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Interview with Edward Hervey about the PiTiVI video editor

May 13, 2009 Leave a comment

If you don’t already know, PiTiVI is an open source non-linear video editor. It’s still in the relatively early stages of development, with quite limited functionality compared to some of the well known commercial tools, used in production environments. PiTiVI is written in Python and uses the Gstreamer framework to do the back-end heavy lifting. While PiTiVI still has a long way to go, the last 12 months has seen some good advances and dedicated resources being assigned to the team by Collabora Multimedia.

Here’s an interesting interview with lead developer Edward Hervey, talking about the past, present and future plans for PiTiVI.

I’ve tried to use PiTiVI in the past, but unfortunately found it too limited for my editing needs. Subsequently I switched to Blender, which while predominantly a 3D authoring tool, does include a reasonably powerful video sequence editor. The learning curve for Blender is quite steep, so it’s not for everyone. Let’s hope a tool like PiTiVI can emerge to make open source video editing much easier and accessible for everyone.

Irony at NAB

May 8, 2009 Leave a comment

A couple of weeks ago I attended the yearly National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) trade show in Las Vegas. This year the show itself was a little quieter than usual – for example the RED camera circus wasn’t in town, drawing hundreds, blocking aisles and making a nuisance of itself – which generally meant it was easier to walk around, talk to people and actually learn a few things.

There wasn’t a lot of Open Source video products around that I could see. At least no one was openly touting their Open Source credentials. Smartjog were there, and they use FFmpeg as the back end transcoding solution in their servers.
However, I was highly amused by the irony of Microsoft, demonstrating new Silverlight 3.0 features, and using Big Buck Bunny as the demonstration footage. Could they not afford to license footage from elsewhere for their big screens? A small dose of irony in my day.
Big Buck Bunny and Silverlight

Kdenlive 0.7.3 Released

April 18, 2009 Leave a comment

April 15th saw the latest release of increasingly popular Linux Non-Linear Video editing software, Kdenlive. Now at version 0.7.3, this video editor seems to be one of the few in the Linux arena making regular progress and updates.

Occasionally a new PiTiVi blog post if made about future plans or minor improvements. Open Movie Editor has been very quiet for many months. It feels like Kdenlive and Blendor are the only two Linux video editors still making solid advances.

Anyway, Kdenlive 0.7.3’s major new features are as follows:

  • Clip grouping
  • Creation of rendering scripts for delayed rendering
  • Double pass encoding for rendering (just add “pass=2″ to your profile)
  • Track locking
  • Configurable monitor background color for better previewing
  • Web updates: you can now download new rendering profiles from Kdenlive’s web site
  • Split audio, allows you to separate a clip in it’s audio and video parts
  • Improved compatibility with Kdenlive 0.5 project files

Read more of the Release Notes on the Kdenlive website.

Kdenlive is starting to increasingly look like the Linux NLE of choice, for those who don’t have the time or inclination to figure out Blender’s complex User Interface.

BBC R&DTV – Creative Commons Tech TV

April 18, 2009 1 comment

In an interesting, and to be applauded, move from the BBC, they are now releasing a technology based television programme under a Creative Commons non-commercial attribution licence. R&DTV’s first episode is now available for free download in a number of file formats. There is a full 30 minute version available, a shorter 5 minute highlight version, as well as a complete Asset Bundle, which includes rushes that may not have made it into the final programme versions.

The BBC’s RAD blog has a launch announcement about this, followed up by another post 24 hours later outlining some small fixes.

The programme is PAL 720×576. The aspect appears to be 14:9 anamorphic. The little person inside me who wants the greatest and the best all the time, wonders why the filming wasn’t done in HD, even HDV would do.

I thought the “formats” described on the R&DTV website were a bit vague. What does QuickTime format and Matroska format really mean? Sure, I know about QuickTime and Matroska containers, but this doesn’t say anything about the video and audio essence contained therein. The best way to find out about this is to download each video and let FFmpeg take a look.

QuickTime Format (461.3MB):

Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from ‘RDTV_ep1_5mins.mov':
Duration: 00:05:59.08, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 10777 kb/s
Stream #0.0(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16, 1536 kb/s
Stream #0.1(eng): Video: h264, yuv420p, 720×576, 25 tbr, 25 tbn, 50 tbc

That’s H.264 video with PCM audio. Strange they didn’t use AAC audio in a QuickTime file. Looking at that 10Mbps bitrate though, I’m guessing perhaps the BBC is expecting people to use this version for editing. But then why use H.264, rather than something that’s I-Frame only like IMX50? There’s also an Uncompressed version and another QuickTime version, which we’ll come to later.
 
Matroska Format (28.4MB):

Input #0, matroska, from ‘RDTV_ep1_5mins.mkv':
Duration: 00:05:59.04, start: 0.000000, bitrate: N/A
Stream #0.0(eng): Video: mpeg4, yuv420p, 720×576 [PAR 1:1 DAR 5:4], 25 tbr, 1k tbn, 25 tbc
Stream #0.1(eng): Audio: aac, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16

Generic mpeg4 video this time (Xvid perhaps) and here’s our AAC audio!

MP4 Format (65.4MB):

Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from ‘RDTV_ep1_5mins.mp4′:
Duration: 00:05:59.10, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 1526 kb/s
Stream #0.0(eng): Video: h264, yuv420p, 720×576 [PAR 1:1 DAR 5:4], 25 tbr, 48k tbn, 50 tbc
Stream #0.1(eng): Audio: aac, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16

H.264 video again and AAC audio again. When opening this file with Totem to view, the Comments section says “HandBrake 0.9.3 2008121800″. Nice to know the BBC is using Open Source software for at least some of their video transcoding.

AVI Format (63MB):

Input #0, avi, from ‘RDTV_ep1_5mins.avi':
Duration: 00:05:59.04, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 1470 kb/s
Stream #0.0: Video: mpeg4, yuv420p, 720×576 [PAR 1:1 DAR 5:4], 25 tbr, 25 tbn, 25 tbc
Stream #0.1: Audio: mp3, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16, 160 kb/s

Generic mpeg4 video again, but this time with mp3 audio.

FLV Format (37.4MB)

Input #0, flv, from ‘RDTV_ep1_5mins.flv':
Duration: 00:05:59.07, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 844 kb/s
Stream #0.0: Video: vp6f, yuv420p, 1024×576, 716 kb/s, 25 tbr, 1k tbn, 1k tbc
Stream #0.1: Audio: mp3, 44100 Hz, stereo, s16, 128 kb/s

VP6 for the video codec and mp3 for the audio. No surprises there then. The bitrate is quite low though for VP6 content, quality will suffer.

Ogg Format:

Input #0, ogg, from ‘RDTV_ep1_5mins.ogg':
Duration: 00:05:59.08, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 683 kb/s
Stream #0.0: Video: theora, yuv420p, 720×576, PAR 1:1 DAR 5:4, 25 tbr, 25 tbn, 25 tbc
Stream #0.1: Audio: vorbis, 48000 Hz, 5.1, s16, 516 kb/s

Theora for the video and vorbis for the audio, again no surprises there. 5.1 audio is a nice touch though. However, again, the bitrate is very low. Why would the BBC do this? The MP4 version, with H.264 video at a higher bitrate, is going to look far superior.

QuickTime 2 Format (155MB):

Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from ‘RDTV_ep1_5mins_2.mov':
Duration: 00:05:59.08, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 3627 kb/s
Stream #0.0(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16, 1536 kb/s
Stream #0.1(eng): Video: h264, yuv420p, 720×576, 25 tbr, 25 tbn, 50 tbc

H.264 video and PCM audio. This second QuickTime file is found only on the FTP site and not linked to directly from the main page. The bitrate is much lower than the previous QuickTime file.

QuickTime Uncompressed Format (7GB):

Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from ‘RDTV_ep1_5mins_uncompressed.mov':
Duration: 00:05:59.08, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 167428 kb/s
Stream #0.0(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16, 1536 kb/s
Stream #0.1(eng): Video: rawvideo, uyvy422, 720×576, 25 tbr, 25 tbn, 25 tbc

There we go, raw video in the 4:2:2 colour space at 165Mbps, with PCM audio again. I wonder whether the content was filmed at anywhere near this resolution. Given that the programme is only SD, I’m guessing that the highest quality recording would have been done direct to Digital Betacam, which is only the equivalent of 90Mbps, unless of course the whole thing was done tapeless, which I must admit to doubting.

One last puzzlement is why a Dirac version wasn’t supplied, given that this is the BBC’s own R&D developed codec.
 

Categories: FFmpeg, Video Tags: , , , ,

Interview with FFmpeg Developers

March 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Two posts in two days after such a long silence, who’d have thought it…… And again it’s about FFmpeg.

This time Phoronix has posted an interesting interview summary with Diego Biurrun,
Baptiste Coudurier, and Robert Swain, three of the many, but very key, developers working on the FFmpeg project. The interview covers some interesting topics about the future of FFmpeg, the difficulties of maintaining such a large project, managing developer motivation for writing codecs and the limited corporate sponsorship the project has so far received.

I’ve known Baptiste for a year or so, having met at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention in Las Vegas in April 2008. I’d like to personally thank him for the work he has done on implementing DNxHD in FFmpeg.

Anyway, read the interview and learn something about behind the scenes at FFmpeg.

Also worth a read, which I just found today, is the Phoronix tests on NVIDIAs VDPAU drivers on a cheap chipset and graphics card.

FFmpeg Makes an Official Release!

March 10, 2009 Leave a comment

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted on this blog, but finally today something has spurned me into action. 

The FFmpeg team have finally made a release – version 0.5 – with a silly long name. Previously, users were always told to download and compile the latest SVN version of FFmpeg, if they expected any support from the mailing lists.
Now it would seem that there is a stable release, only a few years since the last one, that can be used by software developers and packagers everywhere. I still expect that many mailing list issues will be dealt with by the instruction to download from the SVN or Git repository and compile. I also expect that bug fixes and enhancements will make it into SVN quite quickly, but that also the next release might be some time away.
Release notes are available on the FFmpeg changelog (long!) and there’s a lively, as always, Slashdot discussion around this momentous event.

New Version of PiTiVi – 0.11.2

October 30, 2008 Leave a comment

The news is a couple of weeks old now, but I thought PiTiVi was dead and wasn’t bothered visiting their website for updates anymore. The link to their Forum still goes to a default Apache page.

Anyway, GStreamer and Python based video editor, PiTiVi, released version 0.11.2 on October 15th, after almost a year of project silence. It’s good to know progress is still being made.
The 0.11.2 release is not yet meant to be production ready, but does include a number of updates and bug fixes. Full details as always on the Release Notes page.
There also seems to be a reasonable amount of activity on the PiTiVi Wiki and mailing list. Not only that, various blog posts on the Gstreamer Planet feed indicate that Collabora Multimedia have hired a part-time programmer to work specifically in PiTiVi, and are looking for another head as well. The target is a April 2009 for a “usable release”.

Open Movie Editor – New Release 0.0.20081029

October 30, 2008 Leave a comment

Popular Linux non-linear video editor, Open Movie Editor, released a new version yesterday – version 0.0.20081029.

It’s been 5 months since the last OME update and it seems that lead developer, Richard Spindler, has been busy on a couple of side projects at the same time – specifically a movie called McFinnen & Wallace.
Open Movie Editor’s latest release covers a myriad of smaller changes, all of which can be perused in the Change Log. Perhaps most interesting amongst the changes is a dependency regression to an older version of Libquiktime, apparently because many distributions have been lax in upgrading to the latest version of that library.
The latest version of OME can be downloaded from the project’s website.

Blender 2.48 Launches!

October 15, 2008 Leave a comment

The irresistible march of Blender continues. Yesterday the team announced the launch of version 2.48. This is less than two months after version 2.47 was release, which itself was just 3 months after 2.46. That’s a nice release schedule for incremental updates. Some users may not like such regular updates, but personally I like to see progress in in growing Open Source multimedia projects. Adopting an agile development and release philosophy surely keeps users more engaged than a big once per year waterfall approach. When it comes to software, like Operating Systems, others may disagree.

But I digress, back to Blender 2.48. The release notes highlight the following enhancements:

“… all the work done on the Blender Game Engine and the Apricot Open Game “Yo Frankie!”, with much better functioning game logic editing, character animation, and Blender Material based real-time shaders. And as last minute surprise a Bullet physics update with Softbody support.

We also included a lot of new development in this release; Windows 64 bits support, Grease Pencil for sketching annotations,  Sun/Sky/Atmosphere rendering, new modifiers, and an improved text editor with Python API support. And last but not least, an enormous list of open bug reports were handled.”

Further details are available on the Blender website.

Categories: Blender, Video Tags:

Kdenlive 0.7 Beta Released

October 8, 2008 Leave a comment

After 10 months of work, and waiting, the Kdenlive team have released the 0.7 Beta version of their Linux based non-linear video editing software.

Kdenlive 0.7 Beta had been built specifically for KDE4 and features many improvements over the previous 0.6 version.

Main features, from the Release Notes, include:

* Capture video from your camcorder, webcam or screen
* Mix a large number of different formats (depending on your FFmpeg install): mpeg, flash, mp3, ogg, png, jpeg, dv, hdv
* See the result of your work (effects and transitions) in realtime
* Export your work in several formats (hdv, dv, mpeg, …)
* Create titles, slideshows and more

Read the full announcement on the KDenlive website.

Screen shots of the new version in action are also available.

Coupled with the new application release is a complete redesign of the Kdenlive website.

Categories: Kdenlive, Video Tags: , ,
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