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Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 21, 2011 21:07 UTC (Mon) by cantsin (guest, #4420)
Parent article: Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

It is endlessly frustrating for me and many other Linux users to have to resort to proprietary software and OSes for video editing. Reviews like this one really don't help because obviously, the author is not familiar with video editing software and lacks frames of references. The description of the OpenShot interface, for example, is largely redundant for more experienced users. It would have sufficed to write that it mostly follows Final Cut while Kdenlive is modeled after Vegas - while both use the same engine under the hood. And that Kino is obsolete for anything but one-track editing of DV material.

There are experienced writers in the FLOSS world, like Eugenia Loli-Queru, who are experienced video editors, too (and suffering under the same OS/platform dilemma, btw.). This article provides little more value than a hypothetical review of a programming language written by someone just learning programming - sorry, no offense to the author intended.


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Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 21, 2011 21:16 UTC (Mon) by cantsin (guest, #4420) [Link]

Sorry, I forgot: it does provides one good insight, namely that there's still no capable and stable video editor for Linux.

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 22, 2011 10:45 UTC (Tue) by robert_s (subscriber, #42402) [Link]

"there's still no capable and stable video editor for Linux."

Blender.

Blender _constantly_ gets passed over when talking about video editors. Blender's internal video editor is very capable. The Elephants Dream, Big Buck Bunny and Sintel open short films were all, as far as I'm aware, edited and composited _entirely_ in Blender.

It may not be for grandmas editing together videos of the grandchildren, but it's not terribly difficult to use.

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 21, 2011 21:22 UTC (Mon) by jake (editor, #205) [Link]

> This article provides little more value than a hypothetical review of a
> programming language written by someone just learning programming

Hmm, that seems rather inaccurate, overall ... there are lots of folks out there who just want to put together a little video of their cat doing something amusing or their kid's school play. For those folks, who probably haven't used Final Cut or Vegas, describing the interface that way would be entirely useless. The review may not have much to offer the experienced video creator, but that doesn't seem to be the target of OpenShot either.

To me, the article seemed well-targeted for just the folks that the tool is targeted for ... it made me interested in trying it out, and i am a complete video novice ... could it be that the article just doesn't have value for *you*?

YMMV,

jake

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 21, 2011 22:11 UTC (Mon) by rvfh (subscriber, #31018) [Link]

Agreed. Never touched video editing, but am rather tempted to put some photos of the kids over some nice music as a birthday present for the parents now.

Thanks Zonker!

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 21, 2011 22:15 UTC (Mon) by cantsin (guest, #4420) [Link]

But then there's a question about the target group of this publication. I thought it was meant for advanced users. Would it accept an article that explains the basics of a text editor for people who just want to quickly type a letter or memo?

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 21, 2011 22:24 UTC (Mon) by rvfh (subscriber, #31018) [Link]

> (...) Would it accept an article that explains the basics of a text editor for people who just want to quickly type a letter or memo?

Probably not, but then, most of us use editors all the time to type code...

This being said, if you could have a go at Openshot and provide a deeper analysis (doesn't need to be very long), or even just your impressions as an expert, I am sure many people would appreciate. Plus it would increase further the value of LWN ;-)

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 24, 2011 11:54 UTC (Thu) by cantsin (guest, #4420) [Link]

Point taken, but then we accept the fact that Linux, and LWN, is primarily for programmers and system administrators, with the typical user/reader being likely an expert for either vi or emacs, but a beginner in such areas as multimedia editing so that a review of a particular program needs to mostly consist of an explanation of its basic underlying software concept - fine. But for example, the Linux audio application reviews by Dave Philipps and others that are often referenced here on the site don't explain the basics of multitrack audio editing or sequencing either.

Besides, the article fails to mention a detail of crucial relevance for beginners, namely that OpenShot (just like most other Linux video editors) does not support proxy files, GPU acceleration or intermediate editing codecs. This means that editing HD video from your average camcorder, smartphone, recent digicam or Flip camera - typically 720p or 1080p video encoded in h264 - is virtually impossible, or at least not with real-time playback/preview in the editor. I am also suspicious that the many crashes the reviewer experienced may have resulted from trying to edit h264 video directly in the program. (Openshot will import such videos without a warning message, but that doesn't mean that they can be safely played and edited.) Editing anything but video from old PAL-/NTSC-resolution (SD) cameras such as MiniDV will be a problem, or can only be solved with expert workarounds.

Openshot has a nice, friendly GUI, but the underlying MLT engine was not built for today's requirements of HD video. Unfortunately, this is a problem because users will be easily tempted to make use of the real-time multitrack editing features, video effects etc., which all will not work reliably with the video of today's cameras. For beginners who want to painlessly perform some simple trims and cuts on their video files, I would strongly suggest avidemux as an alternative. (Since avidemux is not a real-time editor, the above problems do not occur.)

And unlike what was suggested in the article, (I hate to say that...) iMovie is a great, simple yet powerful and well-designed program, and finding some Mac running it might be a pragmatic solution for the time being. (Think of iMovie as the micro emacs or nvi of video editors.) Professional filmmakers edit in iMovie, one iMovie-edited film even won the Sundance festival.

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 24, 2011 15:16 UTC (Thu) by zonker (subscriber, #7867) [Link]

At this point, all I can say is that I'm sorry the article failed to meet your expectations. Clearly you know far more about the subject, and I'm humbled by your mastery of the topic.

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 24, 2011 15:47 UTC (Thu) by foom (subscriber, #14868) [Link]

Not even iMovie can edit H.264 files, unfortunately (as I discovered to my dismay when trying to use it to edit video from an AVCHD camcorder). It requires a *slooow* import/export process to convert to and from its internal editing format.

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 24, 2011 15:49 UTC (Thu) by Trelane (subscriber, #56877) [Link]

(nor can it encode/decode for commercial purposes iirc. Of course, neither can FinalCut Pro either)

EULA and patent terms FTW!

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 24, 2011 19:55 UTC (Thu) by cantsin (guest, #4420) [Link]

Not even Final Cut can directly edit h264 very well, but as you said both programs at least support an intermediate codec/internal editing format (Apple Intermediate Codec respectively ProRes). It costs time during import, but at least lets you do your editing properly. OpenShot doesn't provide this solution, at least not out of the box. The only 'real' intermediate codec available for Linux is DNxHD, an AVID codec, which is supported in ffmpeg and Cinelerra-CV. But unfortunately, DNxHD is still too slow for playback in the time line (if I take my 2.5 GHz QuadCore machine as a reference).

A viable workaround for HD video, and OpenShot, is to first transcode to HDV (high definition MPEG-2) or to high quality MJPEG using for example the command line "ffmpeg -qmin 1.0 -qmax 1.0 -i <input_file> -vcodec mjpeg -acodec pcm_s16be <output_file.mov>". Both have comparatively moderate performance requirements. Still, working on a fast Dual Core or Quad Core machine under 64bit Linux is a good idea.

Otherwise, you could transcode your video to MPEG/MJPEG with very low bitrates (but the same resolution), edit, quit OpenShot, swap the files with high quality files that have identical file names, reopen OpenShot and render your edit. (This is what is called "proxy editing".

The only Linux video editor that internally supports editing proxies is the Sequencer of Blender. I confess that I have been too intimidated by Blender's interface to use it productively (although I have used Cinelerra quite a bit...) so, yes, my comments on Linux video editing might have a big blind spot.

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 22, 2011 14:31 UTC (Tue) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

I'm an "advanced user" of computers in general, but I have only a very vague idea how video editing packages, statistical analysis packages, etc. are used. I think it's perfectly reasonable for a generalist publication to give introductory descriptions of specialist tools.

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 24, 2011 5:54 UTC (Thu) by zonker (subscriber, #7867) [Link]

"But then there's a question about the target group of this publication. I thought it was meant for advanced users."

Advanced users of *what* though? I appreciate what you're saying - and this review would be wholly inappropriate for a LWN-like publication for video editors. But the percentage of LWN readers who are also experienced video editors is, I believe, relatively small. Going into the finer points of the differences in the OpenShot interface vs Final Cut is probably not going to be very useful (or at least I imagined that it would not be) for folks who are very experienced users/developers of FOSS, but not very experienced with video editors - and certainly not proprietary ones.

I am rooting for the OpenShot folks and other FOSS video editor teams that may help boost the percentage of professional editors working on Linux, though...

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 21, 2011 22:30 UTC (Mon) by cantsin (guest, #4420) [Link]

One more thing: Like Kdenlive, OpenShot is just a GUI on top of the MLT engine which provides the actual video editing functionality. (It's very much comparable to how Webkit provides the engine for a number of different web browsers.) Since I have never experienced a program using MLT to be stable, I wonder whether the instability is actually caused by MLT rather than OpenShot itself. MLT has been in an experimental state for many years. Even if OpenShot provides a great GUI, it can only be as mature and reliable as MLT is.

Kdenlive gets it done... ...with patience.

Posted Feb 28, 2011 8:10 UTC (Mon) by frazier (guest, #3060) [Link]

Kdenlive crashes on me often. It reminds me of the bad old days with Windows 98SE and Adobe Photoshop. Save often, reboot often.

Kdenlive does get the job done, though. I launched a TV series last week on local cable (Boise, Idaho USA) + the web:
http://www.tvcycle.com/

That show is all digital, with the video being pulled in from SD cards. Most of the show is three shots, consisting of a main shot and two picture-in-picture shots on the right side. Kdenlive does the composites nicely, but when I load up a saved project, it forgets the track assignments for composites and I have to assign them again! That's probably the second most annoying part of the video process for me. With my Qwest DSL connection, sending 15 minutes of 1080p (30fps) to YouTube takes about 6 hours. That's the biggest annoyance, and more hardware or software won't fix that. They have faster accounts, but I just upload overnight instead

Kdenlive gets it done... ...with patience.

Posted Jun 28, 2011 6:21 UTC (Tue) by frazier (guest, #3060) [Link]

Thought I'd update to mention that the Kdenlive I'm running now (0.8) is far more stable. Certainly not perfect, or perfectly stable, but massively improved. Wouldn't recommend it to the world just yet, but for people with tolerance for the bleeding edge, it's not so bad.

I'm editing 1080p video. It (mostly) holds up. The 0.8 designation is reasonably accurate. I'm running low production weekly shows off this software (but they're 1080p... ...I understand the contrast) and it works. With the 0.8 series it works well enough. I was about to kick Kdenlive to the curb with the 0.7 series, and 0.8 came out.

Also, I edited more video with 0.7 from the time of the parent comment, and the timeline bugs with Kdenlive actually ate at me more than my cheap upload speeds and even the real stability issues. Those timeline problems appear to have disappeared 0.8. I haven't seen any.

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 24, 2011 11:01 UTC (Thu) by jschrod (subscriber, #1646) [Link]

I have to speak up strongly against such an arrogant self-absorbed poster like you are.

You seem to think of yourself as a professional, but that's clearly not true; otherwise you would understand that readership of LWN.net is a bunch of folks with widespread areas of interest and knowledge. Just as many reports about distributions (or, in my case, document publishing) or other application tools are low-level for those deeply in-the-know, there are even more readers who are *not* as proficient in these areas and like the introductionary presentation of a tool that they didn't know before.

If you had written such a review, those readers probably wouldn't have understood a single word. "Final Cut", "Vegas" -- what the h*ll? I have never heard of those programs, and I'm working in IT since 30 years. It would *not* have sufficed to do just such a comparison; to think so is mind-blowingly ignorant of reader's expecations here.

So, I'm glad that Zonker is writing as an author for LWN.net, and not you. This article *does* provide value; maybe not for you personally, but for us other readers. I've go an advice: If you read an article that is too low-level for you, but doesn't have factual errors, JUST SKIP IT. Posting derogatory remarks is a just a public presentation of your narcissm, not more.

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 24, 2011 11:19 UTC (Thu) by cantsin (guest, #4420) [Link]

I kindly ask the editors of LWN to remove the parent comment. This is personal insult, and does not meet the standards of this publication.

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Feb 24, 2011 12:34 UTC (Thu) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

I don't believe LWN's editorial staff are in the habit of doing that. Usual policy with flamewars, off-topic digressions and such - even when they pass into the realm of personal insult - seems to be for jcorbet to politely request that the parties to such things kindly take them elsewhere. I'm slightly startled that someone with a subscriber number a tenth of my own hasn't noticed this.

Removing comments

Posted Feb 24, 2011 13:59 UTC (Thu) by corbet (editor, #1) [Link]

Removing comments is something we really try hard not to do; with maybe two exceptions over the entire lifetime of LWN, the only comments we have removed are outright spam.

That said, I do think that the conversation above has gone as far as it needs to.

Easy, powerful, stable: Pick two with OpenShot 1.3

Posted Mar 6, 2011 23:08 UTC (Sun) by clump (subscriber, #27801) [Link]

For what it's worth, I've found value in your comments as well as the article. I've also been following Linux video editing since the Broadcast 2000 days and hadn't yet come across OpenShot.

You seem like you'd be in posession of a decent vantage point to write an article articulating some of your points about Linux and video. Not as a contrast to this article, just the angle you wanted to see in the first place.


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