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A Blog Reborn

March 27, 2011 Leave a comment

When I orginally started this blog back at the beginning of 2008, it was dedicated specifically to open source video topics. This was something I was passionate about and involved in. Over the last three years much has changed, although I am still deeply interested in open source video.

Over time I found that I wanted to blog about other topics, but didn’t really have an outlet for this. I didn’t want another blog.

My work circumstances also changed. After eight years at BBC Worldwide, most recently as Head of Digital Distribution, it was time for a change. I invested in a small post-production company in central London, The Station, and also started consulting for mediapeers, a specialist broadcast content distribution tool vendor.

I was also paying too much money each month for a dedicated server that I wasn’t really using. This blog has now moved to WordPress’ own hosting solution.

There it is, a new start and a fresh approach. I sincerely hope there will be a steadier stream of content on this blog, from a wider range of topics.

Categories: Uncategorized

Handbrake 0.9.5 Released

January 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Handbrake is one of the very few, functionally mature open source video transcoding tools with a decent, usable user interface (of course command line options are still available).
 
Generally the Handbrake development team take a long time between official releases, and v0.9.5 is no exception. This latest version comes more than a full calendar year after the previous milestone release.

While Handbrake doesn’t support a wide range of broadcast video formats, which would be a nice addition for me personally, this is not really their target market. Handbrake does a great job on web targeted and home use video encoding jobs. Ripping Blu-Ray DVDs, encoding for Apple TV2 and advanced finite controls for H.264 transcoding are all now supported in the latest release.

Further details about the release available here.

Discussion thread, specific to this release, available here.

Multi-platform downloads found here.

FFmbc v0.5 Available

November 16, 2010 1 comment

It has been announced as available for a while now, but only recently was the download made publically available again for FFmbc 0.5. Lead developer Baptiste is doing a super job moving this project forward, but really needs the support from more media professionals to fully realise the early promise of this open source, broadcast media focused, transcoding solution.

FFmbc 0.5 download available here.

FFmbc 0.5 feature updates include:

  • Sync on FFmpeg svn r25202.
  • Yadif video deinterlacing filter.
  • Overlay video filter.
  • Fade video filter.
  • HQDn3d video filter.
  • Rename ffmpeg binary to ffmbc.
  • FFmbc is now GPL only.
  • Disable shared libraries.
  • Remove -s resizing output cli option, use -vf scale.
  • 23.98 and 24 fps support in MXF muxer.
  • Mpeg-2 aspect ratio bitstream filter, to change aspect ratio without reencoding.
  • Fix an issue with -async and audiomerge.
  • Fix an issue with the fade filter.
  • Write interlacing information in mov files, fix deinterlacing with quicktime player.
  • Correctly support interlaced in yuv4mpeg and quicktime.
  • Display interlacing when printing information.
  • Fix an issue with resampling and audiomerge.

Categories: FFmbc, FFmpeg, Video Tags: , ,

General Open Source NLE Round-Up

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted any open source NLE updates, and there have been new releases across the board. Here’s a quick round-up of a few noticeable updates.

KDENLive (http://www.kdenlive.org)
Version: 0.7.8
Released: September 14th, 2010
Updates: Improved tools for color correction, improved UI for effects
(you can now adjust some transitions and effects directly on the
monitor), track effects, improved slideshows.

PiTiVi (http://www.pitivi.org/)
Version: 0.13.5
Released: September 21st, 2010
Updates: Periodic backup of the current project file, easy crossfading transitions by overlapping clips, better icon metaphors for link/unlink actions, pixel-perfect icons for various toolbar icons, new “add keyframe” button (and keyboard shortcut), the “missing plugins” installer has been fixed.

OpenShot (http://www.openshotvideo.com)
Version: 1.2.2
Released:
September 21st, 2010
Updates:
Improved Stability, 3D Animated Titles, Custom Transitions, New Audio & Video Effects, Time-line Improvements / Animations, Improved Effects User Interface, Improved Theme Engine, Razor Improvements, Improved Language Support, New DVD Export, Improved Preferences Dialogue, Improved Exporting of different frame-rates.

LiVES (http://lives.sourceforge.net)
Version: 1.0.10
Released: October 15th, 2010
Updates: Backported fixes from development branch.


Lightworks Open Source Available Soon – Not For Linux Yet!

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Earlier today we received an email from EditShare, regarding their open source plans for non-linear editing tool Lightworks. Earlier this year, in April, EditShare had announced their plans to open source Lightworks, asking interested parties to sign-up to receive more information. Today’s email was the first such email from the company!

The good news is that the first open source version of Lightworks will be released to the public on November 29th. The not so good news is that this will be for Windows only, and plans for a Linux version have been pushed back until “late 2011″. Also worrying, from reading between the lines of the press release, is the fact that it would appear a great deal of essential codec support will only be available for purchase from the EditShare/Lightworks online shop.

Full text of the message from EditShare is as follows (take note of those asterix and the little note towards the bottom that says, “Options available through the Lightworks Store”.)

Hello again, from the Lightworks Development Team
It has been an exceptionally busy few months as we move toward the first public release of Lightworks Open Source.

Since the landmark Lightworks Open Source announcement (April 2010), we’ve had over 1700 developers and 20,000 editors sign up for the program. With many new features close to finalization, we have embarked on a comprehensive beta testing program, putting Lightworks through its paces and the feedback we have received so far has been excellent.

Lightworks for FREE … just in time for the holidays!
It is with great pleasure that we take the first step in the roll out of Lightworks Open Source and deliver the free download to you! On November 29th, the free download will be available exclusively to those who have registered. An email will be sent to you with detailed download instructions.

Lightworks developers have been working day and night to develop a variety of enhancements for the new NLE.

Application Features

Capture and Playback
    •    Edit While Capture, Firewire, SD (analogue and digital), HD-SDI with optional I/O cards
    •    Full-screen, real-time SD, HD, and 2K preview playback on desktop display, Dual HD-SDI and DVI for Stereoscopic playback
Editing
    •    Resolution, format and codec independent editing
    •    Edit at 23.976, true 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 50, or 60
    •    Advanced multicam editing with unlimited sources
Effects
    •    Real-time effects in SD, HD and 2K
    •    Field or frame based varispeeds*
    •    Keyframe graphs
    •    Effects layers with node-based layering tool
    •    Multiple real time primary and secondary color correctors
Tools
    •    Multitrack audio mixer with full bus routing and multiple mixes
    •    Customization templates for Avid and FCP shortcuts
    •    Voiceover tool for adding narration directly to edit
    •    Shot sync – sync two sources for playback comparison
    •    Customizable BITC timecode and film footage overlays
Film
    •    Support for 35mm 3-perf, 35mm 4-perf, and 16mm-20 and mixed film formats
    •    View feet and frames in edit
    •    View keycode and ink number
    •    24-fps EDL import, export and conversion to and from 29.97 fps
    •    Import ALE, FLX, and CSV files
    •    Cut list, change list, optical list, pull list, dupe list
3rd-Party Support
    •    Inscriber Titlemotion, Boris FX, Combustion, After Effects, Premiere Plug-ins, Sapphire, Digital Fusion
    •    Support for any application that can exchange AVI, MXF and QuickTime files
Collaboration
    •    Advanced Shared Projects with real-time review*
I/O Support
    •    QuickTime, MXF, AVI, DPX, DV, DV50, DV100, H.264, Uncompressed, OMF, AAF
    •    Avid DNxHD*, Apple ProRes*, RED*, AVC-Intra*, AVCHD*, XDCAM HD*, XDCAM EX*
    •    Stereoscopic support for independent Left and Right files*
    •    Telecine 29.97i to 24p pull down removal
    •    30fps and 25fps import to 24fps project

New Features
    •    New and intuitive user interface
    •    Basic wizard for user orientation
    •    Avid and FCP keyboard shortcut preferences
    •    Integrated help with indexed Lightworks User Guide
    •    New style ‘bins’
    •    On screen console controls
    •    Full screen video on single or secondary displays
    •    Advanced EditShare Project Sharing*
    •    Native support for Apple ProRes, Avid DNxHD and AVC-Intra*
    •    Native support for RED R3D files and RED Rocket cards*
    •    10bit and 16bit DPX support
    •    H.264 and AVCHD support for DSLR cameras
    •    Stereoscopic import and editorial support*
    •    Stereoscopic output through SDI and DVI (dual stream, side by side, anaglyph)**
    •    Native 2K resolution support
    •    Output through DVI in different resolutions up to 2K
    •    New project browser
    •    Windows 7 support (32bit and 64bit)
*Options available through the Lightworks Store
**SDI Output requires optional I/O hardware

Platform Support
We are still receiving questions regarding OS support for Lightworks. Currently, Lightworks runs on Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit, and Windows XP 32-bit. We are looking to port it to Linux and OSX, but this won’t happen until late 2011.

Minimum Specifications
These are the minimum recommended specifications for running Lightworks optimally:
    •    A PC computer with Intel Core Duo, Intel Xeon, or AMD processor
    •    2 GB of RAM (3GB recommended)
    •    A PCI Express graphics card with 256MB memory or higher
    •    A display with 1024 x 768 resolution or higher (1440 x 900 or higher recommended)
    •    Windows XP Professional SP2 or Windows 7 (32 bit or 64bit)
    •    QuickTime 7.6.6 or later
    •    100 MB of disk space required to install Lightworks
    •    Dedicated media hard drive (7200rpm or higher)

FFMBC 0.4 Now Available

June 25, 2010 Leave a comment

A little over one month since the release candidate was made available, FFMBC has officially rolled our version 0.4. Lots of useful and interesting updates for our favourite open source video transcoding tool:

- Sync on FFmpeg svn r21845.
- Full support for reading and writing covert art in mp3 and iTunes m4a,m4v,mp4.
- “-coverfile” commandline option to set a cover file. png,jpg,bmp supported.
- Correctly write Quicktime metadata as utf-8.
- Fixed a bug with temporal offset when muxing mpeg-2 long gop in MXF.
- Huge speedup when opening Quicktime and mpeg-4 files.
- Timecode for Quicktime and MXF files can now be set when stream copying.
- Added x264 sources in contrib directory, git 5b86182d1240b441f28462abf3d40b7371de5ba3
- Enable pthreads by default.
- Fixed a bug with interlaced VC-3 decoding.
- Integrate libavfilter. New commandline option -vf, see doc/libavfiter.texi
- Auto-rotate iPhone 3GS files.
- Support lyrics in mp3 and iTunes m4a,m4v,mp4.
- Automatically set current UTC time in created files.
- New AVFMT_HAS_PTS flag in AVInputFormat to specify that format has pts.
- Write and read metadata “reel_name” in mov timecode track if present.
- MPEG TS muxer now produces streams playable by VLC and Quicktime.
For me, the two most interesting updates in this list are the fixed VC-3 bug and the ability to now set timecode when copying QuickTime and MXF files.
FFMBC version 0.4 can be directly downloaded from here.
Categories: FFmbc, Video Tags: , , ,

Lightworks Switches the Lights On

June 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Apparently I missed the announcement back in April this year that EditShare is to release an Open Source version of their award winning non-linear video editor, Lightworks. Let me say that again; a well known, if not quite industry leading, professional non-linear video editor, as used in a number of Hollywood studios, is to move to an open source distribution model.

Before going any further, there’s a couple of things to note here. The first thing is that Lightworks is a “professional” video editing solution, in the same way that Avid Nitris and Final Cut Pro are high-end professional video editing applications. This is not iMovie or Windows Movie Maker open sourcing their code base. As such, there’s probably not a lot of competition with other open source video editors, such as OneShot, PiTiVi and Kdenlive, that target the home user. Lightworks is likely to fall into the same category as Blender, Cinelerra and the yet to be released Lumiera, with high end appeal.
As I missed the previous announcement, I thought it would be a good idea to follow up and find out what’s actually available from EditShare as open source at this time. And the answer is, nothing. Although the initial announcement was made in April, there doesn’t yet appear to be any download available. An update from the developers in May, confirmed that their aim is to support Linux and OSx, as well as Windows. There’s an interest registration page available, where presumably those who have entered their details will be informed first of updates. The page counter tells us that a little over 12,000 people have done just this. Sadly, the Beta testing programme is now closed, which was limited to just 80 people (not really the open source community way!).
Overall, exciting news and as Q3 starts next week, which is when EditShare hope to release the first publicly available open source version of Lightworks, we can all hope that it won’t be too much longer before we can all play with it.
If you’re interested in seeing something that’s been edited using the current closed source version of Lightworks, try to find the movie Centurion.

Updates on WebM Support – All Aboard!

June 2, 2010 Leave a comment

As could probably be predicted, there’s been a lot more press around WebM over the last ten days or so. A few articles are worth noting.

CNET posted a reasonably ordinary piece regarding the quality of WebM, when compared against H.264. However, there were two interesting links in this piece. 
The first pointed to a WebM project page where the indepth encoding parameters for WebM content are outlined. If you’re planning to create WebM files, reading this page is essential. 
The second link, to the quAVlive website provides some various examples of H.264 (using x264) encoding compared against WebM. I can’t really see a lot of visual difference in the “Sunflower” example. However, it is easily clear to my eyes, without even enlarging the screenshots, that in “Park Joy” and “Riverbed” H.264 is certainly superior. I would like to have seen more information regarding the time taken to transcode these examples, with each codec, and the resulting file sizes. Picture quality isn’t always everything, transcode time and storage requirements should also be taken into consideration.
Everyone’s jumping on the WebM bandwagon with software and hardware support. Gstreamer claims full plugin support, which means in turn there is Moovida support and the Transmaggedon transcoder can also output VP8 codec files, although not in the Matroska/WebM container yet. Not to be outdone, Flumotion, will also stream live VP8/WebM content. The Miro Video Converter will also output valid VP8/WebM files, claiming to be the first to do so. The list could go on, but the easiest thing is to probably just keep tabs on the WebM project page listing all the supported devices and software tools, both commercial and open source.
Also worth a shout is the fact that both Mozilla and Opera are pushing for VP8/WebM to be specifically included in the HTML5 specification. Previously, major browser makers couldn’t agree on one specific video file format – Mozilla and Opera backing Ogg Theora and Apple sticking with H.264. I can’t see that particular situation changing now. 

WebM – The New Open Source Codec on the Block

May 27, 2010 Leave a comment

In August 2009, Google acquired codec developer On2 Technologies for a rumoured $106 million. The flagship On2 codec was VP8 and it was also rumoured at the time that Google may open source this technology in the future, although a number of challenges lay ahead.

Late last week this rumour became reality and WebM was born. Alongside Theora and Dirac, WebM now enters the open source HTML 5 ready codec battle. Almost immediately all major web browsers, except one, but including Internet Explorer announced support for the codec. Using the might and muscle of Google WebM must have a solid chance of taking on the dominance of H.264 in the web video delivery battle. This really will be a solid kick in the pants for Theora, which now seems destined to remain a reasonably niche product, even with direct HTML 5 support from Firefox.
In short order some early comparisons between H.264 and WebM appeared online. Some with more technical detail than others. The debate also began as to whether Google was benevolent or evil. Did WebM contain submarine patents that not even Google were aware of?
Producing WebM video for the masses was the next step. Easy to follow FFmpeg tutorials are available and just a few days ago a major commercial transcoding software vendor announced WebM/VP8 support.
WebM video is already available on YouTube, in experimental form. How long before at least all new YouTube video is transcoded to this format? If WebM quality is on parity with H.264, and the jury is still out on that, what is the unique selling point of H.264? Why would anyone continue to use it? 
There will be a substantial legacy component to overcome. Many people and organisations have invested heavily in H.264 technology, and a move to WebM may represent an operational, although not licensing, cost. However, with Google behind it, many of Big Business’ concerns around open source projects may be alleviated.
Adding to this, H.264 video within a Flash player still has significant advantages over HTML 5 delivered video content, in terms of presentation flexibility and perceived security.
H.264 video is of course still dominant for web delivery, just as VP6 and VP7 was in the past. However, WebM is an exciting development with a bright future. Using the collective power of open source development, and no small amount of corporate backing from Google, watch out for WebM to challenge MPEG-LA’s codec in the future.

PiTiVi 0.13.4 Release

March 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Missing the announcement again by a few days, we see that this week open source video editing tool PiTiVi has just released version 0.13.4.

PiTiVi has been on the scene for a few years, and development has been a little slow. It’s around 6 months since the last fresh release. Built using Python, and relying on the GStreamer Multimedia Framework, PiTiVi used to be included in Ubuntu Studio a few versions previously.

It’s good to see a new release of this tool, which includes the following enhancements:

  • video mixing/transparency support
  • icon view in source list
  • smoother scrolling
  • modeless splitting
  • seek on click
  • faster waveforms
  • zoom slider
  • UI beautifications
  • Speed optimisations
  • dbus/hal dependency now optional
  • translated in 30 languages

More information and a fresh download are available on the PiTiVi website.

Categories: PiTiVi, Video Tags: ,
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