Components of a Non-Linear Video Editing Program

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Non-linear editing software saved us from the painstaking days of physically splicing together film stock. The new format treated film editing as a media management tool, where you essentially stack together media in a specific way and then alter it. Every video editing program is slightly different, but they have some common features that unite them.

File Location

There is always a place for your imported or captured media to sit. This is often called a library, browser, collection, album, or reference folder, and is where all your pieces of the final project are listed. Here you can usually organize them into different folders, provide production logs, and create sub clips for more specific editing. This is also usually where all the transitions, effects, text abilities, and video generators are listed.

Preview and Movie Windows

All non-linear editing programs have a window for you to preview video, both directly from your “library,” but also from a sequence that you may be working on. This is usually divided into two different viewing windows. The preview window is used for watching and cutting raw media, such as video and audio. The movie window, often called the canvas or construction window, is where you go to watch sequences that you have already cut together.


This movie window works directly with the Timeline, where you block in all the media you want into a sequence or series of sequences. You drag cut video, photo, and audio clips into this area, and construct it like a set of blocks. Here you add transitions and effects, but often effects can be added to raw video clips in the preview window. This is the essential area of the editing program where the actual film is constructed.


One component that is usually in prosumer or professional non-linear packages are tool bars that allow you to make specific edits in the Timeline. This can be things like razor blades for exact cutting or trimming tools. Most lower end editing programs, like iMovie and Windows Movie Maker, do not include on-board tools like this.


Every program is slightly different, so titles and appearances vary from package to package. However, these are the essential elements that make up the design for non-linear video editing software.

This post is part of the series: Video Editing

Different articles that address video editing.

  1. Avoiding Editing Catastrophes Pt. 1 of 2
  2. Creating the Perfect Editing Space
  3. Things to Avoid in Your Editing Computer
  4. The Importance of Digital Video Editing
  5. How To Use “Continuity Editing” To Tell Your Story
  6. What Is “Complexity Editing?”
  7. The Basics of Non-Linear Video Editing
  8. Components of a Non-Linear Video Editing Program
  9. Maintaining Your Computer for Digital Video Editing
  10. Knowing What to “Cut-Out” When Editing
  11. Editing Techniques: The Rule of Six
  12. Things to Do Before Installing New Video Editing Software
  13. Things to Avoid When Digital Video Editing
  14. The Editing Order in Video Production
  15. Using Visual Vectors When Editing
  16. Video Transitions for Editing Digital Video