Lightworks is a professional non-linear editing system (NLE) for editing and mastering digital video in various formats, including 2K and 4K resolutions, and television in PAL, NTSC, and high-definition formats. Lightworks was an early developer of computer-based non-linear editing systems, and has been in development since 1989.
The program is currently available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS. The development of an open source version, as well as ports to Linux and Mac OS X were announced in May 2010. No source code has yet been released, but the project roadmap has indicated that source code release will happen eventually.
The source code release is currently overdue: The Lightworks website FAQ states "Once the Linux and Mac versions are released the source code of Lightworks will become available. We cannot give a date when this will happen, but announcements and updates will be regularly posted on the Lightworks Forum."
The free version comes with a limited number of features:
- Realtime effects
- Advanced multicam editing
- Second monitor output
- Ability to import a wide range of file types
- Export to Vimeo (H.264/MEPG-4) up to 1080p HD
- Export to YouTube (H.264/MEPG-4) up to 1080p HD
Note: The free version cannot export to DVD, Blu-ray, or hard drive.
OLE Limited was founded in 1989 by Paul Bamborough, Nick Pollock and Neil Harris. In 1994 it was sold to Tektronix, who were not successful at developing the company's products. In 1999 it was sold on to the newly formed Lightworks Inc., then owned by Fairlight Japan, and then purchased by Gee Broadcast in May 2004.
Gee Broadcast ownership, 2004-2009
Under Gee Broadcast ownership, new product releases resumed with the release of the Lightworks Touch range, and the Alacrity and Softworks ranges for SD & HD editing. Softworks offered the Lightworks User Interface and toolset in a software only package for laptops or office workstations. Softworks and Alacrity supported mixed formats and resolutions in real time and project output in different resolutions without re-rendering. Alacrity supported dual outputs while the same facility was available for Softworks users as an option.
In August 2009 the UK and US based company EditShare acquired Gee Broadcast and the Lightworks editing platform from, along with their video server system GeeVS.
At the annual convention of the National Association of Broadcasters, NAB Show, on 11 April 2010, EditShare announced that they plan to transform Lightworks into Lightworks Open Source. It was presented at IBC in Amsterdam September 2010.
On November 9, 2010, EditShare announced that Lightworks would be downloadable on November 29 of the same year, at first exclusively for the users who had registered during the initial announcement, but subsequently publishing the software as "public beta".
EditShare planned the release of the open source version in Q4 of 2011, after they finished code review. They plan to make money from proprietary plugins offered in their associated online shop, including plugins needed to access professional video formats. Shortly before the scheduled release date of 29. November 2011, EditShare announced that an open source release of the software would be temporarily delayed, but did not announce a new release date. The announcement noted that they were not yet satisfied with the stability of the new version.
Windows version released at NAB 2012
After an 18-month beta program, EditShare released Lightworks 11, for Windows only, on the 28th of May, 2012. The non beta release of Lightworks includes a host of new features for editors, and runs on wide range of PC hardware. The software was re-designed and re-written for portability (versions for GNU/Linux and Mac OS X have also been released) and now supports many more codecs including AVCHD, H.264, AVC-Intra, DNxHD, ProRes, Red R3D, DPX, XDCAM HD 50, XDCAM EX, DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K, but only for the paid Pro version. The free version supports DV, MPEG, Uncompressed and other codecs for both import and export.
Windows version 11.1 released 29 May 2013
On 29 May 2013, v11.1 stable release was made available for download. A major development in the Pro version is much improved performance of the H.264/AVC codec in MP4 and MOV containers. This makes it possible to edit this format natively, even with less powerful CPUs. This should interest HDSLR and GoPro camera users. Native editing of H.264 MTS files has been possible since version 11.0.3.
This version of Lightworks has also replaced HASP with the new EditShare Licensing System (ELS), which eliminates some installation problems. Lightworks Free users can now download the 64 bit version, which was previously limited to Pro users. The Free version now also comes with a 30-day Pro Trial period.
Linux version announced at IBC 2012
EditShare demonstrated the Linux version at the NAB in Las Vegas in April 2012, and posted a video of it running on Ubuntu on their YouTube channel. At IBC in Amsterdam in September, an updated Linux demo was presented, and EditShare announced that the initial Linux alpha version would become available on October 30. Lightworks 11 alpha for Linux was released on the 30 April 2012, but only to a limited audience. The Linux version of Lightworks was made available as a Public Beta on 30 April 2013.
Lightworks 12 beta released for Windows, Linux and Mac
On August 8, 2014, the first beta of Lightworks version 12 working on Windows, Linux and Mac was released.
Lightworks 12.5 released for Windows, Linux and Mac
On August 29, 2015, Lightworks version 12.5 for Windows, Linux and Mac was released.
Lightworks 12.6 released for Windows, Linux and Mac
On February 4, 2016, Lightworks version 12.6 for Windows, Linux and Mac was released.