Fri 19 August 2005

Kino makes video editing simple

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

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.


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.

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