The disappointing state of Linux Video Editing software

I thought it would be a simple job. Record a video of me using my Air Hockey program to demonstrate its features. I have spent some time writing a script and recording and editing it in AudaCity. I have generated a number of ogg/vorbis/theora (not sure which is the right term) video files using recordMyDesktop showing the software running, and so all I needed to do was pick video sequencing editor to put them all together and I would be done.

Easy, or so I thought. Wrong!!!

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A Video about my Air Hockey software

I have made a video about my Air Hockey game, a web based simulation of an Air Hockey table. I repeat it here, although it is also available on my software applications page

Making a video that works with Flowplayer seemed to be quite a difficult job. In producing the video using linux I tried

  • Cinelerra – wouldn’t show a preview of any of my files
  • Cinelerra-CV – crashed and wouldn’t recover when I added anything complex
  • Kdenlive – refused to display a single image for a video clip of about 30 seconds.
  • Pitivi – crashed doing anything (although to be fair this was in 32 bit mode, and when I tried again after I upgraded my system to 64 bit mode it was a lot more stable)
  • Blender – very limited codecs – had trouble rendering at the transitions (fading didn’t seem to work)
  • Openshot – did seem to crash a lot, particularly when seeking backwards.  I got round it by saving frequently.  This is what I eventually used.

Even after I completed the project, my first rendering attempt produced an mp4 file that flowplayer would not play with any sound.  I had to use ffmpeg to re-encode the audio into aac format (which is should have done in the first place but didn’t)

The other really big problem I struggled with is recording sound created by the software.  In the end I had to record the audio onto an old mp3 player by feeding the output from my sound card into it, and then transfer the resultant mp3 file back to my system and use the video editor to synchronise the audio with the video I had recorded at the same time.  As you can see I didn’t do a very good job.  I was hampered by the fact that the only video editor I could consistently achieve results with was openshot, and it does not display (unlike many of the other video editors)  the audio waveform in the track.  Synchronisation was a trial and error process of moving the track and replaying that part.

Melinda Doolittle – a breath of fresh air.

I starting watching American Idol this year after I heard that Leona Lewis – see Will Leona Lewis last?  was due to sing there. Watching the auditions was quite boring, except for a very few. One which caught me attention was when a frightened 28 year old backing singer came on and the proceeded to blow the judges out of their seats with an amazing snippet of Steve Wonder’s “For Once in my Life”.

I don’t think I caught sight of her much during the culling of all the auditionees down to the final 24, but she made it through.

Then the first live show occurred and she stunned everyone again with a fabulous performance of Aretha Franklin’s “Since you’ve been gone”.

She has followed that up with further stunning performances of “My Funny Valentine” and “I am a W O M A N” making it effortlessly into the final 12, and making me a fan (I am Melinda Backup #372]

Another great performance of “Home”, although it was not a favorite of mine,

and then it was British Invasion week.

I was worried that she had chosen a really boring song “As Long as he needs me” from the musical Oliver. I downloaded Shirley Bassey’s version from YouTube, and even she couldn’t make it exciting. So was this to be Melinda’s downfall?

Actually no, it was an sensational, and currently my favourite of all her performances.

I think this woman will have a big career.

UPDATE: 5th May. Since I wrote the above Melinda has made it into the top 4. Not only that, each week she has embraced the genre that has been set the contestants and really delivered fabulous performances in every category. I have only one performance that didn’t really grab me (“Heaven knows”). One of her unofficial fan sites holds really high quality copies of each of her performances. I recomend you go there to download them

I have made MP3s from these videos you can find them on this page

If you want to make a CD of her performances then the wav files for that are here

UPDATE 19th December 2008 – the unofficial site mentioned above no longer exists.  However I am now IT director of Melinda’s Backups, a web site owned by Melinda Doolittle and licenced by her to us to operate on behalf of her fans UPDATE July 2009: and now the official fan club.  This contains all the videos, and mp3 files here, but additional exclusive videos and mp3s from post idol performances. You do have to become a member (its free – we just want to avoid spammers) to access them.