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OpenShot Video Editor’s New Skin

October 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Call me shallow, but in all seriousness the main reason I’ve not tried OpenShot video editor is that I can’t stand the glossy, glassy, bubbly look of their default colour scheme. Dislike KDE? Not that I necessarily do, but OpenShot’s theme was like KDE, but worse, much, much worse.

It seems like that’s all just changed for the better! A new “matt” theme is now available for OpenShot, and at first glance it looks much more appealing to my eyes. This will fit much better with my matt XFCE theme
See the latest blog post over on the OpenShot website, with details of how to change from the default theme, and then have a look at the two screen shots below:
Default (Before):
Matt Theme (After):
I guess that takes away any perceived barrier I had to trying this software. Happy days, I can now temporarily join the OpenShot massive (as long as I don’t visit their website too often).

Kdenlive 0.7.6 Released

October 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Just 3 months after the last release, Kdenlive is out with 0.7.6. They even had a pre-release message on their homepage for the last week or so.


The new features are:

  • Title module: rewrite, now allows for basic animation (title zoom & scroll)
  • Track rename: users can now rename tracks
  • Composite transition: keyframes can now be moved
  • Clip management: image and audio clips are automatically monitored and updated in the timeline whenever they change on disk
  • User interface cleanup: cleaner look for timeline
  • Capture monitor improvements: now shows available disk space & timecode, also allows to choose a name for captured files
  • Project management: project settings dialog now allows you to clear the thumbnails cache and delete all videoclips that are not used in the project
  • Improved clip markers: they are now displayed in the clip monitor ruler, and user can easily go to each marker from the context menu
  • Shutdown computer after rendering

Apparently stability is improved as well, through using the latest 0.4.6 version of the MLT Framework.

Read all the details on the Release Notes page and download the application from the Kdenlive website.

Categories: Kdenlive, Video Tags: ,

Applying the HandBrake – Stopping Short of Video Transcoding

October 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Finding a full featured open source video transcoding solution is no easy task. There is of course FFmpeg, which is fantastic and powerful, but one does need to spend a serious amount of time learning the syntax and various options. This is fine if you’re taking one type of input file and creating one type of output file. Easy to script and I’ve seen some really good results, especially using the x264 library. However, trying to find a nice GUI to do the same thing, so far no joy.

I had really hoped HandBrake might be the right tool for the job. It’s been around for a long time now, it’s not just for Mac anymore and there seems to be an active community around it.

The last stable release was almost 10 months ago, but recently an SVN snapshot build was supplied, with some pre-compiled packages to go with it. The usual caveats apply, but the change log provided some tantalising updates, so I decided to try it out.

My home laptop is running Debian Squeeze, but I decided to try the Ubuntu 9.04 GUI package, as I was lazy and didn’t feel like compiling from source. Maybe this was a mistake….. The installation of the deb package went fine. No errors to speak of and a nice little HandBrake icon appeared in my Sound & Video menu. Starting the application also worked flawlessly.

I hadn’t used HandBrake before, so I didn’t know what to expect. On first glance the software appears to be mainly geared towards H.264 transcoding. While this is currently an important video codec, I was hoping for a much wider range of output options. I couldn’t find any.

Fine, let’s stick with H.264. My source file for testing was 4.2GB of DNxHD – a little over 3 minutes of content at 185Mbps. HandBrake uses FFmpeg in the backend to do the transcode heavy lifting. I know FFmpeg supports DNxHD, so I was not expecting any real problems. Unfortunately, my assumption proved to be incorrect.

Selecting the DNxHD file as source, HandBrake scanned the file for a couple of minutes, then stopped. No error message, no warning, just the UI sitting there waiting for the next input. Fortunately, there’s an Activity Window to select and view the command line output. Here’s what I saw…..

Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from ‘/home/phillc/Media/South Pacific Avid DNxHD.mov’:
  Duration: 00:03:11.12, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 189668 kb/s
    Stream #0.0(eng): Video: dnxhd, 1920×1080, PAR 1:1 DAR 16:9, 25 tbr, 25 tbn, 25 tbc
    Stream #0.1(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, mono, s16, 768 kb/s
    Stream #0.2(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, mono, s16, 768 kb/s
    Stream #0.3(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, mono, s16, 768 kb/s
    Stream #0.4(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, mono, s16, 768 kb/s
    Stream #0.5(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, mono, s16, 768 kb/s
    Stream #0.6(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, mono, s16, 768 kb/s
    Stream #0.7(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, mono, s16, 768 kb/s
    Stream #0.8(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, mono, s16, 768 kb/s
[10:14:27] scan: decoding previews for title 1
[10:14:45] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:14:58] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:15:12] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:15:26] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:15:40] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:15:54] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:16:08] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:16:23] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:16:35] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:16:49] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:16:49] libhb: scan thread found 0 valid title(s)

What’s it all mean?

It would seem that FFmpeg recognised a valid DNxHD file. It found the video track and 8 tracks of audio, but after this, who knows! Not being able to get a decoded picture is not an error I’ve come across using FFmpeg from the command line before.

EDIT: The root of this problem is actually FFmpeg and not Handbrake. The DNxHD file was 10-bit, but FFmpeg currently only supports 8-bit files of this codec.

That’s as far as I’ve managed to travel in the HandBrake world. I had a look at some of the H.264 file output options, which are comprehensive, but don’t at first glance seem to support the general x264 preset options. HandBrake presets are more geared towards devices – iPod and Apple TV. It appears to be possible to queue multiple jobs using HandBrake, but not set watch folders nor apply rules for output files. E.g Once transcoding is finished, move file to folder X.

HandBrake is probably a good tool for those looking to create web media, from DVD or Camcorder source, but it’s not powerful enough to deal with high end media from the post-production or broadcast domain.

Cinelerra Quietly Releases New Version

October 1, 2009 Leave a comment

Without much ado, Heroine Virtual has quietly released Cinelerra 4.1 earlier this month.

A full list of detailed changes is available on the Cinelerra website.
In the race for who has the most effects in their Open Source editing tool, Cinelerra totals 58 in a list claimed not to be updated, including really useful items such a Reverse Telecine, Deinterlance and Denoise. For me, this trumps OpenShot’s Glow, Water and Echo.
After 10 minutes trawling, I can’t seem to figure out if the CinelerraCV (Community Version) is tracking to the latest code or not. There’s been no News announcements on their website since June 2009.

OpenShot Video Editor Adds New Effects

October 1, 2009 Leave a comment

Some noise on the Interwebs has been made in the last couple of days regarding the latest updates to the OpenShot Video Editor

The is now a PPA (that’s Personal Package Archive, for those who don’t use or care about Ubuntu) available for OpenShot, as well as the inclusion of 33 new video and audio effects.
I applaud the work done by the OpenShot team, as I still believe Open Source non-linear video editing has much room for growth. However, I do question the need for 33 new video and audio effects. Some of the new effects are very nice, a welcome inclusion and most likely quite useful. Chroma Key (Green Screen) support is one of those. However, other effects are largely just eye candy which I’m not clear would be truly useful to the serious editor. These include Glow and Water from the video effect selection and Echo from the audio options. How often would a professional video editor use these tools in a commercial solution such as Final Cut Pro? (which actually has over 150 effects and transitions, so I guess there’s a place for them!) From my own, limited, editing experience, I rarely use effects, sticking mostly to simple fade transitions.
The most important aspect of any video editing software is stability and codec support. I can’t accurately comment on OpenShot in this area, as I’ve not tested the software – I just can’t get past that bubble blue button interface.
I couldn’t easily find a complete list of all the new 33 effects, so best to read the blog post on the OpenShot site for more information, complete with a small dig at the PiTiVi team.

PiTiVi 0.13.3 Released

September 16, 2009 Leave a comment

The PiTiVi team have recently announced the release of version 0.13.3 of the popular open source source non-linear video editing tool. PiTiVi is built with Python on top of the GStreamer framework.

This latest version features the following updates:
  • Fix Rendering Failures
  • UI beautifications
  • Switch to themeable ruler
  • Speed optimisations
  • Show the project name in the window title
For more information regarding this release, including dependencies, contributors and a long list of bugs fixed, checkout the release notes page.
Version 0.13.3 of PiTiVi can be downloaded here.

FFmpeg Watermark.c Alpha Channel Patch

September 10, 2009 Leave a comment

Finally, something actually useful on this blog……


If you need to apply a watermark, or Digital Onscreen Graphic (DOG), to a file during the transcode process, the only way to currently achieve this with FFmpeg is to use the vhook watermark.c filter. Unfortunately, vhooks no longer work with the latest SVN snapshots of FFmpeg, as everyone is supposed to be writing new filters for the AVFilter framework.

Unfortunately, again, there’s not always time to write brand new filters in C from scratch. Sometimes, a quicker solution is required. At the major UK media content distribution company that I work for, we needed to transcode approximately 5,000 VC-1 5Mbps files to 2-pass H.264 at 1.5Mbps and 500kbps, within 6 weeks. We decided to find all the spare PCs we could get out hands on, install Debian Lenny and FFmpeg, then start transcoding. However, we also needed to apply a DOG to each and every file. How to do this with FFmpeg….. use the watermark.c vhook, which fortunately does still work with the 0.5 release of FFmpeg. Great news. Well, almost.

To achieve a really nice looking DOG, we wanted to use a PNG file with Alpha Channels. The existing watermark.c code did not support this. Therefore, we’ve written a patch.

This patch means watermark.c now obeys the alpha channel in a PNG file. The -m option is the mode, this must be 2 for alpha blending. The watermark image is applied to the input video and then scaled with the input video to the output video’s dimensions. So best to make an image the same dimensions as the input video, otherwise you’ll get horrible scaling effects.


Usage:

ffmpeg … -vhook ‘/usr/local/lib/vhook/watermark.so -m 2 path/to/image.png’ …


(replace /usr/local/lib/vhook with wherever your watermark.so is.)


Patch is available here –  watermark.patch

(Maybe see links below for files on Github instead)


Example screen grab: View image


We’ve also posted back to the FFmpeg Devel mailing list.


Actual credit for this patch goes to my colleague Tim MacFarlane - http://refractalize.blogspot.com/


Tim has also now added the files to Github:


Just the patch here.

The whole of watermark.c with patch applied here.

Categories: FFmpeg, Video Tags: , ,

Kdenlive 0.7.5 Released

July 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Popular open source non-linear video editing tool Kdenlive has just seen version 0.7.5 released. The team are making pretty regular releases and updates to this software. It’s good to see some decent velocity behind this project.

There’s an interesting Discover Kdenlive 0.7.5 page available, outlining the main changes without having to wade through heavy release notes. The main changes in this version include:
  • Timeline vertical zoom (make tracks smaller or larger in one click)
  • Stability improvement (fix issues with clip and group move / delete)
  • Non realtime playing in monitors, allows to see your editing frame by frame
  • Keyframe editor for effects
  • Template text clips
  • Improved titler (allow for right / bottom alignment of objects), allow unicode characters
  • New dialog reporting missing clips when opening a project
  • Save a copy of the Project Profile in Kdenlive document to make it easier to work on another computer
  • Save last used Rendering Profile in document so it appears by default when reopening
  • Rewrote and improved the thumbnail creator (that creates preview thumbs for your project file for KDE’s file managers)

A new version of the MLT framework (Media Lovin’ Toolkit now at 4.4) that Kdenlive is built on top of was also released today.

Categories: Kdenlive, Video Tags: , , ,

GPL Firmware For Canon 5D Mark II

June 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Sometimes the power of Open Source can be amazing. One of the newer digital SLR hybrids on the market is Canon’s 5D Mark II. This is not just a highly capable digital SLR film camera, it also has some useful HD moving image filming capabilities. If you want to know more about who is using the 5D Mark II, this article is a good starter. However, the camera is not without some limitations and disappointments.

Now with the power of open source, there is a new software update that deals with some of the audio issues. “…code adds features that should have been in the software, like on-screen stereo audio meters, live audio monitoring, reduced audio noise and crop marks for different formats.”

There’s an introductory video available and an audio evaluation compares it to the stock firmware, with very good results. The Magic Lantern firmware is GPLed and new features will be written to make the camera even more useful on set. Find the wiki for documentation and deverlopment here.

Categories: Audio Tags: , ,

How Firefox Is Pushing Open Video Onto the Web

June 20, 2009 Leave a comment

There’s a great article called How Firefox Is Pushing Open Video Onto the Web by Micheal Calore over at WebMonkey, dealing with the HTML 5 <video> tag and Firefox’s native Ogg Theora support. The piece outlines the technical details of the <video> tag and includes an interview with Mozilla director of Firefox Mike Beltzner and Mozilla director of platform engineering Damon Sicore.

An excerpt from the interview:

Webmonkey: How do you see these factors — the HTML
5 video tag, putting the Ogg codecs right into the browser,
presentation techniques that mimic the plug-in player experience –
affecting video on the web? What’s it going to change in six months? Or
six years?

Beltzner: In six months, you’re going to see more
sites like DailyMotion doing things where they detect that the browser
supports Ogg and the video tag, and in that case, they’re going to give
those users an Ogg-and-video-tag-experience.

I think you’ll see content sites doing this because they’ll have the
ability to re-encode their entire video libraries without having to pay
any licensing fees. The Ogg Theora encoders are completely license-free
and patent-proof. They don’t need to worry about which player you’ve
got. They also don’t need to worry about which hardware you’ve got. Ogg
Theora will run on Windows, Mac and Linux, or any embedded device or
mobile device built on the Linux platform.

Here’s a beta example page from DailyMotion demonstrating use of the HTML 5 <video> tag. If you have Firefox 3.5 installed, or a reasonably new version of Webkit/Safari and the XiphQT component install, you should have in browser video playback – Ogg Theora and no Flash player needed.

YouTube’s demonstration page here.

Categories: Codecs, Video Tags: , , , ,
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