Video editor mockup

I am continuing my (agressive) discussion (it started because of my Linux video editor rant) with a particular Linux video editor developer who doesn’t want to face the truth that his application sucks in both usability, features and looks. Of course, I told him so point blank — I never hid my opinions and I won’t start doing so now. When he asked how it should look like, I sat down for 4 hours and made a mockup for him. Here’s the result:

This mockup borrows ideas from both iMovie and Sony Vegas, and it includes features that are easily accessible: e.g. tape capturing/recording, direct editing of DV/HDV/AVCHD and any other format that ffmpeg/mencoder can support, a two-sized timeline (normal and mini), support for any frame rate, track rotation/placing, clip rotation/pan/cropping, plugins, transitions, fade in-out right from the timeline, slow/fast-motion up to 16x (both by CNTRL+resizing a clip’s edges and by editing properties), group/ungroup elements, transparency/overlay support, enough plugins for color correction and more, snapping on/off, automatic fade transitions when two clips overlap, a 3 quality preview window for speed reasons, preview sizes that are only at 1:1, 1:2 or 1:4 so quality is preserved for easier editing, reversing, full screen and secondary monitor support, on-the-fly de-interlaced preview, exporting dialogs like this one, a fork of the Lagarith lossless codec to make it faster/smaller, and other things that I won’t mention here. My design is even SVGA friendly as long as your footage is non-widescreen DV (it will preview at 1:1 size).

Now, you are probably thinking that this is way too much, and it just copies Vegas’ abilities, an application that’s been in development for years and has reached some maturity. Well, not really. Believe it or not, I have left out a lot of features that exist in the consumer version of Vegas: compositing and compositing children, masking, audio recording for narration while video plays back, custom timeline size, velocity engine, keyframing for the plugins and the timeline, a proper audio mixer, markers, regions, pre-rendering of regions, “takes”, trimmer window, image sequence import/export, DVD authoring companion application, different time formats and timecodes, and more. Also, consider that the Pro version of Vegas has a lot more features, like 32bit editing, inverse/telecine, Pro text editing, DVCPRO-HD and lots of plugins.

So, no, I am not being an asshole trying to force “out of this world” difficult features for an OSS video editor. The features I left in are must-have in this time and age, end of story. If you can’t deliver them, then you might as well stop developing your application (as long as you develop it in order to be useful to users instead of just your programming hobby, of course). Another thing I would suggest is to not cut off yourself from Windows and Mac. Download the trial versions of video editors that exist for these platforms and by all means, copy their best ideas from each.

But as I wrote the other day, this is not a one-man job, neither a buddy-created application. It requires at least 10 engineers who know what the hell they are doing, and they are sitting next to each other. Which is why this can only be delivered in any user-friendly fashion by Red Hat/Novell/Ubuntu (or Google, if they want to be more helpful to Linux users). It will take 2 years to get there, $100,000x10x2=2 million USD. That’s the minimum you need to develop such an app (without counting any license fees, we would assume we just use these codecs the way we use them now on Linux: for free). In a more practical, real-life scenario, you need more engineers and at least $5 mil.


Phil wrote on January 20th, 2008 at 6:22 PM PST:

It seems the simple answer as to why other platforms lack a decent video editor is that there isn’t _mass_ demand for it. Yes, it’s of interest to some users, but not enough …

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Eugenia wrote on January 20th, 2008 at 6:27 PM PST:

Sorry, but this is not true. This is a poor excuse. There are many, and good, video editors for both the Mac and Windows. It’s only the alternative platforms that don’t have good video editors, because they are simply HARD to create, not because there’s no demand. There are over 6-7 video editors for Linux, so this alone shows that there’s interest (and considering that they are hard to create). If you read Jono Bacon’s recent blog post, you would see that all people who replied were whining about the same thing too. And that doesn’t even count a very well known person in the Linux community who has a Windows partition just so he can do some video editing. There is demand, not as big as a good web browser like Firefox, but enough demand to require at least 1 good editor. But there’s not a single one that’s stable, easy to use or with enough features.

Renan Felix wrote on January 21st, 2008 at 8:41 AM PST:

Nice mockup Eugenia. I was ready to suggest a “bounty jar” for anyone who would try to make it look like you just did (and work as expected) but when I saw you numbers I cringed! Sigh! I just wish that guy from Diva hadn’t given up. What I don’t understand is that all the underlying technologies already exist as separate tools (dvgrab, ffmpeg, mencoder, etc.). Noo need to reinvent the wheel, just focus un building an interface like the one you did that works with those tools. I believe this is what the guy behind Open Movie Editor is trying to do but as you said, progress is slow. No one is going to pay for that unless they get a positive/decent ROI. I’ll gladly pay $50 for a good working application in Linux.

Rehdon wrote on January 22nd, 2008 at 12:17 AM PST:

Hi Eugenia,
a somewhat off-topic question: what software are you using to do GUI mockups? would you recommend installing Glade or some similar IDE to build a mockup interface? I’m using Ubuntu 7.10 with the latest Gnome DE.

Thanks in advance,


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Eugenia wrote on January 22nd, 2008 at 3:22 AM PST:

I just use Paint Shop Pro 5 on XP. I find it easier for me, although if this editor was to be actually created, I would consider building it with Glade, although the problem is that there are quite a few of special widgets there that don’t exist in the default GTK+ library. It’s inevitable to create some custom widgets for such a project.

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