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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair

Regular blog here, 'microblog' there

Many of my traditional blog post live on this site, but a great majority of my social-style posts can be found on my much-busier microbloging site at updates.passthejoe.net. It's busier because my BlogPoster "microblogging" script generates short, Twitter-style posts from the Linux or Windows (or anywhere you can run Ruby with too many Gems) command line, uploads them to the web server and send them out on my Twitter and Mastodon feeds.

I used to post to this blog via scripts and Unix/Linux utilities (curl and Unison) that helped me mirror the files locally and on the server. Since this site recently moved hosts, none of that is set up. I'm just using SFTP and SSH to write posts and manage the site.

Disqus comments are not live just yet because I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for the domain on this site. I'll probably restore the old domain at first just to have some continuity, but for now I like using the "free" domain from this site's new host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

Tue, 18 Oct 2011

Back to OpenShot for video editing in Debian GNU/Linux

I decided to give the OpenShot video editor for Linux another try.

Not entirely satisfied with my last effort in OpenShot, I wanted to try something else, and that something turned out to be Blender's Video Sequence Editor feature. That was a resounding failure. I had no idea how to do just about anything, and I find the Blender UI extremely uninviting.


My editing needs are neither extensive nor complicated. I want to gather and trim clips, put them in order, slap opening and closing credits on them and then render the final video in a format acceptable for Brightcove and YouTube.

Last week, Daily News photo editor Dean Musgrove shot a bunch of clips with his digital SLR camera during the iPhone 4S debut at the Apple Store in Woodland Hills' Westfield Topanga Mall. He brought in about eight clips, which I assembled into a finished video.

Still running the OpenShot 1.3.1 package I installed months ago on my Debian Squeeze laptop, I brought the clips into the application and created a "track" for each clip (the same way I run things in the Audacity audio editor). I did a little trimming on the clips and created the opening and closing titles, which are SVG graphics that can be fine-tuned in the vector-graphic editor Inkscape, which I do have installed and use occasionally.

What I did differently this time out was use OpenShot's fade-in/fade-out feature so the clips would flow into each other way more seamlessly than my last OpenShot-edited video. I started with "long" fades but ended up using the short "fade-in/fade/out" on each clip.

Once i had everything in the right order, I rendered the video out with one of the helpful presets (for Flickr or YouTube, not sure which I ended up using), and I had my finished video, which you can see above.

Again, there's nothing fancy going on here. No different audio layered over video, no crossfades (is that even a word?) between clips. Just "title, clip, clip ... clip, credits."

That's really all I need to do. And I need to do it quickly. Without fighting a UI.

Thanks, OpenShot developers. Coding a video-editing application that actually works is no small task.

The project has a fairly rapid development cycle: Version 1.4 is out now. (Keep up with OpenShot news via the project's blog.)

The only problem is that I can't figure out where I got the .deb package for 1.3.1. I could have downloaded them from the Wheezy or Sid repositories. OpenShot 1.4 is in Wheezy and Sid right now.

I should probably figure out how apt-pinning works, but I usually just bring the .deb package down and call Gdebi to install it.

Another way to go about this -- and the more I think about it, this is probably what I did for 1.3.1 -- might be going to the OpenShot project page on Launchpad, where there is source code and an "all deb" package.

Disclaimer: I've never used KDEnlive. Pitivi crashes mercilessly in Debian Squeeze.

Update: I just installed OpenShot 1.4, along with the documentation, from the project's Launchpad page. I used Gdebi to install the package, and everything works thus far.