Ubuntu Linux, Day 20: Editing and Making Movies

30 Days With Ubuntu Linux: Day 20

After spending a few days in the weeds looking under the hood at more technical stuff like comparing file systems, and diving into the command line interface, we're going to bring the focus of 30 Days With Ubuntu Linux back to more common usage. Today, I am taking a look at editing and creating movies in Ubuntu Linux.

I started out by simply checking out the video editor installed by default with Ubuntu Linux-Pitivi Video Editor. Right at the top is a big green plus sign with text that says 'Import Clips...' which looked like a logical place to start. I clicked it, navigated to the folder where my various iPhone video clips are stored, and selected about 15 of them to import.

Openshot Video Editor puts the Pitivi Video Editor installed by default with Ubuntu to shame.
I dragged a few video clips onto the timeline at the bottom to string them together. The first problem I encountered is that my iPhone videos are all shot in portrait, and need to be rotated in order to display upright when imported to the PC. As far as I can tell, there is no function in Pitivi to let me rotate the video clips. If there is, it is buried somewhere unintuitive.

Setting that (fairly major) issue aside, I played the video stream and it functioned adequately, It played the string of three videos-fading from one to the next where they overlapped.

I imported a song and dragged that to the audio timeline. It worked, and it plays when the videos play, but so does the other sound from the videos. The sounds and the song just overlay each other. I didn't see any easily identifiable way to remove or minimize the sound from the videos, and once I dragged the song to the audio timeline, I could not see any means to edit or remove it.

Pitivi also lacks the ability to add titles. I am not sure what criteria Canonical uses for determining which applications make it to the installed-by-default list, but I assumed there must be something better. So, I headed off to the Ubuntu Software Center to see what else is out there.

Make sure you choose your words carefully when searching the Ubuntu Software Center, or try a few variations of your search to make sure you find what you're looking for. I started with 'video editing', then tried 'movie editing'. Ultimately, I tried 'video edit' and ended up with different options that didn't show up under 'video editing'--one of which is Openshot.

Openshot has 4.5 stars, compared to 2.5 for Pitivi, so I decided to check it out. Openshot is more like what I had in mind. Openshot let me rotate the video so it is oriented properly. Openshot has built-in transitions and effects. It can do titles-including animated 3D titles by integrating Blender (a different app also available in the Ubuntu Software Center). This is how you edit and create a movie.

I still couldn't find an easy way to mute the sound from the original video clip so the song could play as a solo soundtrack for the video montage. But, overall I found it pretty easy to drag and drop audio and video clips and string them together with transitions and special effects to produce a fairly slick video.

The main lesson I would take from today, though, is that the default software installed with Ubuntu Linux is not necessarily the best of the best, and there are plenty more options available. If the tools in Ubuntu don't meet your needs, go to the Ubuntu Software Center and find something that does.

Read the last "30 Days" Series: 30 Days with Google Docs

Day 19: Using 'man' and 'grep'

Day 21: Enough Already With the Updates!

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