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You are here: Home Blogs Licensing The Licensing and Compliance Lab interviews Jonathan Thomas of the OpenShot Video Editor

The Licensing and Compliance Lab interviews Jonathan Thomas of the OpenShot Video Editor

by Ted Teah Contributions Published on Jun 15, 2017 02:30 PM
This is the latest installment of our Licensing and Compliance Lab's series on free software developers who choose GNU licenses for their work.

In this edition, we conducted an email-based interview with Jonathan Thomas, the developer of the OpenShot Video Editor. The current version was just released at the end of Spring 2017. This was one of the biggest updates ever to OpenShot, and was filled with new features, performance improvements, and tons of bug fixes!

First off, tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Jonathan Thomas, and I am Texas-based software developer who has invested the past 9 years building OpenShot Video Editor. OpenShot is a free software video editor for GNU/Linux. It creates films, edit videos, builds amazing animations, all with a simple user interface and a few clicks. I actually live in rural Texas (about an hour away from Dallas), on a ranch near cows, horses, sheep, goats, and donkeys. We get our Internet via a radio antenna on the side of our house. It's a fun and strange combination of outdoors and high tech.

What inspired you to create OpenShot?

OpenShot Logo

I have loved creating videos and short films for as long as I can remember. About 9 years ago, I discovered GNU/Linux and fell in love. After many failed attempts creating a video with existing free software projects, I decided I would just develop my own video editor (or at least attempt to). It was a huge challenge, and I was almost certainly going to fail, but as I said, I love video editing, and I just couldn't resist the adventure.

Fast forward back to present and OpenShot is used by millions of people around the world, taught in schools, published in textbooks and magazines, and getting more popular each day. I am still shocked by how quickly it has grown, and I'm thrilled others are enjoying my work and passion.

How are people using it?

OpenShot is used primarily by hobbyists, free software enthusiasts, and students. It has been used on a huge variety of projects ranging from commercials to local public television station and college productions. I can't forget to mention it has been used on my own projects.

What features do you think really sets OpenShot apart from similar software?

One of the biggest challenges with video editing software is how complex the user interface tends to be. Hundreds of buttons, sliders, curve editors, panels, menus, tracks, stacked toolbars, multiple video players, and so forth. With OpenShot, I have attempted to keep things as simple as possible, while still enabling many advanced and awesome capabilities. Minimal buttons, well organized menus, and lots of preset animations and effects. Using OpenShot, you can trim a video, add a soundtrack, watermark, and animate some moving text with just a few clicks. No training needed.

Why did you choose GNU General Public License version 3 as OpenShot's license?

I selected the GPLv3 license to encourage contributions, and establish a strong identity. It just spoke to me, and it seemed to accomplish what I was needing.

How can users (technical or otherwise) help contribute to OpenShot?

We are always looking for help with OpenShot, in any areas people are interested in contributing. Translations, testing, ideas, artwork, user interface design, and of course programming. If you are interested in getting involved with OpenShot, please email directly.

What's the next big thing for OpenShot?

I am working on some really exciting improvements to frame by frame animation support in OpenShot. We already have some great animation features, but we still lack a strong user interface to support the work-flow of hand-drawn, frame by frame animation. That will be changing very soon, and I hope to establish OpenShot as a leader in that area!

The works "OpenShot Logo" and "OpenShot Maintainer picture" by Jonathan Thomas are used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Enjoy this interview? Check out our previous entry in this series, featuring AJ Jordon of

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