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
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Table of Contents

Index of pages

PRE-REQUISITES - The very basic Ubuntu knowledge you need to use this tutorial

INSTALLATION - Installing the CinelerraCV package. Launching Cinelerra for the first time; running her in a non-English language.

COMPILATION - Building CinelerraCV from source code (in English and Italian).

CINELERRA IN 30' - Walking safely through the labyrinth of Cinelerra and producing your very first trial project (in English and Italian).

PREPARING MEDIA - Getting video, images and sound ready on your computer. Downloading video from your MiniDV camcorder, pictures from your camera, and media from the internet.

ADJUSTING SETTINGS - Adjusting Cinelerra to fit your needs by changing her default settings.

LOADING MEDIA - Importing your resources into Cinelerra.

FIRST EDITING- Arranging your video clips into a basic edit.

SECOND EDITING - Finishing off and polishing.

TITLES - Adding titles, credits, subtitles and other text.

TRANSITIONS - Adding transitions between clips.

EFFECTS - Adding effects; changing the speed, and shape of your video.

COMPOSITING - Mixing several videos into a single output.

COLOUR CORRECTION - Correcting the colours of your video.

RENDERING - Turning your project into a real video file, in different formats for different media. Joining video files.

MAKING ANIMATIONS - Importing image sequences and making a video frame by frame

MAKING A DVD - Creating a DVD-Video out of your video, with or without a menu.

SUBTITLES - Adding simple or multilingual subtitles to your video.

ANAMORPHIC VIDEO - Managing anamorphic (squeezed) footage and mixing it with 4:3 footage.

PROXY EDITING - Editing HD video with non-powerful computers.

TROUBLESHOOTING - Some of the most common problems (and fixes!).

GLOSSARY - Explanations of the essential terms found in Cinelerra, in the Manual, on IRC and on the Mailing List.


This document is far from complete. Some content, formatting and screenshots are still missing. The English is being reviewed.
While I haven’t heard of any fatal consequence resulting from following these howtos, be warned: this site is still a work in progress. Use at your own risk!


  • Cinelerra is a she.

  • "As with many women, learn Cinelerra’s quirks carefully and you will have a good relationship." (Sean M. Pappalardo aka Pegasus_RPG)

  • If you can knit with Inkscape, would you please mind creating a new logo for me based on a ball of film instead of a ball of wool?

  • This tutorial assumes Grandma uses Ubuntu.

  • This tutorial is based on CinelerraCV. If you are using CinelerraHV you may find better help in the Secrets of Cinelerra.

  • This tutorial is split into many howtos. It’s meant to be modular, to allow Grandma to try many different approaches. It teaches the easiest way to do things, but not necessarily the way that produces the best results. For the best results always consult the Manual.

  • All the technical terms and odd words used here are explained in the glossary.

  • Cinelerra is a video editor and compositor. But editing and compositing are only two of the processes involved in video making. Thus she needs the help of other programs and utilities. The ones referred to in this tutorial are:

  • Those howtos are in fact my teaching notes. They are tested on 10-year old kids and on adults new to Linux.

  • Cinelerra has an enormous number of bugs and quirks - no one ever cared for usability! She is far from perfect but (as of summer 2011) she is still the most advanced non-linear video editor in the Free and Open Source Software canon.


Polite comments and requests for specific howtos are very welcome. My email address is (replace -at- with @).*
Rude feedbacks will be stored here.

*(Writing email addresses this way helps protect my in-box from from automatic spammers.)


If you feel an urge to support the work I do or if your mission in life is to contribute to web-hosting costs, relax:

I do have an Amazon wishlist



and a PayPal account.


Donators' names will be embroidered in this section of the site till the end of times.

Donators' hall of fame


Giulio Achilli

Giulio Achilli

a generous Cinelerra user, in charge of the Personal Development Centre Mare Nectaris.


Glen MacArthur

Glen MacArthur

generous and supportive developer of AVLinux a distro dedicated to Multimedia creation on Linux. It’s based on Debian, it’s very modern, fast and lightweight. It contains Cinelerra 2.2 enriched with interesting rendering presets and a muxing utility called FFmultiplex. You can easily run AVLinux from a live DVD or a pendrive.

Thanks and references

Many thanks to:

  • Herman Robak, for brutal support,

  • Doug Pollard for inspiration,

  • Good Scott Frase and his nice Beginner’s Guide to Exporting Video from Cinelerra,

  • Andrea Della Regina and his page on compilation,

  • Martin Fearnley for English review (if you still see mistakes, they are my new ones),

  • Giada and her experiments with Imagemagick, Francesco Crivellari and pinguozz for their challenging questions,

  • Paolo Rampino (akirad) for Ubuntu tips and tricks,

  • Thanatermesis, kylemallory and loopdupilcate for transcoding tips,

  • gilead for scripting tips,

  • harcesz for Irish/Polish troubleshooting tips (and a giraffe),

  • Daniel Jircik for capturing tips,

  • vaasnaad for titler tips,

  • Peter Baaij from the United States of the Netherlands ;-)

  • Laurent Roche and Glen MacArthur for WinFF profiles,

  • Michael Rampe and Kevin Kennedy for ffmpeg tips

  • Christian Stadegaart for clever questions and conversion tips

  • Einar R√ľnkaru for making most of the "Adjusting settings" page unnecessary,

  • Lorenzo Sutton for multicam editing workflow ideas,

  • Clinton Baldridge for compilation tips,

  • and all the people of the community of CinelerraCV.

The main reference is and will always be the CinelerraCV Manual.

Other sites I found useful are: