Lightworks for Windows
EditShare's PC-based non-linear editor Lightworks was released in May 2012.

When Editshare rolled out its new editing program Lightworks last month in both a free version and a $60 “Pro” version, it entered a market that has changed dramatically in the last few years. FCPX came out at $299, a fifth of the price of FCP7, and the downward price drive is good for everybody.

In the weeks since Lightworks V11 was made available for download, following a beta version that’s been out there for a year, the product has earned its share of likers and dislikers — this thread on the Sony Vegas site is a slice of how people are feeling — but a company spokesman says he’s pleased by the response so far.

“Thousands of people have activated the product in the first week alone,” said David Shapton, the managing editor of Lightworks Publications. “The figures are building very well, and this will increase over the coming weeks, but we still feel we’re only scratching the surface.”

Lightworks is only available at the moment for PC, but comes at a time when there’s still discomfort among longtime Final Cut Pro users, many of whom were underwhelmed by the features of Final Cut Pro X. Add now there is talk that Apple could discontinue production of its Mac Pro towers, which MacRumors notes has been decreasing in popularity.

“There’s been a rift in the status quo,” Shapton said. “People have received a bit of a jolt. Where they otherwise might not have been looking for another solution, now they are.”

Lightworks, which had begun its life in the 1990s as a high-end — and high-cost — editing tool, is now attempting to become the tool of the masses, competing with programs that are also dropping in price. Lightworks has been working to promote its pedigree, history and quality, hoping it will gain a solid base of users who opt for the Pro version.

“We don’t want to make a big splash where a million people download it, but then the next day, 99 percent of them have forgotten about it,” Shapton said. “We’re not so interested in huge numbers, we’re interested in realistic numbers. We want to build up our user base. We’re on a par already with the other big hitters in this industry. We want to be there in terms of how many people are actually using Lightworks.”

There are currently around 300,000 registered users, including beta testers, and Shapton says Lightworks is pleased with the proportion of users converting to the Pro Version. He’s optimistic about grabbing hold of the tier of users who have done some editing and are now “getting serious.”

“We think a lot of people are converting to Lightworks because they want to be part of the project, and support this idea of this professional software at a very, very low price,” Shapton said. “They like the way that we are led by the ideas and feedback from the community. What we have is a pyramid of users. The lower end, the largest group, are new, inexperienced users. But what gets really interesting is the next level up, still a large number, people who’ve done some editing but now they’re getting serious.”

For now, Editshare is monitoring the forums (where users are asking “genuinely illuminating questions”) and maintaining a list of bugs.

And for editors locked into their Macs, Shapton says there’s good news on the horizon. “We are looking at releasing a Linux version later this year, but we’re not making any firm commitments on a date at this stage. The Mac version would follow after this.”

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Edward J. Delaney is a journalist, author, filmmaker and editor of DocumentaryTech, an online project that explores documentary filmmaking techniques and technology.