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… the last step to freedom.

I run a dual boot on my PC laptop of Windows XP and Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon (Linux). Because I feel more like a ninja when I’m using Ubuntu I try to minimize the amount of time I spend in Windows, but one of the last things that keeps me from wiping XP from my CPU entirely is video editing. I have a long standing addiction to Adobe Premiere….. a love hate relationship which w/ the new version of the Quicktime has turned mostly into hate. After looking around it seemed like the options available for Ubuntu are Kino, Blender (using the sequence editor), and Cinelerra. Kino I ruled out because it lacks some basic features (e.g. speed up slow down) that I feel are necessary. Blender I was really excited about until I went to hit the render button and couldn’t figure out how to create anything but a sequence of images. I have heard there is a way around this using ffmpeg exporter, but I haven’t returned to the scene of the crime to figure it out yet (if anyone has any information on exporting video and audio from Blender I’d love to hear more).

  • Cinelerra seems to be the go to video editor of the Linux world, so I thought I’d give it a try. To get up and running there is a great tutorial at on how to set it up on Ubuntu Studio. Cinelerra is a forked project (typically not a great trait for an open source initiative) meaning there are two different groups of people developing the same application in different ways. The article describes them as follows:

  • Cinelerra comes in two versions — one with the original codebase, released by a mysterious person/entity called Heroine Virtual, and the community version (CV), which makes revisions and improvements to that code. Although it is released as GPL, there is a controversy surrounding the legality of the original codebase, and that has kept Cinelerra from being included in the official repositories of most Linux distributions. In Debian and Ubuntu, you have to use third-party repositories in order to install the community version, which is the most stable and widely used.

  • Most of the research I have done points to using the community version of Cinelerra rather then the Heroine version. This can be downloaded for free here.

  • Enter The Source: “the only video podcast produced entirely with open source software”…. pretty cool. They have a list of tools they use to produce the show with here, but even better they have done a 3 part series of video tutorials explaining how to edit video using Cinelerra (which can be viewed here).

  • For my first video editing project using Linux and Cinelerra I edited and compiled all of the Cinelerra tutorials from The Source website into one meta tutorial video. The other tool I find to be very handy in this processes is MEncoder (or MPlayer). This is a command line application for converting video (users guide here). Because Cinelerra deals mostly with .ogg files (an open source file format I understand little about but have been told to think of as a zip file containing audio and/or video content), MEncoder will allow you in one command to convert, resize, and compress your video into something the rest of the world will be able to look at (eg. .avi). The command I used to to turn my 640×480 .ogg file into a slightly compressed 500×375 avi file that I could upload to vimeo looks like this:

  • mencoder cinelerra_tutorials.ogg -ovc lavc -oac mp3lame -vf scale=500:375 -ffourcc DX50 -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:vrc_buf_size=800:vrc_maxrate=2800:vbitrate=700:keyint=15:vstrict=0:acodec=ac3 -o cinelerra_tutorials_2.avi

  • Navigate to your video files home directory, paste the code above into the terminal, replace ‘cinelerra_tutorials.ogg’ with the name of your input file and ‘cinelerra_tutorials_2.avi’ with the name of your output file name, give the computer a few minutes to think about it, and you should in the business of uploading your Linux edited video to your youtube account.

  • I’m still in the learning process of all this stuff, so if anyone has any tips or recourses they would like to share please leave some comments. And without further ado, I give you my first Linux edited video:

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    Posted on December 17, 2007



    1. congrats dude.
      Just don’t get interested in audio any time soon or you’re gonna have to find an alternative for Pro Tools.

      And props to The Source – on first read my opinion of a certain hip-hop magazine took a sudden jump for the better, but upon further review it still sucks, but these guys are killin’ it.

    2. pt says:

      Avidemux provides a very usable GUI to mencoder

    3. jdubs says:

      Excellent contribution to global knowledge, dugg:

      Ninja status approved

    4. gurdy says:

      Where can I find more info about the “controversy surrounding the legality of the original codebase”?

    5. […] F.A.T. » Blog Archive » Video Editing In Linux […]

    6. Dylan says:

      very interesting


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