Cinelerra – The Forgotten Guide | Composit Video Example

For this exercise, you will need two clips. You will get these clips by picking out two separate parts on the timeline and saving them as clips. These clips should be at least 10 seconds long.

Create a Clip
To create the first clip, go to the beginning of your timeline by clicking the rewind button  on the toolbar. Click the In point button  to set this as the In point. Navigate to some point later in the timeline and click the Out point button  to set the Out point. Make sure that all your tracks have the Play button  on.

To convert this to a clip, you will render the footage to a .mov file. Select File, then Render…. Choose Quicktime for Linux as the File Format. Check the box for rendering Audio and Video. Click the Configure compression button  next to the Audio. Choose Twos complement for Compression and 16-bit Linear for Bits per channel, then click the green check to save the settings. Click the Configure compression button  next to the Video. Choose Component Y’CbCr 8-bit 4:2:2 (yuv2) as the compresson and click the green check to save the settings. For Insertion Strategy, choose Create new resources only . In the Select a file to render to box, choose a descriptive name like It wouldn’t hurt to add the timeline position in the filename either. Click the green check box to render the clip.

Now you need a second clip. Go to a later point in the timeline and select new In/Out points. Make sure that the new points are at least 10 seconds apart. Follow the same procedure for rendering and render this second clip.

Lay Clips onto New Tracks
You need to add new tracks to insert these clips on. Click on the Video menu and Add Track. Shift-Click the Play track button  (these are actually called “patches” not buttons) so that the new track is the only one whose Play track patch is active. Shift-Click the Arm track patch  so that the new track is the only one armed. Rewind  to the beginning of the track. Now add an audio track (from the Audio menu, choose Add Track). Keep adding audio tracks until you have one for each channel in your project. Name the tracks Composition 1, Comp 1 Aud 1, Comp 1 Aud 2, etc.

In the Resources window, go to the Clips section. You will see both of your new clips listed there. Right-click on your first clip and choose Paste. The clip will now be showing on the new tracks. Go to the end of the clip on the timeline. Hover over the track near the end of the clip with your mouse and it will change to an arrow pointing right. Click when you have this arrow to set the cursor to the very end of this clip. Go back to the Resources window and right-click on the second clip and Paste it to the timeline. Now both of your clips are on the timeline and you have just re-organized your first video!

If you want to render now, don’t forget to set your In/Out points to the beginning of this track and the end of this track.

Place and Image over Video
There are many times when you want to place an image over a video. I probably end up with more tracks that have images in my videos than I do tracks with just video. Add a new video track and call it Image. Now choose File, then Load Files…. For Insertion Strategy, choose Create New Resources Only. Then find an image to add to your video and click the green check to load it. Go to the Resources window and switch to the Media folder. Right-click on your image and choose Info…. Make a note of the Width and Height of the image. Now close this info box.

Now go to the main window with the timeline. Right-click on your Image track in the blank area where nothing is yet loaded. Choose Resize Track (if you don’t see Resize Track, you haven’t clicked in the right place yet – you may have accidentally clicked on the patches area on the left with all the buttons or you may have clicked on one of the lines running over the track instead of in the blank black area). Resize the track to the Width and Height of your image. Shift-click the Arm track patch  for the Image track to make sure it is the only one armed. Rewind  to the beginning. Switch to the Resources window, right-click on your image and Paste it to the track.

The content on the Image track now has a couple of issues that need to be addressed. For starters, the image is probably only shown for a frame or just a few frames. The image is probably also not a very good size compared to the rest of the video. For now, we’ll leave the improper size of the image alone, even though it’s really annoying. The image only takes a small sliver of the timeline so that if you were to play the video now in the Compositor window, you will only see it very briefly.

Rewind , then move your mouse over the content in the timeline and Shift-Scroll your mouse. Scrolling one way zooms into the timeline so you can see individual frames and scrolling the other way will zoom out of the timeline so you can see your entire content on the tracks. Scroll all the way in so that you can see where the image ends on the timeline. When your mouse changes to the right-pointing arrow, click and drag to the right. This will span the image across the timeline. Stretch it out for a couple seconds. Play your clip in the Compositor window to see how it looks. 

Make Image Semi-Transparent
It is easy to make the image semi-transparent. First make sure that the keyframe button  is off in the main toolbar and that the Image track is the only one armed . Look at the slider for the track on the left. This slider is for transparency or alpha channel. It works based on a percentage of opaqueness. Slide it down to about 40 and you’ll be able to see the video clip underneath.

Position the Image Somewhere Useful

Now you will position the image somewhere useful on your video and resize it to fit a more appropriate size. Double check that your keyframe button  is off. Make sure that the Image track is the only track that is armed . Slide the opacity for the track back to 100. Now in the Compositor window, select the Adjust projector automation button  and then the Show tool info button . You will now be looking at something like the picture on the left. You now have a box that has an X, Y, and Z parameter which are all set to zero. There will also be a red X in the middle of the window. Set the Z parameter to 0.25 and press <TAB>. The image appears smaller in the Compositor. What you have done is told Cinelerra to output this track at a different size. Cinelerra still reads the input image at the same size, but outputs the track as specified. Adjust this number until the image is a size you are comfortable with. Now click on the red X and drag the track to a different location in the Compositor. When you are done, deactivate the Tool info button  and select the Protect video from changes button .

Finished Compositing

Now you can play your nicely formatted clip in the compositor. You should set your In/Out points so that it goes from the beginning of the timeline to the end of the second clip on your track. You could now render the output and have a nicely formatted video. 


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