Tuesday, July 28, 2009


One application that Linux is missing is a good easy to use video editor. As has been pointed out many times all across the web Linux is the operating system of choice for making movies in large movie studios. That's right not the arty Mac. These studios use there own in house tools to do video editing and they have large clusters of linux servers for doing rendering.

Unfortunately this software is owned by the movie studios and is not made available for free or otherwise so none of the advantage of it filters down the lowly desktop user like you or me.

In most other areas, there is a good open-source Linux alternative. You want an office application then use open office. You want a audio edit then use audacity. You want a photo editor then use GIMP. You want a browser then use Firefox. But if you want a video edit then you are stuffed.

There are video editors for linux I hear you scream. Yes your right there are but none of them live up to expectations. Weather they are buggy, not maintained, not in the Ubuntu repositories (I'm looking at you Cinelerra), not easy to use (I'm looking at you blender). Nothing quite lives up to expectations.

There is one application which is show some promise and that is PiTiVi. Specifically I tried the just released from the ubuntu PPA

PiTiVi has a very easy to use visual interface. Most operations are archived by an intuitive drag and drop. The interface is simple, clean and attractive. I picked up the interface within seconds it was a real pleasure to use.

So I thought I would put this promising application to the test. Recently I went on a trip to Rarotonga we took lots of photos and I wanted to make a nice slide show with music. Simple right, no actual video source just jpeg photos and maybe some nice transitions. I have laptop with a 720p screen so naturally I wanted to create a movie with that resolution.

So I start the process of dragging the photos I want in from my file browser and positioning them in the time line. This was so simple a 5 year old could do it. Then I dragged in the 2 mp3 tracks I wanted to use and positioned them in the time line, this was also as natural as breathing. The second track was two long so a chopped it. Once again this was simple.

Then I tried to add the transitions I wanted, you know a nice fade here and there maybe a swipe or a fly in. But I couldn't figure out how to set the transitions. Eventually I looked on the PiTiVi website, only to find that transitions are not yet implemented, but they are working on it.

So I was a bit disappointed, I continued.... I could do without my transitions they were just extra eye candy really.

So the next thing to do was render it. I clicked on the big render button. It asked me what settings I wanted to use. So I selected the 720p option and then started the render. Everything looked good it said the render would take 10 minute and it had a progress bar. for the first 6 or so minutes the progress bar progressed and the time left decreased as expected. But then the progress bar stopped progressing and the time left started increasing and continued increasing for the next hour until I have up and canceled it.

I tried again and again and again, I tried different rendering settings but nothing helped it didn't always stop at the same place. Sometimes it almost finished other times it stopped right at the start. But never did it complete.

Now it doesn't matter how easy to use a application is or how ascetically pleasing it is to the eye if it can't do the job then it is useless no its less then useless because useless implies harmless but this application wasted several hours of my time and achieved nothing.

So I give PiTiVi a rating of 0/10. It is being actively developed so hopefully in a years time I will have a different opinion of it. It shows a great deal of potential if only they can complete the basic feature set and fix their rendering problems.