Thursday, May 26, 2011

Open Source Video Editing

Coming to terms with, open source, video editing, creative commons

I love open source tools. Even if you never read my blog at the previous site, any of my new readers since the move (thank you!) should have ascertained this by now. I have a tendency to wax almost hagiographic in my love of both the philosophy behind open source and the tools that we are given from the open source community. We've probably all heard about how Apple users have a religious experience with Apple imagery. I probably experience something similar when I see Tux or a picture of a Gnu.

Part of that is a somewhat selective view of the world. We all do this. When something doesn't correspond to our preconceived notions, we tend to explain it away, rather than explaining aways our notions. In communication studies, we call this "selective distortion." It allows us to live in a world that is constantly not measuring up to expectations. Without this technique, we tend to fall into despair.

I experienced this phenomena in one area, and that has been video editing. Don't get me wrong. There are some truly awesome open source video editors out there. Cinnerella is a powerful tool for professional movie makers. For the novice, however, it is about as user friendly as a wild walrus. Avidemux is better, because they have a massive online user manual, and in only a few years of research, it is understandable and usable. What if I don't want to go out and get an internship in movie production, but I want to make cute little videos for the web?

There are actually quite a few open source video editors that are available for the casual user. The Ubuntu system ships with PiTiVi. I've used it and it is stable and always works. Unfortunately, all it can do is string clips together. There is no panning, no effects, no transitions, nothing. In other words, it works, but not to do anything interesting. Kino has all of these features, but it constantly crashes and interferes with every other operation one is doing. It is hard to figure out where your stuff is in the story-board. I made a couple videos with Kino, but I tried to make many more. They crash.

So, what is an open source user to do? I am embarrassed to admit this, but since my job almost always gives me access to a Windows computer, I use Movie Maker most of the time. Other times, I will go to one of the mac labs we have at work and use iMovie. I honestly feel, in admitting this, like I felt when I told my pastor I sometimes go to the Episcopal church on Ash Wednesday because I like to get the ashes and our tradition doesn't do that. Luckily, I have found an answer.

I created the following video using an open source tool I recently found: Openshot Video Editor. It is a great tool for the casual user. It is every bit as good as Movie Maker, for Windows. No, it is not i-movie, and when I really need to do something a bit better, a video presentation for colleagues, for instance, off I will go to find a Mac.

As you have seen this is just a bunch of still pictures. The main point was to show the effects and transitions available. This is a pretty good tool.

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