Monday, November 8, 2010

Differences in nutshells - video editing and software upgrades

Avidemux has proven a simple yet efficient piece of software for video editing in Linux. Most of my videos on Vimeo has been produced using nothing else. On the Macbook however, iMovie steals the attention with its intuitive interface, drag-and-drop handling of multiple clips and near magical completion of complex operations.

But working with a combination of the two has proved quite practical. Each has its weaknesses.

Video editing

Making a video of several excerpts of other videos is much more convenient in iMovie. But as the videos in question have been downloaded from YouTube (mostly being in *.flv format) iMovie can't import them directly.

No problem since Avidemux opens anything and lists 16 different video codecs,  8 different audio codecs and 13 different containers for export options. That's a theoretical 1664 different combinations each with many possible varieties (quality settings and filters). And most combinations actually works - but check your output files because some might have failed without warning!

Powerful: Using Avidemux to save a .flv file downloaded from YouTube as something iMovie can import. Here by choosing MPEG-4 AVC as video codec (shown as "x264 in the encoding progress window), AAC (Faac) as audio codec and MP4 as container.

Saving a file in iMovie is a completely different experience. In fact it probably couldn't be any more different. And in this case I believe a screenshot will say more than a thousand words:

Fool proof: The export menu has a table listing resolutions on the vertical and target platforms on the horizontal making it hard to make a bad choice for video size. The file will be a special Apple type of MP4 and so far I haven't noticed anywhere in iMovie to change that.

iMovie, being ridiculously picky on the other hand, imports only about four (4) different video file types. Googling for some format that will work turns up a wide selection of software that will fix the problem without telling me how it does so - no doubt commercial trial versions most of them.

Software upgrades

So, mid-October with some excitement I notice my clear favorite photography manager is released in a new version 1.5. Mid-December the version available in openSUSE is still 1.2.

The digiKam website presents a new release of their awesome software.

Apple on the other hand misses few chances to throw a popup about iLife 11 at me. "iLife" - the suspiciously named package of audio, image and video editing software. When trying to get something done they want to tell me about the new features I can get for only about 55 euros. OK I peek at it: hmm... new backgrounds for title frames? Really?

Now, on a final notice, comparing Avidemux and iMovie really is comparing apples to oranges. Other programs for Linux should share the drag and drop multi clip functionality of iMovie. I wanted to try OpenMovieEditor since that program is what is mentioned in Crafting Digital Media by Daniel James which I bought. That program installed fine via YaST but didn't run so I posted a question in the openSUSE forum and got highly competent help pretty fast. Another user was able to help me find out which little extra package to install - now it runs but crashes at any edit.

Differences in nutshells indeed: Linux is free, very powerful and bleeding edge. The Mac is annoyingly commercial, fool proof and conservatively designed.