Lightworks Review: A Professional, Non-linear Video Editing System (A Technical Review)


1. Value for Money: 4 out of 5

At $25, $175, and $438 respectively, Lightworks is pretty much expensive.

2. Support: 5 out of 5

Active online community and great customer service.

3. Effectiveness: 5 out of 5

Excellent built-in functions for effective video editing.

4. Simplicity: 5 out of 5

Powerful, and yet straightforward user interface.

Quick Review Summary of Lightworks

Platforms: Linux, OS X, Windows.

Lightworks has been used in a handful of movies/series including Romeo + Julie (1996), Centurion (2010), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), among others. Using the software, professionals could easily bring their ideas to life, and on the other hand, the software isn’t entirely beginner-repellent. It’s a professional video editor for everyone. Lightworks, though a professional video editing software — as mentioned earlier, is a non-linear video editing system that could be used even by amateur video creators/YouTubers.

Pros & Cons


• Supports advanced Multicam and multiple monitors (even for the free version — 2 monitors). A very useful feature when working on big projects.

• Export to Blue-ray or DVD

• Export Videos in high definition formats

• Autosave and effortless trimming


• Export to DVD and/or Blue-ray is not supported on the free version (only saves to the hard drive on the free version)

• Requires registration before use

• Boris Graffiti and Boris FX packages unavailable on the free version

Why Trust Me?

I’ve been working with all forms of media files — especially videos — for quite a while now. In this modern era, it’s practically impossible to work (for yourself or clients) without using the software. I use multiple video workstations at a time — for clients and personal projects. Sometimes, I review these applications, just like what you get in this Lightworks review. After compering and using both the free and premium versions of Lightworks, here are my thoughts discoveries. Right here in this article.

Lightworks: FAQs

Here are some of the frequently asked questions (and answers) about Lightworks:

1. How do I activate Lightworks?

Lightworks requires user registration. Before using/activating the software, you’re expected to create an account at unless you already have one — in which case, you simply log in to start using Lightworks full time.

2. How can I activate Lightworks without an internet connection?

Activating Lightworks without an internet connection is allowed and also simple. Without an internet connection on your device, you’ll be prompted to start the offline activation procedure. You could find instructions for offline activation at > “Installation and Activation Guide”.

3. Only the option to export as YouTube/Vimeo at 720p quality. Why are all the other options not available?

This is because the free version of Lightworks is restricted in some ways. For example, it has restricted file outputs limited to YouTube and Vimeo (MP4 @ 720p.) If you need to access the other exporter profiles and options, you will need to upgrade to Lightworks Pro. More information can be found here: From the link, you could compare the Lightworks Free and Lightworks Pro packages for details of all limitations and features.

Lightworks: A Detailed Review

Lightworks has been in the digital workstation software market longer than most similar software still existing. Lightworks has been in development since 1989 till date. Boasting of over 4 million registrations, requests, and downloads. Lightworks might have been able to attain such feats by the features made available to its users. Could that be the case? Let’s take a look at some of the video/audio editing features made available to users by Lightworks.

Features of Lightworks:

Here are some of what you get from Lightworks:

Real-time Project Sharing For Groups

Lightworks supports group collaboration in a whole different way. Group collaboration on Lightworks is real-time. Sharing media, bins, and edits could be done in real-time while having full control over user permissions. I.e., you could set which user has read or write permission to shared files.

Mark and Park

Mark and Park are one of the most loved features of Lightworks users. In Lightworks, “Mark and Park” is just a term for setting In and Out points in videos. There are two ways of achieving this: This video has a short, detailed tutorial on how to use this Mark and Park.

Real-time Effects With Built-in Pre-sets

Here’s another powerful feature of Lightworks: Lightworks offers pre-built pre-sets (over 100 built-in effect pre-sets) that could come in handy if ever you feel a bit lazy. Apart from that, starting with these pre-sets could really spice up and speed up your work process. These effects can be added on the fly thereby increasing your workflow. Lightworks’ real-time GPU pipeline architecture, at its core, deals with compositing and effects — from primary to secondary color correction, blurs, mattes and masks.

Highly Customizable Interface and Multiple Languages

Users can quickly and conveniently customize preferences and configurations in Lightworks. The interface is likened to an empty canvas that’s fully customizable to your taste and current needs. Furthermore, configurations such as language change are fully implemented: Languages such as Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Italian, Indonesian, German, French, Bengali, Czech, Turkish, Polish, Thai, Portuguese, and Spanish are supported.

Support For Hardware Equipment From Manufacturers Such as AJA, Blackmagic, and Matrox.

Using the right hardware could noticeably enhance the quality of your work. The software supports hardware from the three main manufacturers of I/O devices: AJA, Blackmagic, and Matrox.

Multicam Support

This is feature comes in handy especially for professionals who use multiple cameras for shooting their videos. However, this feature isn’t really needed by most amateur video content creators?

Trimming and AutoSave

When it comes to trimming or timing videos, Lightworks does it (arguably) even better than apps like Premiere Pro 2.0. On Lightworks, even after finishing your work, it could still be trimmed seamlessly without losing sync whatsoever.

Then also is the AutoSave feature. Autosave is quite a simple idea, however, most digital video workstations fail to implement it the right way. The way Lightworks handles autosave makes editing notably less stressful and faster.

Integration with Boris Products

More to Lightworks Pro’s native tools and built-ins, Version 12.5 and above are integrated with Boris FX. If you’ve been playing around with videos, you may have heard about Boris FX. Boris FX is a visual effects software/company specialized in providing special effects for premium video editing. Lightworks has teamed up with top developers at Boris FX for the purpose of adding those powerful toolkits within Lightworks (from version 12.5). Boris FX comes in handy when adding an optical stabilizer to your GoPro footage or effective lens flare to individual scenes. More advanced editing like removing unwanted objects from frames/scenes can be handled with Boris FX’s premium tools.

Note: No packages or Boris option is available on the $25 version. You get Boris Graffiti on the 1 year ($175) license. You get both Boris Graffiti and Boris FX on the “Outright License” of $438 forever.

Non-linear Editing

So, what’s with the “Non-linear Editing System” stuff?

Short answer: Non-linear Editing System is any system/tool that performs non-destructive editing on the content or material being edited.

More details? A non-linear video editing software is pointer-based and does not save modifications directly onto the original file. Why? When edits are saved directly on the original file, it leads to loss of quality increasingly noticeable between subsequent edits.

Lightworks pioneered this system of video editing and won an EMMY award in 2017 for this. This system of editing was necessitated by that tendency of media files to lose quality each time a change is saved directly on the original file. The image below (from a Wikipedia page) depicts this loss we talk about (as a result of multiple/repeated linear editing.):

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…and that’s why non-linear editing systems should be adopted by any serious media editor that really cares about the quality of user’s creation/work.

Some other features:

Apart from the above-listed features, Lightworks is natively compatible with Ubuntu and other Linux distributions. It also has a rich set of professional features and is very stable when handling playback, and other operations.

Reasons Behind The Reviews and Ratings:

Lightworks Ratings

A review that simply says 4.7 of 5 stars or something like that is plainly vague. Do you agree? So, in this review, we’ll do a little bit of breaking down the key things/features users actually think about before hitting the fifth star in a review or, unapologetically hitting just the first star.


Lightworks supports a wide variety of media file containers/formats. Coupled with its advanced Multicam editing and real-time effects — even on the free version, you could count on the software when it comes to effectiveness.


Lightworks’ license fee costs about $25, however, it could be extended to a year or even an ‘Outright license’ which costs about $175 and $385 respectively. This seems pretty expensive. However, you could compare the licensed versions to the free version while taking notes of the features you need. For example, the free version supports second monitor output, H.264/MPEG-4 export to Vimeo or YouTube of up to 720p HD.

Ease of Use

Lightworks has gathered over 4 million downloads and registration — which might only be for good reason? The adoption rate of Lightworks says a lot about its User Experience. The video editing software has a user-friendly design that accommodates both beginners/amateurs and pros.


Lightworks has an obvious excellent customer support service always willing to come in with help each time users find themselves entangled in certain situations. Lots of tutorials and helpful topics already exist on Lightworks’ support pages and forums. Even a total beginner can gain a reasonable level of experience before trying out the software.

Lightworks: Alternatives

As stated earlier, there are quite a number of digital video workstations theses days. So, what are the alternatives to Lightworks?

1. Avid Media Composer


Avid media composer was released at about the same time with Lightworks. It is also a non-linear editing system currently developed by Avid Technology. This software is used in high-tech, modern film making. The video editing software has evolved over the years and now allows both offline and online editing. There are various versions of Avid Media Composer — targeting different kinds of companies/consumers. Avid NewsCutter (for News Rooms), Avid Symphony (for Finishing), and Avid Express DV (for the lower end of the market). Avid composer features Animate, 3D wrap, Paint, Stereoscopic editing, Mix and Match, ScriptSync, 5.1 and 7.1 Surround Sound audio mixing among others.

2. Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro is another popular, and widely used timeline-based video editing software for professional video editing. Premiere Pro supports various features including high-resolution video editing (up to 10,240 × 8,192) and up to 32-bits per channel color, in both YUV and RGB. It also supports VST audio plug-in, sample-editing, and 5.1 surround sound mixing.

3. VSDC Free Video Editor

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VSDC Free Editor is also a non-linear video editing software available for Windows devices. VSDC allows for applying live color correction and post-production effects, among others. It is also able to capture video from screen, record voice, and save multimedia files to numerous formats including those pre-configured for publishing on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and video sharing services like YouTube and Vimeo.

Last Words

Sometimes, professionals also find it difficult to pick from the long list of digital video editing and mastering software. Have you ever searched for such software online? Yes? Then you probably understand better: Recent years have seen the emergence of brilliant software dedicated to making videos/movies for this (modern) age … and talking about Lightworks — Lightworks is a non-linear editing system that has been in development since the late ’80s by EditShare LLC. That’s over 30 years ago. Lightworks won an EMMY award in 2017 for pioneering non-linear video editing.

So, what do you think about Lightworks? Would you give it a try? This detailed review contains answers to everything you need to know before using this video editing software, Lightworks.

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