Video Editing in Blender using Video Sequence Editor: Part 1

February 2010

Blender, the open-source 3D creation suite, as we all know, has been on great heights lately, and with the astounding amount of work and dedication that is being put into the current development, there’s no doubt it is already a state-of-the-art software. From the time I was introduced to Blender, I was pretty amazed at the amount of features it has and the myriad of possibilities you can achieve with it. Features like modeling, shading, texturing, rendering are already a given fact, but what’s much more impressive with Blender is it’s “side features” that come along with it, one great example would be the “Video Sequence Editor”, popularly called VSE is the Blender universe. From the name alone, you can already figure out what it is used for, yup – video editing! Pretty cool, eh? With the right amount of knowledge, strategy, and workarounds, there’s much more leeway than it is really used for.

I’ll share with you some tips and guidelines as to how you could start along and begin using Blender itself for editing your videos and not keep jumping from application to application, which can become really troublesome at times.

Without further ado, let’s get on with it!


Before we begin, there are a couple of things we need to have:

  • Blender 2.49b
  • Clips/Videos/Movies
  • Skill level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • a little bit of patience
  • lots of coffee to keep you awake (and a comfortable couch?)!


This might sound odd to you as this came first before anything else in the article. The reason for this is that we don’t want to mess up with a lot of things, and create more trouble later (you’ll see that shortly during the process). But if you already are satisfied with the way your videos look and feel, then you can skip this step and move on to the main one.

Partly, we will deal on how to enhance your videos, making them look better than they were originally shot. This part could also dictate how you want the mood of your videos to be (depending on the way you shot it). Just like how we post-process and add more feel to our still images, the same thing goes with our videos, thus using the Composite Nodes to achieve this. And later, use these processed videos into the sequence editor for final editing.

To begin with, open up Blender and depending on your default layout, you will see something like this (see screenshot below):

Video Editing in Blender using Video Sequence Editor: Part 1

Blender Window

Let’s change our current 3D viewport into the Node Editor window and under the Scene Button(F10), set the render size to 100%, enable Do Composite under the Anim panel, set the Size/Resolution and the video format under the Format panel, and lastly set your output path under the Output panel on the same window. That was quite a lengthy instruction to pack into one paragraph though, so check out the screenshot below for a clearer picture.

Video Editing in Blender using Video Sequence Editor: Part 1


Now that we’re already in the Node Editor window, by default, we see nothing but grid and a new header (which apparently gives us a clue what to do next). Since we’re not dealing with Material Nodes and Texture Nodes, we’re safe to ignore some other things that comprise the node editor for now and instead, we’ll use the Composite Nodes, which is represented by a face icon on the header. Click and enable that button. But then, you’ll notice that nothing has happened yet, that’s because we still have to indicate to Blender that, it’s actually going to be using the nodes. So, go ahead and click the Use Nodes and you’ll notice something came up on your node editor window, being the Render Layer Node and the Composite Node respectively.The render layer node is an input node which takes data from our current Blender scene as specified through of render layer options under the scene window, which is often useful in general purpose node compositing direct from our 3d scene or if you wanted to layer your renders into passes. But since, we are not doing that now, we won’t be needing this node right now, go ahead and select the Render Layer Node by right clicking on it and press X or Delete on your keyboard and automatically, without any popups shown, the render layer node is now gone from our composite window.

Next step is to load our videos into the node compositor and actually begin the process. To load the videos into our compositor, we use the Image Input Node to call our videos from wherever it is stored. To do this, press spacebar on your keyboard while your mouse cursor is on the node editor window, choose Add < Input > Image. With our Image Node loaded in the compositor, click the Load New button and browse to the directory where the file is loaded.

Video Editing in Blender using Video Sequence Editor: Part 1

Loading the Video via the Image Input Node

After successfully loading the video, you’ll notice the Image Input Node change its appearance, now having a thumbnail preview and some buttons and inputs we can experiment with. The most important setting we have to specify here is the number of frames our video has or else Blender wouldn’t know which ranges to composite.

Video Editing in Blender using Video Sequence Editor: Part 1

Specifying the Number of Frames in the Image Node

Often, this can be a difficult task to deal with and I’ve had so much trouble with this before as I wanted the exact frame count that would precisely match that of my original video without even missing a single glitch. There are a couple of ways to do this, and if you’re smart enough to calculate the number of frames based on the time your video consumes, that’s fair enough, or you could open up a separate application to see how many frames it got, but if you’re like me who likes to make it simple and still within Blender’s grasp, then there’s still hope to this.

Right now, we’re off to a tiny part of the main course here which is Blender’s VSE, but this time we’ll only use it to know how many frames our video has. But don’t worry because it’s the main dish and we’ll get to that shortly.

With our Node Editor as our active window, let’s split the view into two horizontal windows as seen below.

Video Editing in Blender using Video Sequence Editor: Part 1
Two Horizontal Windows Split

After splitting the window into two horizontal parts, let’s change the bottom half into the Video Sequence Editor (VSE), as seen in the screenshot.

Video Editing in Blender using Video Sequence Editor: Part 1
Assigning the VSE to the Lower Half of the Split

As said a while back, we’ll be using the VSE for the meantime just to check for the number of frames that the current video has. To do this, move your mouse pointer over to the VSE window and press spacebar then choose Movie or click on the menu header the Add > Movie then browse for the same video file that has been loaded over to the Node Editor Window.

Video Editing in Blender using Video Sequence Editor: Part 1
Loading a Movie in the VSE

After just having loaded the video and after clicking the Select Video button in the file browser or by middle mouse clicking the video file, you’ll be automatically at the move/grab mode in the VSE, which basically means that the video strip you have loaded will follow your mouse cursor wherever it is in the video sequence window. Right now, this won’t be of much help to us as much as knowing the frame number is concerned. So go ahead and just position the video strip elsewhere visible and confirm its location by left clicking on the same window.

Right now, you can already see the number of frames the video has (in accordance to the settings we set awhile back like the frame rate, etc.) on the left-most part of the video strip, indicated by numbers, that is, the frame rate count. If you can’t see what I mean, you can always zoom in the window by using your mouse wheel or by pressing the plus (+) and minus (-) sign on your numpad to zoom in and zoom out respectively.

Video Editing in Blender using Video Sequence Editor: Part 1
Determining the Video Frame Count

Now that we know the frame count of our video, we’ll get back to our Node Editor Window and add this as input to our frames in the Image Node. After successfully copying the number of frames, we can now kill the video strip that we added to the Video Sequence Editor by pressing X or delete, then let’s merge back or join the two horizontal windows such that we only see the Node Editor Window now.

Video Editing in Blender using Video Sequence Editor: Part 1
Copying the Frame Count to the Node Editor

Activate the Image Node (if it isn’t yet), then press spacebar > Add > Colors > Hue Saturation Value or access it via the menu by clicking Add > Color > Hue Saturation Value.

Video Editing in Blender using Video Sequence Editor: Part 1
Hue Saturation Value Node

This node will let us control the color value, amount of colorization, and brightness of color respectively as signified by the hue, saturation, and color accordingly. I’ll give you the freedom to play around with the sliders and values here as you see fit for your own moods and color casts, don’t overdo it though, just keep it simple and understandable to the viewers. Before I forget, and before you even tinker around with the values, let’s connect a Viewer Node to the Hue Saturation Value Node to see the effects of our changes and to take advantage of the Backdrop feature of the compositor. Do this by first selecting the Hue Saturation Value Node then press spacebar then choose Viewer > Output. You might have noticed that before we add specific nodes, I’m asking you to select the node it will be connected to, this is because with this method, the line that’s going to connect both nodes will already be made automatic instead of click dragging the individual node points to do so. Anyhow, both methods work just fine so you’re free to pick any of those.

When you have successfully added the Viewer Node and have connected it to the image output node of the Hue Saturation Value Node and with the viewer node being the current and active node, click the Backdrop button seen in the header. This is a very useful feature of the compositor since it lets us see our progress as we edit certain values, be noted though that it only respects Viewer Nodes, so to be able to see changes in different stages of the node system, you must add individual viewer nodes and make them the active selection and it will automatically refresh the backdrop as such.

Video Editing in Blender using Video Sequence Editor: Part 1
Using the Node Compositor Backdrop

You can go ahead and add additional nodes to further enhance the look of your images. Beware though, the more nodes you add and the more complex they get, the slower it will be that Blender renders per frame, so just keep it light and simple. After you’re done with your final node setup, connect the last node’s image output to the Composite Node’s image input. If you don’t have the composite node, you can always add it via the Add > Output > Composite menu.

Video Editing in Blender using Video Sequence Editor: Part 1
Sample Node Setup

When you’re satisfied with your setup, go ahead and click the ANIM button on the Scene(F10) window, make sure Do Composite button is enabled in the Anim Panel and that the output path is set correctly. Or simply press CTRL+F12 to render out an animation of your setup.

Do the same for process for the other videos you wish to post-process, but remember to give them a different output filename or you will replace the previous animation you had.

After all work here is done, it’s now time to serve the main dish.

>> Continue Reading Video Editing in Blender using Video Sequence Editor: Part 2.

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