VirtualDub — A Good, Free, Open-Source Video Editor

This is the second installment in my short series of reviews/recommendations on good, free, open-sourced software.

This particular entry deals with VirtualDub, a fast, lightweight video editing program. Unfortunately, V-dub is only available for Windows platforms.

It is available from the VirtualDub Web site or by visiting VirtualDub’s SourceForge project page.

Video Formats

With the right codecs installed, V-dub will allow you to import and export virtually any and all video formats. It will not allow you to create mpg/mpeg video files, but it can read them (if you need to create mpeg video files, you need to check out TMPGEnc, which is closed-source and commercial, but a good, high-functionality version is available for free somewhere on the Web, and a shareware version is available from TMPGEnc’s Web site).


V-dub allows you to perform an amazing amount of different functions. You can perform batch video processing. You can apply a huge number of filters to the video (including a resize, adding a watermark, letter-boxing, transitions, etc.). You have the option to export the soundtrack of your video into an external Wave file, as well as importing an external audio file to use as the soundtrack of the video.

You can re-sample your video. V-dub is capable of converting your video file from just about any format into just about any other format.

You can capture live video with V-dub (although I’ve never used this feature, so I can’t comment on how well it works); you can capture screenshots from your video and export them as image files, and so much more.

For a free, lightweight program, V-dub has an incredible number of features. It doesn’t stand up to programs like Adobe Premiere, but it’s not meant to.

How Well Does It Work?

VirtualDub is a great program. I have had it crash on me once or twice when the source video had serious problems or I was using an unstable codec to export the video. Other than that, V-dub has rarely ever let me down. Depending on the settings you apply, V-dub can render your project extremely quickly or it can take hours to do so. On some projects, I have been able to export 30 minutes of video in less than 5 minutes. On other projects, it’s taken 6 or 7 hours to export 15 or 20 minutes of video.

The amount of time it takes to render your project depends on a number of variables, including the codec you’re using to export, the amount of resources your computer has available, the amount of filters you have applied to your project, etc.

My Rating

VirtualDub is not a professional video editor. I will not even bother to rate it as such. However, for video hobbyists, or for people just trying to edit a few home movies together, etc., VirtualDub is worth its weight in gold. For those types of people, I would give V-dub a 4.5 out of 5.