Aim of Playlist vs. Timeline vs. Project

Is there somewhere a written explanation on the difference between the ‘Project’ tab view of the Playlist and a (single-track) Timeline?

Is the Playlist UI element going to be retired, or is there functionality in it that is not (yet?) available in the Timeline?
I also saw/heard the term ‘media bin’ somewhere, but newby here don’t remember where…

Maybe the aim/use of these UI elements can be shown in their content area when they are first added to the main window (much like the Playlist begins with ‘Double-click a playlist item to open it in the player’, which explains the how, but not the why to use it).

Thanks for the great software and the tutorials!

Hi, I’m not going to explain why each element in the UI exists, I leave that for the developers, but I will explain how I use the existing Shotcut UI. I hope the Playlist won’t be removed from the UI, it’s important for my video edition flow.

When I start selecting the clips they all go to the playlist after selecting them with the I and O. Sometimes I even apply a filter to a clip that will go to the playlist, then I have a very raw cut of the video. I can also change the order of the clips in the Playlist if necessary and then I can export it. This is useful for a quick video edition.

When I want to create a more complicated video I add all the clips in the playlist to the timeline and edit them adding more tracks if necessary. In other video edition I use the playlist as the repository of the clips I want to use and add them to the timeline one at a time.

If it helps I can try and explain some of these things for you.

‘Project’ tab view of the Playlist and a (single-track) Timeline?

The Project tab shows you the current state of your entire editing work. It includes the timeline, its tracks, and all the clips.

Meanwhile the Source tab shows you the original media from which a specific clip was created from. Source media can have their durations trimmed, properties changed, and filters added, just like clips, but they exist outside of the timeline.

The Playlist is kind of like a “record” of all the source files you’re using in your Project. It is not necessary, but convenient in keeping them handy, in case you accidentally delete or modify a clip. You can also think of it as like that “media bin.” And no, the playlist is not going anywhere, it’s pretty important. :grin:

I hope maybe this help clears some things up about using Shotcut, or if you already knew all of this sorry… :sweat:

Edit: Another purpose of the playlist is so you can create a project entirely through that and export from there instead, without having to load it into the timeline.

Thanks for explaining these three use cases!

Thanks for the explanation. I hope you don’t mind me delving a bit deeper into this:

Do you have a name for the timeline that is above the ‘Source’ and ‘Project’ tabs? For lack of a better name that I know of (told you, I’m still a newbie) I’ll refer to it as ‘Resulting timeline’ (‘Player timeline’ seems intuitive as well, though):

I think that what you allude to in

Edit: Another purpose of the playlist is so you can create a project entirely through that and export from there instead, without having to load it into the timeline.

is the confusing part for me: there are two kind of ‘projects’ possible in Shotcut.

  1. Playlist projects (sismeiro’s use case 1)
  2. Timeline projects (sismeiro’s use cases 2 & 3)

As an illustration, suppose that I have added clip 1A and 1B from Source 1 to the ‘Playlist’ UI element. Nothing is added in the ‘Timeline’ UI element.
When I double click a Playlist item (same as choosing ‘Open as Clip’ from context menu), the ‘Resulting timeline’ shows the timeline of Source 1, with the items blue bar indicating In and Out point. This action also results in the ‘Source’ tab becoming the active tab.
When I choose ‘Goto’ from the context menu, the ‘Resulting timeline’ shows the timeline of the Playlist project, with some numbers marked to denote the starting point of each Playlist item. (In the default Fusion Dark theme on my Mac, the numbers are white text on blue background. The numbers are the IDs of the items in the Playlist.) This action also results in the ‘Project’ tab becoming the active tab.
Clicking on the ‘Source’ tab results again in the ‘Resulting timeline’ showing the timeline of Source 1.
But after this clicking on the ‘Project’ tab results in a black box in the Player and an empty ‘Resulting timeline’, whereas I would expect the ‘Resulting timeline’ to show the timeline of the Playlist project again.

Now, when I add 1 of the clips, e.g. 1B to the ‘Timeline’ UI element, I suddenly have created a Timeline project.
Apparently this project ‘overrules’ the Playlist project, because activating the ‘Project’ tab now results in the ‘Resulting timeline’ showing the timeline of the ‘Timeline’ project (i.c. the timeline of clip 1B). But when I choose ‘Goto’ from the Playlist item’s context menu, the ‘Project’ tab is highlighted, but the ‘Resulting timeline’ shows the timeline of the Playlist project.

Sorry for the long text, but I hope I’ve described the source of my confusion accurately, thus trying to help you to make your wonderful software even better :slight_smile:

If I may finish with some suggestions:

  1. Add an extra tab next to ‘Source’ and ‘Project’, called ‘Timeline Project’, while at the same time renaming ‘Project’ to ‘Playlist Project’. When activated, the project tabs should show the according timeline in the ‘Resulting timeline’.
  2. In the Playlist item’s context menu, rename ‘Goto’ to ‘Goto clip in Playlist project’, and rename ‘Open as Clip’ to ‘Goto clip in Source’.
  3. Maybe add a ‘Goto clip in Timeline project’ or ‘Goto clip in Track’ in the Playlist item’s context menu as well, but this might get tricky if a clip is added multiple times to a Track/Tracks (then probably sub-menus are needed).


Hi Roger, sorry to jump in again. I understand some of your confusion about the Shotcut UI, I don’t know if you already used other video editing software, I never had and I also had problems in understanding the general edition flow we should use.

What I found out by myself is that there isn’t a correct way to edit videos, no recipe that can easily help us editing videos for every software or even any video project. I saw several times the video tutorials from Shotcut and from other edition software. They all share some concepts but in the end is the user that must learn how to best use the tool even if it feels awkward.

What is called the timeline is the bottom of the screen where you add several video or audio tracks and play with them to produce the best video you can. What you referred as “use case 1” is the minimal and more simple video editing that you can do, in the timeline you have much more tools to fine edit your video like when you use the trim to adjust a few frames or you want to add a transition or apply a specific filter only in one track.

Since I use Shotcut for about 8 months now, I think I already bypass the behaviours you describe and I don’t care about them since my objective is to conclude the video edition. That’s why a “fresh” look like yours can help to identify some UI inconsistencies but I believe that in general the Shotcut developers have experience from other editing software and are making Shotcut more usable and better then those others.

Hi Sismeiro,

no problem for coming back to this thread!

I haven’t used other video editors before; there’s iMovie on my Mac, but I’m looking for a cross-platform tool, so I can share projects with others (hopefully my kids on their PC).
Shotcut looks very nice without too much worrying details in the UI to start with, and I tried to offer a small contribution by describing my confusion.
Maybe this thread can help other newbies it it ends up in adaptations in the UI, or easily accessible documentation.
Looking through other posts, the community appears very supportive! So I guess I should be able to make some nice progress in the coming 8 months like you did :slight_smile: