Archive for the ‘Video Capture’ Category


Video Editing in Linux: Kino v Open Movie v KdenLive

August 10, 2008

I have yet to see a decent article on using video with Linux, so I thought I would write one. I’ve been working with video and posting my clips on YouTube using Windows Movie Maker 2. It is an adequate program, but I’d like to find something that could be as good or better in Linux. Could I pull it off? Follow along and see…

I used a Canon Powershot A630 and captured the video on an SD card. The video was only about a minute long, just to keep it as simple as possible.

Would PCLinuxOS be able to read the output? Would I be able to edit it with a title and maybe add some music? Would I be able to post my video on YouTube? Let’s see.

I was looking for some likely video editors and these were on my list:



Open Movie


I’ve been using Movie Maker for all of my videos thus far, so anything I used in Linux would at least have to measure up to that. I had not used any of these but did some research on each of these and downloaded everything except Cinalerra. I’m not opposed to Cinalerra but didn’t want to spend scads of time learning features I would never use. I wouldn’t mind trying it eventually, but this is a basic project. Capture, edit, render and post. Once a body does that, we can experiment and tweak.

PCLOS was able to read my SD card, no problems. That’s more than I can say for my niece’s laptop which is running Vista. Oh well.

Meanwhile, I’m also playing with Ksnapshot for screen capturing. I’m definitely expanding my skill level with this exercise!


Kino looked pretty simple until I tried to import my .avi file. Then it acted confused as it wasn’t a DV file. I said import anyway, and away it went. It said it might take awhile. Okay. So I waited for a couple of minutes. And then some more. This movie was about 90 seconds long, so I was not going to wait forever. I purposefully made the clip short in order to limit processing and rendering issues.

Finally, it imported, taking a full 3 minutes. Next, I went to the timeline.

The Kino Timeline

The Kino Timeline

This did not look like a timeline view to me. I had a series of clips, each about 6 seconds long. I clicked the Trim button and saw that I could do a little basic editing, but it was not a timeline format I was familiar with using other editors I had fiddle with. Even the editor that comes with Nero seemed more full featured than this!

I looked at the export feature just to see what it looked like and it appeared to support several formats including some DVD options. But I decided to look else where to do this project. I didn’t see anywhere to put titles especially in light of not having a proper time line. Perhaps I missed something? I may need to do more research in order to warm up to Kino. NEXT!

Open Movie

For some reason, my package manager did not install Open Movie in the menu, so I ended up searching for it. Then I put an icon on the desktop.

Now here was an editor that I could understand a bit better. There was a more “normal” timeline with multiple tracks with the capacity to add even more audio and video tracks. But I ran into trouble when trying to add any effects other than a title. Plus, the program would simply disappear whenever I tried to preview my movie.

More research needed. I did look at the export options, and those options looked a bit complicated for someone used to using Movie Maker. Lots of promise here, but I need to be able to preview without the thing crashing.



I’m running out of options, here. Kdenlive came on to the scene relatively recently, and I was keen to give it a try. I had seen some YouTube videos made with this program, so I knew some people were using it. Could I use it?

The default video format stymied me for a bit. ATSC is something I hadn’t heard of before. Reading a bit, it sounded like a fancy name for mpeg-2. Okay, moving on…

Next I could decide how many audio and video tracks in my project. Movie Maker only allows one video and 2 audio so the flexibility to add more is nice. I decided to stay with the default of 2 and 2.

Next I was greeted by a screen that looked intuitive as it really seemed to fit with the KDE theme. Perhaps this would be the one.

So I went to Project>add clip and was able to browse for my movie clip. I was able to drag it to the timeline. So far so good! Next, clicked the “play” button in the preview window….

Not good. Not good at all.

So I tried it again, and the second time it worked. I have no idea what I did different if anything. So while I knew I might crash at any time, I also knew this program showed promise. So it was time to save before it crashed again.

Time to add a title, which looked like it needed to be a text clip. So I created and added it…or at least I think so.

It didn’t show up in my preview.

Okay, so far so good. Let’s render this thing out, shall we?

Under file, I tried “export timeline.” Good choice.

I had a lot of choices for high and medium quality. Medium is good enough for the moment so I picked mpeg 640×480 high. So far so good. Lots of audio choices, too. Now I’m starting to feel a bit overwhelmed as there really are a lot of choices here!

I finally clicked the export button and let fly. It said it should be finished in about 5 minutes and had a progress moniter to show me how things were going. This is the furthest I had gone with any of the programs and was looking good.

After rendering, the title still did not make an appearance. I went back and tried to fiddle some more but never was able to make the title appear in the preview window on top of the clip.

There were still choices available in Movie Maker that were lacking here, such as toggling between timeline and storyboard view and number of transiton and effects. But overall, this program is a pretty good fit. Or it would be without the niggling defect of not seeing the Title/text screen I created. I did not play with that many features as I wanted a quick and dirty demonstration just to see if using Linux with TouTube was even possible for a noob like me.

Out of the 3 programs previewed, I liked Kdenlive the best, but not having the Title show up was a real bummer. Kdenlive could eventually become my editor of choice by the time it gets to 1.0 status. The trick is going to be to keep the development moving and thus keep my interest alive. This type of progression is what has helped Linux reach critical mass as desktop choice. It is good enough now to hold the interest of the average user, even if it not totally perfect. Handling video tasks such as screencasting, editing for online viewing and working with webcams are going to be crucial in order to make this OS viable for the future. Video rendering remains one of the most intensive tasks most home computers do and it is becoming more and more necessary for business. The future of computing is in video, and Linux is woefully behind in that area. This is why Macs have seen such a rise in sales is because iLife makes video creation so easy and painless. Most prominent YouTubers are using Macs. It would be nice if Linux could at least make an appearance but right now Linux is in sad, sad shape in the area of allowing average users to generate content.

The finished product isn’t anything too special but here it is:

The good news is that I was able to completely capture and render the video and post to YouTube within Linux without having to go into Windows.  And really, that was the ultimate objective.  I’ll still use Windows for the majority of my video work, just because it is faster at the present time and plays nicely with my webcam on the laptop.

I’m also in search of screencorder software, similar to Camstudio.  Or it would be cool if Camstudio were ported to Linux. I feel this type of software is crucial to further development of Linux.  That is because no one is going to sit down with a book or manual to learn about Linux or software.  But they will watch a series of short, concise video tutorials on the subject.  I can learn more from 4 minutes of video than an hour of reading a technical manual.  I can’t do code, but I could make technical support videos for Linux if there existed the right tools.  The Xvidcapture that I found isn’t quite cutting it, even though it’s a good start.



New Need: Streaming TV Shows

February 23, 2008

So my PC is acting up and is getting infected (and later cleaned up) at an astonishing rate.  I would really, really like to leave Windows for games and assorted picture/video work and not have it on the internet at all.  But I recently discovered that I can watch my favorite TV programs online.  ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX are all offering selected shows and episodes online, some of them in HD programing.  HD is not a big issue for me at present.

I recently tried cruising in using a MEPIS 7.0 live CD and discovered, to my dismay, that the ABC site does not have streaming available for  Linux.  The have it for Mac and Windows Firefox but not Linux.  what is up with that?  I did email them my feedback but haven’t heard anything.  that’s the latest thing that keeps me on a Windows machine.  Trust me, if I could go without it, I would.

I notice that while the programming does not show up, the commercials come through just fine.:-/  What is up with that?!?

With more applications and content being delivered over the web, it will help to loosen more users from the grip of Microsoft.  But if I’m watching stuff with Firefox, why can’t I watch streaming content regardless of the OS?

As it is, I am tired of playing nursemaid to this old Windows machine.



Finaly Putting it to Work

July 9, 2006

The bad news is that the newer Mepis has no clue as to where the new modem is any better than the old modem.  Plus, my Ubuntu disks are not here, yet.  I’m annoyed. 


But not quite as annoyed as I could be.  I discovered a new use for my Live CD that fits a need of mine that my version of XP doesn’t seem to have.


My wife, Jane, likes to go to bed early, like around 9:30.  Waaaay early for this night owl!  Trouble is, the only TV we have hooked up to cable is in the bedroom.  So usually I come out a fool around on the computer.  But I like also like to watch the History Channel or maybe a movie on TV once in awhile.  So what to do?


I do have a cable outlet by the computer, just no TV.  But I also have an analogue card for transferring our video tapes to DVD using the VCR.  Could I watch TV on the computer by hooking the cable to the VCR?  My version of XP doesn’t have anything, but Mepis has a TV tuner thing I played with while trying to figure out how to capture video (still working on that one).  So I plugged it in, and VOILA!  The picture actually looks better than it does on our old TV that is 15+ years old.  How cool is that?  I can plug in my headphones and actually watch the entire movie without bothering anyone else in the house if I want.


It’s still not enough to actually get me to wipe Windows off and install this instead, but it does fulfill a practical use for me that XP fails to do.  I think this is where the opportunity for Linux is.  Do stuff that Windows either can not or will not.  Consider making the Live CD a more durable option, which is something that no one else can or will do.  What that means is thinking about applications running as they ought off of that CD off of 512 MB RAM instead of thinking that they will run better once fully installed.  This is one area where Mepis’ “On the Go” feature has some dividends.  I haven’t played much with it, but saving my settings and information on a jump drive and then putting that on whatever machine I happen to run on a network has a lot of appeal, especially at school where I might have to switch machines occasionally.


Perhaps instead of striving for a pure desk top Linux solution, where it is Linux and only Linux all the time, we might consider creating a sort of bilingual culture, where people become well-versed in both Windows and Linux.  At that point, Linux becomes more poised for the mainstream and users feel safe from EVER having to commit to one or the other but goes for what works best in a particular environment.  I think this might represent a step forward in thinking.  Linux enthusiasts want to take back the world and bring down the Evil Empire that is Microsoft.  Trouble is Microsoft works on some level and has for a long time.  Instead of being some sort of geek OS, why not a spare tool for the rest of us?  We’re all used to buying various utilities to make our machines work better.  Linux is another one of those tools that makes our machines more productive.

For the time being, I’m sort of stuck with Windows for making my DVDs.  BUT, Linux lets me watch cable on my computer.  If the thing would recognize my modem that I bought from eBay and was formerly used with Suse or Mandrake, I think we’d be in some real business.


I like the live CD feature and I think I’m going to look for and try a different distribution that has that feature just to see if there is a better, more promising option.  Which is something else I’m learning about Linux.  I went for Mepis because I wanted something extremely easy and that looked to be about the best at the time.  However, I can afford to try some others on the cheap and still spend a lot less than buying a Microsoft OS off the shelf even with an educator’s discount.  Maybe I’ll eventually save enough that I can get a broadband account and eliminate the modem problem!LOL!




Hanging Linux? Freezing Linux?

June 25, 2006

Okay, so the past few days I've been spending more and more time with Linux via the Mepis live CD.  I've just been poking around, trying to see what can be done.  While I did discover XsawTV was able to show my VHS-C camcorder on the computer monitor, I've not been able to capture it.  And I have no idea if there are tools on the Mepis CD for burning a DVD.


I was showing my wife, Jane, some video of the kids at their Bible school program.  I was also showing off our possibly new desktop of the future.  I went to open a movie file, and Linux began opening the program and then froze.  It just froze right there with no warning and absolutely no way to back out.  No alt-ctrl    -del maneuver or escape protocol.  It just froze.  Stuck.  Jammed.


How embarrassing.


Nothing I knew to do except push and hold the power button until it shut down.  Then push it again to start the boot-up process all over again.  And this is not a short process.


Okay.  Maybe it was a fluke, right?  What are the odds of it happening again?  With a totally different file…slim and none, right?


One of the little guilty pleasures I discovered was the racing Tux game.  What a cool game!  So after dinner, I thought I would just fly down the mountain and snatch a herring or two.  I got into the start menu and located the game.  The screen began to change and then…




Stuck.  Hung.  Froze.  Again.




That ain't right.  I have a very crippled and sick Windows OS that hasn't crashed that much.


I am less than impressed since this is the equivalent of Windows crashing from opening up a solitaire game.  What's more, I know of no way to recover from such a thing, like the ubiquitous 3 finger salute we have in Windows.  Which means a serious reboot, since neither mouse nor keyboard could get anything to respond.  And rebooting takes several minutes.


What the hell could have gone wrong just playing this stupid little game that it crashed?


And how do I recover without having to do a hard boot?



June 24, 2006


Because I know a thing or two about computers, folks frequently ask for my advice when picking out a new one.  The first thing I always ask is, "What do you want to do with it?"



Same should go with this Linux business.  What do I want to do with it?  The answer might help determine how successful I feel about using it.  Can Linux really do anything Windows can?  Will it always do those things better?  I'm about to find out.


First off, I need to do all the stuff you all do with your computers: surf the web, write email, write and print documents.  That's pretty basic.  But I also have a couple of specialized needs.


I'm trying to finish up an advanced degree, so I need to write papers and annotate references.  Endnote has been great at making that a much less painful process.  I need to have something like Endnote and it would be nice if a Linux version could read my Endnote databases.  The Cite and Write feature is a real winner in that regard.


Part of my academic work involves making some charts and graphs.  I've gotten good at getting what I need from Excel, but Open Office has not been quite as handy for that.  I think if open source really made a concerted drive to make stuff for students, we are the real future of open source adoption.  We're not lazy, we're just poor!


On the other end of the spectrum, I have two young kids with family spread across the U.S.  Making DVD's has been a great way to share with relatives, plus the boys love watching themselves.  In addition, video modeling is an emerging technology for teaching new skills to students with exceptionalities.  I have an analog capture card in addition to a firewire capture card.  Since my DV recorder crapped out, I've been using our VHS-C and converting to DVD.  Now that Windows is crapping out, it isn't even able to capture from the analog recorder without dropping gobs of frames.  Finding something that will do the job in Linux is a high priority for me. 


In addition to video, my wife likes to make slide shows of still images paired with music to send to relatives. She's huge into taking pictures, but she gets lost in any editing that is too sophisticated.  Adjusting brightness, cropping and red eye are her main needed tools.  And ripping CDs provides the music for these little slide shows, so I need something that can handle that.


As far as games, our needs our few.  However, the boys do have some Reader Rabbit type games they like, my wife is addicted to spider solitaire and I like The Sims and a few other sim-type games.  These are not high power games, but we like to have a wide variety for both kids and adults.


I've been using MS money 2003 for several years to track our finances and I have been using software to do our taxes each year.  I do most of my banking online and it would be nice to be able to download statements from the bank and integrate them with some financial software.  We have the typical credit cards, home loan, car loan, student loans and  and loans to track.  Debt reduction is a major goal and Money has a few tools towards that end.


So there you have it; some very basic needs of a typical computer-literate family.  Can Linux meet these diverse needs the same way Windows has these past years?  Can Linux do it all better?


That is the challenge that I hope to document here.