Monday, May 10, 2010

EditShare Lightworks goes Open Source

At NAB EditShare announced that their editing system LightWorks would be going Open Source. To be honest, I wasn’t even familiar with LightWorks, and wasn’t sure exactly what going “Open Source” would mean, but I recently spoke to James Richings, Head of Product Management, who gave me a run down on what they are doing.

Lightworks has been around for over 20 years, starting about the same time as Avid. Lightworks has been used almost exclusively in the movie industry, but has been through a succession of owners, finally being purchased by EditShare in August of 2009.

With a small team, and facing the marketing and installed base of Avid, Adobe and Apple, EditShare has decided to take LightWorks Open Source to:

1) gain market presence and share by increasing the user base as quick as possible
2) increase development; for example, other developers may be able to take it cross platform.

LightWorks is a fully featured editing application. Films that were edited with LightWorks include “The Departed” and “Evan Almighty.” “We do everything that Final Cut does, and a lot more,” says Richings. “You can edit, record, export, there's lots of transitions, and it uses the GPU.” The upcoming release will be an iteration of the software with added features including 2K and stereoscopic support.

Scott Hill, who edited the film "Evan Almighty," says of Lightworks “[it is] the fastest system I have encountered in my career – it saves huge amounts of time in post-production. It takes twice as many keystrokes with any other system – it’s much more simplified in how you edit, which in turn, produces quicker and more precise results.”

Since they announced the Open Source plan at NAB, EditShare has had several thousand people pre-register for the Open Source program, and two to three hundred developers register as well. They will be setting up a forum for people to contribute changes and additions to the code, though EditShare will maintain the master source.

One of the ways they are hoping to encourage development and innovation is through an online store where developers will be able to sell their own plug-ins.

They are aiming to release the executable for Windows 7 and XP in Q3 - most likely late August - and the source code itself before the end of the year; they need to detangle the plug-ins, and want to tidy up the source code as well.

Because they use other developers source code, some of the plug-ins - like the RED and Apple ProRes codecs - won’t be part of the Open Source release, and will be sold separately, though the company says they won’t be overly expensive.

EditShare has worked with Open Source projects before, and is convinced that it is a business model that will work. They will also be offering a complete package of hardware and software for professionals, and they will be offering paid support options for the rest of us. There will be a manual available, and they also have someone looking at developing certified training and plan to offer some online webinars.

Now we just have to wait until August to see what it’s like.

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