I made a 5 hours documentary only with Kdenlive

I apologize if this is not the place to talk about this, but I was directed here by the Kdenlive official Mastodon account.

The documentary that I made is freely available on Peertube and our website https://www.tromsite.com/documentaries/trom2/

It is called “A Message to the Aliens” and it is about how we destroy our environment and each other, but also about what makes us, us. The culture, the system. And in the end how we can help each other overcome this mess. We talk about the fediverse, opens source, and volunteering.

Here’s the trailer, also made with Kdenlive:

I worked for 3 years using Kdenlive appimages to make sure I control the versioning. I used it on our own custom Linux distro called TROMjaro. The project totals some 3.3 TB of files (over 13.000 files in total) and 40 hours of 4K interview recordings. So it was massive.

Basically I think Kdenlive is fantastic and you can do so much with it. From motion tracking to frame by frame editing and fine tuning of colors. I am really proud that I did it with an open source software, especially since I have used Kdenlive for many years now.

I would love to answer any questions if anyone is interested about working on such a massive project with Kdenlive. What bugs I encountered, difficulties, and overall experience.

I do not want to spam you here so I will stop. But I would love if the Kdenlive team could use this 3 years work to showcase what you can do in Kdenlive.

Thank you so much for this wonderful project!


A wonderful project - one with content. Big compliments.

Also, I think it’s great that you did the thousands of hours of work on a system that isn’t really predestined for video editing: Linux. That also impresses me a lot.

All video editors have bugs and make problems from time to time. You just have to know how to work with them anyway.
Which bugs gave you the most work and how did you manage to deal with them?

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Thanks a lot! Linux is rock solid for these past years, I do a lot of work on Linux and actually I keep my laptop running nonstop. Super reliable. But the main issue with doing video editing on a Linux machine with a Linux video editor was the lack of support for GPU. It feels like going uphill with a bike when you only use the CPU vs going uphill with a car when you use a GPU…

Everything feels very slow because of the lack of GPU support in Kdenlive and Linux in general.

But thanks to the proxies I managed to edit it smoothly. The main issue was when I was doing color correcting for the 4K interviews since you can’t really use proxies for those. You need to see them in full quality. It was very slow. I actually made a big blog post about these, in detail https://www.tiotrom.com/2023/07/making-trom-ii-3-years-in-one-post/

The worst bug I encountered was related to that. Color correcting using 5-6 different layers of effects at times made my videos look weird, almost like it inverted the colors. And there was no way to fix but to move the clips on a different track. Now imagine I have a 30 min interview in the Project Bin and I color correct it. And there are tens of small clips in the timeline cut from this main clip. If you mess that 30 min clip, you’ll mess the tens of clips in the timeline. And have to manually check them all and fix. I reported the bug but it is hard to replicated it seems…I almost gave up on doing the color editing because of that.

Else Kdenlive rarely crashed and I really love how simple it is to use. We even made the transcriptions with the Kdenlive built-in AI tool. I’d say it was 95% accurate. We had to fix the rest manually. I was impressed how good it was.

This is how I tuned down someone’s red cheek frame by frame in Kdenlive. Took many days but the result was great :slight_smile:


Hello @Tio,
All very amazing.
I see that your approach is quite different from mine and that you work with a huge effort.
With me everything is different. My videos are all very short, just a minute, so GPU acceleration doesn’t matter at all.

When I see the colossal effort you put into removing the red cast from the cheek, I want to ask if it can’t be done much easier.
I’m very interested in color correction, and there are many different tools for that: I can imagine that here with “CMYK ajdust”, or especially with “Color Channel Mixer” very much easier and without mask also very well gets the color under control. Trying is worthwhile. But surely you have already tried all this.

Have you only been on the Kdenlive forum for a few days? Or were you already on the old forum?

And, if I see how exactly you take the color grading - why don’t you use DaVinci Resolve? The result would hardly be better, but the amount of work would be only a fraction. I definitely wish you’d stick with Kdenlive, though.

But - your films are about something so essential that a bit of color cast or imperfection in the technical quality doesn’t really matter at all. You are not competing with films that are better made in terms of craftsmanship. Your goal can only be to think and feel even deeper. You have already fulfilled the necessary form.

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Yes if you make short videos then the GPU may not matter. But when you have to render multiple parts that take hours to render, it kinda hurts :smiley:

So we tried…but for one you cannot simply tune down the red in the cheek without making the entire face pale. I tried a lot trust me. I could not do it. Second, a friend who is also part of the documentary, is quite good in DaVinci and especially for color correction. He makes very professional videos about volunteering - here’s his channel Be Brave To Act - videos.trom.tf

So he was the first one to give me the suggestion of tracking the cheek because he said even in Davinci you have to do it the same. He showed me some examples. But I refused to use Davinci and eventually I did it in Kdenlive because would have been the same amount of work. So I am extremely happy that I could easily do this complicated sort of work in Kdenlive. But man…takes so long…I added so many thousands of frames. But with keyboard and mouse shortcuts you can speed things up by a lot.

I was not aware of the forum honestly, else I would have used it when editing the documentary because I had a lot of questions about how to do this or that. I tried to use the Matrix chat for a bit… But from now on I’ll use the forum more if I am to work on bigger projects in Kdenlive.

Thank you for saying that because yes I 100% agree! The message is important, not how “fancy” it looks in the case of such documentaries. But I also tried to make it more appealing to not make people bored.

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I can understand your thoughts well. You know the professional software DaVinci and you consciously choose Kdenlive, with which you can achieve everything that is important to you. That makes me really happy to hear. My big decision 3 years ago was to leave Windows for good after 30 years to go Linux only. That’s why I had to give up Vegas Pro. That wasn’t so easy, but in the meantime I got so used to Kdenlive and have grown very fond of it. Everything I want to do in my videos I can do with Kdenlive. I don’t really experience any limitation either.

What effect do you use to do the color corrections?

Do you also enhance the audio internally in Kdenlive, or do you edit audio externally.

Funny I started with Sony Vegas also. Back in 2011 I made my first documentary in Windows with Sony Vegas. After a few years I moved to Linux where I tried several video editors like OpenShot, Shotcut, Pitivi or Flowblade. But Kdenlive for me is still the best in terms of options and stability.

For the color correction I used many effects simply because I wanted to achieve a pure black background for all interviews

Yes. Mostly so. From noise reduction to levels and more. But I did not do a lot of audio editing honestly.

Hello Tio,

That’s a hell of an effort you’re putting in. How nice that you can do all this with Kdenlive.
Yes, I have also done a lot with Shotcut and still love it from time to time. But for the old m2t file of a HD video it is not so good. And it lacks many good filters.
You are so advanced in color grading, I can certainly learn a lot.
For audio I always need the compressor (SC4) and equalizer (TAP Equalizer/BW), it makes a big difference, even if the recordings are already very well done with the Rode Videomic NTG.
I’m sure we’ll talk about this in more detail.

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Thank you, but I am not sure I am advanced. Truth is I was doing whatever I could to make all of the interviews look similar and reflect how those people look in reality, and I was playing with many color-effects. Also, it totally depends on your screen. I did most of the color grading on a laptop with an LCD screen, then I bought one with OLED and I could see a lot of issues with the colors. My OLED is very color accurate so I tuned it based on it now, but if you watch on an LCD things may look different, at times quite a lot. Tricky! But in the end, the message is more important :wink:

Good morning

Thank you for this testimony. I have often had what I thought was bugs: Kdenlive spray during renderings, shift in clips on different tracks during important trips but from the last versions, I no longer have these concerns.
And above all, working from Manjaro Kde, I installed the graphic component giving me the occupation of memory and there, big surprise, during the renderings I was waiting for the 100% occupation of RAM (32GB in DDR5) bringing the Crach. I noticed the absence of swap on my system. Since the creation of a 32g swap (let’s be crazy) more worries with certainly a RAM occupied at almost 100% but the swap takes over and everything works.

My biggest project was 1h50 mixing photos coming from a Panasonic Lumix (Breoft), 1080p videos, music and some “ordinary” effets such as zoom, displacement, rotoscopy. Few image corrections.

Overall it is my favorite program. I tried to use other program (still in Linux having abandoned Window after Vista) but I have always returned very quickly under Kdenlive.

Being French and null in English, I have a lot of trouble with the effects of which I do not always understand the purpose. It is a long -term job to try to understand everything, especially since the image is not my job.

So a big thank you to all those who are going to vanim this increase and who helps neophytes.

Give the official Kdenlive documentation a try. The video effects section has been given an overhaul and you’ll find new screenshots and an explanation of the effects and their parameters there now.

Feedback here in the forum is welcome …

I would say that it would be extremely useful if the effects had thumbnails, same for transitions too, to give you a quick idea about what they do. Like OpenShot has

I too was lost figuring what all of those effects and transitions do.

Agreed. Discussion is already ongoing about that … :wink:

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Hello @Tio
The effects are also a matter of getting used to. In the end, you don’t need all of them, but only a few.
If you have little experience, that is very good, because then you are curious and can ask.
The best thing is to open a new topic and describe what you would like to do, i.e. improve. That could be: Picture brighter, color cast correct, sound louder, quieter or whatever else keeps you busy.
Kdenlive has many different effects and you can do almost everything with it. Do not hesitate to ask. But it’s best not to ask for all your wishes at once, but one after the other.

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Now I have serious doubts.

  1. it certainly makes a lot of work to introduce such small thumbnails that change at best.
  2. the significance is really very low. The fewest effects can be explained by a small picture.
  3. these colorful thumbnails, which show the effect of an effect in advance, are in principle a privilege of pure hobby applications. No professional software in image or video editing has something like that.

It would be much better if the simple and short descriptions would be formulated more meaningful.

Or even better, if the effects were described more clearly and comprehensibly in a help.

I’ll let the devs be the judge of that :wink:

I’ll let the users be the judges of that

Davinci Resolve does for transitions …

This is easily done as all the effect descriptions are in plain XML files. There is even the possibility to have short descriptions for each parameter. I am happy to collect such short descriptions from the user community and work it into the XMLs.

Check the official Kdenlive documentation and let me know which effects need more and better descriptions. Of course, it would be a tremendous help if you could provide the more comprehensive description, too :wink:

Hallo Bernd,
Of course, I plan to write more help texts. There has been a delay now since my last tutorial, because it is unfamiliar work for me, and because I had hoped that my favorite effect: Lift/gamma/gain would be fixed soon to finally describe it. But I don’t want that as long as the two bugs are still there.

I could write something about “CMYK adjust” and also about “Color Channel Mixer”, because you can make wonderful corrections with it. I see that both effects are already precisely described in the manual. I think individual usage hints would be an interesting addition there.
These could also be a good introduction for newcomers.

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I think it would be very helpful if for each filter you could click on a link that would automatically take you to the manual. And I suppose it’s easy to implement.

Just add the link after the short description. Is that possible?

Not so sure about that. But you may want to log this as a feature request. All the descriptions are XML files, so you could add the link there but you would need functionality/code to actually make the link text a hyperlink and then open the browser with it …

Workaround: Have the manual open in your browser and enter the effect name in the search field in the top left hand corner of the documentation page

Unfortunately, I don’t understand anything about that:

All the descriptions are XML files, ...

and if it’s not that simple, to do this - your suggested method is as simple as it is good:

Of course, this is the best idea. But when I click on Help in Kdenlive, the old help appears:

Revision Applications 19.04 (2019-05-07)

Do you know why the current help does not appear?