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KDEnlive Problems, Workarounds and Tips

Saving Changes in KDEnlive

One thing we have noticed about KDEnlive, is that it can get itself confused at times - mainly when the project is large and there is a lot of cloning / editing of clips going on. In these case, you will find that KDEnlive refuses to do something legitimate (-such as move a clip in the Timeline) and displays a rather unhelpful message such as:

There has been an error

In these cases, there is often no way back but to save the project (under a different name), then quiting the application and going back in. If, however, the problem persists when you load in the file you just saved, the only alternative is to fall back to a previous copy of the project (-hence saving it under a different name).

Note: KDEnlive will often not allow you to edit grouped tracks - so try selecting the item, right-clicking and choosing the "Ungroup" option to see if that helps

It is therefore wise to consider saving your file similar to a journal log: every time you complete a piece of editing - save it to disc using a slightly different filename. We recommend just adding a version number to the end of your project name and just incrementing this every time you save, so that you end up with a series of projects, such as:


That way, you always have a working copy to fall back to.

Project Monitor updates in KDEnlive

Another KDEnlive glitch is that the Project Monitor does not always keep up with the display when applying effects. This happens a lot during positioning and rotating an image - which tends to leave ghost artefacts during the process - and may be related to poor graphics support on the PC.

These glitches do not, however, show up on the final project - but it can be disconcerting and annoying when trying to accurately position an effect.

You can also try enabling / disabling the "Real Time Drop Frames" option in the Project Monitor to see if this helps:

Real Time Drop Frames option in KDEnlive

Adding Slides or Stills in KDEnlive

A really nice KDEnlive feature is the ability to use a still (-or slide/screenshot, etc) as a five second video clip. Unlike actual video clips, these can be stretched beyond their original end to cover any length of time and are great for introducing new topics or sections of your videos. Pictures in .JPG format work well like this in KDEnlive.

Simply use the Add Clip feature to navigate to the desired image in KDEnlive to add it to the Project Tree, then just drag it to the Timeline like any other video clip.

Note: you may need to change the "Filter" option in the Add Clip dialogue to "All Files" instead of the default "All Supported Files" in order to see your static image files

Show All Files option in KDEnlive

Freezing the Action in KDEnlive

One of the most commonly used devices is to freeze the action on the last frame for a second or so prior to cutting the the next scene: this makes the transition less jarring. This is best done in KDEnlive by switching to the Clip Monitor, letting the action run to the last frame, then selecting the "Extract Frame" option:

Extract Frame Option in KDEnlive

You can then save this as a .png file. You can then include it like any other image file - by following the instructions in the previous section.

One or More Video Tracks fail to Render in KDEnlive

If you find that a Project looks fine when viewed in the Project Monitor but, following Rendering, one or more tracks do not show up in the final output then it is likely that the offending clips were in a format that KDEnlive can read but does not know how to convert to the desired output format. For example, files imported from GIMP in .XCF format will suffer this sort of fate.

The easiest solution is often to convert your clips to a supported format (-e.g. convert your .XCF to .JPG format in GIMP) then re-import them back into KDEnlive.

Video Tracks Render too Quickly in KDEnlive

If you find that a large Project renders in seconds then appears to be empty when opened, check if your project uses a title clip. If it does, then try renaming the following files then restarting KDEnlive:

 $ sudo /usr/lib/frei0r-1/facebl0r.so /usr/lib/frei0r-1/facebl0r.so.bak
$ sudo /usr/lib/frei0r-1/facedetect.so /usr/lib/frei0r-1/facedetect.so.bak

Moving Small Clips in KDEnlive

Like all applications using drag and drop, KDEnlive suffers from a problem when a clip is sized at less than about 1.15 seconds: any attempt to grab the clip and move it will fail, as KDEnlive will think you are trying to grab one of the ends of the clip to resize it. This can be worked around using strategies such as:

  • Moving the clip to it's correct starting point, then slimming it down from the end until the correct size is attained

  • Grouping the clip to it's neighbour, then moving them both to the correct location

  • Use the Zoom slider to make the clip bigger in the timeline, so you can grab hold of it

Crashes in KDEnlive

KDEnlive it still being constructed and so is not 100% stable. In our experience, we have found that the chance of it crashing seems to increase rapidly with the number of cuts you make - and the number of effects applied. Working on a large sequence, we generally find it better to break up the scenes into discrete chunks to edit them, render them, then combine the rendered clips together in a final Project at the end.

Oh - and save your work frequently, preferably to a new filename each time, so you have versions you can fall back to if the worst happens!

Keyframe Monitoring in KDEnlive

One of the most frustrating things about KDEnlive is the ability to get into modes where things no longer seem to work as expected. The main one we've come across is where the keyframe display no longer previews the screen when you are editing. This is caused by inadvertently clicking on the paperclip item:

Paperclip icon in KDEnlive

This is compounded by the fact that the icon does not change when enabled, so you cannot tell if this mode is on or off! The solution is just to toggle it on/off by clicking on it, then check if the keyframe preview is restored.

Frame Alignment in KDEnlive

Another thing you should be careful of, if you are blending together multiple tracks, is that the tracks are the same resolution / size. Sometimes KDEnlive handles this well - and othertimes it doesn't: stretching out or moving the upper track out to "match" the lower one. This often shows in the fact that the margins, either side of the video shift (-e.g. from centre to left-justified).

In this case, one thing to try is to edit the Transition(s) between the tracks and uncheck the "Align" option:

Alignment Option in a KDEnlive Transition

If this does not help, try altering your tracks to have matching sizes.

Ubuntu 11.10 in KDEnlive

There are reports that KDEnlive will not run correctly under the new version of Ubuntu - 11.10 - due to problems with the version of MLT that comes with that release. However, there are workarounds, so the best course of action is to look for the best one to suit you, by entering a string such as "kdenlive problems ubuntu 11.10" in a search engine.

KDEnlive and .ogv Files

It seems that KDEnlive (-or, at least, version 0.8) does not handle files in .ogv format well. This is a particular problem when using packages such as recordMyDesktop which only record in that format. If you load an .ogv file into KDEnlive, you may find that a large part of the beginning of the video is missing - or that the video track runs at twice the speed of the audio track. The problem appears to originate with KDEnlive, as the .ogv files play correctly in Movie Player, VLC -or indeed Kino.

So far, the best way around this that we have found is to use the utility ffmpeg to convert the .ogv file into .avi format using the command:

ffmpeg -sameq -i <input file> <output file>

For example:

$ ffmpeg -sameq -i out-1.ogv kdenlive.avi

Once converted, the .avi file can be imported into KDEnlive and edited normally. However, the price to pay is a certain degradation in quality - often noticeable mainly in audio track distortion. If this is a problem, then you will need to play with the ffmpeg command line parameters (-or to record your audio separately. e.g. using Audacity). Using the -sameq (same quality as the original) parameter helps to alleviate this by telling ffmpeg to use the same quality as the original clip.

Comment from James :
Thanks for pointing out the issue with .ogv files. I got around the issue in Kubuntu by installing all of the Medibuntu packages and using VLC to convert to .mp4. Until Google led me to your page I was somewhat baffled!

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