make a dedicated folder for every scene.

  • Select JPEG Sequence as Fileformat. (PNG, TIFF, TGA and EXR formats are also supported)

  • Check Render video tracks checkbox. Make sure Render audio tracks is not selected.

  • Set the following parameters: Render range: Project - Insertion strategy: Replace current project.

  • Hit the green tick.

The sequence will now appear on the timeline as a video file. In the Media tab of the Resources window you can see only one single file listed. In fact it is not a video file on your card. It’s a list file on your disk. You can open it with a text editor and see what it looks like. Note that absolute paths to the images are saved.
It’s probably recognized as a JPEG image, but it is only few bites in size. It is in the company of all the images that have been imported from the card, manipulated, resized, renamed and saved.

To avoid confusion, I usually rename lists from filename.jpg to filename.list.

Now the scene is ready to be loaded in your animation project. Load the list file only (in place of all the pictures of the scene).

Adjust framerate

Once the scene is in the timeline, you can still adjust framerate.

  • Right click on the list file in the Media tab of the Resources window.

  • Select Info… from the popup menu.

  • Select the desired framerate or enter it directly in the text field.

  • Hit the green tick: the scene will change framerate.

Note that this will not affect the length of the clip in the timeline, to preserve the editing decision about edit length. You may have to adjust that manually, by dragging the right edit boundary.

If you want the new framerate written also in the list text file, the quickest way is to correct the framerate number manually.

  • Right click on the list file and select Open with "Text Editor" from the popup menu.

  • Correct the framerate and save.

Now right click on the list file again but select Open with "Cinelerra" instead. The scene with be displayed on the timeline and played back with the new framerate.

How to grab stop-motion images directly on your disk with Stopmotion

You can connect your computer to your MiniDV camcorder via firewire and save all the photographs for your stop-motion scene directly on disk. To do that you need a framegrabber program. I recommend you use Stopmotion.

To install and configure Stopmotion follow the instructions I wrote at Linux Stopmotion for Grandpa.

Then launch stopmotion and click on the camcorder big button to toggle it on. You should now see the camera input in Stopmotion.

To grab a frame press the Space key.
To know more about Stopmotion framegrabbing press the F1 key and read the brief Stopmotion user manual.

Note that the FPS chooser value does not affect the project, it just helps choosing the right framerate. The framerate is not saved nor automatically exported to the video file or the imagelist file.

The images are stored in an image folder inside the project archive saved by Stopmotion.

How to install IMG2LIST

IMG2LIST (now at version 0.1.5) is a small application to generate list files.

IMG2LIST’s list files are a little different from the ones created by Cinelerra. IMG2LIST’s list files can have any resolution or framerate (independently from the project settings). Images are not copied but it’s not possible to perform any manipulation during the creation of the list. So it is probably the best choice if your images are already on disk.

To install IMG2LIST you need the following programs installed on your system:

  • Python 2.3.x

  • PyGTK 2.0 or higher (

  • GTK

  • Glade-2

  • PIL (Python Imaging Library)

Install the relative Ubuntu packages with the following command:

sudo apt-get install python python-gtk2 libgtk2.0-0 glade-2 python-imaging

Download the source with the following command:


This will create a compressed archive called img2list-0.1.5.tar.gz in your home folder.

To extract the archive type:

tar xvf img2list-0.1.5.tar.gz

You get a directory called img2list-0.1.5 that contains:


Create a directory with this command:

sudo mkdir /usr/local/share/img2list

Copy the file to usr/local/share/img2list with:

sudo cp img2list-0.1.5/ /usr/local/share/img2list/

Edit img2list to reflect the location of this file with the following commands:

Open the file with:

gedit img2list-0.1.5/img2list

In gedit ("Text editor") go to Search → Replace to open the Replace dialog.

In the Search for field enter:


In the Replace with field enter:


Click on Replace all. Close the Replace dialog and Save the changes.

Copy img2list to /usr/local/bin with the command:

sudo cp img2list-0.1.5/img2list /usr/local/bin/img2list

Congratulations! You have finished installing IMG2LIST.

To run it from the terminal just type:

IMG2LIST is not automatically listed in the Applications menu.
To add IMG2LIST to the menu go to System → Preferences → Main Menu.
Select Sound & Video from the Menus list on your left.
Click on New Item to open the Create Launcher dialog box.
Enter the following text:
Type: Application
Command: img2list
Comment: Cinelerra list generator

Click on OK.

The IMG2LIST menu entry is now available in Applications → Sound & Video.

For usage instructions see IMG2LIST homepage

How to install mkframelist

Click on and save the script file in your Home folder.

Then move it to the correct location with the following terminal command:

sudo mv mkframelist /usr/local/bin/mkframelist

Make this script executable with the command:

sudo chmod 755 /usr/local/bin/mkframelist

To know more about mkframelist usage consult mkframelist's help page with the command:

mkframelist -h

mkframelist depends on Imagemagick. Make sure you have it installed.

How to use Background Rendering

Background rendering is a great feature to preview your project as smooth and fast as if it were already rendered. In fact Background rendering is a temporary rendering of a the selected portion of your project.

To enable Background rendering

  • Go to Settings → Preferences → Performances - Background Rendering.

  • Check Use background rendering and click on OK.

  • Set the Insertion Point at the beginning of the part you want to preview. It’s not possible to set the end (and that’s a bug!).

  • Go to Settings. Select Set background render.

A red bar will appear on the timebar marking the progress of the temporary rendering.
After any editing operation the background rendering will start over again.

You can keep background rendering on also when you are not using it.
To disable it, uncheck Use background rendering in the Performance tab of the Preferences window.

Bugs and workarounds

Cinelerra occasionally plays image lists back not very accurately. If you see that the playback of the final frames of your list is all messed up, you might have encountered bug 967. Refer to the bugtraker for description and workaround.