Effects and Compositions

Effects and Compositions are very important components in video editing. In Kdenlive, effects and compositions are essentially filters provided by frei0r or avfilter (Kdenlive does not have built-in effects or compositions of its own).

Effects are used to change the appearance of or manipulate a clip. For example, the Transform effect allows to scale and move the clip; the Brightness effect changes the brightness of the clip; effects in the Alpha, Mask and Keying category provide very specific filters for masking or rotoscoping.

Compositions are used to combine several visual elements from different sources into a single video. In Kdenlive, you put the different sources into tracks in the Timeline and use compositions to tell Kdenlive how to combine them. For example, the Dissolve composition fades out one clip while fading in another over a certain number of frames. That is why Compositions are often referred to as Transitions. Keep in mind that while Compositions are very often used to transition from one video to another they can be used to create artistic and aesthetic effects when combining several clips (e.g. Darken, Dodge, Burn).

Kdenlive has two groups of effects: Video Effects and Audio Effects.

There are several ways to apply effects:

  1. On the clip in the Project Bin, which makes the effect available in all instances of that clip in the Timeline

  2. On the clip in the Timeline, which makes the effect only applicable for that clip in the Timeline at that point

  3. On the track, which applies the effect to all clips in that particular track

  4. On Master, which applies that effect to all clips in all tracks


Not all effects can be used at the track or Master level nor does it make sense.

Effects Tab

Make the Effects widget visible in Menu ‣ View ‣ Effects.


Kdenlive Effects widget as a tab in the Project Bin area

The Effects widget has seven control icons that show or hide the different effect categories:

1 - Main Effects shows all video and audio effects (default view)

2 - Video Effects shows all video effect categories. This option hides the Audio Correction category that is in the Main Effects, and adds the Misc and Motion categories.

3 - Audio Effects shows all audio effects categories

4 - Custom Effects shows all effects you have created by saving an effect stack.

5 - Favorite Effects shows all effects that were flagged as a favorite effect. This is the same list that appears when selecting Insert an effect from the right-click menu of a clip in the Timeline, or by clicking the Favorite Effects in the Timeline toolbar.

6 - Show Effect Info toggles the information display below the effect list where a short description of what the effect does is displayed when on

7 - Download Effects opens a dialog window where effect templates are listed from the KDE Store

Effect/Composition Stack

This widget is also known as the Properties Tab as it lists all effects applied to the currently selected clip as well as each effect’s settings or properties. If a Composition is selected the widget displays the composition’s settings or properties.

effect_stack < effect | composition > composition_stack


Only Effects can be stacked, Compositions cannot.

Effect/Composition Stack Functions


Kdenlive Effect Stack

document-save-all Save Effect - Opens a dialog window for entering a name for the effect stack under which it will be listed in the Custom effect category and a comment which will be displayed in the information display

view-split-left-right Compare Effect - Splits the Preview Monitor vertically to do a side-by-side comparison of the clip with and without effects

visibility Effects enabled - Switches the effect stack on or off. This is equivalent to disabling all effects in the effect stack.

keyframe-disable Hide/Show keyframes in Timeline - Switches the display of keyframes in the clip in the Timeline on or off

Effect Functions


Kdenlive Effect Panel

keyframe-disable Hide/show keyframes - Turns the display of the keyframe ruler off or on

visibility Disable effect - Turns the effect off or on. The effect stays in the stack but is not applied during playback or rendering.

adjustlevels2 Presets - Opens a list of advanced options to manage presets for the effect (e.g. reset the effect to its default parameters)

document-save Save effect - Opens a dialog window for entering a name for the effect under which it will be listed in the Custom effect category and a comment which will be displayed in the information display

selection-raise Move effect up - Moves the effect up one notch in the list (effect sequence from top to bottom is important)

selection-lower Move effect down - Moves the effect down one notch in the list (effect sequence from top to bottom is important)

edit-delete Delete effect - Removes the effect from the effect stack

Apply an Effect

You apply an effect to a clip by either choosing it from the Effects Tab and dragging them onto a clip in the Project Bin or in the Timeline.

You can also double-click on an effect in the Effects Tab which adds the effect to either the clip in the Project Bin or in the Timeline depending on where the clip is selected.

Another method is to use the favoriteFavorite Effect icon in the Timeline toolbar and select the effect from there (you add an effect to the favorite effects by right-click on the effect in the Effects Tab and select Add to favorites).

Alternatively, you can use Menu ‣ Timeline ‣ Add Effect to select an effect from the various categories and add it to the selected clip(s) in the Timeline.

And last but not least you can copy effects with all their settings from any clip (Timeline or Project Bin) and paste them to other clips.


Effects are always added at the bottom of the effect stack, and since the effect order is important can be re-arranged.

Keyframes in Effects

Many effects use the concept of “Keyframes”. Keyframes are user-defined points in your clip where you want an effect to start, stop or change. You can set the parameters for your effects to different values at different keyframes and Kdenlive will then gradually change the parameters between the two keyframes so that by the time the video has arrived at the next keyframe it will have adjusted the parameter to match that keyframe. It interpolates between keyframes.

See Quick Start for an example on keyframing the RGB adjustment effect.

New in version 20.08.0.

The keyframe ruler has zoom bars which makes adjusting keyframes a lot easier if the clip’s duration is relatively long and the effect stack widget is too narrow to display all keyframes nicely spaced.


New in version 20.12.0.

keyframe toolbar

Keyframes can be copied and pasted between effects and even across clips. Standard shortcuts Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V

Working with Keyframes in the Effect Stack

New in version 21.04.0.

The effect keyframe panel has new icons, improved keyframe grabbing and new functions.

  1. Select the keyframe you want to move

  2. Move the cursor to the position where you want to move the keyframe to

  3. Click on align-horizontal-centerMove selected keyframe to cursor

  1. Select the keyframe you want to duplicate

  2. Click on edit-copyCopy keyframe

  3. Move the cursor to the position where you want to insert the new keyframe

  4. Click on edit-pastePaste keyframe

  1. Select all keyframes you want to apply the value on

  2. Go to one of the selected keyframes and change the value(s) as you want

  3. Click on application-menuOptions and select Apply current position value to selected keyframes

  4. Select the parameters you want to apply and click on OK


Select multiple individual keyframes with Ctrl+Left-click


Select contiguous keyframes with Shift+Left-click


Moving multiple keyframes at once

Exchanging Keyframes Across Effects

New in version 21.04.0.

You can import and export keyframes from/to the clipboard. This feature is not only useful to copy keyframes from one clip to another, it can also be used for example to copy the results of the motion tracker to the Transform effect.

To export the keyframes to the clipboard click on application-menuOptions in the keyframe panel[1] and choose Copy keyframes to clipboard.

Import keyframes dialog

Importing keyframes

To import keyframes from the clipboard click on application-menuOptions inside the keyframe panel[1] and choose Import keyframes from clipboard. If you have valid data on your clipboard you should see this dialog window where you can adjust the mapping of the data.

For most use cases the default settings suffice. But you may want to copy only a subset of the data and perhaps enter an offset value, for example.

Track Effect


Track effect indicators

Effects can be added to an entire track affecting all clips in that track. Simply drag an effect from the Effects Tab to the header of the desired track, or click on the tools-wizardTrack Effect icon and drag the effect to the track’s effect stack.

Master Effect

New in version 19.12..0.

If you want to apply audio or video effects throughout the whole video. Click on the Master button above the track headers to see the Master Effect Stack where you can add effects just like with clips or tracks.


Adding a Sepia effect to the entire video

There are specific effects and filters that work On Master only.

Effect Zones

New in version 21.04.0.

Effect Zones allow you to apply effects to specific regions of tracks or the timeline. Zones can be set from the effect zone bar in the Timeline or from the interface in the effect panel.


Track Effect Zone


Master Effect Zone

Masking Effects

New in version 21.08.0.

This feature allows to apply effects only to specific regions of a clip by using masks. In its current implementation the process requires three steps:

  1. Add one of the three available masks: Shape alpha (mask), Rotoscoping (mask) or Alpha shapes (mask).

  2. Add an effect (or effects) to be applied to the masked region

  3. Add the Mask Apply effect to activate the mask to the effects in step 2


Using Rotoscoping (mask) to apply the Saturation effect in one specific region only

You can apply more than one mask per clip by following the same three-step process.

Video Effects

See also here for an alphabetical list of effects and transitions.

The video effects are divided into the following categories:

The available effects are defined by .xml files found in .local/share/kdenlive/effects (e.g. /usr/share/kdenlive/effects).

These .xml files contain the default values for the effects parameters. So if you don’t like the default values for the effects in Kdenlive, you can modify the defaults by editing these .xml files.

Audio Effects

See also here for an alphabetical list of effects and transitions.

The audio effects are divided into the following categories:


Alphabetical List of all Effects and Compositions

Audio Tools

Time Remapping

New in version 21.08.0.

The Time Remap feature allows to keyframe the speed of a clip to achieve effects like speed ramping.


Example of using Time remapping for speed ramping




Effects Demos

The following three YouTube videos display the results of a number of the video effects available in Kdenlive (Spanish captioning).

Another YouTube video (English Captions).

See also this YouTube play list from Franz M.P.