Lightworks Beta for Mac Os X Gets Demonstrated at NAB 2013

As we posted earlier in the week, EditShare announced the Mac OS X version of the long-standing NLE Lightworks. Though it has been around just as long as it's competitor Avid, Lightworks has only recently completed the platform trifecta: being compatible across all major operating systems (Windows, Linus, and most recently Mac). It still has to go through more stages of beta testing, but EditShare demonstrated Lightworks for Mac at NAB 2013. Whether you've been a user of Lightworks for years or, if you're like me, just recently became interested after the promise of a Mac version, the demo video is worth taking a look at:

Matt Sanford from Lightworks shares that Lightworks will have the same interface on Mac OS X as it does on Linux and Windows. He goes on to say that it won't matter which OS you're running, even stating that you'll be able to work on your Lightworks projects across any of the three platforms. This will be an incredibly useful asset for editors who are working on the same project, but may be running different operating systems. As for a release date for the Alpha Program -- well -- there isn't one, but Sanford did have this to say:

We're going to make an announcement in the next few weeks after NAB. We're hoping to get closed out for a group of testing done in 1 to 2 months, and then we're going to go to a public beta -- exactly the same as we've done with the Windows version: alpha then public beta then go to release. We want to make sure with the Mac version that we're going to get -- our Mac audience is going to be pretty unforgiving. We need to make sure that this is going to be what they expect from us, so we want to make sure we get it right. So, we don't want to rush it. We don't want to end up giving them something that isn't up to their expectations.

Lightworks has been in the industry for almost 25 years and has been used on Hollywood films, like The King's Speech and The Departed. It had fallen by the wayside once competing NLEs Avid and Final Cut Pro came on the editing scene, but after being acquired in the summer of 2009 by EditShare, it appears that this fading editing software has been brought back to life. All of this buzz about it being released for Mac is only going to revive it all the more.

The free version certainly packs a punch (with a price tag like that, it certainly doesn't have to -- but it does) and is worth checking out. However, the Pro version contains different features like wider codec support and increased performance, which may be worth your while. If you work on a Mac, hold your horses. We'll keep you posted on the latest developments from EditShare and Lightworks.

What do you think about Lightworks? What are your first (or millionth) impressions about this NLE after watching the demo?


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With that said, I really like the idea of competition, and I'll likely give Lightworks a whirl... but the thing is, even if it's better than everything else out there, until more people use it, I won't. I need to share projects, and when things don't work, I need to be able to fix them. With a product that no one I know uses, it's too much of a gamble for me to take it seriously. I felt the same way about Premiere Pro a few years ago, but now I've switched because the majority of people I know and work with use it. It's the same reason I won't even give Sony's editor a shot.

April 13, 2013 at 8:14AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

David S.

Excellent point. Also, if production companies don't use it, how do you get hired to use it? Lightworks missed the point-of-entry into the market. It's like Blender; even though it's free and capable, no one is doing jobs with it.

April 13, 2013 at 12:44PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Well, free version only supports DVCAM / DVCPRO 25/DVCPRO 50/DVCPRO HD Decode and Encode, MPEG 422 SD/HD. And who uses these codecs anymore? Only some videocamera's. So it's not free; you still need to pay $60 yearly. That's not much, but I still don't like the model.

April 13, 2013 at 1:16PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

John F.

@ John F.

Dear John, all new Codecs are protected by copyright/patent law and so alle Codecs will cost money for licensing. You pay $ 60 for the legal licensed codecs and thats the only way "Lightworks" will work as "almost free" version.

The alternative would be that "Lightworks" would charge 300-400 bucks.

Tools as Videomaker X6, Sony Vegas and other semi-pro editing tools are around 300-600 bucks and the High End Editing tools starting at FCX up to several thousands. So whats the problem?

April 13, 2013 at 2:17PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Good answer. Pricing is low. John F probably uses free iMovie.

April 14, 2013 at 1:54AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


It kind of looks to me like a semi stripped down linux version of FCP7 with even less refinement and sex appeal. But thats just the look and feel I get when looking at it.

The only feature they presented that I think is cool is the ability to have multiple editors work on the same project at the same time. But I can only wonder about the performance hit would be when multiple editors are pulling from the same project file, and same video files at the same time?

But other than that the program really isn't giving me any "Wow" factor or "I gotta have this" or "Man I cant wait to edit a video on this."

Thats not to say I am writing the program off. It's just I know where AVID's strength is: high end precision editing, and media Management. Adobe is multi-format/ heavy effects friendly with a program to handle any situation. Apple is organic cutting/trying to be a one stop shop. Lightworks I don't know where his place/niche is in the mix.

April 13, 2013 at 2:55PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

David Sharp

if you are a professional editor, the way lightworks trims wil make you go wow. It is superior to any other nle out there. Also, I really dig the minimalistic interface. Where Avid is keen to give you three buttons for every possible function it can think of. Lightworks only shows you the interface ellements you need. It is different, and maybe even scary at frist, but it does speed up your edit.

Having cut on steenbeck years ago, the console really is what makes me want to cut on Lightworks. unfortunately the console still is 2500 euro, so untill I can make a living in fiction editing, I can't rationalise buying one.

April 14, 2013 at 4:33AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


" the way lightworks trims wil make you go wow" Thats just the Point. No promotion video from Edit share, nor any tutorial video I've seen from their web sight makes me go wow.

So why do you like it? What makes Lightworks stand out against the AAA Club, Avid, Adobe, and Apple?

April 14, 2013 at 12:03PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

David Sharp

It is not about how it looks, it is how you work with it. It is not about functions, it is about behavior. Get the free beta, grab some content, make an edit and TRIM! Go back to Avid, FCP, Premiere, whatever, make the same edit, and trim again. Lightworks will win.

April 15, 2013 at 1:57PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I agree with you. At first I didn't like it because I couldn't figure it out because it wasn't close enough to FCP7. But I insisted on learning it. Once I got it down I absolutely loved cutting in LightWorks. I've edited in Premiere, Vegas, FCP7, and Media Composer 6. Out of all those it's pretty close between LightWorks and Avid as to which one if my favorite. The way I describe editing in Avid and LightWorks is I feel like interface disappears and I'm just working with my footage. It's great because I don't feel like I'm endlessly right-clicking for options or dragging a clip around on the timeline. Which is how I feel when I work in Premiere or FCP7.

I did cut the same movie on FCP7 first and LightWorks later to learn it. I felt like I made a much better cut on LightWorks, even though I had been working with FCP7 for a few years. I was excited to hear that LightWorks was coming to Mac. When it's released I will probably use that for my edits. If I'm working with others I will probably use a different program just so it's easier to share projects. I'm super excited.

April 15, 2013 at 11:15PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Lightworks was a serious contender in the UK around the turn of the century before FCP existed. Coming back now? Makes no sense to me. Wish them well.

April 13, 2013 at 3:24PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I used to be an Avid editor, but Lightworks changed that. Lwks is such a brilliant editing tool, and because you can work on an infinite number of edits at the same time, there's a lot of room for creativity and experimental editing that I have not experienced in any other editor to date.

April 13, 2013 at 4:36PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


First impressions :
- To be fully "adaptable" to the market, I run FCP X // Adobe Premiere Pro // Avid MC on my MBP. I'll give a shot for sure to the Free version.
- I'm not conviced at all by the 50€ a year philosophy. I already have the tools to encode to whatever I want, and I think most of the pro users have too. Moreover, there is free tools (ffmpeg/ffmbc/...) to encode to whatever format you want. I like the feeling of "owning" the thing I pay for, and I don't like the feeling of being kept "captive". So I think it would make more sense to sell it at 200€ with all minor updates included.
But well, it's only 50€. So I wonder who they are going after.

- A thing I like is the concept of "room". If I was to pay for "an other NLE", it would be more for these unique capabilities rather than for codecs I can find everywhere.

To sum up my thinking :
- They need to focus on having features you can't find anywhere else rather than being a "little Media Composer". It's their only way out if you ask me.
- I think they want to fit between an "iMovie" and a "FCP X". More complete than the too limited iMovie and cheaper than FCP X.

April 13, 2013 at 4:42PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Well, you can buy Avid MC 7 (starting at) $999, or get a Lightworks Pro membership running for 16 years for the same amount, which could be considered "owning" the thing you pay for.

Lightworks is a hi-end editor.

April 13, 2013 at 4:54PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


LIghtworks does change things I think only on linux systems. The only thing keeping me from migrating to linux is the lack of a proffessional NLE. WIth lwks now, that's gone. Also the price is really low. I frankly couldn't care less what the industry usesor what the majority of the people is using.

April 13, 2013 at 6:49PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I see Lightworks as a platform with a target audience that is beginning, from my point of view if you work as a freelancer can be a good option for cost-beneficial in relation to Adobe Premier Pro or Final Cut Pro for two big reasons the price and software stability of your computer. Obviously, a company that already has a defined working environment with standard softwares in the industry move to a software "diapers"! even if you have several years of development. But there may be cases of small companies that do not have partnerships with other or no need to exchange with other software projects at most after effects or nuke. We know there are several ways to send the footage to be edited either XML or adjustments Render for compositing programs. In my case Final Cut Pro X did not like the new changes I feel very limited, meanwhile Adobe Premier Pro now available in Creative Cloud I find high price for an annual license for personal or freelance projects you can develop. Lightworks is a good option, with comments regarding the same thing happens with Blender both softwares are Open Source, does not mean they are free just for being so, more if both have shown the ability and stability to carry out projects as any another with the industry standard.

Remember that a single software does not make a complete postproduction, this software helps only part of the way, it is encouraging to see the integration of Codecs professionals at an affordable price. I'm a Mac user and can not wait to see the version for my system and see where you want to go Lightworks, if the public really interested user of Final Cut, Adobe Premier or Avid or new Professionals beginning with small business and are willing to change how to work keeping in mind the cost-benefit. regards

April 15, 2013 at 11:03AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


For the most part LWKS is free and $60 a year for somthing like that is great compared to Avids cost and Adobe. From my view point there is a lot giong for it and a lot against it. It is very powerful, freeish or very cheap to get a pro NLE, it is multi platform.
But saying that It is not eazy to get to leaner , it is damn frustrating to the say the leased, crossover from a other NLEs you are totally lost. Plugins are nearly 0, linking to other problems and software near to 0. It's users and developers are dogged that they are not prepared to accommodated the the other Systems to make it eazy to cross over for new users.

I for one would really like to to use it , but do not have extra time on my hands to spend hours and hours trying to figure out how it works.

April 17, 2013 at 11:18PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I am a professional editor and I'm considering going back to FCPX after years of FCP7 followed by Avid and more recently Lightworks. I am looking for another system because Lightworks is a terribly unstable system - I have never worked with a program that crashes so much and so consistently.

It recently took me 7 hours to export a 15 minute video because it constantly crashed (on two computers running separately!) - I very nearly missed an important deadline.

On another project we had a shared drive system in our office and successfully ran LW on 3 computers - however the lag of every single mouse movement made me want to cry, you would have to pay 30K for a system that ran it well.

We are in touch with the developers who have taken on some of our feedback but yet have failed to correct some extremely basic problems with the timeline. The cursor is not accurate... not even within half a centimetre of the mouse click... and when you click in the 'wrong' place, the timeline leaps to another point and loses your flow.

I've just updated the software and the old projects although are now online (after much effort) the software freezes after every mouse click...!!!! EVERY MOUSE CLICK...

Media management is also hideous... try copying a project to another computer and see how many massive hard drives you need, how long it takes and how likely the process is to crash or fail and for you to have media offline at the other end.

There are few positives... if you use proxy files the thumbnails are good... but if you don't use proxies then the thumbnails take a painfully long time to load every time you scroll down a large bin...

ok back to positives... the trim buttons that someone else was excited by - yes they are quite nice... but other software that is far less anal about layers and is much much quicker and more intuitive.

Don't get me started on video routing...

Basically it's a piece of software trying to be a steinbeck... what's the point in that? No disrespect to people who cut on film but editing should use the easiest most efficient means possible, not try to copy a dying method.

I find the interface absolutely painful and the bugs and crashes make it a no brainer to look elsewhere. It needs a total overhall from the current state to get my attention back, by which time I'll be happily using something else - FCPX or Adobe.

June 19, 2013 at 10:21AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I've cut on a 6 plate movieola, but switched to digital in 1999. I settled into FCP by 2004 after a huge battle with Premiere. FCP took the stage over AVID by 2006 for me because of the price entry point, and Premiere fell to the wayside.

Now I have the latest FCP and it's the single biggest disaster I have ever seen in editorial. Premiere Creative Cloud is terrible. Yes, it's quick, but it has huge problems with formats and codecs. AVID, while becoming the standard again due to the horrid FCP release is just too damned expensive. An Open Source NLE is a revolutionary idea, but the codecs have to be there. I'm about to use Lightworks beta for the first time. The videos online seem solid and I see some really terrific minimalism decisions right away that help you focus on the show, not the bells and whistles (although they are clearly under the hood. Much of what I am reading here concerns me, but we'll see when I mess with it in a real edit.

I really feel that if Scoresse used it on the Departed, and the King's Speech was a film cut on it too, that this seems like a much more worth approach that horrid HORRID FCP at this point, or Premiere Creative Cloud -which has the worst render times of anything out there.

I've been using FCP Studio 3 for years and it's been great, but with no future market for FCP in the sense of editors getting what they want (Conan Obrien editors making fun of it on national television), I'd say, time to walk from FCP. Jobs is dead, so there's no chance of that ever becoming anything. AVID may eventually get my buck, but if this thing works and I can have it on a ton of machines? That's very very helpful for real high end production and the pricepoint is dead on for independent filmmakers that have growing studios.

This fall when they release the mac version, that's when they make it or break it. I really do hope they make it. AVID is hanging on because film still exists. Film is about dead.

July 13, 2013 at 4:30PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


We were the agent in Australia and Asia for EMC ( Editing Machines Corporation Washington USA)..say around early 1990s

We knew Lightworks then and it crashed on us..Avid could not get the numbers right it was very early days and Denise Cox had to build computers in Singapore in those days. EMC did not give us the problems that other NLEs seem to get.

Dynateck bought EMC out and that was the end of it. We still have the EMC computers on our farm. ( not used) We paid $1000 per gig for HDD I would like to add.

We all want technology to go ahead and it is at an ever increasing rate but we must learn from the past and not forget the mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes that's why they have rubber on truncheons.

September 12, 2013 at 9:54AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Jon Noble

Bad answer! What do we care what system he uses? Why do we have to trash those who don't agree with us? Educate them instead! Svaen, for instance, explained why the cost - it is due to codecs. I must say that was news to me as well, and it should be mentioned by the LightWorks team, so other prospective users keep that in mind: it's the codecs what you're paying for, not the program itself.

On a different, but related topic: does anyone know about LWKS for Mac? It was supposed to come out on 2013 (well, it had actually been announced it would be available back on 2011) and there is no mention of it on the official forum.

Thanks and let's keep this an informative an interesting forum!

January 3, 2014 at 9:14AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM

You voted '-1'.