Posts from 2005

Questions or comments? Email me.

Fri 19 August 2005

Kino makes video editing simple

Note: This article was originally published on August 19, 2005 over at the (now defunct) Newsforge.com. A still-breathing version of the article (broken links intact) can be found at Linux.com.

The Linux enviroment offers two major packages for creating and editing digital media. Cinelerra is a media powerhouse, while Kino works well for beginners who need to create simple digital video. It's a speedy editor, lightweight, and it seldom crashes. Its simplicity, ease of use, and small learning curve make it an excellent alternative for creating and editing digital media in the Linux enviroment. Kino does not require as much powerful hardware as Cinelerra; you can get good results with about 128MB of memory and a 1GHz processor. You'll need a bit of disk space for digital video editing -- about 40GB should do just fine.

Kino takes video to the disk in AVI and raw DV format. When you finish editing a video, Kino lets you export it in a number of formats, such as MPEG and MP3. Kino also features incredible support for IEEE-1394, otherwise known as FireWire, which allows it to communicate with different video hardware, and also supports most USB drive input. Kino has easy tools for filters, general effects, and video transition, ranging from kaleidescope to a general background generator. Kino also comes equipped with audio tools, such as filters and audio transitions, which include useful "fade in/out" and "mix" features.

The program is organized well, with a storyboard style view that allows you to see each of your scenes in a mini pane. You can drag and drop to rearrange frame order and movie flow. You can undo and redo changes up to 99 times, so you can learn by making mistakes and correcting them.

Kino's excellent "dvgrab" interface, the tool that allows you to capture digital video to the disk, makes it ideal for importing digital media, even if you're doing the majority of your editing with another digital video editor.

Kino's user interface is available in English, Danish, Swedish, French, Spanish, and Czech. It provides online help for troubleshooting issues.

Disadvantages

Despite its many pluses, Kino is a low-end video editor, best suited for doing quick editing jobs or inputting digital feeds. Kino does not support multiple layers or tracks of audio and video, which means that it's not suitable for video work that requires complex audio and video effects.

For those using a video camera to record their work, be aware that you will be able to connect via FireWire only if you're using a digital video camcorder. A digital camera, meaning digital stills, will not work, whether it has a FireWire interface or not.

Fortunately, Kino's advantages outweigh its disadvantages. Even if your project is a task of amazing proportions, Kino can be useful in one way or another, especially for inputting digital media and outputting it to a desired format. If you're a beginner, it provides an easy entrance into the field of digital video on a Linux system.

Kino is free software under the GPL. The community behind Kino is helpful, too. You can find discussion boards, as well as excellent tutorials and support, such as Frequently Asked Questions and User Guides, on the project's home page.

Fri 29 April 2005

My Workstation OS: VidaLinux

Note: This article was originally published on April 29, 2005 over at the (now defunct) Newsforge.com. A still-breathing version of the article (broken links intact) can be found at Linux.com.

My computer is my life, but I'm fairly new to the world of Linux. I started with SUSE Linux 9.1 Professional. It's a fairly nice and easy system, but I wanted to try some other distributions, to see what I liked and disliked. I wanted something that felt not too advanced, but also not too limited. That's what I found in the VidaLinux operating system (VLOS), the perfect combination of what I wanted.

Many call VidaLinux a "simpler Gentoo." It uses many of Gentoo's features, such as the Portage software distribution system, but also manages to make it all seem less intimidating. For instance, it uses Red Hat's Anaconda installation system. Anaconda is a graphical interface, which many find easier than Gentoo's command-line installation. Vida's system components also come prebuilt and ready for installation, whereas Gentoo's installation requires everything to be built from the command line, which intimidates some people.

Some people have reported issues with Vida's networking and sound card configuration. While the sound card wasn't an issue for me, networking was. Thankfully, I was able to fix my problem easily by referring back to the MadPenguin article that introduced me to Vida. After that little escapade, I moved on to configuring my system.

I use my computer for Web site management, helping out at sites such as The Mega Man Network and Metroid HQ. In addition to sitting on IRC most of the time, I tend to use AIM to contact some people. Vida comes set with what I need to get the job done. Firefox, generally the ideal browser for any Web designer, comes pre-installed, with many plug-ins already set, like MPlayer and Java. The GIMP is a fine image manipulation program, and works well for Web design. For music playing purposes, the system offers Xine, a fine music application. It covers chat too, with an easy installation of X-Chat and an included version of GAIM. When I need to get a professional project done, I've got OpenOffice.org right there. Vida's main window system is GNOME 2.8.0, and the default icon set, with an uncanny similarity to Mac OS X's, brings the desktop to life.

VidaLinux runs well, and the Portage system makes it even more fun. The Portage application itself is called Porthole, and it's pretty useful. It allows users to choose new applications to install on their system, as well as old ones to get rid of. Apparently, some people have had issues with it suddenly shutting down on them, but that hasn't been an issue for me. The Vida community itself is very helpful, and getting support has been no problem.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoy VidaLinux. It's a stable operating system that caters to both advanced and beginning Linux users. What I need my computer to do, it does. I can work on Web pages, listen to music, and play my games with ease. The system itself is friendly, versatile, and workable. I know my way around it, and I'll be sticking with it for awhile.