ramblings from the hive mind

Flip video editing on Ubuntu

19 November 2008 | View comments
Damien Austin-Walker

This has been a journey through complexity and a lesson in simplicity.
For the past few months I have tried to edit video with many editors that run on Unbuntu Hardy as I touched on in my winemaking post. I've tried cinerlerra, kino, avidemux+, lives and some others.

I love my flip mino but I'm not the best 'capturer of the moment' - I either end up with one long clip that I only want to keep a small section of or many mini shoots that don't quite tell the story on their own. So I always shoot with the thought that I'll trim out the good bit or splice together a selection of instances to make something worthwhile.

My delusions of being a Stanley Kubrick, John Walters, or maybe I'm more suited to Russ Meyer... left me a couple of decades ago but I have done some editing in the last 10 years, mainly with Final Cut Pro on Mac and Adobe Premier on Microsoft.  I admit I've only tried windows movie maker once have been totally stumped by what to do with iMovie even though I'm told it's really easy - I think at core I'm a techie and am drawn to the feature rich and highly configurable.  Often to my downfall I can be stumped by simplicity.

Flip video plays fine in totem and othe linux video players.  Flip uses an xVid AVI format which has caused me a few probelms in cinerlera which likes quicktime for Linux (.mov), I have tried with varying success to use transcode to convert to different formats which should be acceptable, the aspect is also an issue even if you investigate properly from the command line (use transcode or better ffmpeg for this) and set the correct ratio and frame rate. I think however the real problem with editing Flip video clips is the MSADPCM Audio format or the particular codecs used.

For me the the only editing programs that can open and play the flip avi's without hours of tinkering or crashing are kino or avidemux+. 

Avidemux can just open the Flip avi's and you can play them fine in the viewer and hear them too.  You can them simply mark the in and out points and cut the pieces of the footage you want to remove (if anyone can enlighten me as to how to do the reverse - to mark and then cut out for use the bits I want pls contact me!).  The one problem I had found with this is that when I finally save the edited video for use and attempt to play back, it either won't play - all the sceens are there and you can watch the footage by sliding the progess slider in your video player but it's permanently on pause, or it will play but there is no audio.  Through trial and error (and a sudden small spark of nouse) I found that if you set the audio codec to use either WAV (PCM) or LAME mp3 the output will play fine.  It makes sense now - use an audio codec for which you actually have the encoder installed.  Leaving the video to 'copy' and the output format as avi seems to work fine for my purposes.

Avidmux does have it's issues, it's a little bit rough and ready, feels geeky and doesn' have the instantly useable flexibility that I want.  I should read up on how to use it, but I haven't and I don't read manuals unless I have to. Even if it means I don't really understand what I'm doing, as long as it does something fairly useful.

Now Kino was the first program I had tried - but due to not instantly being able to export a working edit and the lack of familiarity (it's not like final cut pro) I moved to trying cinelerra and lives (which are more like final cut). I had to give up on cinelerra as although I felt at home with it I was completely incompetent at using it.  Lives just kept crashing everytime. 

In the end I was editing with avidemux when a tweet came through from a twitter friend that he was successfully editing with Kino. The bugger!  And on an eeepc. It gave me the inspiration and encouragement to go back to Kino and perservere: quelling my desire for the familiar and function rich, and to actually WORK IT OUT.  It took me a little over half an hour to get it working: following the simplicity lesson I dropped my 64bit workstation beast for my humble 32bit thinkpad laptop and I had to install mpeg2jpeg package to get it exporting to mpeg format.  Job done.

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