Title photo
frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
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.