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Graphics Media Open Source Software

Ask Slashdot: the State of Free Video Editing Tools? 163

New submitter Shadow99_1 writes I used to do a lot of video editing (a few years ago, at an earlier job) and at that time I used Adobe Premiere. Now a few years later I'm looking to start doing some video editing for my own personal use, but I have a limited budget that pretty well excludes even thinking about buying a copy of Adobe Premiere. So I ask slashdot: What is the state of free (as in beer or as in open source) video editing tools? In my case... I support a windows environment at work and so it's primarily what I use at home. I am also using a camcorder that uses flash cards to record onto, so for me I need a platform that supports reading flash cards. So that is my focus but feel free to discuss video editing on all platforms. I've been looking forward to the Kickstarted upgrade to OpenShot; based on the project's latest update, early versions of an installer should start appearing soon. Video editing is a big endeavor, though, and ambitious announcements and slipped schedules both seem to be the norm: an open-source version of Lightworks was announced back in 2010. Some lighter open-source options include Pitivi (raising funds to get to version 1.0) and Kdenlive, also in active development (most recent release was in mid-May). Pitiviti's site links to a sobering illustration about many of the shorter- and longer-lived projects in this area.
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Ask Slashdot: the State of Free Video Editing Tools?

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  • CS2 (Score:5, Informative)

    by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @01:26PM (#47808717)
    Unless you have an aversion to closed source or need some features it does not provide, adobe has made CS2 versions of their products available for free for some time. You do need to register and login if you do not have an Adobe account, but presumably that could be done with fake info for the paranoid.
  • Davinci Resolve Edit (Score:3, Informative)

    by entertainment ( 749138 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @01:27PM (#47808723) Journal
    Blackmagic has lots of hardware and likely will be supported in the future - davinci is sweet, if this system proves stable it will create a much needed solution. https://www.blackmagicdesign.c... [blackmagicdesign.com]
  • Re:CS2 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ultra64 ( 318705 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @01:29PM (#47808759)
  • Re:CS2 (Score:5, Informative)

    by thedbp ( 443047 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @01:31PM (#47808773)

    This isn't actually true. Technically, you still need to own a copy of CS2 to legally use the software:

    http://blogs.adobe.com/convers... [adobe.com]

    Will it work? Yes.

    Are you supposed to do this if you don't own CS2? No.

    It is ethical? That's for you to decide.

  • no real winners (Score:5, Informative)

    by marcello_dl ( 667940 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @01:31PM (#47808781) Homepage Journal

    My desktop power user workflow wrt video is:
    cat (unix command) to piece together the 2gb splices the camcorder makes (avchd)
    ffmpeg to change the container from whatever the camcorder uses to a more editor friendly mkv, you can use the copy option for blazing fast remuxing without reencoding.
    kdenlive or cinelerra. They are both prone to crash so save often. Cinelerra has best curves for fading but it's a very peculiar GUI.

    If you know your stuff, you can do pretty decent videos.

  • Blender... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Qybix ( 103935 ) <qybix@shaw.ca> on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @01:32PM (#47808803) Homepage

    Blender is mostly for 3d animation, but it does have it's own video editor built in. Added bonus that you can animate things like callouts, thought clouds, etc... Added bonus that the community for Blender seems massive.


  • KDEnlive (Score:5, Informative)

    by TyFoN ( 12980 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @01:32PM (#47808811)

    I've been using KDEnlive a lot, and I find it really nice for my personal use.
    It hasn't crashed in about a year either, and uses MELT underneath.

    Slightly OT: I've also replaced adobe lightroom with darktable now, and I like it a lot.

  • by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @01:32PM (#47808813) Homepage
    AviSynth is extremely versatile and often leads in state-of-the-art filters long before any other video editor gets them, including professional ones. The trick is that there's no UI for it -- to edit videos, you write scripts.
  • It still sucks. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @01:35PM (#47808845) Homepage

    Nothing is really useable and stable enough. Lots of people dabbling, NONE doing feature length or even 30 minute tv episodes.

    I go down this road every year and crawl right back to the single Windows box with Sony Vegas and After Effects on it. I really wish I could replace it with a linux system but it will never exist as the open source options are still not as good as even Adobe Premiere in 2004.

    All pro and prosumer cameras record in MOV or AVCHD and if your editor can not handle those natively it is a major failure. I have no interest in spending 8 hours converting video and introducing generational losses right off the bat.

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @01:39PM (#47808879) Homepage Journal

    It's free and pretty powerful.

    It's only free if you're OK with 720p [lwks.com] output, limited input [lwks.com], and not being able to move your source material to a different editor. The latter is actually the bigger risk because if Lightworks goes away (let's hope not) there'd be no way to buy the 'pro' version and get your data exported.

    Otherwise it's $279 or you're on a subscription plan. It's probably still the best choice available, but be aware you don't just go buy a GoPro or a Nikon and plan on dazzling folks with the HD output with free Lightworks. From what I've seen, even iMovie parity on Linux costs $79/yr.

    Even if you're very frugal and can use Free, it's probably smart to buy a month once in a while and export your projects.

  • by Sydin ( 2598829 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @02:12PM (#47809245)
    Actually AviSynth does have a (very basic) UI: AvsPmod [github.com] It's not the fanciest thing in the world, but it does the job. You're still writing scripts, but it comes with some nice options like error reporting and previewing, which make life a lot easier.
  • Re:It still sucks. (Score:5, Informative)

    by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @03:05PM (#47809727)

    Reading this thread, the conversation of "video editing" seems to lead directly to

    • hundreds of tracks
    • 3d modelling
    • Writing your own video filters (probably in Lua or something)
    • extensible command line interfaces
    • free codecs

    "Video editing" actually requires

    • never crashing
    • interop with industry standards like AAF and SMPTE MFX (patented or not)
    • long timelines
    • Well-designed and stable UIs (like, buttons and icons don't change for decades)
    • Thorough sound and audio metadata, sound matchback workflows, video (or even film) matchback workflows
    • never crashing
    • 98% of the time, cuts. 1% of the time, an A/B dissolve, 1% of the time, something more complicated a vendor has done for you.

    Professional video editing is all about workflows and reliability. "Open source video editing" is all about hacking for 10 hours on a python script for animating the title transitions in your Kickstarter Dr. Who Fanzine Screencast.

  • My Experiences (Score:5, Informative)

    by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @07:02PM (#47812045) Homepage Journal
    First, a gratuitous plug for my Let's Play/Drown Out video series, currently focusing on 3DO console titles: http://www.youtube.com/playlis... [youtube.com]

    Why is that link relevant? Because they were all made using Kdenlive.

    When I first started mucking around with digital video, I tried a bunch of free/libre packages, and formed the following opinions of each:

    Windows Movie Maker
    Yes, $(GOD) help me, I gave it a serious try. To my utter surprise, it mostly worked and did what I wanted without crashing. However, the UI was rather inflexible, and I needed more than the handful of features it offered, so I kept looking.

    Every Google search for free video editing software always turns this up, so I tried it. Then, ten minutes later, I had to stop trying it because it kept crashing and/or hanging at the slightest provocation. It has an impressive-looking array of features, and the editing timeline looks quite powerful. Evidently, you can do some fairly impressive things with Cinelerra, provided you can identify and avoid all its weak spots.

    The last time I tried this, it was unreliable, under-featured, and incredibly slow. Just loading a one hour-long video clip into the timeline took several minutes as it tried to generate thumbnails and an audio waveform for the clip.

    Assuming I'm remembering this package correctly, all it does is assemble edits -- that is, you can tack together a bunch of clips one after the other to create a larger work. If you want to do any effects or titling, you're SOL. Perhaps the Kickstarter-funded upgrade will yield some improvements.

    I had to learn something the hard way with this package: This is a professional package. By that, I don't mean it has a ton of features (although it certainly does). I mean it expects a certain level of media asset before it will operate on it in the manner you expect. Us mere proles are satisfied to use MP4 or MKV or ($(GOD) help us) AVI files. However, in the pro space, you have files that contain not just compressed audio and video, but also timecode. And not just timecode measured relative to when you last pressed the RECORD button, but also a master timecode from an achingly accurate central timecode generator fed to all your cameras and microphones. This not only means all your cameras and mics are in precise sync ('cause otherwise their internal clocks will drift relative to each other), but you can trivially sync all your master footage and then intercut shots without even thinking about it. Also, near as I can tell, there's no such thing as inter-frame compression in professional video. Each frame is atomic, which means you can cleanly cut anywhere, but it doesn't compress anywhere near as small as, say, H.264.

    The result is that, if you don't have equipment that generates all this metadata for you, then you need to convert it from the puny consumer format you're likely using. This means having truly monstrous amounts of disk available just to store the working set, and tons of RAM to make it all work. And hopefully your conversion script(s) didn't cough up bogus timecode.

    So, yes, Lightworks is very very nice, if you have the proper resources to feed it. I don't, so I've set it aside for that glorious day when I get some proper equipment :-).

    Kdenlive is built on top of the MLT framework [mltframework.org], and is about the best and most reliable thing I've found out there that doesn't cost actual money (either directly or indirectly). It has a non-linear timeline editor, it supports a wide variety of media formats, and it has a modest collection of audio and video effects (almost none of which you will use).

    One of the more amazing things Kdenlive does is transparently convert sample and frame rate

The other line moves faster.