Today, Lightworks is released for Mac users. Yes, the same application that already runs on Windows and Linux is now a fully-fledged Mac program that can be - and is - used to edit feature films.
A lot has been written about Lightworks over the last few years since Editshare acquired it and started to bring it back to the future. It's been a long journey, with false starts and destination changes. But now it's arrived and Editshare (RedShark's parent company) has told us that the first NLE to work on all three main computer platforms (Windows, Linux and OS X) has been released.
And Lightworks is in good shape. It's better now than it's ever been.
There isn't room here to go into the convoluted history of Lightworks. Suffice to say that it's had a lot of owners and by the time Editshare bought it, in 2009, it was ready for some love. But even then, there was still a core of enthusiastic, serious users.
Lightworks has always claimed to be an "editor's editor", and what it meant by that was that, like any highly optimised tool, once you knew how to use it it faded into the background. And this has remained its key strength: throughout all the development cycles, the testing, the new platform roll-outs and more, the focus has been on retaining the speed of editing.
Of course, in order to bring it back to the cutting edge it's had to be enhanced, and it now supports a huge range of codecs, and many more features, than just a few years ago.
It's grown to fit into modern user interfaces as well. When Lightworks was born, it was a DOS program. Now, without throwing away the efficiency that sits at its core, it behaves like a modern application, although its appearance remains unique.
Perhaps the most remarkable achievement by the Lightworks developers in the "Editshare era" is that the program has been made cross platform. Anyone who's ever tried to make an application run on more than one operating system will know that this isn't a trivial challenge. With an NLE, which has so many realtime requirements, it's an even more ambitious task.
To keep it manageable, the Lightworks developers have devised a system where new features (and fixes) can be rolled out across all three platforms almost immediately. So users of one OS or another will never be "orphaned".
How powerful is Lightworks?
You only have to look at the most recently edited major film, Wolf of Wall Street to see that as an editor it's able to handle the most complicated workflows and media management tasks. It doesn't skimp on modern technology either, making full use of GPU power when it's available.
Editshare didn't just bring Lightworks up to date, they revolutionised the way it was sold and distributed as well. Originally only available as a turnkey hardware and software system, it is now a fully functional software-only product. This means that it can run on a vast array of computers (indeed, much of the lengthy testing phase was to make it robust across a huge range of hardware, and, of course, three operating systems). The price? It's very, very low. There's a monthly or yearly license option, and "buy outright" option for those who prefer more traditional ways to pay for software.
We asked Matt Sandford, Lightworks Global Product Manager, about the significance of today's release:
"This is an incredible day for Lightworks, and the entire team is excited to finally have Lightworks available on all three platforms,” he said. “Although the Mac version has been in development for some time, we really wanted to improve the file management within the application. The new Content Manager introduced in version 12 is a massive step forward for the product. Bins and Groups (previously Racks) are now all contained in one helpful panel showing filters containing all your work (Clips, edits etc). The Content Manager becomes the new hub of the application allowing users to create new bins and filters and to always have access to their files.
“Now that Lightworks is on Mac we can once again make inroads into the US Feature Film market (which is predominantly Mac-based) and incorporate it into the rest of EditShare's industry-leading workflow."
The release today of the Mac version means that editors on the perennially popular platform will be able to try Lightworks. And, from what we've heard, it will be a welcome alternative!
There's a new pricing structure too. Details over the page