the Video Editor that Linux Already Has, but still Needs
Posted by notKlaatu , 17 November 2008 · 195 views
I speak of course of Blender. Blender is one of my favourite apps ever. I use it, I love it, I am constantly amazed by it.But the one thing I'm really looking for in Linux, lately, is a really solid video editor. Yes, Blender can edit video...but..just because it can, doesn't mean it should -- at least in its present state. Let's get a few things straight and then move on to the pretty pictures:1. Blender is solid code, a robust and stable app, and absurdly powerful.2. Blender's current Video editor is technically sufficient to edit, but does not really have an interface designed exclusively to that purpose.3. As such, Blender would pale next to an Avid or Final Cut Pro workstation.The good news: in order to become the best video editing app for Linux/osX/Windows all Blender needs is a UI designed for the video editor, and a few patches to provide a few new functions that any professional video editor would expect.The bad news: I can design interfaces, but I can't actually program [yet]. Therefore, this is a post all about vaporware -- until a Blender dev (I am in contact with a few but can always talk to more!!) jumps on this idea.The idea is essentially this: design two interfaces -- one for the home video hobbyist (the iMovie, if you will, of Linux) and one for the video professional (the Final Cut Pro or Avid Express of Linux). Do not FORK Blender, as such, but simply provide an alternate interface for it, geared toward video editing.And now the pretty pictures:First, the home user version.Proposed Title: "Blender Movie Maker" or "Video Blender Lite"Features:1. Upper left quadrant is the preview window where you can audition video clips and lift good segments out of your hours of bad footage.2. Left quadrant also doubles as a file browser so that you can find your footage on your harddrive3. Upper Right Quadrant is your Target window (sometimes called a "canvas") where you get to see your movie as you edit it together.4. Middle of the screen is the timeline with audio and video and effect regions. You can make this as simple or complex as you wish; if you are getting close to being a professional editor, you have the capabilities to do multi-track editing. If you are just interested in stringing together the good parts of your home movies, then you can do a simple one-track edit.5. At the very bottom, we have thumbnails of all the cool effects you can put on your footage, like glows, blurs, fades, distorts, et cetera. Most of these effects already exist either in Blender or from independent programmers but can be downloaded and used for free (you can find them from the Blender site). The one thing we might want to look into is a simple and easy-to-use text generator but we could also argue that generating text in Inkscape and bringing it in as .png's would make more sense, too, which works for me.6. And that's it. Easy, elegant, and satisfying.Now, the professional version.Proposed Title: "Video Blender" or "Video Blender Pro"Features:1. pro editing environment with screen presets for rough cutting (would have easy access to video preview of raw footage), editing (seen in the picture), color correction (easy access to effects and color filters), and a screening room (intended for viewing the cut in a larger movie window, with fewer distractions on screen but with text editor open to make notes as you watch).2. video editor, not audio editor. Audio needs to be functional and in sync but trying to copy Final Cut's bloatware tendency to include audio editing capability is plain silly; it doesn't work well in FCP and it doesn't belong in a video editor!3. no video capture. Again, Avid and FCP include video capturing in the editing app. Bad idea. ffmpeg imports video quite well so Blender has no need to bother with that.4. SMPTE timecode given preference - video and film editors work in SMPTE not in an endless count of frames like many animators and motion graphic designers do. So videoBlender needs to give preference to SMPTE, and it will have counters so that the editor has quick reference to timecode.5. Customizable timline - video editors stare at strips of video all day long and it all starts to look the same. It seems silly, but color coding the video clip in the timeline is hugely helpful yet no video editing app has this as a feature. Let's put it into videoBlender.6. Screen Real Estate - Most video applications like to leave lots of windows open so you can be impressed by all their neat buttons blinking lights. videoBlender will conserve your screen real estate by using the upper left quadrant as a multi-purpose window (it can be your file browser when you need to look at files, it will be effect editor when you need effects, it will be node compositor when you composite, it will be the preview window when you need to preview a clip). The interface will still be customizable as in Blender, but the preset at least will be conservative on space.7. Intuitive interface for noobs, keyboard shortcuts for pros. There is a button row in the middle of the screen so that newcomers ca learn the tools. We can have keyboard shortcuts married to these buttons so that they are not necessary after you get to know the app.8. Easy Export - it's easy to render out to a file in Blender now, but it does involve navigating through a lot of mysteriously named buttons. This will be made simpler by excluding the 3d-modeling specific options.Here are some major features pointed out:And here are the buttons explained:----Comments, critique, further suggestions are all welcome. Yes, I'll be working on more UI specs later, to further detail various aspects of the application.Please spread the word about this idea if you like it, especially to all the super savvy Blender dev types out there! I have been told that the current Blender code is almost ready to be able to do this kind of "interface remix", and with just a few simple patches (some of which already exist, from discussions I've had with devs) the little extra functions that I think a video editor should have can be a reality.