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Journal rfc1394's Journal: Where are the video editing tools in Open Source?

I have posted a video on You Tube where I spend about three minutes describing my new 30-frames-per-second video camera, but the video is done with my old 15-frames-per-second one. Why? Well, I don't want to reiterate the entire video including the rant of about four minutes I make on why, but the simple fact is that the new camera won't work as a web cam, and the files it creates on its memory card are AVI files. (I have an error in the video; Microsoft Windows Movie Maker creates WMV files; I said it makes Quicktime MOV files.) Despite that it supposedly will allow AVI files, Windows Movie Maker crashes if you try to feed it AVI files.

And I can't find any open-source tools that will allow me to do video editing with AVI files. I do not want to spend a fortune on a video editing program. But apparently video editing is one of the functions that is lacking in open source.

If you want to edit audio, there's no question: Audacity is the premiere tool for that purpose. I use it regularly and it's at least as good if not better in both functionality and in ease-of-use as any proprietary application for audio editing. When I want to develop a raster-based image (which is what SVG files are) because you can scale the image up or down and keep it sharp, I use Inkscape. But if I need to edit a bitmap image, I'm usually using Microsoft Paint or an older version of Paint Shop Pro because the learning curve for The Gimp is too high and its user interface is very difficult.

But I can find nothing in open source that is available for the purpose of doing editing of video files, specifically for AVI files. Maybe there is, but I can't find it. As I say in the video - and I'll focus on this again in a moment - I would set up a Linux partition on one of my computers and space to do this if Linux had the tools to do this as opposed to having them on Windows if they weren't available.

And so, as I (partially) point out in my video above, for those who want to really encourage people to turn to open source, good quality video editing tools available in open source, probably for Linux, would be a serious "Killer Application" that could get people to move. If they're not there, we (as in programmers who do this) need to work on them.

The camera I have came with a video editing tool, but it apparently won't work the the videos the camera creates. I hand it a 15-second clip and it says it can't work with video longer than 5 minutes!

If there are tools for video editing in open source, they have to be usable; they can't be junk or hard to use or they are worthless. The tools have to be at least the equivalent of what is available in proprietary applications, such as the (free as in beer) Microsoft Windows Movie Maker. That means non-linear video editing in a graphical user interface. A timeline. Ability to cut video at either any frame or for compressed video, at any key frame. Ability to insert audio, snapshots, video clips, to mute audio on a clip, to delete clips or to cut clips so I can remove things like excessive pauses, speech disfluencies (a fancy phrase I had to look up meaning use of "uh" in conversation), and errors. (I may do a gag reel containing all of my mistakes; it would definitely be Not Safe For Work. I am extremely polite in writing my blog; I can be extremely profane when I get mad when something goes wrong.)

It also needs to be able to insert titles, it probably should have effects (like various wipes and dissolves), and it would be nice if, in addition to titles, had proper captioning. I'm not deaf, but I caption all my videos. It actually takes a lot longer to add the captions (primarily because Windows Movie Maker doesn't really support them directly, I fake it with a title superimposed on the film) but I do it because it is the right thing to do: it allows those who can't hear to know what I have to say, and in case I slur my words (which sometimes when I get excited I do sometimes talk fast) someone can still understand what I'm saying.

Now if someone knows of good World Class Open Source video editing tools which are at least the equal of, say Windows Movie Maker I'd like to hear about them.

As I said in a previous article on my blog, the original Napster, if it ran only on Linux, would have been a "Killer App" that would have driven people to Linux in droves. And I suspect that if there were easy-to-use video editing tools it could also be the sort of thing that gives people a reason to take up that system, and if you can get your foot in the door you've got the chance to win people over.

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Where are the video editing tools in Open Source?

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