The History of LightWorks

There was once a piece of software helping to define the non-linear editing space; it’s an editing system known as Lightworks.

Back around 1990, when digital non linear editing was in its infancy, systems like EditDroid and others there was a small company in England, put together by a team of editors, who were developing a computerised editing system for editors, designed by editors.

In fact, that was one of the early slogans of Lightworks as they tried to compete with a Boston company called Avid, who was also making huge inroads in Hollywood with their digital editing tool, Avid Media Composer.

As was the case with many early systems, Lightworks was designed with a software and hardware component in mind. It deployed a controller which emulated a KEM or Steenbeck film editor. They wanted to take all of the “non linearity” of film, and the ease and control of screening footage back and forth from film editing, and place it squarely in a computer environment.

A lot has happened in non-linear editing since then. Avid attained shone, until Apple purchased a piece of software from Macromedia and released their DV editing software system called Final Cut Pro using the NEW firewire connections on their Macs.

At a cost of about five percent of a full blown Avid system, users could quickly import DV camera footage, edit, title, output and distribute motion images like never before. The tide shifted, Apple’s Final Cut Pro became more refined, and soon it was making inroads in educational environments, TV series. Film makers like the Cohen brothers became fans and users.

The big news here, though, is that Lightworks, a tool that many people have found to be the best editor in the category, is going open source. That means Windows beta version is available for free and is soon the be available for Mac and for Linux. The official release of the full Windows version will be on 28th May 2012.

The following is an announcement about the release of Lightworks for Windows expected 28th may 2012

The full Windows release of Lightworks is due on the 28th of May was announced at NAB 2012. This is the first time that a working on a 64-bit version of Lightworks and a Linux version of this lightning-fast editing system. Working previews will be shown to NAB visitors.

64-bit Lightworks
The 64-bit version of Lightworks will allow users to obtain the maximum possible performance from their computer hardware, as well as providing the best environment for editing with Long-GOP codecs.

64-bit will be a free upgrade for Lightworks Pro users and will be available as soon as possible after the release of Lightworks.

Lightworks for Linux
Lightworks has been completely re-architected to make it easier to port to multiple operating systems, with the Linux version being the first non-Windows version to be shown by EditShare, Lightworks will be the only tri-platform professional NLE and will allow users of multiple operating systems to enjoy the benefit of Lightworks’ lightning-fast workflow. Although this is a technology preview, progress is expected to be rapid and announcements will follow in due course.

Lightworks for Mac
While there were no comments about the Mac version of lightworks, reading between the lines there still will be a Mac version, but it looks like they have run into unexpected delays as the Mac version was slated to be available prior to the Linux version. EditShare still include in their product range: “Lightworks, the world’s first 3-platform (Windows/OS X/Linux) professional non-linear video editing application”.

(Update: 15th November 2013: Lightworks announced a beta release of their video editing software, currently available on both Windows and Linux. They say that 11.5  represents the stepping stone to version 12 which will be Windows, Linux and Mac.)

An unoffical comment from a lightworks spokesman states: “It’s tentative, but we’d like to have a Mac release by the end of the year, after Linux & Windows.”

NEW Features of the Windows version will flow on to Linux and Mac versions.
New Multicore Media Engine

With a brand new Multicore Media Engine, Lightworks now includes support for advanced Long-GOP editing, offering real-time performance for all the main Long-GOP camera formats (H.264 and MPEG-2) and also XDCAM EX, XDCAM HD, AVCHD and HDV.

Editshare EMEA Managing Director James Richings said:

“We’re really excited about the developments over the past few months. Although we are a little behind our original release schedule, we think the wait has been worth it. We are now able to release Lightworks with more features that will appeal to every type of editor.”

Richings went on to say:

“We didn’t know quite what to expect when we first released the Beta version of Lighworks. But 16 months on we have over a quarter of a million registered users and 30,000 new downloads every month – and that’s before we release the Linux and OS X versions!

“We’re taking Lightworks right to the top. We’re speeding up our recruitment of developers, and we’re making it easier for broadcasters, film-makers and educational establishments to get started with Lightworks. With our built-in Project Sharing, Lightworks is incredibly scalable, integrating perfectly with our world-class shared storage and workflow solutions”.
New Features

Very wide format support including AVCHD, H.264, AVC-Intra, DNxHD, ProRes, Red R3D, DPX, XDCAM HD 50, XDCAM EX, DVD, BluRay, 4K support. (DNxHD available for a single additional payment)
Support for all popular camcorder and DSLR video
Native real-time title generator
Improved interoperability – including AAF with Avid and Editshare Flow
Major improvements to Drag-and-Drop in the timeline
Trimming enhancements
Automatic Edit backups
Better Import and Export windows: more options, easier to use
Shared Projects
Stereoscopic workflow

A new Lightworks website and the Lightworks Community will be launched on 28th May:

The Lightworks Website has been completely reworked. There will be an Online Store for lightworks-related products, such as Lightworks keyboards and consoles, and a new Lightworks Community with professional profiles, specialist user groups, community events, multi-lingual chat, messaging, video showcases and a multitude of features that will help Pro users connect and contribute to the creative life of the Lightworks Community.

Pricing and Availability
Lightworks: Free Available 28th May 2012
Lightworks Pro: $60 per year Available 28th May 2012

Lightworks community membership is free to anyone that upgrades to Lightworks Pro

Lightworks Pro is available to educational users for $30 per year.

All available from the Lightworks online store at after 28th May 2012.

The following is an announcement from LightWorks at 8th September 2011.

8th September 2011
Lightworks Announcement

Almost one year ago we released the first beta version of Lightworks as a free download in the first phase of our journey towards Lightworks Open Source. A lot has happened since then and we are now ready to announce the next steps in the evolution of Lightworks.

Before we go into the details, we want to reassure you that Lightworks will remain a free download, and that it will continue to be developed by our growing team of developers and supported by our skilled engineers, as well as through the ever-popular Lightworks forum.

Anyone who has already downloaded Lightworks will know that this is much more than just a free NLE. The intention is, and has always been with EditShare, to aggressively develop Lightworks, until and beyond the point where it is the best way to edit professionally.

The aim of the beta program was to assist the developers in creating a “software only” version of Lightworks that would run on the wide variety of computer hardware that is available today, while at the same time introducing as many users as possible to Lightworks.

The challenge for EditShare was to rework the software so that it could run on the vast majority of hardware, without customisation, configuration or support. It needed to install and run painlessly, just like many other software applications. Previous Lightworks turnkey systems, while utterly stable and dependable, demanded expertly configured and proprietary hardware and professional support. As such, they were relatively expensive, although still popular with editors and good value in the context of larger projects.

With input from Lightworks beta users, progress has been positive and rapid. Almost uniquely in the development of this type of application, there has been a constant dialogue between users and developers. In the nine months since we released the first beta version, there have been over 500 fixes and features implemented, not to mention the port to Linux and OSX and a major re-write of some core elements. Meanwhile, users have benefited from the focus, effectiveness and depth of Lightworks, all of which have grown during the beta program.

This focus has been largely responsible for the rapid uptake in Lightworks. In the past nine months we have seen over 140,000 registered users. Over 15,000 new users are registering every month consistently.

This enthusiastic take-up of Lightworks has encouraged us to expand the development team, and this will continue to grow. We hope that you will see this as a strong indication of our commitment to the future of Lightworks.

Current Projects

Lightworks has enjoyed a long and successful history with film and we’re seeing more and more projects, such as Martin Scorsese’s current film Hugo, using Lightworks as their NLE of choice.

This month we are profiling Jill Bilcock (Road To Perdition, Moulin Rouge) who used Lightworks on the upcoming international release Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark. Jill and her assistants are also using the new version of Lightworks on their current project, Mental, directed by P J Hogan.

Earlier this year, The King’s Speech and Hanna were both released to worldwide international acclaim, both films having used Lightworks as their editing platform. And as well as film, Lightworks is in daily use on many News, Sports and Drama productions around the world, emphasising that although freely available, it is a high-end NLE that can be used in the most demanding situations.

Why are we on this path with Lightworks?

Throughout all of this, we are constantly asked two questions; Why are we doing this, and how we can continue to spend money on software that we give away?

The answer to the first question is quite simple; as mentioned above, we want Lightworks to be the best editor available, and we also want to give everyone a chance to use it.

With regards to the ongoing cost, an important factor is how we go about incorporating professional features, such as production-quality codecs (Apple ProRes, Avid DNxHD etc), when they require EditShare to pay license fees to the owners of the technology.

Over the past six months we have worked very hard to deliver a solution which we think will be fair for everybody, and which carries with it other benefits as well.

Linux and Mac OSX versions

Our progress with porting Lightworks to Linux and Mac OSX is something we get asked about every single day. We’re happy to report that we are making huge strides towards completing the port and we’re aiming to have the first beta release available on 19th December 2011.

Lightworks will be the first professional NLE available and fully supported on all three major OS platforms so we’re putting in a huge effort to ensure that we get these versions out as soon as possible.

Official Release

On 29th November 2011, one year after the initial beta release, we will be officially releasing Lightworks. We are introducing a membership model, which will help grow the existing community, and cover the ongoing and necessary license costs for third party technology such as codecs.

By introducing membership, we can provide access to licensable features without raising the barrier to becoming a Lightworks user too high. It also allows us to make Lightworks accessible to those in education, as these members will be future Lightworks champions.

At the same time, we also want to enhance and extend the Lightworks forum to include new web features that will help the community thrive and further enhance the Lightworks user experience.

Membership Options and Pricing

Lightworks Membership will be available with three options:

Lightworks Free Membership: Free
Lightworks Educational Membership: £20 (€25, $30) per year
Lightworks Professional Membership: £40 (€50, $60) per year
Free Members will continue to have unrestricted access to the free version of Lightworks and access to the Lightworks Community, with some limitations. Every current registered user will automatically become a Free Member.

Education and Professional Members will have unrestricted access to the full version of Lightworks, which includes all the professional codecs, other professional features (described in more detail below) and all software updates. They will also have full unrestricted access to the Lightworks Community (also described in more detail below).

Upgrading from a Free Member to either an Education or Professional Member is an easy process and can be done at any time.

Volume Licensing is also available. Members can add further activations to the same license key by logging into their account and purchasing more activations.

Lightworks Features

Education and Professional Members have access to the full version of Lightworks. The enhanced features include:
1. Native use of professional codecs and other formats
Red R3D
AVCHD / H.264
Avid DNxHD*

2. Interoperability
AAF (with presets for Avid and Pro Tools)

3. Shared Projects
Multiple users can work on the same Lightworks Project at the same time, collaborating on Edits with fast, intuitive user permission controls.

4. Lightworks Titling
A new native Lightworks Titling tool with powerful, GPU-based capabilities and real-time preview.

5. Stereoscopic Support
Lightworks has an unmatched stereoscopic workflow. Easy to use, powerful and realtime adjustment tools and codec independent Import / Export options. You can also output Stereoscopic through your secondary display or HDMI port, as well as I/O hardware.

Features include:

6. Export to a wider range of formats including DVD and BluRay

7. Integration with EditShare Flow and Ark
Users can drag and drop Clips, Subclips and Sequences directly from Flow into Lightworks. Through Flow Projects, assistants or archivists can also create Lightworks Projects directly in Flow and prepare media and bins for Lightworks Editors.

8. Hardware I/O support
Matrox XMIO2, DSXLE2 and MXO2
Blackmagic Design

9. Tangent TUBE Support
Lightworks will support the new TUBE protocol giving full access to Tangent’s new line of Element control panels.

10. Eligible for Support
Education and Professional Members are eligible for support contracts with EditShare.

11. Updates
All Education and Professional Members will receive all software updates, major or minor, whilst their Membership is still active.

*Due to licensing restrictions, Avid DNxHD has to be sold separately and will be available from the web store for £36 (€45, $55). This is a one-off cost and NOT an annual subscription.

**in early 2012
Lightworks Community

The Lightworks forum has been so successful that it has given EditShare a powerful message: users want to share their knowledge and work with each other to improve their skills and know-how. So in addition to these compelling software features, annual Membership will provide access to the new Lightworks Community. This is where co-operation and collaboration are built into the fabric of Lightworks.

All members will have access to the following features:
Groups – Join and participate in Groups focused on projects or specific topics
Events – See Event listings and apply to attend.

Further to this, Education and Professional Members will have the following additional benefits:
Create and Modify Groups
Create and Organise Events
Live Chat – directly with others or in Group Discussion Rooms
Videos – upload and exhibit videos and showreels, alongside expanded profile pages
Voting – vote for Lightworks features and developments
Jobs – post and respond to job adverts
Online Seminars and Training

The Community, which will also be populated by EditShare employees, will be the nexus for the rapidly growing number of professional users.

Open Source release

As we announced in 2010, our commitment is to make Lightworks an Open Source project. Naturally, there are many legal issues and complications in doing so with a product that has over 20 years’ history. We are still working hard on this and will be making further announcements about when this will roll out once we have finished the work on porting Lightworks to Linux and Mac OSX. Rest assured, we are fully committed to making Lightworks available to developers through open source and fostering the community’s enthusiasm for enhancing what is already a high-end professional NLE.

15th November 2013:

Release of:

 The Public Beta version of Lightworks 11.5 on both Windows and Linux! 11.5 is the next major release of Lightworks and represents the stepping stone to version 12 which will be Windows, Linux and Mac.This latest Beta build is a huge step on from version 11.1.1. We now have AC3 audio decode support (cross platform) which no longer requires a separate audio filter. We have introduced a considerable amount of changes to the user interface including: Playback controls to viewers, right click menu functionality (export, adding effects etc) Colour scheme changes with user definable parameters, including scaling the interface. AJA Hardware I/O support, Background export, YouTube export and much more!This Beta build by no means represents the final product. There are several of the new features not working correctly and these issues are all covered in the Limitations and Known Issues list. Please pay particular attention to this list before downloading the installers.

11.5 is considerably different from 11.1.1 and you may experience issues that you did not have in the current release build. Please be sure to report any regressions you find in Redmine. This Beta cycle is not for the faint hearted.

The Linux version now consists of two builds: .deb and .rpm (previously .deb only) The tested distros can be seen below: (Other distros may work, but have not been tested)

Debian Distros:

  • Ubuntu/Lubuntu/Xubuntu 13.10
  • Mint 15

RPM Distros:

  • Fedora 19
  • OpenSUSE 12.3

The main new features of 11.5 can be seen below:

  • Added support for AJA I/O devices (Kona and Io XT) drivers 10.4.1 and higher required (Windows, Pro version only)
  • Added support for screen capture using the record panel (Pro version only)
  • Added support for Retina displays (Pro version only)
  • Added support for scalable user interface (Pro version only)
  • Added ability to change interface colour scheme (Pro version only)
  • Added YouTube export option to the export panel for Windows, Mac and Linux (Pro version only)
  • Added AC3 audio decode support for Windows, Mac and Linux (Windows filter no longer required)
  • Added ability to export to AVID DNxHD MOV using the EditShare MOV option (AVID DNxHD only)
  • Added ability to export MXF OP1a MXF files (AVC-Intra RP2027 export option) (Pro version only)
  • Added ability to create Macros from the Key Assignments panel (Pro version only)
  • Added ability to search on the Key Assignments panel
  • Added time-indicator strips to tiles (when you mouse-over)
  • Added Curve effect to FX Colour Correction effects
  • Added “Use Marks” option to the export panel
  • Added Sync Group improvements, a record edit can now be synced with the sync group
  • Added ability to generate a random edit based on users settings from the sync group
  • Added background export. Background tasks now appear on the Tasks tab of the Project Card
  • Added generating audio waveforms as a background task
  • Added “Auto” frame rate project generation. New projects set to “Auto” will not have a defined frame rate until the first clip is imported
  • Introduced playback controls to source and edit viewers
  • Added magnetic snapping on all panels (this can be turned off in System Settings)
  • Introduced ruler on timelines
  • Introduced Right click functionality (Export, Add FX)
  • Change the appearance of Lightworks. Scale, Window Colour, Text colour, Heading Colour, Subheading Colour, Selection Colour, Brightness, Typeface and Wallpaper image (Pro version only)
  • Changed default media location to: C:\Users\Public\Documents\Lightworks folder (this avoids any Windows permissions issues, removing the need to start once as Administrator)
  • Removed constraint on media locations in the Free versions. Free users can now specify where their media folders are stored
  • Added ability to Insert/Replace a source into a record edit if one is not open (a record edit will automatically be opened and the source Inserted/Replaced)

For more information, including all the new changes and fixes please visit the Beta downloads pages below:

All Beta feedback for 11.5 is through Redmine here:

It is recommended that users first discuss any issues they encounter on the Lightworks Forum in the relevant sections below, before submitting any tickets in Redmine.

It is highly recommended users back up their entire Projects folder before installing any new Beta version of Lightworks. If any users experience issues with the Beta version they can safely step back to the release version 11.1.1.


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