Archive for December 3rd, 2007

Shame on Sci-Fi Channel

Shame, shame on Sci-Fi Channel for producing such a laughable mini-series, the “Tin Man“. Sure, the Sci-Fi tele-movies are always low budget and cheap, BUT, there is a big “but”. Every December, when the big networks pause broadcasting of their TV series, Sci-Fi traditionally presents their original mini-series which is produced in the best way is possible — considering their low budget. Series like “Taken”, and “The Lost Room”, were very well done for example.

This year, Sci-Fi Channel decided to shoot the re-imagining of the Wizard of OZ. Let me tell you one thing: this thing SUCKS. It’s just terrible. It’s just BAD. It’s better than their cheap tele-movies, but much, much worse than you would expect from their December special. And it looks like Flash Gordon. Kinda like the same crew and locations were used.

The Linux video editor situation

I’ve written about it many times: GNU/Linux has no usable video editor. Either their UI sucks, or basic features are not there, or in most cases, they just crash every other minute, or all of the above. Or when you do start to like an editor (e.g. Avidemux2) but there is one single problem with it and its maintainers refuse to fix, well that’s pissing you off. I just don’t like any of the available solutions (sorry for saying this, ’cause two Linux video editor developers do read my blog).

You might interpret my needs as “Eugenia just asks for too much”, but this is not true. In reality, I need very few editing features! But I need them to be rock solid. And when I say rock solid, I mean it. The other aspect where I am demanding is in format support. I need 24p, I need good understanding of DV/HDV and pulldown options. Basically, what I need is rock solid support for various formats and transformations of these formats to other formats, but very BASIC video editing. You see, 99% of the people who use a video editor do NOT need more than what iMovie ’06 offers in terms of editing abilities. These features include:

* Ability to split events. Ability to re-arrange scenes/media in the timeline.
* Just three tracks: one for video, one for voice and one for music. Keep it simple both for the user and the developer.
* Ability to mute the audio tracks. Ability to change the volume on them by 0% (mute), 10%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%.
* Ability to cross fade the music track events (fixed duration).
* Just 5 classic transitions for video (fixed duration). Keep it simple.
* A filter plugin system. I need the following from the get go though: contrast, brightness, gamma, saturation, white balance correction with high/mid/low wheel support, like on Vegas/FCP. Nothing else by default.
* 5 text titles/credit pre-configured styles, either on top of a choice of solid colors or transparent on top of a scene/picture (can be a plugin too).
* Ability to also use pictures instead of just videos clips.

In terms of editing, THAT’S IT. Most people just don’t need more than that (and yes, “most” people that’s all they need)! And yet, not a single editor on Linux does that INTUITIVELY right now. Don’t these people ever used iMovie or Vegas? How do you even develop a video editor if you haven’t checked out how the competition does it?

But even if you go around the learning curve to do these simple things, chances are that you will stumble on crashes and other weird problems. For example, open an h.264 or full HD file on KDEnLive editor, kaboom! Kino does not even support HDV. And Cinelerra, which takes itself way too seriously, does not even support a SINGLE lossless codec (it tries to fool you with MJpeg)! Regarding the technical aspect of such an app I need rock solid import support, ability to “tell” the application if your project is progressive or not, what kind of aspect ratio each clip or the project should have, what frame rate exactly etc. And the preview window should be able to match the aspect ratio, to have the ability to resize the video inside it only at resolutions that divide exactly by 2 (instead of just stretching), and in the case of HD, it is imperative to have support for second monitors to be able to preview there in 1:1 size. And as for exporting, it should have enough templates for devices, DVD, youtube etc, but it should have also a custom mode that allows me to do all this. It should do the right kind of pulldown if needed (e.g. if you transform from NTSC to PAL or to 24p), it should de-interlace PROPERLY, it should have the right aspect ratio, it should support all sorts of codecs, including lossless. As you can see, the “format support” thing is much more difficult to implement than the “editing” part. Most users just want to put two shit clips together and not be bothered with complex editing, BUT, they need ROCK solid and CORRECT output. This is why I put more emphasis on the format support rather than the editing itself.

Diva, as I wrote in the past, was the only project that was going in the direction that I needed in terms of a “home video editor”. It had the look, the elegance, the usability of iMovie. But it’s a dead project. And nothing else has replaced it in elegance. Here’s a mockup of mine above, based on an old Diva screenshot, on how I would envision a Linux video editor that can be as good as iMovie ’06.

New song out for the Drist

The Drist put up on their myspace page their new single, “Demonstrate the pain“. Have a listen! I am dying to shoot a promotional music video clip for them, but convincing their guitarist, Brian, ain’t easy. 😉