Our Story

The true story of OpenShot Video Editor

Once upon a time, in a land with no good video editors...


Behind every great program, is a great story. Well... I'm not sure if this is a great story or not, but here it is. My name is Jonathan Thomas. I live in Arlington, TX, USA. I am a professional software / web developer (14+ years experience).

In early 2008, I first installed Ubuntu. I was very impressed, but like many people, I realized immediately the lack of a video editor. For weeks I researched, downloaded, configured, compiled, and installed any Linux video editor I could find. It turns out there are many, but none that met my simple criteria: Criteria:

  • Easy to use
  • Powerful
  • Stable

So, after much consideration, I decided to start my own video editor project in August of 2008. Sounds easy right? However, as I learned, I had many challenges awaiting me. Challenges:

  • I barely knew Linux
  • I barely knew anything about programming on Linux (all of my experience is with Microsoft C# and the .NET Framework)
  • I had no idea how to mix video & audio via code

I decided it would be an interesting challenge, and it was worth attempting. I quickly decided on the Python programming language, for it's speed, beauty, and it's rich bindings for many libraries.

One of my friends suggested that I should track my progress with a blog. Although I had no experience blogging, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I've made. It has allowed me to document my key decisions, meet many interesting people, and most importantly, it gives me a direct feedback loop with the Linux video editing community.


[Original blog screenshot - Dec 2008]

The last piece missing from the puzzle was a good multimedia framework (i.e. the library that does all the video and audio mixing). MLT. Enough said.

Once it all started to fit together, I got real excited. Was I actually going to be able to pull this off? Was I actually going to create a video editor? Maybe. But first, it needed a name. A meaningful name. An awesome name. Fast forward 1 month... I still could not think of a name. One day while playing basketball (PIG to be exact), I missed an open shot. My friends started laughing at me, and then it clicked. "OpenShot"... It's perfect. Sounds cheesy, but that's the true story of how I came up with the name "OpenShot".

[First public image of the OpenShot logo - Sept 2008]

Officially though, the name stands for a lot more than a missed basketball attempt: Open stands for open-source, and Shot stands for a single cinematic take. Add them together, and you get "OpenShot".

As OpenShot has improved and grown, so has it's popularity and the opportunities for me and other developers that work on OpenShot. I have had the pleasure of watching OpenShot go from nothing (literally nothing), to the highest rated video editor on Ubuntu, and all the way to center stage at the largest Linux conference in the United States!

[Jonathan Thomas presenting OpenShot at SCALE 9x - Feb 2011]

How does this story end? Does OpenShot become the single greatest video editor of all time? Who knows... the rest of this story is still being written. If you would like to start from the beginning, here are my first 4 blog entries... back from May 2008: