The Lightworks Crash Course for Beginners (Part Three): Exporting

In Part One we looked at the basics of setting up and running Lightworks. In Part Two we looked at the typical workflow and how to import various codecs into Lightworks.

In this part we’ll look at exporting videos and projects from Lightworks.

What codecs are available for export in Lightworks?

Export options are severely limited in the free version. Here are some of the important export options in Lightworks Pro:


  • H.264
  • Uncompressed
  • AVC-Intra
  • XDCAM EX and HD
  • Lightworks Archive
  • DNxHD (additional purchase)
  • MPEG-4 (with Quicktime installed)
  • MPEG-2

Available wrappers are MXF, AVI and MOV. For MOV export, Quicktime needs to be installed.


  • WAV (limited to 24-bit 48 KHz stereo and mono)

Still images and image-sequences

  • BMP
  • JPEG
  • JPEG 2000*
  • PNG
  • PSD
  • TGA
  • TIFF
  • DPX (limited to 10-bit)


  • Blu-ray
  • DVD

Export is limited to 1080p60 10-bit, even if you’re working with high-resolution media like R3D or DPX footage. If your delivery format demands ‘better’ than this, you’ll do well to use Lightworks Pro as an offline editor.

Also, your export options are fixed to your project frame rate family. E.g., if you have created a 25p project, you can’t export 23.976, 24 or 60 fps, etc.

*The manual claims you can export to JPEG 2000, but it is unavailable in the export menu.

How to export from Lightworks


on the Export icon in the Tool bar:

Lwks Export Options

Under Content, select the sequence you want to export.

Under Format, select the export file format. Lightworks Pro splits these in this fashion:

  • Backup – Lightworks archive format.
  • Interchange – to transfer edits to other finishing applications (later).
  • Media files – these have separate codec options depending on what plug-ins you have installed. Some of them don’t need any plug-ins.
  • Camera formats – these are export formats that are also camera recording formats. Usually you only export to these formats in a broadcast pipeline, and only if a facility asks for it specifically.
  • Targets – Blu-ray or DVD.

For mastering your work, you will most likely select an option under Media Files. By default you have these options for the following wrappers:

MOV (Quicktime):

  • DVCPRO 25, 50, 100 (HD)
  • DV
  • Uncompressed


  • DVCPRO 25, 50, 100 (HD)
  • DV
  • Uncompressed
  • Matrox formats


  • DVCPRO 25, 50, 100 (HD)

Select the destination and file name. Click Start to start the export.

Here’s a quick video tutorial on how to export from Lightworks:

Exporting projects or sequences for finishing

You can export the following file types from Lightworks Pro:

  • AAF (Pro version only)
  • EDL
  • OMF


AAF is probably the best standard to export to for finishing. Lightworks claims full support for the AAF format, which integrates well with Avid Media Composer and Pro Tools.

When you select ‘AAF’ from the Format drop down you get the following options:

Lwks AAF Export

You can’t play around with the AAF format, so you’re limited to using the presets. The rest of the options are audio-related, since most likely the AAF export feature will be used for audio mixing in Pro Tools.

Under Embedded audio, you have two options:

  • WAV
  • None

It is not unusual for reference tracks to be exported so the editor’s intention is preserved. In general, the audio engineers would prefer to have the best material as it is, without the editor’s ‘creative input’ if you will.

An interesting option is Lightworks 25, which I suppose is there because of the way Lightworks works with a family of frame rates for a project rather than one specific frame rate. But why not just save the Lightworks project file as a backup?

What’s really irritating is how Lightworks shouts its full support for AAF in all its marketing materials, but completely neglects to give advice on how to best use it in the user guide or any online video or page. I guess that info is only available to those who pay for the support.


Luckily, exporting EDL is better explained. To learn how to make EDL work best, don’t skip page 169 of the user manual. When you select ‘EDL’ from the Format drop down you get the following options:Lwks EDL Export

There are many EDL formats you can choose from, though CMX 3600 is the most ubiquitous.

Under Resolution you have frame rates, which seems like the equivalent of ‘coding typo’.

The Sort mode should ideally be A-Mode (this is what Lightworks supports on import) but you can choose the one you think works best, as explained in page 172 of the user guide.

Under Track Mapping, choose which tracks you want to export. Usually, the most trouble-free way of exporting EDLs is one track at a time.

Click on Advanced options > Change…:

Lwks EDL Export Advance Options

I won’t go into details but each option is explained from page 173 onwards in the user manual.


According to page 256 of the user guide, the OMF export supports video and audio edit decisions, but only audio material. Of course, you can carry the video files separately, but as you can see from the drop down, Lightworks prefers you use OMF for audio finishing only.

When you select ‘OMF’ from the Format drop down you get the following options:Lwks OMF Export

If you’re finishing in an audio application that does not support AAF, OMF is the way to go (Version 1 and 2). You have both WAV and AIFF options here, though they are limited to 24-bit 48 KHz.

That’s it for our furiously-paced crash course on Lightworks!

Lightworks is maintained by Editshare, a strong company with solid hardware products for post facilities and broadcast pipelines. Many well-known features and shows have been edited on Lightworks.

Do not make the mistake of assuming Lightworks is negligible just because it’s free or only $60 a year. It is a powerful and elegantly designed NLE that can take almost anything you can throw at it. If your workflow is primarily DSLR or prosumer-based, Lightworks is more than equal to the task of handling your workloads. It is a lean and mean NLE that still packs a wallop.

There are two downsides:

  • Lack of support unless you pay.
  • No support for RAW formats (except for R3D, i.e.).

Actually there is a third downside, and that is the uncertain future of Lightworks. A Mac version is going to be released soon, following which the NLE is going to be released as open source. That usually means no more updates or features officially, but who knows? The question you need to ask is: Can you live with the uncertainty?

After all, if you had to pay $595 just for support, but no certainty as to future upgrades, then wouldn’t Grass Valley Edius Pro or Avid Media Composer be a better bet for the future?


One reply on “The Lightworks Crash Course for Beginners (Part Three): Exporting”

  1. hello,
    thanks for the tutorial.
    but i have a problem, there is no toolbar, how can you have a toolbar?

    thank you.

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