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Monday, August 9, 2010

OpenShot Video Editor

Jul 11

As everyone knows, OpenShot has a new 3D animated title system. However, what you might not know, is exactly how Blender is being used to create these animations. I thought I would explain what goes into creating a new Blender title sequence.

But first, take a look at the newest Blender template I added today. It's quite pretty, and very flexible. As you watch this video, I want you to think about the following question. Can your favorite video editor do this?

When using OpenShot, the interface is super simple. Take a look at the window I used to create the titles for this video. Each animated curve has a color picker, so adjusting the colors is quick and easy. The glare and lighting in the video are affected by the different colors, so choose wisely, and create your own stunning combination.

(Click image to enlarge)

So, the first step to creating this Blender template was to install Blender 2.5 (alpha). Once Blender is installed, I modeled a few curves and positioned them in a random fashion in front of the camera. I created a new material for each curve, so that the user can adjust the colors independently. The material also emits light and has no shadows, which helps create the illusion of a "neon" tube.

(Click image to enlarge)

Once the scene is modeled, I used the animation system in Blender to key frame a series of movements for the curves. For the most part, each curve is moved from the left to the right over 250 frames. Each key frame is visualized in the IPO curve window, so they can be manually adjusted until the animation feels just right.

(Click image to enlarge)

Next, I used the composite node editor in Blender to route the output of each frame through a series of nodes. This part can be a bit tricky if you are not familiar with how a node based editing system works. The goal was to take the curves (which are emitting light), and create a glare, which will help sell the idea of "neon" lights. To complicate things, the actual "text" of the title needed to be isolated from this glare, so not to blur the text. So, the text is actually in a different scene, and is combined together in the composite nodes, with some clever routing of the alpha channel.

(Click image to enlarge)

The last step was to create an .XML file which explains what "parameters" are available for this template, so that OpenShot can display a simple interface for the user. Most of the templates have a very similar set of parameters, so a little bit of copy & paste, and this step was done. Also, a custom python script needed to be created, which applies the parameters to the actual Blender template. Again, a little copy & paste helped complete this step.

Now it's ready to test and see if it actually works inside OpenShot. One more fun fact... more than 1 title can be created at a time. So, if you have a few different titles that need to be created for a video, they can all be rendering at the same time.

(Click image to enlarge)

Well, that about wraps up this post on how to create a Blender template for OpenShot. If you are serious about contributing title templates, please post them on our forums, and we'll select the coolest ones to include in OpenShot. Don't worry about the .XML and python scripts. Those are easy to create, and I can always assist.
Jul 07

Here is a video demonstrating the new 3D animated titles in OpenShot, as promised! As you can see, including some animated titles can be quite dramatic and add lots of fun to any video.

Jun 29

The wait is over! One of the big features I have been secretly working on over the past few months is a new feature which I'm calling the "Animated Title Editor". Using Blender 2.5+ behind the scenes, OpenShot can now easily generate animated 3D title sequences.

This feature has been in my dreams since I started working on OpenShot. I have always enjoyed working with Blender to create animations, but I also realized that most users will never have the time to learn a professional 3D animation package. Blender is simply too complicated for most users, which is why you don't see more 3D titles on videos created with Linux.

My goal is to bring the power of Blender, the creativity of the Blender community (in the form of templates) to OpenShot in the most intuitive interface possible. I really feel like I've accomplished that, which is why I'm so excited about this feature. =)

Here are some pictures to explain how it works:

Step 1: Choose a template.

Step 2: Change some settings, such as the text, color, size, and font. Preview any frame in the animation by moving the slider.
Step 3: Click the 'Render' button (and wait for a few minutes while your title is being generated). A preview of each rendered frame is shown, so you can watch the animation as it's created.

Step 4: The new animation is then added to your OpenShot project as a clip. It will have the same height, width, and fps (frames per second) as your OpenShot project. Drag your new clip onto the timeline and enjoy!

This new animated title sequence is created as a RGBA image sequence. That means that each frame has full alpha (i.e. transparency), and can be composited on top of any other video, such as the screenshot above of the chimpanzee.

As far as I know, OpenShot is the first FOSS video editor to incorporate 3D title animations (not including Blender of course). Hopefully this feature (along with a few more we are working on) will start to differentiate OpenShot from the pack of FOSS video editors.

This feature will not be available until our next version is released, which we are all working on, so please be patient. Soon enough everyone can test it out. But please don't mess up your current install of OpenShot trying to install this "alpha" feature. =)

More news soon, so stay tuned.
Jun 19
Academy® and Emmy® award winning video editor Lightworks has recently announced an open-source version. Lightworks is rumored to be available on all platforms, including Linux (although I have yet to see an official statement from EditShare on which platforms will be supported). Many people have contacted me for my reaction, so here I go. By the way, I am making the assumption that Lightworks will be released on Linux for the sake of this article.

The first point I would like to address is the future relevance of Linux open-source video editors, including OpenShot, Kdenlive, PiTiVi, and similar projects. Why would someone choose OpenShot (or insert your favorite video editor) over an Academy® and Emmy® award winning application?

Well, let me first remind everyone that Blender is also a great video editor. Blender can do just about anything with video (even rivaling Hollywood quality effects). So, why doesn't everyone use Blender to edit their videos? I think the answer will be the same for Lightworks. These applications are designed for professionals, not average consumers. (Note: I am not comparing Blender to Lightworks... just the fact that applications that are targeted at professionals are inherently more complicated).

Just to be clear, I think some Linux users will absolutely love Lightworks; those users who are interested in professional video editing. But what about the average users who want to arrange some home videos? What about someone with no aspiration to learn a complex application, who just wants to trim a video before uploading it to YouTube?

As far as OpenShot is concerned, we are trying to become the easiest to use video editor on Linux. We are not trying to become the next Lightworks. So, to directly answer a few emails I've received, "No, OpenShot will not die after Lightworks is released". I think the world needs an easy to use video editor. So, that will continue to be my goal. =)

It just makes me smile when I read articles about how Linux video editing is now "saved", because of Lightworks. I wonder if these writers would change their tune after trying to use Lightworks to edit a quick video without any training.

Lightworks is trying to distribute their core product as open-source, and hopefully grow a marketplace of plug-ins and 3rd party extensions. However, it's yet to be seen if these plug-ins will also be multi-platform.

I am also curious which formats and codecs the open-source version will support. And will the Linux version support the same codecs as the Mac and Windows version? Will they use FFmpeg, Gstreamer, or their own code? Will lightworks regret the move to open-source? Will other projects cannibalize their code and make their libraries available to everyone, including OpenShot? Lot's of interesting questions indeed. =)

Let's turn our attention to Windows for a second. Will the average user stop using Windows Movie Maker and instead start using Lightworks? I'm guessing they will continue to use Movie Maker. Of course, if a user was about to purchase Avid or Adobe Premiere, they will likely be very interested Lightworks.

In summary, I wish the best to EditShare and Lightworks Open Source. If they are successful, maybe we will all be using Lightworks some day. But, in my personal opinion, I think this announcement is mostly irrelevant for the average Windows, Mac, and Linux user.

What do you think about the Lightworks announcement? Will it change the face of Linux video editing? Will average users embrace it? I would love to hear some good analysis on this.
Jun 16

Greetings everyone! It has been more than a month since my last post, so I thought an update was due. Lots of activity is happening on OpenShot, even though my blog has been relatively quiet.

There are 2 really big features I am working on right now. I don't want to let the cat out of the bag yet, so I'll wait to announce them until a future date (soon... I promise).

But fear not, I will leave everyone with a hint: "no other FOSS video editor has this feature yet." This statement might be misleading, but hey, it's just a hint. =)

The community has been very active, and there have been many contributions and patches! I am still in the process of reviewing the patches, and merging them into the code.

We have recently moved our user interface to GtkBuilder (as opposed to Glade). Basically, Glade is no longer supported. The interface will still look the same (since it's still using GTK), but the XML files that help us create the interface are a bit different.

I have been working part-time on a new Django-based website for OpenShot. I figured Django would be a perfect fit for my Python skills. =) So far, so good. Expect to see the website sometime in the next month.

On a completely unrelated note, my mom has just gone through a serious neck surgery, and I have been spending much of my time with her over the past 2 weeks. I am happy to report she is recovering great.

Well, how is that for an update. Many unrelated snippets and stories. Hopefully I will have a few more updates over the coming weeks.
May 10

The first ever survey of OpenShot users has come to an end, and I have all sorts of fun data to share with everyone! If you want to skip the analysis and just download the results, here are the direct links:

Download PDF | Download ODP

We have collected a total of 1,241 completed surveys! That is a great sample size, and hopefully represents our user-base accurately.

This survey attempted to answer the following questions:

1) What existing features are most used?
2) What new features are most requested?
3) How is OpenShot installed?

I'll admit, a few of the answers surprised me, including the top 2 most requested features. So, lets break down the results, and see what we've learned.

1) What existing features are most used?

[Click image to enlarge]

As you might expect, the top most used features are "Fade In / Out", followed closely by "Slice / Cut" and "Transitions". This supports the idea of automatically cross-fading clips when they overlap, and generally making it easier to fade clips, right? Also, improving the snapping, anchoring, and moving of transitions would also seem like a good fit, based on the usage of those features.

Knowing which features are the most used should help us focus on which toolbars, buttons, menus, and features to keep close by, and which features to hide in menus / preferences, etc..., in order to keep OpenShot the easiest-to-use video editor on Linux. =)

2) What new features are most requested?

[Click image to enlarge]

To my surprise, the top 2 most requested features are "DVD Creation" and "Video Conversion". Of course, the next question might be... should OpenShot include the ability to create a DVD? Or is that better suited for a stand-alone application. Or should OpenShot include a suite of video editing applications: video editor / DVD creator / video converter?

As much as I hear people tell me that video effects are not important, and no "real" video needs them, our number 3 top requested feature is "Additional Video Effects". So... it seems clear to me that people really like video effects. =)

The 4th most requested feature is an interesting one, "Video Capture". As more and more video cameras store video files on memory cards, hard drives, and USB mass storage devices, how important is this feature? In 2 years will people still need this feature? Are there existing video capture applications that OpenShot could "better" integrate with? Or does it need to be a built-in feature for OpenShot.

Multiple selections, color correction, and multiple audio volume levels (i.e. audio key-frames) are all really good features, and are at the top of my "personal" list. In general, I would like to have more specialized dialogs for some of the filters, like color correction, with sliders, live previews, etc... Also, I am interested in alternate ways of showing audio wave forms, audio key-frames, etc... Rendering audio wave forms can be slow, and in most cases, not very useful. However, when trying to sync audio and video, seeing the waveforms can save you countless hours. So, I wonder how it would feel to selectively turn on / off waveforms on a clip (as needed). Just a thought.

Also, I really thought the "Photo Slide-show Wizard" feature would be higher on the list, as well as the ability to upload to video sharing sites, such as YouTube and Vimeo. Oh well... the people have spoken.

3) How is OpenShot installed?

[Click image to enlarge]

This was a useful question, since I spend so much time packaging OpenShot. It looks like most of our installations are from a Repository or PPA. This is great news, as it's the safest way to install OpenShot, and the easiest to update when new versions are available. Only 25 people (out of 946) could not get OpenShot installed at all. However, those 25 people kept us busy with bug reports, questions, forum posts, emails, etc... Looking at our mailing list, sometimes it feels like nobody can get OpenShot installed correctly. But clearly, only a small percentage of users have trouble installing OpenShot.

Thank you for helping us make this survey a success! I would like to continue this tradition between each release. As we plan for our next release, it's nice to know we are working on features that people actually want. =)
May 01
What features do you want to see in OpenShot?  What things would you like to see improved?

Take the OpenShot Survey Now
(Please only take the survey once)

Please help us shape the future of OpenShot by participating in this brief survey.  We will be using the results of this survey to decide what features will be included in the next version of OpenShot.  Contributing to OpenShot has never been easier. =)  Depending on how this goes, I would like to take a similar approach after each release of OpenShot, and create a survey between releases to help measure what features our users want.

This survey will be open for 7 days, and then we will publish the results for everyone to enjoy!  Please help us spread the word about this survey.  Here is the link:
Apr 28

With the impending release of Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) just around the corner, I am proud to announce that OpenShot 1.1.3 has been accepted by Ubuntu and is ready to install from the Software Center!  Also, the MLT framework (the video editing library used by OpenShot and Kdenlive) has been updated to it's newest version (0.5.4).

This is the most stable version of OpenShot ever created, so hopefully everyone will enjoy using it!

Although I have not published many posts recently, I have been working hard to improve OpenShot.  Three different versions of OpenShot have been released in the past 45 days (version 1.1.1, 1.1.2, and 1.1.3).  All of these versions have been uploaded to both Debian and Ubuntu.

We have already started work planning OpenShot 1.2, and will soon be discussing features with you... the community, and hopefully we'll be able to incorporate many of the feature requests that have been suggested.  I will soon be publishing a survey for everyone, to collect feedback on likes, dislikes, wants, needs, etc...  So, stay tuned for that post.

If you would like to help the OpenShot project, please feel free to use the banner image above on your own website to help promote us.  The bigger we can grow our user base, the more contributors we will attract, and thus... the better we can make this project!
Apr 01

After 8 months of waiting, OpenShot has finally been officially registered as a US Trademark! This is great news, as it protects the name and branding of OpenShot, and ensures we won't have to choose a new name at some point.

When I first announced the name "OpenShot" on this website, I was soon contacted by a company who claimed I had "lifted" their name. This began an 8 month battle to trademark the name. So, you see, this is a big moment for me, as it means the name is finally safe, and I can return my focus on the things that really matter, like the next version of OpenShot!

Mar 30
According to the readers of on a recent poll about the best Linux video editors, OpenShot won first place! OpenShot received 35% of the vote, which is great news for us!

What I find interesting is that Kdenlive got 17% of the vote. If you combine OpenShot and Kdenlive, we account for 52% of the results. Both of our projects use the same video editing library, MLT. This is great news for the MLT Developers. Even more interesting, is the top 3 applications all use FFmpeg. That is 74% of results that use FFmpeg.

I know that much has been said about Gstreamer, but it is interesting to see how popular FFmpeg is with video editing applications.

Go there...


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